Learn how to organize your links effectively, to help direct site traffic to where you want it to go.
Lately, in exploring design and layout, we’ve covered fonts and backgrounds and how different choices can affect the look of your blog. Today’ll we’ll look at why you might consider taming tag clouds, and instead, organize your links to direct traffic strategically to important destinations within your blog.
Why are we raining on tag clouds?
You might be wondering: what’s wrong with good old tag clouds? In short, absolutely nothing; it depends on your blogging goals.
For example, I capture quotations and reflect on the books I’m reading in my Notebook. I use a tag cloud in my sidebar and personally, I like seeing it evolve as I read more books and add more tags. The site is purely for me — it’s a place for me to track the books I’ve read and to record passages that resonate with me. While people are welcome to visit, I’m not at all concerned with growing my traffic.
If you’re interested in growing your traffic, you’ll want to free up the space the tag cloud takes up and replace it with widgets that allow you to be more intentional about where you direct reader attention.
Using the Top Posts and Pages Widget
The Top Posts and Pages Widget can help your readers find your most popular content quickly and easily. The widget displays the links to up to ten posts and pages that have the highest traffic in the past 48 hours. You can customize the title of the widget to match your site’s personality. Instead of the default “top posts and pages,” you might name it “my greatest hits,” “posts and pages you love,” or another name that matches your blog’s brand.
Hand-pick your links with a Text Widget
When you blog, posts eventually fall off the front page, and sometimes out of the minds of readers. One way to direct people back to great posts on your site is to use a Text Widget to create a list of links to posts you don’t want readers to miss. The Ugly Volvo, one of our favorite humor sites on WordPress.com, uses a Text Widget to list posts to which the blogger wants to drive traffic.
Level up with an Image Widget
You know the old saying, an image is worth a 1000 visits? (Ok, well it’s a new saying we’ve just started here and now.) In addition to hand-selected links in your Text Widget, you might consider creating badges on your site and linking them to a category of popular or undervisited posts on your site using an Image Widget.
For example, in the previous design of The Daily Post, we used a series of Images Widgets to help draw reader attention to important destinations such as Freshly Pressed (since changed to Discover), and our free ebooks.
PicMonkey offers a great free service you can use to create badges for your Image Widgets. Pop in an image and customize it with text as you see fit.
Take a good look at the widgets in your sidebar and in your footer — are there ways you can use that space to drive traffic to evergreen content on your site? You never know: your next traffic bump might be a new widget away.