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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