How to increase your website traffic with blog post graphics
So you've created all this great content for your website but how do you get the right audience visiting your site to read it, without paying through the nose for advertising?
Well...one way is by using blog post graphics: purposefully designed graphics that promote your content.
Blog post graphics are particularly useful in two ways. Firstly, unlike reading offline, digital readers want instant gratification.
So one way to grab their attention early on is to create an eye-catching graphic which provides a clue to the content in the post and hopefully encourages them to keep reading.
Secondly, not only are visuals process 600,000 x faster than text, but graphics that beautifully complement your content and brand aesthetics are more likely to be shared across the web providing valuable links back to your site, which ultimately increases your SEO ranking, website traffic, brand profile and often social following. Good right!?
But how do you design a template that stands out and looks professional? Here are 7 pointers to get you off to start designing your own.
1. Find some inspiration
Google similar blog post titles and grab some examples on Pinterest and the web. Have a look at your competitors and see what they are doing. Then think about your content and your audience’s interests and put all of this on a board to use as inspiration for your designs. Remember not to copy but simply use as a guide to design your own - plus you want yours to stand out, not look like the rest.
2. Number of templates
Next look at your website and decide how many blog post templates you need and for which different types of posts as each blog post template design should correspond to similar content, ideally your blog categories. Often I've found that most bloggers only need 2-3 templates to use on their site to distinguish between different subject matters.
Then decide how best to represent the subject matter of each category. For example is the subject highly visible and lend itself well for nice photos? Or is the subject quite dry and would best suit an interesting graphic?
For Mum-Folk I've created 3 similar, yet different templates to represent my main content categories: design tips, #mumboss (tips on running a small business) and lifestyle (anything from interiors to fashion and wellness).
For design tips I primarily use a solid graphic background either with a pattern or texture as the topic can sometimes be difficult to represent visually. Similarly for #mumboss posts, I'm often talking about productivity or business issues so I've gone with a graphic over the top of an image so I can use abstract images and not worry about it being out of synch with the content of the post. However for 'lifestyle' I've decided to place text over a full image as the subject matter is much more visually appealing and I want the imagery to take centre stage.
3. Use your brand elements
Think of your blog post graphics as an extension of your brand which will hopefully be shared across the web so they absolutely need to use your brand elements rather than be designed to suit each individual blog post.
This means use your brand colour scheme and brand fonts rather than choosing colours and fonts to suit the content. If you don't have these yet, then have a look at this post on 'choosing the right font for your brand' first. Alternatively you can use a different font, but just make sure it complements your website styling as it will appear on every post and shouldn't look too different from your brand aesthetics as the graphics will look disjointed.
As you can see above, each of my templates uses my brand elements in different ways to create variations of the theme but keeping it distinctly on-brand.
4. What to include?
Blog post graphics often include:
The blog post title
Blog category (what type of post it is)
The website url (as the graphic will appear on other sites if shared on sites such as Pinterest)
Secondary logo mark (e.g. an icon or wordmark that is different from your main logo) - for example on Mum-Folk I only ever include my brand icon which is a smiley face.
DON’T include your primary logo as too much repetition across your site weakens its impact.
5. Text hierarchy
Make sure you include an SEO optimised title in your blog post design - for example, for this post I could have called it 'how to create blog post graphics', however I wanted it to be more appealing than this so I thought about what the problem is that my audience are trying to solve. The answer to this is often increasing website traffic therefore these keywords are more valuable for attracting potential readers to this post. Then using your brand font guidelines (if you have them - but if not don't worry just follow these pointers), identify what is the key phrase in your title? Make this the most prominent (largest text), then secondary information should be set at a smaller text point size and so on. Try using capitals and different font weights (e.g. light, bold, italic) to create contrast within the information so that it is easy for a ready to identify immediately the most important information. Go easy on the text though, white space is definitely your friend when it comes to not scaring off the audience and as a final check look to see if your sentences are broken into readable phrases e.g. don’t break a sentence awkwardly, think about how it’s meant to flow.
6. Balancing consistency & variety
Everyone likes a bit of variety so aim to have at least 2 different types of blog post graphics that you can use but create templates so you can edit the same way every time. This makes sure you use the same fonts and selection of colours for each template (ideally your brand colour palette) and don’t switch up the font selection each time or choose random colours as it will dilute your brand identity and confuse the reader - as much as we love variety, we also like to know what to expect.
To create a bit of variety, you don’t have to reinvent the template every time you create a post, just change one element for example the colour or type of background image is usually enough to distinguish your blog post categories but keep the blog post templates on brand and looking like they are part of the same set.
With Mum-Folk I've created 3 blog post templates I can use and also 2 ways in which I can apply the template design, for example using a solid fill colour background or applying the text elements on top of a patterned background (see below). This gives me enough variety of options which means I can create graphics that are interesting and distinctive but keep my blog post graphics looking on brand and part of the same set when seen on other sites such as Pinterest.
I create my templates in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop (if I'm overlaying on top of an image or background pattern) and then customise the title and colour of the text them each time I create a new blog post. I design them in portrait as these types of images perform better on Pinterest. If you don’t have access to professional design software then try setting up a template up in Canva (I'm going to write a tutorial on this very soon!).
A final note
You don't have to limit yourself to creating graphics that just illustrate the blog post title. Blog post graphics can be anything that will inspire your potential audience to either continue reading or if viewed on another platform, inspire the viewer to click on the graphic and visit your site. So get creative - you could create collages of the images in your post and just pin directly on Pinterest rather than placing it within your post. For example for my style heroes series I create editorial style fashion graphics that will work well on Pinterest rather than always using a tailored blog post graphic. I find this is more inspiring for a reader and also hopefully something different to grab people's attention.
Do you use blog post graphics? And if you do how has it helped grow your site and brand?