There’s a lot to consider when designing a blog. You’ve got to keep usability, search engine optimization (SEO), and your company’s branding in mind. However, a blog template that’s maximized for social media sharing and integration is equally important. Social media optimization (SMO) is a relatively new form of inbound marketing that’s closely tied to SEO.
In the past two year’s, Google’s search algorithm has changed to put more weight on likes, shares, tweets, and +1s than ever before. Providing your website visitors with easy opportunities to share on social media, when coupled with quality content and sound SEO practices, will transform your site into a marketing powerhouse.
Whether you’re in the beginning stages of figuring out how to design a blog or looking to revamp your site, here are some of the most effective ways to dramatically increase your site visibility on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest:
Add Social Sharing Modules
Wouldn’t it be great to gain 700% more social media reactions, without changing a thing about your content? Turns out, achieving this is also one of simplest factors in identify how to design a blog that’s social-optimized. Research by BrightEdge has found that including a social sharing module on your blog template will increase your shares 700%. Even more impressively, 46.4% of websites don’t currently have any social plugins or share buttons installed. Talk about some low-handing fruit!
While the way you decide to approach this is surely going to be unique to you, the important thing is ensuring you have simple, click-to-share buttons for all of the major social media networks. And you don’t need to know any hardcore coding skills to implement this, either. This feature is as easy as installing a free plug-in for Wordpress customers. Here are a few of the best-known options, which can be factored into your plan for how to design a blog in just minutes:
- Wordpress Social Sharing ToolKit: This free plug-in supports share buttons for 23 of the biggest social media networks, including options that are appropriate for a global audience like Weibo and vkontakte. Best of all, it’s easy to customize!
- Simplified Social Sharing: This plug-in is exactly what it sounds like - a way to integrate social sharing buttons into your plan for how to design a blog, with no coding required! You can pick between 90 social networks supported by this plug-in.
- Share Buttons by AddThis: Data nerds are sure to dig AddThis’ Wordpress plugin, which offers all the flexibility of other options with the added benefit of analytics. All it takes is a free AddThis.com account to access rich insights on what blogs are being shared, where, and when.
Include Social Follow Buttons
Some of the smartest advice you’ll ever receive on how to design a blog for search engines and readers will be to keep it simple. Overloading your site with too many plugins can drastically increase your page load times. As Sean Work of Kissmetrics points out, slow-loading websites are just bad news all around - it’s going to decrease your SEO, and mobile users’ ability to access your content. That being said, if you could only pick one plug-in to increase your site’s social media optimization, it should be a social follow widget. We love the subtle design of the option below:
Social follow buttons transcends how to design a blog - these buttons belong on every page of your website! Including links to your social presence is one of the most effective ways to increase your following and engagement. While Wordpress’ Social Sharing Toolkit that we mentioned above includes this option, we’ve showcased a few more below:
- Simple Social Buttons: If you’re still figuring out how to design a blog, this easy option may be the right one for you. This Wordpress plug-in offers limited customization, but it’s easy to implement on every page of your website.
- Follow Buttons By AddThis: Have you noticed that we’re huge fans of AddThis products? Much like their social sharing buttons, you can gain some pretty cool data on clicks to your social profiles with the help of this plug-in.
- Social Media Feather: You can increase social media follows without skyrocketing your load time with the help of this plug-in, which is one of the lightest options available to Wordpress users.
Customize Your Images
When a reader of your blog clicks to share your latest article, what do their friends see? If they’ve shared to Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, it’s certainly your image. Pictures stand out in crowded newsfeeds, and including an engaging image can be the difference between gaining some serious social media attention and getting ignored. In order to really differentiate your content, we recommend delving into customized images that include the value proposition of your blog in clear lettering. Thanks to the latest apps, you don’t need even basic graphic design skills to add some text to your images!
The following image is a great example of the kind of visual content you should be including at the top of your blogs:
This image rocks because the text is included in such a way that it’s going to be easy-to-read - even in thumbnail form! While there’s no need to overlay text on every image you publish, it’s certainly a best practice for your highest-quality publications. Here are a few of our favorite resources for creating custom images:
- Photopin.com: Many resources for royalty-free images licensed under creative commons provide low-res options that can be difficult to use, or stiff stock photos. Not this site! It’s a comprehensive, valuable search engine for finding the perfect pictures.
- Canva: This up-and-coming graphic design resource offers many of the same functionalities as Adobe’s creative suite, without the price tag attached. Canva is free, easy-to-use, and a perfect option for simple photo editing or visual content creation.
To learn more about the importance of great images for social reactions, we recommend Visual Content Marketing Tips from 13 Genius Thought Leaders.
Pin It Hover Options
Pinterest might not be as big as Twitter or Facebook, but it’s a pretty serious social media marketing powerhouse. Conversion rates from Pinterest traffic are 50% higher than other social media networks, and its users spend more when they’re ready to make a difference. It’s a platform that’s basically designed for product and service discovery. If your buyer personas are on Pinterest, adding a pin-it option to the images your site can drastically increase social shares and sales.
When visitors to your website “hover” over your images with their curser, an option to pin the image will appear, as shown below:
Is adding this feature a crucial component of how to design a blog? Not quite, but it’s a pretty smart move on the part of brands who know their customers are on Pinterest. Here’s some plug-ins that do the work for you:
- Hover Pin-It: It’s easy to customize this feature with the Hover Pin-It plugin, which allows users to determine which images the button appears on, transparency, the size, and whether to display a running pin count.
- jQuery Pin-It Button for Images: If determining how to design a blog is daunting, don’t let the technical name of this option stand in your way. It’s completely user-friendly, and allows you to disable or enable your custom pin-it button for individual posts and pages.
- Pinterest Pin-It Button: This is another easy-to-customize and use plug-in, which offers you the option for easy Pinterest integration.
What’s the true secret to increasing your brand’s reactions on social media? It’s a combination of creating quality content that your customers will love, and determining how to design a blog that’s primed for social sharing. When social media is a seamless part of your user experience, you’ll watch your social shares and engagement skyrocket!
Have you figured out any tips or tricks for how to design a blog that’s socially integrated? Share your thoughts in the comments!