Your Blog’s Welcome Mat

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How welcoming is your blog? What impression does it make on new visitors?

I ask this because on Saturday, October 11, 2009, I will be giving a presentation entitled Become A Genealogy Blog User at the California Genealogical Society and Library in Oakland, CA.  And during this one hour talk, I will be not only highlighting many different genealogy blogs in our blogroll here at GeneaBloggers, but my handouts will also list over 50 genealogy blogs and their URLs.  It is likely that attendees will go home and visit most of these blogs at some point after the presentation.

And if that isn’t incentive enough to think about shaking out your blog’s welcome mat, consider that many web surfers make very quick decisions as to whether or not a blog or website are useful.  As Mother said, first impressions are important!

I will have more posts on this subject soon – specifically on how to create a permanent landing pad area right below your banner and right above your latest post.  A landing pad can give a quick glimpse as to what your blog is about, your best and most popular posts and more.

While I work on these posts, consider some of these tips and tricks:

  • Where Are You? Not knowing where a blogger is based or the geographical area of their genealogy research can cause confusion for new visitors or force them to disregard your site as unimportant to their own research.  Create a simple text widget or add a map for your side bar.
  • Add a Search Engine. Many blog visitors won’t take the time to go through your entire blog to look for information.  Add a search engine widget similar to the one here on GeneaBloggers. For instructions on setting up Google Search and using the link on your blog, see this post on Bootcamp for GeneaBloggers.
  • What Are Your Surnames? Sure Google and other search engines will pick up your blog posts with the surname in them, but having them on the front page of your blog gives them greater page ranking abilities for your site.  Again, a small sidebar widget perhaps linking to the tab or label for that surname would be useful for visitors.
  • A Simple Welcome.  Here’s a great example of a welcome mat at Everything’s Relative – Researching Your Family History: Cindy has created a graphic for her sidebar which reads “Did you land on my blog because you searched for a name that’s here?  If so please contact me at CindysOffice@aol.com.  I’m always looking for cousins and exploring possible family connections!”
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Welcome mat photo used under Creative Commons 3.0 License courtesy of King Dumb at Flickr.

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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Comments

19 thoughts on “Your Blog’s Welcome Mat

  1. Pingback: Caroline Pointer

  2. And as Mother also said, “If your wearing too much jewelry, look at yourself in the mirror and take off a piece or two.” A blog can look too busy.

    Err on the side of great navigation.

    -fM

  3. My opinion – blogs are super-easy to set up but quite complicated to organize.
    In my first real attempt at organization, I concentrated my overall information in a Sticky Post at the top left hand corner of the Home Page . This seemed like a great idea till I realized that most Google traffic was arriving on individual posts where you don’t see the front page. So now I’m tweaking and re-tweaking the right sidebar!
    I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say next.

  4. Great post Thomas and great post fM. I will definitely be looking at my blog over the next couple of days to make sure that it is nice and welcoming.

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  8. Thanks for the information. I’ve been trying to decide how I need to change my blog.Your post helps! I’ve moved some items around where they will be easier seen and added others that have been needed. The main thing which I feel has been needed was a profile. I added this today. It will be interesting to see how much this helps.

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  11. footnoteMaven: I agree that a blogger must also make navigation easy for visitors – there is a certain “zen” to the number of items in the sidebar which include good information as well as helpful navigation.

    Thomas MacEntee

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