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John T. Unger

How To: Create a Landing Page for Your TypePad Blog

John T. Unger April 22, 2006

UPDATE: TypePad's Pages feature now makes this much easier and even allows you to set a page to display as your main index page. The post below is still a good reference for what you might want to think about in designing a landing page to achieve your goals.

One of the things I've long wanted to be able to do in TypePad is create a landing page that would always be the first thing people saw when clicking through to the site's main URL. A nice introduction for new visitors and readers to inform them about the author, topics or the best places to start. It turns out that there is a really simple way to do this— So simple, in fact, that it was really easy to miss!

The problem is with the way the directory structure works for TypePad blogs— You can organize a blog to show the most recent post first (which is most common), or you can set it to display posts in the order they were created (although this doesn't quite work right at present… It'll display the ten oldest posts, but they're still in reverse chronological order). TypePad doesn't allow you to host HTML pages created outside the blog. So how do create your landing page?

If you are signed up at the Plus or Pro level, you have everything you need to do this… you have the ability to map your own domain, and you can host multiple blogs. So the easiest way to create a landing page is to create a new blog which only contains the crucial info that will direct readers to your other blogs. A perfect example is http://www.anildash.com/, which contains all the basic info and links that Six Apart VP, Anil Dash wants you to know about him. His actual blog, which updates more frequently is at this URL: http://dashes.com/anil/ and you can find the link to it quite easily in the sidebar and copy of his landing page. Brilliant!

So here's what you do:

  1. Create a new blog.
  2. Map your domain to it. If you have several blogs which are all closely related, you can make your landing page the root index for your URL and then map the other blogs as sub-domains. If you do not want to register your own domain, then select the Landing Page blog as your Home Weblog, which means that it will be the blog that comes up when people type in your root address in TypePad. Your other blogs will automatically be given addresses you choose which are sub-domains of this URL.
  3. Create Typelists containing links to the most important info you want your readers to find. This might be your about page; RSS subscription buttons; your CV, bio or resumé; links to your other blog(s); links to your best posts; etc. You might want to add a Typelist for recent posts and recent comments on your other blogs. I recommend keeping the info in the sidebar as targeted as possible and avoiding any "bling for the sake of bling." The idea is to present your very best face to the audience when they first "meet" you.
  4. Create several brief introductory posts: each of these will give the opportunity to present an overview of who you are and what you do. For instance, Anil has chosen the following five entries:
    • About Anil Dash
    • My Web Sites
    • Motivations
    • Find Out More
    • Media/Press

    Your entries might vary, depending on what you want to present about yourself.
  5. If you aren't sure exactly what info is the most important to present, I recommend creating a Squidoo Lens about yourself. The process and interface at Squidoo is really optimized to help you think your way through the best ways to present information on a specific topic.
  6. Now, all you have to do is publish the blog and decide when you want to offer this URL as a basic starting point!

So why would you want to do this? The best, most graphic explanation is offered by Kate Trgovac:

A trusted source I read online for emarketing and WOM thought leadership had a brief post entitled "Another Brilliant Woman Enters the Blogosphere".  Awesome, I thought!  I'd like to read more from women in Marketing & Technology.  And I like smart people (I can then quote them and sound smart myself).  I immediately clicked on the link and today's entry happens to be about her sinus infection.

This is terrible.  I was pre-disposed to liking this blogger.  She came highly recommended.  And after reading a few posts, she has a great review and insightful commentary on Tim Sanders' 'Love is the Killer App - How to Win Business and Influence Friends'. But I'm having a hard time getting past the sinus infection.  As likely would people who came to my blog looking for emarketing info and received as their initial impression of me my She-Blogger post.

If you've ever written an embarrassing post, or one that was slightly off-topic, the above will sound familiar. Your regular readers are likely to forgive excesses, but is that really the way you want to start the conversation with a new reader whom you might even want to do business with? Yeah. Exactly. But even if you never write anything that isn't your best, there are a host of great reasons to implement this hack. Here's Seth Godin on what a Landing page can do for you:

A landing page (in fact, every page) can only cause one of five actions:

  • Get a visitor to click (to go to another page, on your site or someone else's)
  • Get a visitor to buy
  • Get a visitor to give permission for you to follow up (by email, phone, etc.). This includes registration of course.
  • Get a visitor to tell a friend
  • (and the more subtle) Get a visitor to learn something, which could even include posting a comment or giving you some sort of feedback

I would add that there is one more action that a landing page can cause… If it isn't what someone is looking for, they're going to close the page and move on elsewhere! To avoid that outcome, read the rest of Seth's post here, in which he offers some very good advice on things to consider when creating your landing page.

Inspired by Seth's post, Darren Rouse at ProBlogger offers his recommendations, as well as several case studies of how bloggers improved their traffic and sales through adjusting their Landing Page.

  1. What are the goals of your blog? What outcomes do you want of a reader visiting your blog (one or more of the above - or others)?
  2. What pages do most bloggers enter your blog on (most statistics packages will tell you this)?
  3. Are these landing pages optimized for your goals?
  4. If not how can you either change what appears on these landing pages to help you achieve your goals OR how can you get readers to land on other pages that have a better chance of converting?

The next obvious step is using navigation tabs at the top of the page to bring all your blogs into one space.

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More Like This: Agenda: Analysis , Hacks for Layout + Design , Hacks for Navigation

Comments

RobiNZ says:

Interesting post. I already have a landing page with links to a couple of blogs. I created it after splitting a "professional" related blog so could do the "sinus infection type posts" in their own forum :)

One thing that has worked well is showing the recent posts from each blog on the landing page using the "Headlines by Feedburner" feature. Will be interested to see how I can further improve it!

Bud Parr says:

Me again. I know I've apologized for being a carpetbagger here, John, and I know you don't mind, but I'll apologize again, particularly since my comments here will seem self serving.

Anyway, this happens to be my specialty because I create entire Websites using TypePad. So, I'll just make a couple of notes.

1) You can indeed just drop an html page into TypePad. http://www.budparr.com is nothing but html. I used to have a blog in that space, but didn't want to update that part because most people find me through my personal blog, Chekhov's Mistress, anyway. So instead of being a landing page, per se, it's a portal to all my sites.

2) Another cool thing is to use that space as just a place for brand identity:
http://www.infiniteeny.com/
this is a site I recently did and am now getting ready to add shopping cart to (stay tuned).

3) Top navigation.
Just finishing up this site: http://www.beunreasonable.com It's all TypePad. There are two sets of navigation. The one on the left sidebar is nothing more than a TypeList with some css styling. The top navigation is an includes in advanced templates. (beware when you go the site that the client has audio on the front page). We can share some emails on this. It's not hard to do, but I'm trying to work on something simple and full-proof.

Also, if you wanted to just have some static content on your site on the top half of the page, you can throw in a notes typelist (in advanced templates) up top and update that easily when need be and keep the blog content below that (for example, "see schedule by category" is just a typelist:
http://www.beunreasonable.com/schedule/ )

I'll stop there and maybe we can work on some cross-post tutorials on this stuff, John. Great information and great links.

john t unger says:

Bud: I'd like to talk at length about some of the stuff in your comment. Yes, working together on some cross published tutorials would be good. I especially want to hear about your ecommerce solution that you're using for infiniteeny… is it Shopify? or something else? Is the store itself hosted within the TypePad blog or does all the commerce happen off-site? Get in touch.

Robin: Are the feedburner headlines you're using created with the BuzzBoost feature, or something else from feedburner? Either way, looks good. My only suggestion would be to incorporate the sort of infor that you have on your about page into the landing page itself… why make people click through for basic info? Besides, the way that TypePads about pages work right now, they don't provide as much control over design as the actual blog itself. I ended up getting rid of the about page on most blogs and replacing it with a post that gets backdated way into the archives. then I just link to it in the sidebar.

And of course, I have to confess that I don't really have a proper landing page myself yet… I've been waiting till I have time to convert my old website over entirely to a new format suitable for blogs.

Russell James says:

Hi John,

Just thought I'd let you know about the landing page that I've been working on. Actually, it's more of an 'about' page to replace the Typepad one. I did it by creating a new blog and completely stripping it down.

It's at http://therawchef.blogs.com/about/

I've then added a top nav bar for my other sites.

Check out the 'contact' tab. To do it I created a new index template and took out the content, then I composed a post for the contact details and got the code(done in another 'practice blog' so it doesn't interfere with my main sites and means I can get rid of it after I've got the code) which I added to the new template page.

Thanks for all your hacks and info, I can't believe I'm doing this stuff!

Russell.

Shahever says:

I already download to my mobile nokia 6670 get.Typepad.Com. Completetly installed but when i try to conecting still failure ! ...Sign up registered have done still failed ! .. Help me..Please ...

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