There are more than 178 million blogs on the Internet, with over 7,000 new blogs created each day. These numbers make it difficult for any blog to stand out from the crowd.
1. Differentiate your blog from your competitors’.
"I wanted to make sure that my site looked drastically different," Halpern says of his company's site. "Most marketing blogs are running a magazine layout, so I went back to the traditional blog layout. Other marketing blogs are focused on the color red as their main color; I chose purple. Other blogs have really fancy designs; I chose a minimalist design."
2. Choose photos that help direct your visitor's gaze.
Research has shown that people will follow the gaze of another person, whether that is on the Internet or in person. Halpern suggests using this to direct your visitor’s attention to key parts of your blog, like an email signup box.
"I’ve done a lot of research about images on the web and how people react to them," Halpern says. "Imagine you’re walking down the street and you see four people looking up in the sky; chances are you’re going to stop and look up in the sky too. The same applies online. When you see eyes looking towards something [on a website], you follow the gaze."
3. Drop your categories, archives, and search box.
Halpern suggests getting rid of features that your visitors don’t use and replacing them with features that promote your best content and encourage email sign-ups.
"In all of my [blogging ] experience I never saw that many people using my search box or archive pages," he says. "They might click on a category page, but that’s not really the best way for them to find your best content. You don’t necessarily want people to click around and only see your new stuff first; you want people to be able to find your best stuff.
To spoon-feed visitors your best content, Halpern suggests using what he calls "Resource Pages" instead of archive pages. Resource pages are essentially category pages where you handpick articles to highlight that are not necessarily presented in a date-based format.
4. Rewrite Your "About" Page to Be About Your Visitors
Halpern says the About page is one of the most heavily visited pages on your blog and should follow a specific formula which includes strategically placed opt-in forms for your email list.
"The first few paragraphs should be all about what your site offers your visitors. Then an opt-in form," he says.
After that, include testimonials or social proof that really shows you can satisfy these needs for your visitors. And then another opt-in form.
Finally, that’s when you can tell your personal story. But when you’re telling people all about you, you want to make sure that each thing you tell them will help reinforce the point that your site can help them solve their problems.
And then (say it with me), you put in another opt-in form.
Rich Brooks is the author of flyte blog, and steals all his best stuff from Derek. Just don't tell Derek.
[Image: Flickr user kervintran]