Static Front Blog Page, Yay or Nay?

Lately there seem to be an increasing number of new  bloggers who want instructions that enable them to create a static front page on their blogs. They want to have a static front page for aesthetic reasons ie. to make their blog look less like a blog and more like a website.

Some types of blogs such as professional, business, photography and wedding album blogs, etc. may be enhanced by the appearance of  a static front page.  But I wonder what impacts making the static front page choice may have on the blogs of  every day bloggers, who are  trying to achieve a good flow of targeted readers and PageRank.

Posts and Pages

If you aren’t familiar with the differences between a post and a page, as well as page attributes,  please read Working with WordPress Pages before reading this post.

Pages are quite different from posts. The Pages you create -> Dashboard -> Write -> Page (an unlimited number) sit outside posts and their structure and are meant to be used for static content that rarely, if ever, changes. Pages lack timestamps and any additions you make to them must be done manually by editing. You cannot assign categories to Pages and they are not search-able via your web-based search box. Pages also lack the Google juice that posts on a front page get.

Creating a static front page

It’s easy to create a static front page on  a wordpress blog. The instructions are straight forward and there’s even a “Changing your reading settings” WP TV video to refer to as well.

It’s a challenge to create static pages in Blogger (blogspot), as static pages are not included in the software, but it can be done as well.

Blogging tip: You can name your static front page anything you want but it would be best from the SEO point of view to use or include the title of the blog.

Regular Readers/Subscribers

It’s my experience that regular readers who subscribe to blogs prefer high quality content delivered on regular by RSS feeds, and most prefer to receive the full article, rather than a summary.  This points to the fact that most regular readers/subscribers do not visit the blog frequently and that means they rarely comment.  The articles delivered to them by feeds do contain a direct link back to the post, so I think we can safely conclude that when subscribers do comment they use it.  Hence, they are unlikely to be impacted by a blog change to use of a static front page.

I believe that prior to making the static home page  choice bloggers ought to consider:

(1) how information in their blogs can be most easily accessed by readers and by search engines;
(2) who their target audience is;
(3) what their metrics reveal about who their current readers are and where they are coming from;
(4)  whether or not a static home page is likely to result in delivering more readers via search engines;
(5) and whether a static home page is likely to result in more conversions from casual passers through to regular blog readers/subscribers.

Reader feedback

  1. Do you have a static front page on your blog? Or have you ever considered having one?
  2. How  do blogs with a static front page impact you as a reader?
  3. What impact do you think a static front page on any blog may have on the flow of Google ‘juice’ and PageRank?
  4. Are there any other impacts of converting to a static front page that you would like to discuss, either positive or negative?

Related posts found in this blog:
Blogging and Business Trends
Blogging is Big: Blogging Statistics
Business Blogging Poised for Growth

 

39 thoughts on “Static Front Blog Page, Yay or Nay?

  1. I have chosen to use a static front page when I started my blog, almost a year ago. I am quite satisfied with my page view numbers and Google ranking but after reading your post I am doubting my decision.

    The reason why I went for static front page is because I found myself annoyed when I would land on a blog that just had full posts and infinite scrolling. I want to have at least a general idea of what the blog is about before I commit to reading posts.

  2. Timethief,

    I read your post about someone stealing your content. You said this is easier since RSS feeds were introduced. RSS feeds are shown as little banners on the subscribers page, right? How does this make it easier to steal contents? Is it because the “thief” is notified when you have new contents for him to steal? It’s like he is monitoring your site from his own site?

    Do you think people should stop enabling RSS feeds?

    • We can’t prevent anyone from subscribing to our RSS feeds. The RSS feeds are built into all WordPress blogs for both entries (posts) and for comments. We can reduce our RSS feeds to display as many posts as we wish, and we can choose whether ot not to display “full content” or “summary” in our feeds. I display one post and “summary”. No I do not think we ought to stop enabling RSS feeds and we can’t WordPress.com blogs in any event.

  3. Hi,

    I’m new to this. Most of the discussion is about whether to have the front page static or as post.

    I just recently started a newsletter. On my site, I have a front page explaining what my newsletter is about. On the sidebar I have an opt-in, articles and product reviews. All pages are static. I use wordpress.org. Once a week I send out an email, containing a new issue of the newsletter.

    I was thinking of turning it into a blog instead. Maybe the front page as static. The articles turn into posts. Do you think product reviews should be posts, or static page?

    I’ve heard(“read”) you say that static pages should be use for information that does not change. I’m not sure I know what you mean. The posts, once it’s posted you don’t change it either, or? Is product reviews considered as information that change or not?

    I’ve seen some people in my niche having entirely static pages and some have blogs. I’m not sure which one is best. I don’t have my own product, just recommending other’s products.

    I would be grateful for as many comments as possible.

  4. I ended up with a static front page because I know most people going to my site are going to be looking for very different things. I have a lot of folks that go to my site via photography referrals so I wanted them to have a chance to skip right on to my photography gallery online without having to look for the link around all my blog text. There are other links as well for those folks looking for me professionally (my main work website) as well as through the books I co-edit. So, a static page ended up making sense for me, so I could give people an easy choice right away on where they are heading. However, now I’m terrified maybe I just did a bad thing for my blog.

    • In the case of your blog I think you have made the correct decision. You are involved in 6 projects ranging from art and cooking to writing and web design. You have provided your users with links so they can quickly click through to the projects that interest them most. I also like the fact that you have provided a very big and obvious link to the blog for those who aren’t interested specifically in the projects.

  5. After reading the conversation, I understand that (front)home page is where Google places its PR and link juices. Do you mean to say that it’s no encouraging to make a page static in blog? How about having a static page as home page but with links pointing to other relevant posts? Sorry, I’m new and interested to know know so that I can have a planning for my blog. Thanks.

  6. Thanks timethief, I agree about the static pages It Would irk me too!

    Thanks for the tip on splogs at Christmas, I will find it again. When I first clicked on it it was a wordpress.com blog but a day later it had changed to kpacumup.co.cc so it had me confused.

    Peace xox

  7. Yes it has to do with the theme. I believe that INove may be the only wordpress.com theme that does provide dropdown menus for sub-pages, but I’m not sure. I think you should ask Panos if he knows of any other wordpress.com themes that do have this functionality http://wpbtips.wordpress.com

  8. Thanks for the information. I have attempted to add a subpage (dropdown) from one of my main pages; however, it is not displaying. I have selected the appropriate page from parent category within the page that I want to be displayed from the dropdown. Hopefully this is not too confusing. Here is my blogspot – http://poetiscian.wordpress.com.

    I want to subpage to appear beneath the link from the top menu. Wondering if this has something to do with the site’s template. Any help is appreciated.

    BTW: Love your site! Dawn

  9. Oh good point it would annoy me too to constantly see a static page.

    Hmm I dont mind so much if readers dont visit that often. Wow that splogger is horrible! I got pinged by a blog and when I went to see it it was full of tags of other peoples posts, is that splogging too? There were no full posts just links to the posts. I didnt know what to make of it.

    Im glad you got got your posts removed!!

    • @Lola
      Hi there. I categorically refuse to visit sites where I have to click through a page of blah, blah, blah, every time I visit. I’m sure you have noticed the trend to making your blog look like a website and having your categories replace static pages. Obviously, anyone who chooses to be trendy won’t be in a position to achieve a very good PageRank because their static front page is merely a “doorway”.

      I believe what you got is called trackback spam, and the site you describe is probably a splog, but I can’t say that for sure as I didn’t “see” anything.

      It seems that there are sploggers who case out blog they want to steal from during the Xmas season just before the New Year happens and copyright dates are updated. However, what’s relevant in law is that the creator holds copyright whether or not they post a notice.

      Love and Peace,
      TiTi

  10. Im so glad this post is here!!! It answered all my questions before i even thought them up!!

    I have a second blog Im making which I will link to my first one and one of the scenarios I was seeing was a reader would come to my primary blog, click to see my second one and just want fast available info as to what the blog was about. So I was thinking a static page would be a good idea to give the reader a fast hit about what the blog was about but maybe that doesnt matter (this is how I check out new blogs lol)

    I also use the WP blogsurfer, email and google reader to keep up with the blogs I read so the information about RSS readers preferring full articles is interesting, I was wondering about that.

    Thanks!

    • @Lola
      The front page of a blog is where most Google juice goes to. Making it into a static page will kill the blog’s PageRank, and also have the effect of peeving off anyone who is a repeat visitor.

      On the downside of offering full posts in your RSS reader is that readers don’t visit the blog as often and don’t comment as often. Worse still is what just happened to my blog. In December a RSS feed sucking splogger starting stealing whole posts from my blog. (They have now been removed from his splog. See: http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2010/01/17/warning-blackhatsecrets-info-is-a-splog/ )

  11. This is my first site/blog that I don’t have a front page, and I may change that later. My other sites have all been contracting/products sites, so I had multiple static pages along with the blog.

    Personally, if your site is just a blog, I think the posts (or excerpts) should be on the front page, if it is a business site, you should have a home page.

  12. When I switched to a static front page no one went on from there to read my blogs!

    • I know other bloggers who had the same experience. Creating a static front page killed their traffic and also killed their blog from the SEO point of view.

  13. Good information. I’m not new to blogging, and have been doing it for a few years now. Mostly essay stuff, not pop culture or news-related (there’s so much of that!). I really like WordPress, though. It seems more in-depth and has better templates than Blogger. (I still have a Blogger account but prefer WordPress). I’m sure you’ve touched on it, but is there a way one can put ads on WordPress in order to create some extra income? That’s my New Year’s resol. create more income through writing.
    :)

    • There is no way you can place advertising on a wordpress.com blog without violating the TOS (wordpress.com blogs cannot be used to drive traffic to third party sites and that’s exactly what advertising does), as well as, violating the restrictions on advertising. If you try to do this you will be reported and apprehended, the software will strip the advertising out, and your blog will be deleted by Staff (no backups are provided to cheaters).
      references: http://en.support.wordpress.com/advertising/
      types of blogs http://wordpress.com/types-of-blogs/
      TOS (section 2, 5th bullet) http://en.wordpress.com/tos/
      The ONLY exception: http://wordpress.com/vip-hosting/

      You will NOT be able to fulfill your New Year resolution of blogging for bucks at wordpress.COM. Good web hosting is NOT expensive and we all know we must spend money to make money) http://wordpreess.ORG/hosting If you have any intention to use your blog to make money then hire a web host and get a free software download from http://wordpress.ORG

      This entry describes the differences between wordpress.COM and wordpress.ORG, not the least of which is that we run on different software http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/please-read-me-first-before-posting?replies=1

      • This is precisely why I moved Sevilla Tapas from WP.com to WP.org.

        That was two years ago and I have yet to earn a penny … but in fact I quite like having the extra options (plug-ins, etc) that WP.org offers.

        • @azahar
          I’ve been around for a few years now answering questions on forums and some of those forums include bloggers with blogs they have monetized. One must achieve $100. worth of click income before Google Adsense will send out a check. Few bloggers ever produce the high quality unique content that generates the massive traffic required to make a significant income from ad clickers. Many of the bloggers I dealt with had not achieved even received a check in 2 years time. Most seem to gain enough to cover hosting costs and little else. Then there are the affiliate schemes and the issue of PageRank as well to consider.

          From my post http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2008/11/09/understanding-reciprocal-and-non-reciprocal-links/
          “If you are blogging for money then PR can be a major issue. Once your site has a higher PR then higher paying writing opportunities become available to you. However, if you write for paid to write services like ReviewMe, Text Link Ads, Smorty, and PayPerPost then it’s important to understand that Google doesn’t like paid links, if you have them and if your site doesn’t indicate them with “nofollow” or, if you’re active on the Internet selling links on your site then your PR will suffer.”

  14. Hi,

    Thanks for the article. I’ve always been fascinated by static webpages and I’ve done some HTML in the past. What you’ve written has helped clarify a number of thoughts…namely, that (generally, and unless it’s business) most people are more interested in fresh content coming in through regular blog entries than static content.

    Thanks again for visiting my blog yesterday. Have a great new year and 2010
    lawrenceez

    • @lawrence
      I enjoyed visiting your blog. Without doubt content creation and accessibility to readers is what a beginning blogger’s focus ought to be. Aside from the kind of exceptions I listed above, I don’t encourage bloggers to attempt to promote a blog through use of a static front page.

      In my earlier post Business: Blog Website or Both? I list the differences between the two.

      (1) The main difference between a blog and website is the communication style. A website is a noticeboard communication style. A blog is designed for interactive communication.

      (2) Blogs encourage conversation, websites do not and that’s why businesses with websites are adding blogs, and sometimes forums and wikis to them for complaint handling, customer feedback purposes and for collaborative purposes.

      (3) Blogs publish current news with date and time stamps, most websites do not. The information most websites provide is static, rarely updated, and the sites are often poorly maintained.

      (4) Blogs have RSS feeds, websites ALONE do not.

      • Thanks for pointing out of the differences. I suppose I’m attempting to develop a dynamic blog that has additional (static) pages as well, rather than a static website with a blog.

        • @Lawrence
          You’re welcome. These days many bloggers are beginning to make effective use of static pages, which are intended for use for publishing information that rarely, if ever changes. :)

  15. I use a static page on my Sevilla Tapas blog because, well, I want it to look more like a website. Also, for the information there it is more important to have it alphabetical rather than chronological, and there are no specific daily or weekly updates. This blog has a fairly high google ranking, so having a static page doesn’t seem to have affected it negatively.

    On my azahar-sevilla blog I use a short sticky post to welcome visitors that gives them a quick idea of what the place is about and the (supposedly) weekly posts start below that.

    On my casa az personal blog I don’t have a static page and find it somewhat annoying when other bloggers use them, especially as they usually don’t seem to serve any real purpose. It’s that one extra click, you know?

    • @azahar
      You have taken a lot into account when you made these blog decisions and I follow your thinking in regard to the decisions you made. Thanks so much for sharing what you did with each blog and the rationale as well. I appreciate it. :)

  16. This is very much advanced stuff for new blogger, I admire your patience in working this out and share with everyone…

    I stop by to say hello,
    wishing you a Very Happy New Year!

    One more day, it is 2010, hope that you keep your excellent record and
    stay upbeat!

  17. Pages actually do have timestamps. WordPress.com just hides them (you can see them when you do edit the page). The same with categories. WordPress.com automatically makes all pages have the Uncategorized category. What do you mean by “they are not search-able via your web-based search box” though? You mean from the search widget that you can add to your widgets?

    A static front page is good I think if you have lots of really separate categories that you blog about. Then you can use it as a table of contents/index to separate the categories. Other than that, they are pretty useless I think. Like flash splash pages.

    • @Sarah
      You’re right. I was not completely accurate about the date/timestamps and apologize for any confusion. They are there but hidden and not reflected in the urls. Perhaps this illustration would have been the better way to express what I was pointing to. Example: This is the link to my static “About” page http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/about/ and as you can see it lacks the date/timestamp in the url, and that’s significant from the SEO perspective.

      Although wordpress blogs do have a default category of “uncategorized” we can change that default category to one of our own creation.

      The iNove theme does provide users with an opportunity to display Categories instead of static pages in the horizontal menu. There is also a workaround we can use successfully to do this on some themes but not others. As I said above static pages are meant to be used for information which rarely, if ever, changes but, if you want your category tabs in the header instead of the sidebar, then dpending on your theme you can use this trick: http://wpbtips.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/page-tabs-as-external-links/

      The search widgets we have on our blogs are IMHO very poor. I prefer to use Google to search my own blogs, as I can get far more accurate results and I can get those results in short order.

      Thanks for sharing your opinion on static home pages. I don’t believe there is a one answer fits all blogs to the question I posed in the title. I think “it depends” is the answer that is the most valid one so I expected a divesrity of answers.

      Have a great blogging year in 2010. :)

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