One of the easiest ways of increasing your blog readership is good navigation. But, what exactly is this and what can you do?

Picture the scene. A visitor lands on your blog’s home page from a search engine query or clicking a link in an article. Chances are that the post most relevant to them has moved. A quick glance down the home page doesn’t reveal the answer, so now what happens?

Answer – they leave your site. No RSS subscription, no further page views, no bookmarking to return at a later date. This is a disaster.

So take a look at your blog’s home page. If you were that visitor, what should be there to help you find the posts that you want.

Make it loud, make it proud
I have used most popular post and related post plugins on my blogs for years. They certainly do help – you can see that traffic is navigating around the site using these. However, these are small and sometimes difficult to see. So start off with something that new readers will not miss.

And that is a sticky post.Write a post and stick it to your home page so that it is always the first post that readers see. This way, if some posts are a little off topic it doesn’t matter. The sticky post is what they see first.

But what goes into that post? Well just review the posts that have been read the most over the last week or two. You don’t need this to be exact and you could tweak the list a little to push readers to key posts. Just write about the post and then link to it. I did this and my pages per visitor jumped up by over 20%.

Guide visitors around your site
So you have used a sticky to get a reader to a key post, now what? Well are any of the elements of that discussion dealt with in more detail in other posts? Maybe it is a high level list of tasks, each of which is described in detail elsewhere?

If so, link straight to those posts from the relevant paragraphs. If you have readers hungry for information, show them where to get it on your site. Search engines will also love this ability to delve deeper. Whilst you are at it, review your most popularly read posts and apply this trick to them all.

Automate the process
They might not work as well as manual links, but they can still help with traffic. So install a most popular posts plugin and replace the most recent posts list with this list. Show readers your best and most popular work.

Whilst you are at it, give them a list of related posts at the end of each post. Maybe you haven’t had time to update that post or they have the detail they need, but you are suggesting more reading to them.

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