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Spring Cleaning Your Blog – Tips for Making Your Blog Shine

We had the opportunity to sit down with some very smart bloggers and get their tips for simple, effective things that can be done to improve the look and functionality of your blog. During our chat, we discussed design and coding tips, SEO tips, and some general blogging “best practices”.  You can watch the chat below and I’ve also highlighted some of the key tips that came out of our discussion.

Our panel members for this chat are: Angela England of AngEngland.com and Untrained Housewife, Becca Ludlum of Our Crazy Boys and Digital Media Consulting, Elan Morgan of Schmutzie.com, and Erica Mueller of EricaSays.com and EricaMuellerOnline.com.

Design and Coding Tips

  • No black background with white text
  • No cursive writing fonts – use sans serif fonts
  • Usable header – put social media icons, search bar, etc in the header (good use of otherwise wasted space)
  • Header should always navigate back to home page
  • De-clutter your side bar – Google doesn’t like it when you have more than a 100 links on your home page
  • Mobile optimization – use a mobile responsive theme
  • Increase load times by getting rid of widgets and anything java script based and plug-ins that automatically search your site, and making images smaller
  • Pingdom.com will tell you how long it took your site to load and what was slowing it down, also try https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights

SEO Tips

  • Every post that you write should link to another post on your blog
  • Post titles – cute, whimsical titles will not get good search engine results. Title should say what the post is about.
  • Beginning paragraphs should be about the post – share stories later on in the post
  • Title images to match the post title
  • Use alt-tags for images (you can get a lot of traffic to your site from Google Image Searches)
  • Categorize and tag posts clearly
  • The best keywords are what your post is about
  • Use Google Author Rank – good article on CopyBlogger about authorship http://www.copyblogger.com/claim-google-authorship/
  • Author Rank goes across blogs – good for guest blogging
  • When you guest post on another blog, make sure there is link back to your blog to a specific post (not just your home page)

Best Practices

  • Easily found contact and about info – above the fold
  • Search bar – easily found, above the fold
  • No Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, etc., post titles – even if your post is in a series, clearly title your posts to reflect what the post is about
  • Use categories (not tag clouds — too busy, too hard to read) and choose them based on the natural themes of your blog
  • Not all posts have to be SEO optimized. Don’t lose your voice, tell your stories, engage with your audience.
  • About pages are a must but they need to be short and to-the-point, think elevator pitch, no more than 3-5 paragraphs.
  • Break up your text – paragraphs no more than five lines long. Web writing it different that print writing.
  • No centered text
  • Pop-up and walking ads are a real turn-off, just say no to them. (If you are going to use a pop-up for newsletter sign-up, make sure it comes up right away (no delays) and make sure there is clear way to opt-out of it.) And NO pop-ups on mobile!

What would you add to these tips? Are there things that you wish bloggers would or would not do on their sites? Let us know in the comments!

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