Do you make it easy for your visitors to find what they are looking for on your web site?
Last night I was reading a post on a blog that I found interesting. I thought the blogger might have other information on the subject, but there was no way to (1) easily find other posts in the same category or (2) do a site search for keywords. I was not going to page through the entire site looking for what I wanted, so I left.
Once you have gotten someone on your site, don’t make it hard for them to get the information they want and need. Here is how you can keep them engaged.
Link to popular articles or pages that are most viewed on your site. That may be exactly what other visitors want to see, too.
Organize articles and posts by category, and display those categories prominently. It is surprising to me how many bloggers have links to archives by date, but do not link to categories. I do not really care what you wrote in July, 2008, I want to find the other posts about the subject I came here to read about. Help me find them, no matter when they were written.
Give me a way to search your site, and put the search box where I can find it. Most blogs include a search function, so all you have to do is make sure the search box is somewhere it can be seen. If your site doesn’t include search, there are plugins, widgets and other options available, depending on the platform on which your site is built. One choice that can work for anyone is Google Custom Search Engine. Just tell Google what site you want to search and how you want the search box and results to display, then get the code and paste it in your pages.
Two other things make Google Custom Search (GCS) very cool:
(1) You can put AdSense ads on the results page to monetize your search results. You may not want to do that, as it takes people away from your site, but it is an option.
(2) You can design GCS to search several sites at once. For example, the search box near the bottom of the page on IdeaLady.com allows you to search all of my web sites at once. I figure if you have read to the bottom of the page and still haven’t found what you are looking for, a search of all of my sites may be just what you need. (There is a search box specific to IdeaLady.com at the top right of the page.)
You work hard to get people to visit your site. Once they are there do not drive them away by making it hard to find what they came there for.