The blogosphere wants you to believe it’s a happy-go-lucky place rewarding the few who have a bold confidence to dive in. It leads with blind faith the most daring of upcoming bloggers.
What the blogosphere fails to mention to any hopeful blogger is that looks really are deceiving.
This place is a blogger eat blogger world! Well, maybe not that dramatic, but you do have to fight for every bit of ground you wish to gain. What this means is that you cannot stand to lose what you have rightfully earned by simply ignoring a few easy to improve places in your blog.
Areas that are considered hot spots, that is. These places are not like other places in your blog.
These particular areas are eye, mouse and attention magnets. We bloggers are in good business when we can masterfully attract, engage, and compel action using these hot spot areas.
But first there is a question that may come up from some of you…
What exactly is a hot spot area?
A hot spot area is just a place on a website that gets a larger portion of traffic attention than other places on the website. Every kind of website has different hot spot areas. The attention can lead to a click-thru, list sign up, or further engagement of the user to your content.
For example, Adsense based websites have certain hot spot areas that are considered the best places to put the ads for improving the click thru rates of visitors.
People have naturally developed a certain level of “ad awareness” due to the massive amounts of marketing we see daily. This causes a certain level of “ad blindness” which makes it sensible to find the most attention engaging places of a site that has been built for ad revenue.
This is done in order to compel a desirable action. Otherwise we would just mosey on by and never even notice the ad begging us for attention. Blogs are similar. We aren’t necessarily looking for click thru rates (some do, but this isn’t about monetizing). What most bloggers seek is growth. We drive traffic, build subscriber numbers, and do our best to take traffic and convert them into community.
Just as an Adsense website needs to have these hot spots optimized for efficient ROI of traffic building and content creation efforts, so does a blog.
So now that we understand hot spots are natural attention engaging areas, we have a new question to consider.
What three areas of a blog get the most natural attention?
This may seem like common sense, which is kind of the point. This is common sense, but there are still bloggers out there who have yet to come to their senses.
Do you want to be one of those bloggers losing out on future readers?
My guess is that your answer is a big, fat and healthy “NO!”
So, we will do the dirty deed of optimizing these three areas in order to boost our blog’s efficiency.
Area #1: The space below your posts, right above the comments.
This is a key place for getting a lot of support for your work. It’s at this point that a person has just finished reading a slammin’ good blog post of yours and has all eyes glued to the screen. Then the magic happens… they keep scrolling down, even though your post has ended!
Maybe they are looking to share their thoughts in a comment? Or, maybe they want to share your post?
They might be interested to read more of your content, which is ok – that just increases their overall engagement with your site.
Now, what if they want to stay in touch with you for MORE of what you’ve got to offer in the future?
Think I can go further with this one? Oh yes of course… they might actually decide to do all of the above at once!
Your job is to make this as easy as possible for them in order to benefit from this prime piece of blog-estate.
What should go here?
That’s a good question really.
First, you want people to know who you are. A blog gets a lot of random traffic. Duh, that is the nature of the internet, right? We are all strangers to one another, so putting a small bio right below your post is a good way to gain an instant, and personal connection.
You also want to have your social sharing set up for one click distribution. It makes a person happy to read something that they know their followers will love. Care to click the tweet button? You know your followers will love it. Good… So, why not make it easy on others to do the same for your posts as well?
Now if you’ve constructed your post well enough, they may be ready to read another blog post. Using a plugin such as Yet Another Related Post Plugin you can display a list of recent posts.
If you have enticed any form of discussion, then you will want to include an email list opt-in box below your social sharing area.
Someone who has been compelled enough to follow through with reading an entire post, and is continuing to scroll down in order to add their own opinion will likely be more considerate of signing up for future updates. This gets even better if they’ve read a few of your posts.
The icing on that cake is a killer free give away, or mouth watering future benefits. Make the opt in option delectable and people will sign up.
Area #2: Your footer area deserves some love too.
Some people will tell you that having a footer area is optional. Umm… then why is it there? People do scroll down and look at what’s in a footer.
This is a good place to do a number of things, such as (but not limited to) displaying a bio, building brand awareness, sharing more informational resources, or putting an email sign up form.
I can’t tell you what is rightfully best to put in your footer, because it really depends on what you want to achieve with your blog. If you are looking to build a community for growing your blog you will want to put personality, connectivity, and subscription options.
If you already have a community that’s self sustaining, then it makes sense to put navigation (in the form of categories or something similar), connectivity, and maybe even a product you’ve created.
[box type=”note”]Don’t get me wrong, you can grow a blog successfully and never put more than a logo and copyright in your footer, but there are people who speed down to a footer looking for more information. These people could be your future readers slipping through the cracks of a poor, undeservingly neglected footer area.[/box]
You might just want to consider sprucing it up a bit 🙂
Area #3: Your right-hand sidebar is getting too much love.
A sidebar is a hot spot, which is also a common sense statement.
This is probably why a lot of bloggers are choking the life out of their sidebar! Clearly, they forget that other areas of a blog get a lot of attention too, so they want to put everything that they think will benefit them in the sidebar.
Take a minute to consider the ill effect of this. What happens to a blog with a cluttered sidebar?
- People will get distracted away from the most important part of your blog, your content.
- Your sidebar widgets will fight against one another, begging for attention against the rest.
- Your most important widgets will become less effective because of too many options.
What would you recommend doing?
My choice would be to strip down the sidebar. Take out unnecessary clutter. Then, reevaluate what it is you want out of your blog and consider the most effective ways of getting that done.
I’m guessing you want growth, community interaction, and people reading your best stuff, right?
Ok, so put in subscription options at the top, boasting any numbers if you have them as social proof. Put a popular post widget and/or top commentators widget to show community vibe and get people to your best stuff.
Also, you can include social media connectivity to build followers and push the community vibe a bit further.
Other than that, there really shouldn’t be more. It’s ok to have a few ads in your sidebar, but don’t expect to raise the eyebrows of the bank teller when you make deposits or withdrawals.
Blogger’s get paid to present information more so than to send their traffic somewhere else. I have a few ads, but only for resources I personally use – my email service, hosting service, and the theme I use.
In my sidebar I don’t promote anything else other than ME, connectivity options, and whatever bit of community atmosphere I can muster. As I grow my blog and community, my sidebar will evolve to fit my needs.
It’s all in an effort to further that growth – I don’t want to lose future readers, which I’m sure you don’t want either.
What to take away from this?
Hopefully you’ve already got the points I’ve attempted to make. However, there are probably still a few questions I’ve left unanswered.
A quick recap might help with some:
- Use the bottom of your posts to build relationships, readership, and get more shares for your content.
- Use your footer to present extra information, premium theme affiliate link, email opt in form, popular categories/posts, or any resource you can think to benefit your growth and your readers.
- Take the clutter out of your sidebar and put what’s necessary. Not only does this increase your sidebar’s efficiency as one of the hottest places on your blog, it also gets more done for the purpose you intend for your blog.
If the recap still leaves questions unanswered, slip in a question below using the comments.
And if you have no questions, I would still like you to share your opinion. What methods do you use for these particular hot spots? Have they helped?
Oh and I really would like this particular one answered myself… are there any other secret hot spots I missed in the post that you use? If so, care to share with me?
Thanks for reading, and sharing – see you in the comments!