Some people refer to a blog as an online journal, and others refer to it as an informational website where they can access all the needed information. A blog is a simple way of engaging online users and a place where people share their thoughts and opinions. But, nowadays key features of a blog are very crucial. Let’s see!
Blogging niche ranges from personal opinion to well-researched and expert opinions. Some of the most popular blogging niches are health, personal development, finance, beauty, travel, fashion, and fitness. Blogs, when written professionally, can influence decisions, politics, and businesses.
People blog for different reasons, however, the main goal of a blog is to attract as many people as possible. More traffic means an expanded network and eventual conversion. Many things go into making a blog site great.
While some bloggers can attract people to their blogs simply because of their celebrity status or influence elsewhere, others will have to put in a lot of effort to get traffic. Besides content, which is considered king in the blogging world, other essential blog features will make your blog great.
Look at it this way. You have all the experience for a job. Apart from these experiences, the interview panel will be looking for other skills that you can bring on board, such as communication and interpersonal skills. No matter how captivating your article may be, those who visit your blog may not bother looking at it if you don’t present it well.
So, your blog’s functionality and look will attract the traffic you need. You must take time and research the best blog set-up and features that will work for you.
Summary of the must-have blog features
- Excellent blog design and structure
- Easy-to-navigate menu
- Social media integration
- Commenting system
- Visible search box
- RSS Feed
- Blog post archive
- Security and spam protection
- Internal linking
- Well-organized category bar
These are some of the must-have best blog features that will make your blog tick. However, some free blog hosting accounts, such as WordPress, come with preset themes and layouts and guides on how to create a blog site. You can also enlist qualified blog designers to design and develop a blog for you.
Now, let’s have a look at these essential features that your blog should have.
1. Right design and structure
Blog design includes all the other features that will be discussed in this article. So, let’s get it out of our way first. Apart from content, people will judge your blog by its design. Blog’s design is a powerful component that will determine how long people stay on your site and the ease with which you can retain and convert them. When people see elegant blog design, they will definitely pay attention to other features and content because it is the first thing that they see when they click on that link. So, you need to invest in an appealing design that will attract traffic.
The right blog structure or layout allows visitors to find their ways around the blog. Without structure, your blog will appear unorganized and with a scattered brain. No one will want to withstand the pain of going through your site. So, how does a good blog design look like?
Blog design should be functional and straightforward. People love the simplicity and will spend more time on blogs that are both simple and functional. A good blog design is one that people can navigate and find content quickly. It also has functional features and elements, including the ones that we will discuss below. You should also ensure that your blog has plenty of white spaces and improved load time.
Remember that your blog design is influenced by your blogging niche, target audience, and features of a blog hosting account. Also, do not prioritize design over content because people are looking for information and not style.
2. Easy-to-navigate menu
Is your blog user-friendly? By this, I mean the ease with which visitors can move from one page to another as they look for content. The navigational structure is one of the best blog features that make your blog easy to access and use. It makes contents and other material available for visitors and also makes them stay on the site for long.
Navigation is not all about having a colorful navigation menu, but how highly navigable the menu is. It doesn’t make any sense to have a beautiful car that cannot take you anywhere. So, the navigation menu should take the visitors where they want to go as fast as possible without fumbling.
The navigational menu is usually found on the home page of the blog and links to every other page, including categories, glossaries, and special articles. Here are some of the qualities of an easy-to-navigate menu:
- Responsive: A navigation menu should respond to the needs of your visitors. It should be functional and responsive on all devices.
- Consistent: Nothing annoys visitors than a navigation menu that keep disappearing or relocating every time they move to a different page. The menu design and other elements need to be consistent on every page.
- Simple: For a navigation menu, less is better. To enhance usability and eliminate confusion, provide just a small selection of navigation options.
- Visible: When people visit your blog, they should quickly find the navigation menu since it is their guide through your site. If they cannot find a means of exploring your blog, they will simply move on to the next site. The navigation menu should be visible enough to draw your visitors’ attention.
- Logical: Navigation menu should direct users to the desired content and not misguide them to the wrong page. For instance, the “contact menu” should direct visitors to your contact and not the “About Me” page.
You may be tempted to include everything in your blog into the navigation menu. However, remember that your blog is all about your visitors. So, develop a strategy with them in mind and improve their user experience.
3. Organized categories
When you walk into a kitchen, you expect to find everything well-organized and easily accessible. The same is with your blog. People who visit your blog expect to scan through and find whatever they need quickly. One of the key must-have features on your blog feature list that will make your blog organized and easy for visitors to find what they want is the categories.
Categories are used to group contents or topics so that users don’t have to scroll through all your content, looking for an article or product in a specific area. For instance, if you run a travel blog, you can divide your content into categories such as nature, desert, beach, national parks, among others.
The number of categories that you can have for your blog varies and depends on your blogging niche. However, I would recommend that you have a few categories. Several factors may also determine the number of categories that you have, including
- What your theme allow?
- Number of topics that you cover
- Sub-topics that deserve their categories
- What your audience wants?
So, before you start a blog, you need to determine the topics or areas within your niche that you want to focus on and make them your categories. Having categories for your blog will also help you to come up with topics and content.
The different categories for your blog should have names. The names of categories should be names that people will get or understand. Avoid cute names that don’t make sense. If possible, use names that are keywords.
4. Blog post archives
So, you have been blogging for a while now, or you put up blog posts more often. To make your visitors’ work easier, you can decide to categorize the blogs or simply arrange them in order from the newest to the oldest. However, you may have a long list of blog posts containing articles that may not be relevant to most of your readers at that moment. But, this is not to say that such contents are less important. Having a blog post archive will help in handling this “small problem.”
When people find interesting content on your blog, they will likely want to read or access more. Post archive is an excellent way to retain people on your site and help them discover more about your work. This section of your blog can also increase the conversion of first-time traffic as they will have an idea of what to expect if they become your regular visitors. It also enables regular traffic to access the blog post they may have missed or want to revisit.
Constructing a blog post archive isn’t difficult. Some blogging platforms like WordPress have API hooks, core templates, and functions that deal with archives. These platforms also have a simple guide on how to archive old posts. You can also install an archive plugin and activate it to start showing the archived posts. You can create an archive list by month, year, category, or author. The good thing is that you can always unarchive your posts whenever you feel.
5. Commenting System
One way of promoting your blog is by allowing those who read your blog posts to comment and leave reviews. This way, you will know that people are reading your post and what they feel about your content, which is an excellent motivation for bloggers. A comment is an excellent way to engage with your readers and push the idea and conversion about the topic further.
Readers can also contribute to and discuss the topic further, not only with you but also among themselves. Readers can also respond to some of your questions, including topics or areas they want you to write on. This way, you don’t have to scratch your head thinking of what to write about.
Some platforms like WordPress have a built-in commenting system. So, once you design your blog, the commenting section will become active automatically. However, if your blogging platform does not have a comment section, you can still add the commenting functionality to your blog. There are several commenting systems that you can choose from, including Disqus, Livefyre, Intense Debate, Jetpack, among others.
Some of these commenting system services allow for real-time comment posting, while others will enable you to filter the comments and remove possible spams.
The choice of a commenting system depends on the blogging platform and the technology it uses. The choice may also depend on the content management system. Also, you want to pick a user-friendly system that works well for both you and your readers. You can visit some of the popular blogs within your niche and see which particular system they are using. This way, you will make an informed decision.
6. Security and spam protection
People visit your blog for different purposes. While some want to get the content, others are interested in your blog design. However, other visitors simply want to spam your blog or hack it for their cybercriminal activities. The commenting system is one of the targeted features of your blog.
Some people will want to post irrelevant comments or link-spam on your blog to link them back to their sites for higher ranking. If you do not take precautions against comment spams and other related security risks, you will lose your established traffic or the blog itself.
Ensure that your blog has security and spam protection. Here are strategies that you can use to keep away spam
- Turn off the comment section: Too much spam will drive away traffic to your blog. If the commenting system is not adding any value to your site or users, you can turn it off. Some blogging platforms allow you to turn comments on and off.
- Turn on comment moderation: Content moderation allows you to review and approve comments before going public. This means that you can monitor your comments and only allow the relevant ones. Although you will spend a lot of time monitoring the comments, you will have improved user experience.
- Install anti-spam tools: There are several tools that you can install and use to keep away spam. Some plugins can protect your site from potential threats. These spam protection systems will check the comments and any other submission, including contact form, against possible spam, and prevent the blog from publishing the content.
- Blacklist the spam: Once you identify a spammy profile or content, it will be possible to remove the rest of the spams. If the content originates from the same IP address, you can blacklist the users and IP address.
7. Social media integration
Social media has taken the internet by storm. Facebook alone has 1.7 billion users, while Twitter and Instagram have a combined 350 million users. Did you know that your content can reach a good portion of social media users? If you are a registered social media user, you can integrate your blog with social media platforms to expand your network and reach more people.
Having a link to your blog on your social media platform will allow more people to get updates and visit your blog. However, you can integrate all your social media platforms to post one post to all your social media accounts simultaneously.
You can also make it easy for visitors to your blog to share your content on their social media platforms. You can do this in several ways, including;
- Social share button: You can include a social sharing button on your blog that visitors can click on and share your content on their platform and widen your audience.
- Social login: If you want to secure your content, you may require visitors to your blog to register or sign up first before they can access the content. According to statistics, most people prefer to use their social media accounts to register or log in.
- Social media feeds: Embedding social media feeds on your blog makes it more interactive. You can use a hashtag relevant to your topic and have the social media posts run through the feeds on your blog. This way, people who visit your blog can also get other people’s opinions on the topic.
8. Search box
If you are the kind of blogger who publishes content quite often, people may find it difficult to locate the material that they want, even if you have categorized the topics. Remember, most people who visit your blog are always in a hurry to leave if they cannot find what they wand easily. So, why don’t you make it easy for them to get what they want?
A search box is an essential tool that visitors can use to get the content that they need quickly. This way, visitors don’t have to scroll up and down and search through the pages. All they need to do is type a keyword or topic they are looking for. Your website is already set-up to give results for any searched word.
The search bar should be visible. You can place it on the home page or first page of your blog so that it is among the first things that visitors see on your site. Use plugins to improve the search box so that users can use for content using the different options, such as date or relevance. You can also optimize your blog so that you can search for external materials.
Other important features
After you have attracted traffic to your blog or site, what next? What do you intend to do with the many people who stream to your site every day? If you are selling a product or service, you need to convince your visitors to take action. This is often referred to as call-to-action in the web world.
A clickable CTAs button is a must-have on your blog. This button prompts visitors to take action. Some of the common CTAs are;
- Buy now
2. Contact methods
When people find interesting content on your blog, some want to connect with you, provide private feedback, or seek clarification. Therefore, people should be able to reach you privately. A contact method is a crucial feature that enables you to connect with your follower privately. Some of the contact methods that you can include on your blog are;
- Contact form
- Third-party form builder
- Email address
- Telephone contact
3. Authors’ bio
If you have more authors or writers contributing to your blog, it is only fair that you acknowledge them. You can do this by providing a short bio about them, including their names, qualifications, and, if possible, their contacts.
4. RSS Feed
Really Simple Syndication allows readers to keep up with content from their favorite blogs without necessarily visiting those blogs. RSS pulls a post and includes it on a list that users can access on an RSS Reader. It can also readers to subscribe to the blogs that interest them within the readers and stay up-to-date with new postings. You can use RSS to promote your blog and grow your community of followers.
For your blog to be successful, you need to be consistent in posting content. Consistency means that you post the right content at the right time. Sometimes, other activities and events may overwhelm you to the point that you do not post your blog post on time. Your visitors will not understand why you are inconsistent. Therefore, a scheduling feature is essential for your blog. With this feature, you can post your content and schedule it to go live at a specific time.
There is so much that goes into a successful blog, and content is just one of them. When developing a blog design, you need to keep in mind the above feature. These are blog features that you cannot miss to have on your blog if you want to create a successful blog. They will make your blog an easy one to use and give your readers a great experience when they visit your site.
Some of these features are what you need to drive traffic to your site and make conversions. You don’t have to spend a fortune on them. Some blogging platforms come loaded with these features; you only need to customize them to your needs.