When you’re a brand new blogger, you have lots of challenges to overcome. Getting things up and running. Getting your first posts published. Getting your first comments. Connecting with people for the first time. Making sure you don’t give up after 3 weeks. Continuing after 3 months. Hitting the 50 post milestone. Finding new and interesting topics to write about. Promoting your content and reading other blogs. The list goes on and on.
Once you have more than 100 posts, you’ll find all sorts of new problems. How do you write new posts that don’t overlap with your earlier posts? How can you possibly keep on promoting all of your old posts while also promoting your new posts? How will readers find your old posts once they’ve dropped off the front page?
I’m constantly reviewing and reorganising my content, attempting to find ways to encourage a criss-cross effect that spans across a wide range of my content. In my head, I see a kind of mind map: a scattered mess of numbers, each one representing one of the posts I’ve written. Each post has lines linking it to some of my other posts. The trick is to ensure that every post has links to other posts, while reducing dead-ends (posts with no links) and circular linking (two or three posts that link to each other, and nowhere else).
Interlinking your posts together keeps readers on your blog for longer, and lowers your bounce rate. This is a positive effect as it boosts reader engagement.
Here are the elements of your blog to consider when coming up with your plan to achieve maximum interlinking.
When a reader lands on your homepage, they should be able to quickly see the latest posts on your blog. Aim to keep the list easy to digest, with maybe 5 or 6 posts, an image for every post, a strong title, an enticing excerpt, the date of publication, and the number of comments.
This gives readers a quick overview of recent activity without dumping the entire text of your last 10 posts on the page, thereby creating an unnecessarily long page.
You can also include popular posts if you wish, but this should be seen as a point of interest, rather than something to rely on for finding those posts. To maximise interlinking, you need a more reliable way to link your posts together.
2. Category pages
The default WordPress category pages are weighted heavily in favour of your recent content. This might make sense for a news site, but if you’re publishing timeless content, it may be better for new readers to start with an earlier post.
Building a page for each category allows you to include both the recent and the most useful content, thereby increasing links to your older posts and giving newcomers a good way to jump into your blog.
3. Related links
At the end of every post, aim to include 2 or 3 links where the reader can find out more. In theory, every post on your blog should appear in this section on at least one other post. This makes it possible for your entire archives to be interlinked.
Managing this can require a great deal of thought and effort, though. My preferred method is to tag every post with a number, and keep a spreadsheet of which posts link where. For instance, post #220 had two links, leading to post #088 and #168. Keeping a record of every link allows you to quickly search your spreadsheet for any post number, and quickly identify which posts are not linked from any other post. You can then resolve this easily.
4. Previous/Next links
Including previous/next links at the end of each post gives a dedicated reader the ability to click through your entire blog in sequence. They can also read a recent post and start reading backwards, if they wish to catch up.
Many readers may not want to read every single post on your blog. But an added bonus of the previous/next links is the fact you can use them to display the title of the posts that sit either side of the post you’re currently reading. If you’ve been writing clear and coherent titles that aim to grab your attention, rather than being vague or trying to trick people into clicking, then previous/next links can make a reader browse through more of your blog when they’re done with the post they started on.
5. Monthly archives
The default WordPress archive pages aren’t particularly exciting. There are a few ways you could produce something much more compelling.
A static monthly archive page could use a different design and display the most popular posts at the top. These would be a good way for a reader to digest a larger amount of content in one sitting, but without only having one sub-topic to go through, as would be the case with a category page.
An eBook could be used to republish all of your content, or just your best content, from any month of the year. This gives you an easy way to generate portable content, and could become a new publishing channel for you – similar to a magazine.
A newsletter could be published and sent out to subscribers via email. This would include a selection of your best content from any given month, and might be more acceptable to subscribers than a weekly digest.
Interlinking your blog is an incredibly powerful way to bring old content to new readers, and remind existing readers of posts they might have missed. It gives many opportunities for boosting reader engagement and generally encouraging people to click further into your blog than simply reading one post and going away.