Create a Sneeze Page For Your Blog

Shayne Tilley

person sneezingWe’re excited to be able to republish this for you. Below is an extract from 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, by Darren Rowse (ProBlogger), which is free with every purchase of our latest release, Online Marketing Inside Out. This is day 18 of 31 …

What is a Sneeze Page?

The term sneeze page is one that I came up with for the 2007 version of this blog challenge, and is a concept I’ve been using as a key strategy in my blogs for quite a few years.

The idea is simple: to create a page that propels people in different directions deep within your blog by highlighting a variety of posts that you’ve previously written.

Why a Sneeze Page?

The challenge that many bloggers face is that over time the archives of their blogs fill up with hundreds and then thousands of posts. The problem is that by default a blog generally only highlights the most recent posts that you’ve written on the front page, while the majority of your posts go largely unnoticed once they drop off the front page. A sneeze page is all about showing off those archives.

Benefits of Sneeze Pages

There are a variety of reasons that a sneeze page can be powerful:

  1. It Shows Off Your Archives—when I spend hours (if not days) crafting a blog post, I want people to read it! Sneeze pages lengthen the time that people interact with your older posts.
  2. It’s Great for SEO—search engines look at the links that other people make to your posts in order to rank them, as well as the internal links on your blog as well. Linking to old posts can help grow their search engine ranking.
  3. It Can Help Create a Sticky Blog—I’ve yet to see stats on this but it’s my suspicion that a person arriving on your blog for the first time is more likely to return if they discover more great posts there. Have a person read 10 great posts that you’ve written previously instead of just the one and you’ll exponentially increase the likelihood that they’ll subscribe and become a regular reader.

Types of Sneeze Pages (with Examples)

There are many ways of creating a sneeze page (or post) for your blog. Let’s explore some:

Themed Sneeze Pages—these are posts or pages on your blog or site that revolve around a single theme. For example, here on ProBlogger I’ve created sneeze pages around some of the main themes for this blog such as:

  • How to Make Money Blogging
  • How to Find Readers for Your Blog
  • How to Write Great Blog Content
  • Search Engine Optimization for Bloggers
  • Using Social Media Sites to Grow Your Blogs Traffic

These sneeze pages (and others) are linked to prominently around my blog, including the “Best of ProBlogger” section on my front page.

Similarly, on Digital Photography School (DPS) I’ve created pages for key topics (like Composition Tips, Digital Photography Techniques, Portrait Photography Tips, How to Photograph, and Digital Photography Tips for Beginners) and linked to them from navigation areas. I find these pages generate a lot of page views, including the pages they link to.

One more example that steps away from the posts that are purely lists of links is 21 Settings, Techniques, and Rules All New Camera Owners Should Know. This post is still a list of links but it’s written more as a post with pictures and descriptions of the points made in each of the posts linked to. While the examples above are all pages in WordPress rather than actual posts, this last example just appeared as a normal post on my blog.

Time-related Sneeze Pages—these pages are based around a defined period of time. They’re usually a “best of” post that highlights your key posts from that period, and serve to either remind readers of previous posts that they might want to revisit or to highlight posts that they might have missed.

The period of time that you choose can really be anything from a year (here’s my best of 2006 at ProBlogger post) through to a month, week, or even a weekend (that is, a post that summarizes the posts from a weekend that those readers who only read your blog during work hours might have missed). Blogs that have a particularly high frequency of posting use these quite regularly; for example, Lifehacker would often do one at the end of each week to highlight key posts for that week out of the many that they’d published.

Retro Sneeze Pages—another variation of the time-related sneeze page is to do one that unashamedly shows off a number of posts from your blog from a particular point in its history. The most common way to do this is to have a post highlighting blog posts from a year ago. Here’s an example from Lifehacker, another blog that did (and still occasionally does) this.

Series Sneeze Pages—this is the technique of writing a series of blog posts exploring a topic over a period of time with lots of interlinked posts.

One key with writing a series of posts is to make sure that readers have a trail of links between posts so that they’re encouraged to read the full series. A great way to help readers discover a full series is to develop a sneeze page. All of the posts in the series should link back to it, and it should link to them.

Series sneeze pages can become key pages on your blog. For example, here on ProBlogger one of my most popular pages is Blogging for Beginners, which started out simply as a list of posts from a series I was writing specifically for beginners.

Promote Your Sneeze Page

Sneeze pages can be an effective way of driving people deep within your blog, but they’ll only do that for as long as you’re able to drive people to the sneeze page itself. As a result, a sneeze page should be promoted and positioned prominently on your blog so that people will continue to see it. Do this by linking to your sneeze page from navigation menus, sidebars, or other hot zones on your blog.

Create a Sneeze Page and Share It with Us

Okay, it’s time to go create a sneeze page for your blog. Once you’ve done it please do come back and share a link to it in the comments below, as I’m sure there are a lot of creative ways to use these types of pages, and that we could all learn by sharing them.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog, by Darren Rowse (ProBlogger), is free with every purchase of our latest release, Online Marketing Inside Out.