One of the most ignored web page design ideas that improve SEO too! Standalone pages.
A blog is known by its posts, not pages, right? Yes, but pages have their own special role in blogs. While posts are the life-blood of a blog, standalone pages give the blog the required background support. Their content is more permanent than posts and therefore need not be updated too often.
Yet, blog design tutorials often miss this point. They give web page design ideas relating to the overall website and then posts, seldom giving importance to pages.
If you have not yet created static pages on your blog or not considered them important, take action now so that your blog becomes more valuable for readers and optimizes your blog for search engine visibility.
How to use standalone pages on the blog to get to the top of Google search results?
Posts and pages both are technically web pages and have a URL or web address of their own. Pages are those web pages that are not pushed down like posts when new matter is posted on the blog. Usually they do not have a timestamp and thus are eternal.
In the typical web design of blogs, pages are not displayed in the main column - which is reserved for posts - but in special places (e.g. widgets/ gadgets and menu bar). Since the standalone pages have a unique personality, they quietly add to your blog's standard and trustworthiness - qualities that search engines love.
The additional information the pages provide helps visitors to know more about the blog and the blogger. Some pages add to the blog's reputation by establishing the blogger as trust-worthy. Google itself has said in its Search Quality Rater Guidelines that the trust generated by such information gets the web pages and websites high rank in the eyes of searchers. Indirectly, what Google is saying is that it will bring such web pages high in its search results. Therefore, you should not take the creation and placement of standalone pages lightly.
I give here some common uses of standalone pages on blogs and blog-like websites:
- Giving information about the blogger and/ or the blog: Usually, we call such a page as an 'About us' page. It tells how the blog started, what all it contains, who all are behind the blog, what is the blog's guiding spirit, and so on.
- Giving contact information: There could be a separate 'Contact us' page or the contact information could be part of the 'About us' page. Google says, blogs/ websites with a page on the owner's contact details are more trusted as compared to those whose owner remains hidden. The contact information should include email ID, telephone number, physical address, etc. When different sections/ persons need to be contacted for specific purposes (e.g. customer service, product details, downloads), their details should be clearly marked that way.
- Giving background information about the topics covered in the blog: Since blog posts come and go, they do not stay on top of the home page unless specially pinned. Pages, being static, serve well as the storehouse of background information that does not change too often.
- Giving the visitor additional information on your product or service: Let us illustrate this with the example of an author blog. There can be information about the book on some posts, but if you want to share a chapter or take the visitor to your creative journey or give interesting information on characters/ locations or display purchase information, one or more standalone pages are the best way to do that. Same goes for other products and services.
- Asking visitors to take action: Such pages are called 'call to action' or 'landing' pages. A page comes handy when you want to hook the visitor - a potential client - to buy your product or take any other action (e.g download an ebook, subscribe to updates, refer your blog to a friend). Bloggers/ website owners who sell products and services must have a promotional article with a pitch for purchase, testimonials, etc on the landing page.
- Providing curated resources: Many bloggers manually create posts that help visitors discover their best content. They make a list of the best posts on the blog (which can also be done through a widget), a list of external resources, or an FAQs list.
- Providing specific information. Standalone pages come handy when you organize a web event or a real-life event, or carry out a project. Standalone pages give all details of the project in one place. A good practice is to have a popup before/ during the event and on it, give a link to a detailed page.
- Guiding visitors in case of broken link: You should have a '404 error page' that is displayed when any web page in your blog is not displayed due to misspelling or use of a wrong URL by the user, or the web page not being available due to some other error. This page should apologize for the inconvenience caused to the reader and guide him where to go from there.
One of the ignored web page design ideas: placement of standalone pages on the blog/ website.
Standalone pages do not pose problems of display, unlike other design elements. That is one reason, these pages are ignored while designing a website or blog.
Not all standalone pages need to be displayed prominently. In fact, some may not need any direct display but can be accessed by clicking a link or button. It depends on the information they contain and what action the blogger wants the visitor to take on that page.
Pages are best displayed as links or buttons on the homepage and within posts when they need to be cross-referenced. The menu bar just under the title is one of the best places for some or all standalone pages.
Sidebar is also good for displaying standalone pages. Use a widget for this.
You should prominently display the 'About us', 'Contact us' and 'call to action' pages. These places generally should come high up on the screen.
From web design point of view, the footer area is the best place for linking pages relating to disclaimer and website policies as they need not take up the prime space.
There is no need to display the 'broken link' page.
WordPress (both CMS and free blogging platform) and Blogger allow easy creation of pages and customization of their placement, with the help of widgets/ gadgets. Both have 'Pages Menu' widget, and you can play with it to place all or a few pages with other menu items in different places on the blog.
You can place static pages as links anywhere on the blog, including on posts, because each page has its own URL.
Please look at the screenshot of Facebook's blog above, which I have tweaked for the sake of seeing the header and footer bars clearly. It has a menu bar in the title area with links to a number of pages. The footer has a number of standalone pages for policies and links to other information on Facebook.