First-time visitors to your blog make near-instant decisions about whether it’s worth digging into your site or whether they should just click the back button and go look at one of your competitors.

That means it’s essential that the “first glimpse” anyone has of your blog is a good one; namely that it looks professional, interesting and relevant enough that it’ll grab them by the eyeballs and drag them straight into your carefully-constructed blog posts.

Whilst there are a number of ways to do this, as someone who has been launching and writing blogs for almost a decade, here are the elements (in no particular order) that I’ve found to have the greatest impact on my “time on site” and “bounce rate” across dozens of blogs.

  

Formatting

Cluttered blogs, filled with text, showing very few paragraphs or subheads look tiring to read and so turn visitors off. You can change this easily by doing the opposite. Spend some time before publishing any blog post to focus on your blog post formatting.

Try using a variety of techniques to make your content look more readable and appealing to the eye including:

  • Subheads
  • Short paragraphs
  • Differently formatted text (bold, italics etc.)
  • Quotes, statistics, charts and tables to further break up your content

Attractive Theme

Your overall site theme says a huge amount to your visitors – even if they aren’t consciously aware of it. While there are some excellent premium WordPress themes it isn’t always necessary to pay over the odds. Some premium theme designers also offer a limited number of free themes that offer a very professional design.

So take some time to consider what message your theme is giving your visitors and, if necessary, consider testing out some alternatives to see which one gets the best results.

Attention-Grabbing Titles

Your blog post title is really an advert for the post itself. Boring-sounding titles simply won’t attract as much interest as thrilling-sounding titles. Because of this it’s wise to spend some time learning the basics of copyrighting and look for a unique or exciting angle for your article titles.

For example try to offer a significant benefit for reading your content (make a promise) or make it so intriguing that your visitors can’t help but start reading your content.

High Quality Images

Thanks to wide-spread broadband now there aren’t the fears that used to exist when it comes to slowing down your sites loading time by adding images. Quite the reverse – images are now more important than ever in grabbing your visitors attention.

Aim to find photos that stand out and draw the eye – those involving people’s faces are typically very effective if thousands of Facebook adverts to be believed. And watch the legalities too – wherever possible look for sources of royalty-free photosso you avoid any possible copyright infringement.

Multimedia

Images are pretty-much essential these days, but multimedia content like video or podcasts can add even more interest to a blog post if the media is closely-related and adds value to the overall article.

And thanks to YouTube it’s easier than ever to paste a related video into your posts – even if you didn’t actually create the video yourself in the first place.

Top Articles List

Are there certain articles on your site that you’re particularly proud of because of how useful they are, how long they look to write or all the positive comments and social shares they’ve got?

If so, these “top articles” are a great way to engage new readers and illustrate the value of subscribing to your blog.

Consider creating a list of these top articles – either manually or using one of the various specially-designed plugins for this purpose – and display the list in a prominent place such as at the top of your sidebar.

Doing so immediately advertises this content to first-time visitors and draws them straight into the best content you have to offer.

Social Proof

One final tip worth mentioning is just how useful “social proof” can be. After all, if you’ve got thousands of Twitter followers or Facebook fans then it follows that you’re probably someone worth listening to.

Of course gaining social proof can be relatively easy; anyone can advertise on Twitter or on Facebook and quickly gain a sizeable following for minimal investment.

In doing so you’ll not only be building your own custom audience that you can market to again and again but the social proof alone will help to draw in new visitors and convince them that you’re an authority in your niche.