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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Using Your Blog Links Wisely

Using Your Blog Links Wisely

The vast majority of blogs feature a section or two that contains nothing but links.  They may be links to the bloggers’ other blogs or to related sites; they may even be links to every syndicated columnist online - such a scheme makes up a good portion of the Drudge Report, Matt Drudge’s headline news portal. If you feature links, you’ll be following the grand tradition of successful bloggers and doing your readers a service. We’ll talk later about using your links as an assets to increase traffic, but for now we’ll just talk about how they are laid out, and in layout, there are two rules to follow: use your links purposely and organize them effectively.

Everything on your page should contribute to your page, and your links are no exception.  They should be organized in a manner that helps your readers navigate them, whether alphabetically or by subject.  They should also each contribute something to your blog’s content.  Aunt Mabel’s cat blog may be really nice – and you may really love your aunt - but the readers of your open-source software blog will not be terribly interested in it.  Your links are an asset: distribute them in a way that maximizes your blog’s value, and organize them in a way that ensures your readers can find what they want.


Fonts, colors, links and artwork are all produced on the page in a layout, a format which ought to resemble the newly-cleaned bedroom of a small child.  There will be a place for everything and everything will be in its place.  There will be no toys shoved under the bed where a curious grandmother will find them and tut-tut.  The closets will be neat and well-organized.  The floor will be swept.  In other words, you’ll need to combine all the elements of your blog into a format that makes people feel relaxed and impressed rather than distracted by clutter. But how do you accomplish that if you have no artistic ability?  It’s not as hard as you would expect.

Most blog software comes with a series of templates, pre-formatted layouts that will put things where your readers expect them to be.  These templates will allow you to set fonts and colors, decide if you want one gutter or several, and place your own artwork on the page.  They will allow you to set up an archive, start a mailing list so your subscribers can be notified every time you post, and provide a standardized structure into which you can add the codes and features that will make your blog unique.  Just remember that every blog host and package offers different features (some are simple but don’t allow imported art, some require HTML knowledge but offer great latitude in design). If you don’t want to design the page yourself, professional blog designers, like Hoyt Station, can create an inexpensive layout to your specifications.


Objects are small pieces of code that will be added to your site to make it unique and to provide useful content for your readers outside of your own writing.  They can be as simple as a page counter or as complicated as an online poll or a RSS feed, but all will be laid out on your page with two ideas in mind: visual harmony and usefulness.

Your page, when viewed for the first time, should speak most loudly to your theme.  Whether your theme is artistic or political or technological, every object on the page should do its best to illustrate and reinforce that theme in the mind of the reader. 

Some objects, however, will not relate directly to your theme as much as they will to the operation of your site.  A traffic counter is a perfect example.  While bloggers are excited when their traffic grows and want to tell the world about it in capital letters and bold fonts, most readers are not terribly interested.  Therefore it’s good practice to feature objects that directly relate to your theme and content close to the top of your page where the reader will see it first.  Operational or structural objects, like a list of blogs that have sent you recent traffic, belong closer to the bottom of the page.

Remember, your objective is to catch the first time reader’s attention and to illustrate, in as little time as possible, the theme of your site.  Every object on your page should be placed with that in mind.

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