Everyone and their mother has a blog nowadays. And while you should always do things you own way, there are a few things every blog needs. Now of course, you are 100% welcome to not include these 5 things on your blog. After all, what works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else. However, as someone who has been involved in the blogging community for awhile now and as someone who works daily to make sites user friendly, there are 6 things every blog needs. These are the very basics, the bare minimum, if you will.
1. About / Start Here Page
An about page or alternatively a start here page is usually one of the most popular pages on a blog, which makes complete sense. Your readers want to know what they will get out of your blog as well as learning more about who is behind the blog.
Of course your blog posts themselves will provide your readers with a good sense of what type of content is posted, but sometimes people don’t have time to go hunting through your archives. They land on your blog and want to know right away what they’re going to get out staying around. Your about page provides this info for your readers.
Now I mentioned a start here page as an alternative for an about page. In fact, I have one here on my blog. Depending on the subject of your blog, you might choose one over the other. They can act similarly, but in my eyes, an about page is more information based. It tells your readers what they can expect. But a start here page shows your readers what to expect through the use of links, resources, etc.
The fact is, whichever one you choose, you need one.
2. Contact Information
As a blogger, people will want to get in touch with you. Maybe they want to collaborate with you. Or maybe they want to hire you. Or maybe they just want to be your BFF. How will they be able to get in contact if that information isn’t available on your site?
Therefore, it’s super important to provide contact information on your blog. Create a contact page and list any methods in which people can contact you. In most cases, an email address suffices. But depending on the nature of your blog, you might even want to include a phone number or even an address (this is especially important if your blog is for a brick and mortar business!).
Remember that adding your contact info to your blog isn’t enough. It needs to be easily found. After all, what good is even having the information listed if no one can find it? Two of the best places to add your contact info to your blog is via a contact page linked to via your main menu or in your site’s footer. When in doubt about placement, think about where you would look on a site for one’s contact info. And it doesn’t hurt to include it in multiple places.
3. Social Media Links
While easy to find contact information is important, don’t forget about including social media links on your site. Your readers want to follow you on their favorite platforms. By not including those links, you’re missing out on growing your following. I know personally that if I come across a site I really like, I want to follow the blogger. And do you know how many times I don’t find any social media links?
So be sure to include those links! You don’t need to include every single site that you have an account for, but include those that you are most active on. And just like how your contact information should be easy to find, keep your social media links accessible! Some common places to add them are in your header, main menu, sidebar, or footer. Don’t make your readers dig for them.
4. Search Bar
A search bar is a crucial if you want people to be able to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for. Of course having a well thought out menu (which I’ll go over in the next section) can greatly help make your site easy to navigate, but if your archives are a decent size, sometimes the best way to find what you’re looking for is via the search bar.
So a search bar is necessary, but where should you place it? I typically like to stick with one of 3 places: header, sidebar, or footer. The header and sidebar are more common and are probably the first places people will look when looking for the search bar. The key is if you’re going to have a search bar, make it easy to find. Don’t bury it where it’s hard to find. A reader should be able to quickly scan your site and find it.
5. Organized Navigation
Now while a search bar helps your readers find something a bit more specific, your menu is important for helping them navigate the most important pages of your site. A well organized navigation menu shouldn’t have a million links. Limit it to the most important links. A good rule of thumb that I go by is the top level of links should be one row. That’s it. If it’s spanning multiple rows, then there are too many!
Because you’re then limited to how many top level links you can include on your menu, what happens if you absolutely have to include more? Well that’s where drop down links come in handy. I personally limit any drop down links to one level. Sure, you can go 5 levels deep, but is that really necessary? I don’t think so.
When organizing your navigation links, one trick is to make sure your links take your blog’s visitors through your site in a meaningful way. People will typically start on the left and move their way across the menu to the right. So think about how you want people to progress through your site. For example, an about or start here page would make sense as the first link (since that’s where people should start). Then include any blog specific links. Last would be your contact page.
6. Easy to Remember URL
Your URL can make or break your site. Sure, having a horribly long URL with weird spelling won’t be completely disastrous, after all a lot of your traffic will come from direct links. But if someone one day remembers your site and wants to revisit it, or maybe even tell their friends about it, will they be able to?
This is where an easy to remember URL comes in. If your blog is called “My Super Awesome Blog” your URL should be mysuperawesomeblog.com or a close variation, not blogaboutstuff.com. Now if you’re blogging under your own name and your name is difficult to spell, well your options are a bit more limited. You could either buy other domains with common misspellings and have them redirect to your site, or you could go with an easier to spell nickname. But keep in mind that you need to make it obvious to people that your blog isn’t yourname.com but instead a variation.
So how does your blog stack up? Does it include these 6 things every blog needs?