Driving Traffic to Your Archives
Given the ephemeral nature of the internet — from breaking news to memes to reader attention spans — it feels like we, as online publishers, are pushed to keep pace with the web, writing post after post each day.
Most blogs are set up for this kind of schedule, with front pages displaying your latest posts. But while your readers (and search engines) love seeing fresh content on your homepage, we encourage you to promote your archives, too: your best posts, your hidden gems, and your timeless content. It’s great to drive traffic to older posts and different parts of your blog.
You’ve got handy tools in the dashboard to promote your older content, from the Archives Widget to the Categories Widget. But let’s look beyond these and discover other ways to drive traffic to your archives.
Custom menus of pages or categories
Over on Butterfly Mind, writer Andrea Badgley has a custom menu on the left that includes two archive pages of content: Contents, Year 1 and Contents, Year 2. Combined, these act as a “table of contents” for her blog, and is an alternate way to organize and display older content.
Similarly, you can create a “Best Of” page and curate a shortlist of your favorite and most popular posts, then add the page to your menu. The Top Posts & Pages Widget may generate a similar list for you, but if you want more control over your selections — and want to display this list on its own page rather than your sidebar — this is a simple way to do it. (For users who like tinkering with shortcodes, consider the Display Posts Shortcode: using various shortcode options, you can fine-tune the posts you want to display on a page, too.)
You can create a custom menu with categories as well (or mix it up and include pages and categories, plus external links). I don’t write frequently on my own blog, so I created a menu for my most popular categories, which highlights older posts. As a result, I’ve made my categories more accessible, allowing readers to easily discover content that’s more than a year old.
Custom image widgets
Here on The Daily Post, we display clickable custom Image Widgets in our sidebar. (We created these in PicMonkey, which is free and doesn’t require registration.) The widgets not only jazz up and visually enhance our blog, but drive more traffic to various places: “Blog Events” leads to our Blog Events Listings page; “Freshly Pressed” leads to the latest crop of editors’ picks in the Reader; and ”Photography 101,” “Community Etiquette,” and “Writing Challenges” direct our readers and new visitors to the pages of three popular categories:
Featured post sliders
Some themes have the option to activate a post slider — a slideshow of featured images, often at the top of your homepage, that highlights selected posts. In the Theme Showcase, you can browse themes that support post sliders and the different ways your featured posts can be displayed.
Check out Carter Higgins’ vibrant, well-designed site, Design of the Picture Book. She uses ThemeMin, which supports a post slider on the front page, just below her header image. You can see a row of image thumbnails for five featured posts, which Carter has activated by selecting featured images for her posts and then making these posts “sticky.“
A post slider is another visual way to call attention to older posts. Here, Carter selects various posts from 2013, and even one from 2012 — “Rapido’s Next Stop,” the featured post on the far right, is from August 2012.
Recurring posts, roundups, and anniversaries
Another way to direct traffic to your archives is by publishing an ongoing series. Former school librarian Miss Anderson at The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shhh! has two weekly series: Top Ten Tuesday and Quotetastic Friday. Visitors who click on these tabs in the left-side menu are led to these category pages, which compile posts published as far back as fall 2011.
You can also curate your own content. The end of the year is approaching, so why not write a “2013 in Review” post that summarizes your year and includes standout posts? Or, if you’re a food or DIY blogger who writes about seasonal recipes or craft projects over the holidays, be sure to promote and link to older posts you’ve written. These are opportunities to highlight your writing and work in timely, relevant ways.
Some bloggers create editorial calendars to keep regular schedules per week or month, while others write annual posts, too. Expat and nomadic bloggers pen “travelversary” posts that mark another year of living abroad or traveling the world; in these kinds of posts, bloggers revisit older “travelversary” posts and look back on what they’ve accomplished and experienced.
Not an expat or traveler? You can draft a similar post, no matter your niche, and then call attention to related posts from your archives.
What do you do to promote your older content and drive traffic to your archives?