When designing web pages, web designers typically begin with the home page. It's assumed that because it's the main page of the website from the designer's eyes, it will be the most visited. Designers tend to spend days developing the layout, carefully choosing words that precisely describe the business, and selecting which photos best represent the company. We then hand it off to our development team to build unique functionality that impresses visitors.
I'm here to debunk this whole concept.
It's true that if your website was last built using traditional web design tactics, your home page is probably the main place visitors land.
However, in today's world of Google, social media, and content marketing, most professionals know that web visitors behave far differently than before. In inbound marketing, the strongest areas of content, such as your blog or long-form content pages, are visited far more often than the home page.
It's All About the Blog
Weidert Group's blog generates 83% of the traffic that comes to our website. This makes perfect sense when you consider the fact that we've been blogging 5 days a week since late 2008. That's more than 2,000 blog posts—way more content than the rest of our website.
I know that when I search for an answer to a specific question, there are two types of pages that are most likely to show up in my Google search results. Forum pages and blog articles. If I'm lucky someone has written a blog article addressing my exact question with a step-by-step guide or answer.
If your blog is the main source of website traffic, should we still put so much emphasis on the homepage? Should a website's menu and navigation change knowing that most visitors will never see our main site pages?
Maximizing Your Blog Traffic
To make the most of that traffic we make sure to promote other content throughout our blog pages.
Take Weidert Group's blog: In our right-hand column we promote our most popular posts. We have a secondary menu just for our blog that leads to relevant topics for our primary verticals and subject categories. Also, at the bottom of every post we put a CTA to more advanced content. These CTAs and landing pages are the primary sources of online leads.
Many other blogs do the same thing. Moz uses the bottom of their blog to promote their primary product, Moz Pro. Crazy Egg, a website heat map creator, promotes their heat map tool. Unbounce promotes their landing page creation tool.
Make sure you're making the most of your blog traffic to drive lead generation by promoting your most important content within your blog posts.
Your Main Menu
How does having most of your web traffic come in through your blog affect main menu navigation? Do you still need to emphasize the same things?
I would argue that most companies should not put too much emphasis on their blogs in your navigation; most visitors already know you have one. Keep a blog link in the courtesy links or top bar area of your header, but it doesn't need to be a menu item.
Also, if you have a branded blog don’t use the name in your navigation. It will most likely take up too much space and it can confuse visitors. The word blog is short and sweet and everyone understands what it means.
Instead, your header menu should focus on your most important conversion channel, which is most likely a bottom-of-the-funnel offer such as a free trial or consultation.
If you're a service company you probably want a way to request a quote or consultation as your main menu's primary CTA. If you are selling software, consider putting up a button to get a demo. If you have a subscription service, you should definitely have a Sign Up button.
HubSpot's menu is simple and focuses on the “Get a Free Trial” of their marketing platform.
Everyone knows that mobile traffic continues to grow, but it seems as though most websites still ignore it. Because of the nature of mobile devices, people tend to do quick interactions as opposed to deep dives on websites. They're likely to visit a blog post but unlikely to follow a link to a downloadable piece of content. This makes having your blog mobile-adaptable even more important.
Because of their limited screen size and more difficult input options, you should focus your mobile blog traffic on simple conversion funnels such as blog subscriptions. Make sure the forms are as simple as possible, even going as far as to only ask for an email address. This way you can start to build a relationship with the visitors, which you can continue with more advanced content when they're at a desktop or laptop computer.
Promoting related blog posts can also do well on mobile, as they don't require a download.
When you assess your website's navigation—based on the fact that most of your visitors will interact with your website—things can look a bit different. By directing blog readers to your more advanced content and offers through your websites structure, navigation will help your website generate the quality leads you need.
Posted by Jonathan Stanis An engineer by training, Jon focuses on the technical delivery of an effective inbound marketing program. He builds client website plans that solve for conversion potential and utilize smart user experiences. He is also responsible for analyzing and monitoring the success of inbound projects. Jon fits the definition of being a "whole brain marketer" because he is both a strong writer-designer and a deeply analytical thinker.