9 Blog Hacks to Help Show Readers Your Best Stuff



Are you letting your killer posts languish in your archives, sandwiched between January and March? How many great posts have you published in months gone by that new visitors will never see?

Readers come to your blog for its content, so it’s important to show them straight away what you have to offer.

Your recent posts will hopefully go some way towards doing this, but to rely on them alone is to short-change the long-term effort you’ve put into building your blog. This post contains 9 blog hacks you can use to show new (and regular) visitors the best that your blog has to offer.

1. Introduce highlighted content. This could be a list of reader favorites, popular posts, most commented posts, and so on. Most bloggers handle this with a ‘Popular Posts’ widget. This is one of the most important elements of your sidebar, as it shows new visitors straight away why your site is worth exploring.

2. Take control of your highlighted content. Though most bloggers handle ‘Popular Posts’ with a plug-in there are plenty of benefits to doing it manually. You can choose which posts you want to highlight, and mix up new and old content. If you’ve got a guest-post at another blog, or if one of your posts makes it big on social media, you can tailor your ‘Popular Posts’ to suit the incoming audience.

3. Make your highlighted content unmissable. Your list of killer posts is probably more useful and interesting to new visitors than anything else in your sidebar. The perfect place for it is right under your feed button, towards the top of your sidebar. If you want to be more inventive with your placement you can, but keep it above the fold.

4. Use images to draw attention to your best posts. Images are eye-contact magnets. Rather than displaying your best posts as text links, why not create images for them? The strategy I use on my own blog is to make a medium-sized button from the image I included with the post, and add the headline as text over the image. It’s something a lot of readers seem to enjoy interacting with, and it adds some more visual interest to the blog.

5. Regularly change your highlighted content. Don’t forget about regular readers when highlighting content. If your list is static then visitors will engage with it once and forget about it, thinking they’ve seen everything it has to offer.

If you regularly change your highlighted posts you give new and old visitors a reason to engage with the content you’ve highlighted. One advantage to using images to highlight your content, as suggested above, is that it’s immediately clear when you’ve added or subtracted an item from the list.

6. Give readers somewhere to go when they’ve finished reading. Many bloggers use a ‘related posts’ plug-in, and while I do like this plug-in, I suspect that it suffers somewhat from being outside the content of the post. Firstly, feed readers miss it. Secondly, readers turn down their attention levels once they’ve finished an article. One way to best ensure readers explore your related content is to recommend it at the end of your article. For example:

Interested in this topic? You might enjoy another article I’ve written called …

Adding the suggestion to your article will catch readers while they’re still in ‘reading mode’ and devoting maximum attention to your words. However, I’d suggest using this only when you’ve written something else directly related to the topic. If your recommendation is spot-on, readers are likely to listen to other recommendations you make in future.

7. Weave targeted internal links into your posts as you write. This can be done badly, or it can be done well. A good guide is to make sure your links are highly relevant to the keywords you’re making a hyperlink. Linking a specific match (for example, linking the words ‘writing with clarity’ to an article you’ve written on the same topic) will be appreciated by your readers. Linking vague terms (like ‘blogging’, or ‘making money’), however, is not good usability because it’s simply too unclear where the link will lead.

8. Mix up posts linking out with posts linking in. A great way to draw readers deeper into your blog is to highlight great content in dedicated posts. You could highlight a selection of the best posts last month, or the most popular posts on a specific topic. You might highlight posts from this time last-year, as Lifehacker does, or list some undiscovered gems from the early days of your blog.

9. Give readers a birds-eye view of your blog. Your archives present the perfect opportunity to allow readers to view your blog from a top-down perspective, with everything it has to offer on one page. The SRG-Clean Archives plug-in presents all your post headlines under sub-headings for each month, and displays the comment count besides each. This allows readers to browse through your headlines and explore those they’re interested in.

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19 Responses to “9 Blog Hacks to Help Show Readers Your Best Stuff”

  • Daniel

    Some really great advice.

    Reading through your list, I can see many mistakes I have made previously, and others I must get to work on now.

    You have provided some very sensible and straightforward lessons.

  • Rison Simon

    Love the idea of using images. That is something most bloggers forget to add. Also some bloggers forget to refresh the highlighted contents.

  • HP van Duuren

    Yes, those are good tips,

    On my Blog(s) I already use most of the techniques you mention, and other thing to show my readers the best is to draw attention to the little paragraphs that I write with attention grabbing

    All the Best,
    To your Happy – Blogging – Inspiration,

  • Eryaman hali yikama

    Very nice sharing. Thank you…

  • medyum

    I think the idea with image buttons is very good. I will definitly use it on my blog in the near future.

  • Abhijit

    Its a little strange as to how things exactly work.
    The biggest problem i face is i have been trying to increase my visitors,so i have been trying various techniques but nothing absolutely seems to work. Am i doing it wrong or am i not doing it right…….lol

  • Pink Ink

    I love the idea of a landing page. Very helpful post, Daniel. My biggest challenge to overcome is to re-think the way I am presenting my blog. That even though I have not monetized it yet, I can certainly make an effort to increase the subscribers.

    I recently added a Recent Post list on my sidebar, and I agree, it is helpful. I manually do it, so I can pick and choose what I think reflects what I want visitors to see for the moment.

    How do you make the little image links to a post like on the Skellie blog? Is this possible on Blogger format?

  • emigre

    Thanks for some very useful tips. I like the idea of rotating popular posts since they tend to stay static. Your idea of using images for highlighting posts definitely attracts readers but I feel they take up too much prime real estate.

  • 60 in 3

    I created a special page on my fitness blog to highlight popular posts and topics. It seems to be working since I’ve noticed a large increase in traffic to those posts.


  • Sean

    @Skellie: usually the only issue someone has with getting my plugin to work is making sure that the visual editor is turned off when dropping the line of code in a page to display the archives.

    if you are still having issues, contact me directly via my site contact form and i will help you out no problem to get it working on your site.

    do check if the visual editor is on or off on your archives page.

  • Technobuzz.net

    I tried the popular post plugin, bit it was not working in my blog

  • Skellie

    You could try making your own popular posts list, WarriorBlog. It can actually be pretty fun!

  • WarriorBlog

    I wish finding a popular post plugin was easier. I tried the “popular contest post” and “top post” plugin but it didn’t work with my WordPress theme or version.

  • Skellie

    @ Sean: I couldn’t get it to work for me personally, but I’ve seen others using it, so I assumed it was something to do with me not following the instructions correctly. Still, I consider myself a relatively tech savvy individual, and thought that if I bungled the instructions, others might also had problems.

    I’m current manually updating something that looks the same but doesn’t display the comment count next to each post.

  • Daniel

    Let me know about it Nakodari.

  • Marko Novak

    I think the idea with image buttons is very good. I will definitly use it on my blog in the near future.

  • Sean

    Hi Daniel. Thanks for the follow up.

    Indeed on the versions after 2.2 of SRG Clean Archives I completely rewrote the plugin and you no longer need RunPHP, however, you do need to make sure that the code editor is turned off on the page you put the archives code.

    There is now a really detailed readme with the download, so hopefully it’s 100% more user friendly.

    Again, thank you for the plug of my plugin 😉

  • Daniel

    Sean, I removed that last bit, cause should be pretty easy to install indeed.

    The only common issue people find it how to get the PHP code to work on a normal WordPress code. I am not sure if you changed this on later editions, but before you would need a RunPHP plugin or to create a special template for it.

  • Sean

    Thank you for the mention of SRG Clean Archives.

    I am curious to why you said “If you can’t get the plug-in to work for you”.

    Did you have issues with the install? If so, which version and what was the issue or problem?

    I’d like to make sure that the legacy 2.2 version (WordPress 2.0.x branch) as well as the most current 4.2 (WordPress 2.2-2.3.x branch) are working well for every user.

    Thanks again for your mention and support.

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