When it comes to blogs, every site will have it’s own unique elements–after all, that’s what makes them unique. (No brainer.) So while every site will be a little different, there are a few essential elements that should be implemented across the board on every site.
This list makes it easy for readers and brands to contact you, helps readers find more content on your site (leading to MORE traffic!) and makes it easy to share your content. We’ve also listed them in order of importance, to help you prioritize and tackle them one step at a time!
1. About & Contact Pages
Two things every blog MUST have are about and contact pages.
An about page that explains who you are, what you’re all about and your location (brands often look for bloggers on a state and city level, so listing your location is imperative!) and serves as the first impression you’ll make on your readers! Give them a taste of who you are and what to expect from your site.
A contact page should list, clear and simple steps to get in touch with you. This is imperative to making sure that your readers, other bloggers, and brands can reach you easily. If a brand has to dig around for your information, they’re likely going to give up. (Welp! No free stuff for you!)
You can do something as simple as including an email address in your copy, or as fancy as creating a custom form they can fill out. For this, we recommend Contact Form 7.
A quick note on that: you’ll likely need an email address that matches the domain of your site for responses to be sent properly. So, if your domain is pollysfashion.com, the email should be something like email@example.com — not firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can typically set this up within your host (we recommend BlueHost–more on that here!) and have emails redirected to your Google account — you can find an easy tutorial for how to set that up here.
2. Mobile-Friendly or Responsive
These days, more and more people view websites on their phones, and if your site is difficult or impossible to view on a mobile device, you’re missing out on a lot of traffic and potential sales! Google ranks you higher on mobile if your site is mobile friendly, so if you don’t have this yet, make it a priority!
The term, “responsive” means that your site responds to the width of a browser and will change accordingly. If you change the size of our site, it automatically responds and stacks nicely and of course, makes it mobile-friendly too.
If you don’t currently have a mobile design, you can see our favorite affordable pre-made template resources listed under “best blogging resources” on our “start here” page.
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3. Social Media Buttons
One of the easiest ways to promote your site and new posts to your readers is through social media, so it’s important that there’s a easy and prominent way for them to find you on those platforms. Make sure these buttons are placed near the top of your side bar–many of the themes we referenced above already have these built into the design!
Also, ensure that any outbound links to these sites open in a new window, so they don’t lead people away from your site! (An easy way to do this is to download the “open in new window” plugin for WordPress!) This will then give you the option to check “open in new window” box whenever you plug in a URL!
If you write your posts in the ‘Text’ view, you can select the option to “open in new window” straight from WordPress without the plugin.
4. Simple Commenting System
WordPress’ native commenting system works just fine, but we both love Disqus for easy commenting. Both Jess and I found that once we installed Disqus our comments and engagement on posts skyrocketed! Many people already belong to Disqus, so it makes it much faster to comment, vs other systems which ask for your name, URL, and email address in order to post a comment.
The main point here? Whenever you can make something easier for your readers, do it.
Keeping posts categorized is seriously helpful in organizing your site and making it easier for readers to search and easily find what they are looking for. The easiest way to do this is at the top navigation of your site, and/or via a dropdown menu. Check out this tutorial for adding categories if you get stuck!
If you want to change them or add more later, it’s totally doable, just start categorizing your posts now. You’ll thank us later.
6. Social Share Buttons
Every post should have an easy way for readers to share the content. We love the Pinterest button that hovers over images (get it here), and also recommend Sumo Me — it’s a super easy way to add share buttons that scroll down the page with you and encourage more shares!
7. Way to Explore More Posts
This could be something like a section of related posts at the bottom of each post or a link back to the previous post. Giving readers options to check out other things they might like is huge for keeping them interested and on your page longer and the longer they’re on your page, the better it is for your ranking! When readers spend a long time on your site, it tells Google that they found what they were looking for when they arrived and pulls you up in their system.
Another great plugin that will keep visitors around longer is WordPress Popular Posts. It’s free, easy to install and configure and there’s a setting to pull in featured images for a nice visual touch!
You can also do this organically within your copy, linking to other older posts on similar topics. For example, if you styled a pair of shoes twice on your blog before, link to those posts within your copy. One of our favorite blogs, Cup of Jo, also links to similar posts in a “P.S.” comment at the bottom of each post.
Does your blog check all these boxes? What other things do you think are totally necessary for every blog?2