Has anyone ever told you that your baby is ugly?
And of course, by baby I mean website.
As website owners progress and mature over time, their bogging techniques and information become better and more refined. Specific pieces of content, the structure and format of your site, as well as a lot of other small things can add up and have a big impact on the success of your digital marketing efforts.
What makes these small mistakes an even larger problem is the fact that many people don’t have ample amounts of time to spend at their leisure. How can you improve it even more without a lot of time? Well, I've come up with a list of things you can do to give your blog a tune-up that won’t eat up your time. The following are some extremely quick, simple, and efficient changes you can make to give your blog the makeover it deserves.
1. Give Your Blog a Personal Touch
One thing you can do to make a better connection and stronger impact with your audience is to show them who you are. When a visitor to a site can’t see what the author or the website owner looks like, there will be a reasonable amount of skepticism and distrust. To combat this problem, simply add a personal photograph (preferably a high quality photo) to your 'About' page, or even in the sidebar.
Adding a nice picture will help your visitors associate a face with the words, messages, and content on your site. It also makes your message more personal. People will accept your message and trust you more if they have an idea of what you look like.
And the best part? It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to upload a picture to your website. If you don’t already have a personal photograph, get a professional headshot taken from a local photographer. Keep the background clean and use the photo across various social networks to keep a consistent look.
Bonus tip: Sign up for an account at gravatar.com. This service is used by many websites nowadays to associate pictures with users. Many commenting plugins use gravatar as well, so don't be surprised to see your new headshot on sites you comment and share.
2. Keep It Clean
With most web platforms – especially WordPress – it is all too easy to get carried away with excess. There seems to be a never-ending supply of cool widgets and plugins that add truly amazing services to your website. The only problem is that some people go too far and experience too much of a good thing.
You want the interface of your website to be easily navigable and clean. Some people just go too far adding every widget and sidebar they come across, and in the end their website looks too busy and cluttered.
There are a few downsides do adding a lot of plugins and overcrowding your sidebar with information. First, you can easily confuse their visitors by making subscription buttons and purchase options hard to find.
Second, you could run into site speed issues with all of these additional calls to the database. This can mean a loss in rankings, as the search engines do not like slow websites.
Remember, keep it clean. Less is more.
3. Stay on Top of Those Comments!
Blog comments are a fantastic way to establish a direct line of communication with your audience. Instead of spending money on marketing analyses, trend statistics, and bell curves in an effort to predict what the market wants, a direct dialogue with your audience can help uncover this information for free. Options for commenting on your blog are a great way to let your audience express their opinions – good or bad. Their feedback can help you find flaws on your website and improve them while simultaneously making yourself look more credible and trustworthy.
Comments are also a great way to get free content. Think about it - writing about a subject and then having people 'add on' to that conversation using similar keywords and keyphrases will only increase your chances of ranking higher. And the best part - your content grows with no additional work on your part!
The trick with comments, however, is that you need to respond quickly. If you let your comments go unanswered for too long your blog will look stale and unattended. In addition, some people will slyly post spam on your website or troll other users. Not only do you need to deal with these types of posts accordingly, but you also need to respond to valid posts quickly. We recommend that you always moderate your comments - no auto-approvals!
Fortunately, you only need to schedule short amounts of time regularly to check your comments. Blog spam plugins like Akismet are great for keeping comments in check and are pretty good at weeding out those spam attempts.
For business owners, we recommend thinking about each comment, and whether or not it improves the overall conversation. Many 'comment bots' will try their best to sound like a real person wrote it, but there's still a sense of ambiguity to them. If they're stroking your ego or asking a generic question about your blog (and not about your particular article), chances are they're spam.
Here's an example of a comment that does nothing for the conversation. It seems real, feels good, and blog owners tend to want to approve it. Afterall, it makes them look good, right?
But there are two bad things that happen when you approve a comment like this. First, the spammer gets a link back from your site to theirs. Not good, as this sends an incorrect signal to Google that you're ok with linking to this site. Second, since you approved the comment, most systems (like WordPress) are set up to automatically approve any future comments from this IP address. That means the spammer can get additional links to other websites they have and you probably won't even notice.
4. Revamp an Old Title
Numerous case studies have been performed on the importance of your titles. If you are reading through your blog posts and notice that one of your titles is particularly boring or could use a refresh, spend a few minutes coming up with a better article title.
This article, for instance, used to be called 'Your Baby is Ugly - Tips for a Blog Makeover'. While we thought it'd grab people's attention, it instead repelled them away from reading it at all.
If you're not sure what to do for a title, check out this great article by Buffer for ideas.
If you hit a home run with a title change, not only will you revive an old piece of content, but you will drive even more traffic to your site. While it’s true that content is king, no one will read that content if the title makes the rest of the piece look boring.
5. Intertwine Your Content
Your content needs to be linked to your other content. A failure to add relevant internal links can harm your bounce rate and crush any potential of engaging your audience.
By adding on-site links within your content, you make it easier for visitors to navigate your site, and you increase your overall brand exposure. Instead of digging through your blog to look for related topics and posts, all they have to do is click a related link in the piece of content they are already reading.
In short, it makes your content a lot more accessible.
Take this post for instance - all through it are links to other pieces of related information that we've created. We did that on purpose.
If you're using WordPress, we like recommending a plugin like YARPP to automatically show related posts at the end of each blog post. Some newer themes have this functionality already built in, so make sure you don't double up.
It's also important to go back and update older blog posts with links to relevant articles you've written since you originally published them. This will send a signal to the search engines that you're keeping your site up to date and relevant.
6. Add Graphics That Engage Your Audience
As I mentioned earlier, the title of your post really can make or break how people react to it. Since most all humans are visually stimulated, adding a few graphics to your blog posts can not only break up the monotony of your text, but they can actually cause your readers to keep reading and stay engaged with your brand.
Again, take the original image for this article - just a picture of an "ugly baby". If you didn't know better, you'd never associate that picture with improving your blog. So we went back and uploaded the picture to Canva - a terrific service that lets you build great graphics. In a matter of ten minutes, we created the graphic you see at the top of this article.
This new graphic grabs more attention, explains the article, and is much more shareable across networks.
which feel more engaging and shareable to you?
7. Don’t Forget a Call to Action
CTA’s are extremely important to include in or around your content. Consider that the whole point of your website, blog, and SEO efforts is get real people to do something. Failing to include a call to action could mean that you have done the hardest part of marketing, but fail to close sales at the last second. After a reader has navigated to your site, spent time reading your message, and has developed an interest in your product service, you need to tell them to take a specific action to make the whole process worthwhile.