- Do you hammer out your daily dose of blog posts?
- Are you and your readers satisfied with your blog format?
- Are your readers leaving your page after reading one page?
If the answer to the last question is a proud ‘Yes Sir’ then we have found a bunch of classical blog problems related to ‘archive pages’.
- Visitors read the latest article and leave
- Visitors find a good article via search engine and leave
As the new performancing.com staff writer James Mowery pointed out in How To Make Your Previously Written Content Valuable Once Again there are good reasons to give your readers a lightning fast way to previously published great articles (Read: buried stone dead in the archives). Let’s use a more generic and less performance consuming approach…
Social bookmarks are perfect for publishing…
Be aware of WordPress performance problems
If you are a WordPress user like the ones the above mentioned article is aimed at you may want to check if there are other solutions then the mentioned WordPress plug-ins because WP extensions can lead to another bunch of problems at least if you consider performance to be important. Take a look at the number of database calls and you may see that your page is pretty slow because some WP plug-ins may add literally 1,000s of database queries to your site just for a fancy feature.
Why not use some powerful social services and take advantage of them?
Find out about your best pages yourself
I am using the tool 103bees and a good analytics tool (old school Google Analytics in my case) to find out which landing pages are successful. But 103bees can do much more for you in this ‘best pages’ case then standard analytics packages do.
- You can lookup your top landing pages and see which keywords and which phrases have led to the specific page.
- You can lookup single keywords and see to which pages on your site they have led visitors.
- You can lookup keyword phrases and see to which pages on your site they have led visitors.
Using the menu points “Top landing pages”, “Top search terms”, and “Top keywords” you get a list of phrases or single keywords. This is priceless information even if rumors say that there might be some price to pay for the 103bees service in the future.
Now we have found out:
- What are the most visited landing pages which is good for identifying the most successful if not the best articles.
- How to collect the data for keywords leading to specific single pages which can be a good source to create a ‘this article was found with the following keywords/phrases’ block for single articles.
- Which pages belong to which keyword cloud which can give us a good list of related articles.
Now we can develop a little matrix of cross connected links.
Bookmarks, notes and tags used for publishing power
The list above sounds very complicated, doesn’t it?
- Let’s use the ‘best landing pages’ scenario as a 1st case study.
The del.icio.us plug-in for Firefox is a useful bookmarking tool because you can bookmark a link, add a note and tags. Bookmark your top landing pages links in 103bees with a special tag like my:best:pages to del.icio.us. Done. The basic matrix for the ‘best landing pages’ scenario is finished.
Of course the best landing pages don’t have to be the pages you consider to be the best pages but you can decide yourself about the mix.
Repeat the bookmarking procedure from time to time to refresh the list if necessary.
- Use a bookmark tag for fitting external pages to create a block of reading recommendations below a single article.
This can be done in the Firefox browser via the mentioned del.icio.us add-on. To speed up this process you can use a feed reader which is capable of tagging articles and sending them to del.icio.us. My favorite feed reader BlogBridge can do so. Just tap ‘t’ when reading an article and add tags and extended note in the dialog. After OKing the dialog the tagged article is sent to del.icio.us as a bookmark and the bookmark is ready to be published without further action.
Let’s say you have an article about ‘what great grid design can do for your blog’. The article is finished but you stumble across fitting pages because new articles about grid design pop up all the time. Bookmark the found article i.e ‘blog:grid’ and you can update your reading recommendations below the article automatically without touching the admin interface.
With the del.icio.us add-on for Firefox you can even exchange the external article title against a better alternative for your site.
Note: By looking up the original search engine referrer we are also able to find the related pages via the original search engine result page. If you link out to the top authority results you have a chance to receive some fitting backlinks.
- Tip: Use an external blog editor to send short notes as asides to your blog.
You can send articles via XML-RPC (read: external blog editor) to a specific blog category i.e. ‘linkdump’. Now you only have to define a template block for that category to only contain these ‘linkdump’ articles.
Use the hosting power of modern social web services
Remember that WordPress plug-ins are a) only for WordPress and b) very resource consuming esp. when combined. A WP installation with plug-ins installed for a top commenter list, most read articles, most downloads, last referrers, etc. plus all the rest of the dynamic WP plug-ins might become very slow because of all the necessary database queries!
Let’s say you run a couple of websites which are not powered a) by WordPress, b) you want to use the before mentioned bookmarks on multiple sites and/or c) you love the idea of a ‘computing grid’. Maybe your hosting plan also plays a vital role (think about videos, music and photos).
As we have loads of free solutions on the web which offer great computing power and many of them offer personal RSS feeds why not use those resources to free our sites from performance bottlenecks, ISP download restrictions and gain publishing power by adding little snippets of external information to our websites?
Use the power of RSS subscriptions!
Publish your i.e. ‘best of’ bookmarks via RSS
On pretty every serious CMS or blog system you can subscribe to RSS feeds to show up in your content. These RSS feeds can come from your own sources (think blog network) or from external sources. If you don’t have the RSS subscription possibility then you can still install the powerful SimplePie or MagPie RSS aggregator solutions and add some PHP to your template code.
In our ‘best of this blog’ scenario we now only have to add a content block at the appropriate places and publish the my:best:pages RSS feed from del.icio.us. The latest list of the i.e. ten best pages will show up automatically.
You can decide to show the title only or add your bookmark notes.
There are many possibilities to add content via RSS. Think about adding weather information, news, videos, photos, blog search results from Google, Technorati or many other sources.
But please: Take care about copyright restrictions if using external sources!
For external full content feeds I can only recommend to republish them via i.e. FeedBurner and shorten the feed content.
Resume for the ‘best articles’ scenario
del.icio.us is your friend …
This del.icio.us way I am also solving some archive presentation pages issues. For every month I ‘develop’ a certain del.icio.us linkroll … with or without excerpts and put them onto a page or into my sideboard
Here are the steps in short:
- Use a d.i.u tag for your best articles
- Publish the RSS feed for that tag as an aside
- Your finest content will show up automatically
- Publish mini blogs as asides
- Intuitive Navigation with Tag Clouds – Lengthy article but valuable ‘archive structure’ discussion in the comments.
Feel free to add more links to related articles in the comments.
Following your advice (read: kick in the butt) I have added a sidebar to my local news blog and show article related links and the last ten new articles. On the homepage and list pages the output is totally different.
The result seems to be nice. Google analytics show that the PI/visit has increased from a standard ~1.65 to >2. This definitely makes a difference. The maths go like this:
Old: 1,000 visitors, 1,650 page impressions
Now: 1,000 visitors, 2,000 page impressions
I gained about 17,5% in PIs.
Further tuning and tweaks will follow. The biggest decision to make was to change the main layout from one column centered with max 760px to one column left 760px + sidebar = 960px fixed width.
Great article Markus. Hopefully others take something from this.