The prime real estate on your blog is the area called ‘above the fold’. This is the area of the blog you see when you arrive there. If you have to scroll down your blog to find something, it is considered ‘below the fold’.
As a result, you want to think carefully about the content that’s ‘above the fold’ on your blog, because there’s no guarantee that a visitor will scroll down your blog. And simply put, content that’s above the fold is more likely to be viewed/clicked on than if it is below the fold.
To illustrate this point, I recently moved the area for my email subscriptions, and feed subscriptions via RSS. Up until May 15th, the ‘Mack Live’ section was at the top of the 1st sidebar, with the ‘Subscribe by Email’ graphic just underneath that, so that a visitor would actually have to scroll down to fill out the form. The area to subscribe via RSS was under it, completely below the fold.
So on May 16th, I decided to move both the email and RSS feed subscription areas to the TOP of the blog, or above the fold. Here’s the results:
In the 22 days since moving the email subscription form to the top of the blog, I’ve gained 45 email subscribers. To put that into perspective, it took me 150 days, from December 17th 2009, to May 15th 2010, to gain 45 email subscribers when the form was BELOW the fold. And for the 22 days prior to the move, I added a mere 6 email subscribers, thus the 650% increase in email subscribers by moving the email subscription form above the fold. Now I did start asking for readers to subscribe via email during my Twitter experiment for about a week in the posts, but that started on the 17th of last month. I moved the email subscriber box up on the 16th, and picked up 3 new email subscribers that day, where I had picked up only 4 in the previous 15 days.
As for new subscribers via RSS, according to Feedburner, that’s increased by roughly 20% since the 16th. And email subscribers are factored into that growth.
This again, shows the value of tinkering with your blog, or ABT – Always Be Testing. And it shows that you need to consider the layout of your blog, where you put your calls to action, and the type of calls to action they are. For example, at the top of the far right sidebar, I have an area where you can click to get a quote on consulting services. I almost never get any clicks here, even though the email subscription form to its left is clicked often. These are obviously very different calls to action, but in about a week I am going to swap the two, and the track the differences I see in both. In theory, I would think the far right sidebar would be a better place to have the ‘Get a Quote’ section, since it’s how your eye tracks before it leaves a page, but I don’t know for sure. So I’ll test it.
You should too. Look at your blog, especially if it’s a business blog, and notice where your calls to action are. I am constantly hearing from bloggers that they want more subscribers, and in most cases, they either don’t have a way for readers to subscribe to their feed, or if they do, it’s buried below the fold. Here’s a quick and dirty way to improve your blog’s performance based on the position of your calls to action:
1 – Identify the key metrics you are tracking to determine your blog’s success. It could be subscribers, or comments, or sales generated.
2 – Identify the calls to action associated with the metrics you track. And this might be a good time to get some, if you don’t have any.
3 – Note the location of those calls to action on your blog. If they are below the fold, that means a lot of people probably aren’t seeing them at all, and they should be above the fold.
But above all else, TINKER with your blog. This is how you learn, by breaking stuff.