Saturday, 11 August 2012

Blogging - Silly Mistakes Hampering Traffic Development

This is a checklist of silly mistakes one can easily correct to improve blog traffic:
  • Ugly Layout - A bad looking blog, with a bad or lazy layout, but still readable will only succeed if it has fantastic and valuable content for its readers. But then again, why shoot yourself in the foot by giving a bad first impression? Why make it hard to the eye for the user? On the other side, a very good looking blog without valuable content never takes off (especially on the long term).
  • Colors - Never use black as a color. It is not a natural color.
  • Spelling & Grammar Mistakes - There is an inverse correlation between page ranking and the number of spelling and grammar mistakes on a blog. The more mistakes, the lower the ranking.
  • Broken links - Broken links are an extremely frustrating experience to readers, especially when they are visiting your blog for the first time. It is a big indicator of its quality and people often stick to first impressions. Broken links kill your returning visitors rate. Yet, there is a simple and free tool available online to detect broken links on your blog. Use it.
  • Internal links - Make cross references (i.e., links) between your posts if these are relevant to the topic or for the user. It will ease the navigation on your blog, which is good for the reader.
  • Same Post Title - I made the silly mistake of using the same title on multiple post: Summary - Part I, Summary - Part II, Summary - Part III... This is not a good idea since post titles are often used by Google to differentiate them. These are also (often) displayed when people make searches. If a title does not inform the user of the content of the post, change it to include words related to the content.
  • Keywords in URLs - A little boost in ranking is to use keywords related to the content of your post in the URL. If you did not use that trick for existing posts, never mind. Leave it for new posts only.
  • Keywords in Titles - Proper keywords related to the content of posts are important not only for search engines ranking, but also when users make searches and scan results for valuable links. A post title is a front door. Make sure all your posts have relevant keywords in their titles.
  • Small Posts Don't Count For Much - Unfortunately, I can't find the reference anymore, but someone mentioned that Google more or less ignores posts containing less than 250-300 words. I could not find any confirmation of this, but somehow, it makes sense. Blogging is not Tweeting. Blogging is about substance.
  • No Translation Widget - The moment I added a translation widget on my blog, I started receiving traffic from all over the world.
  • No Social Buttons - You need to give means to visitors to share your blog posts. This is so easy to achieve with ShareThis for example. I explain how to achieve this in another post.
  • No 'Search This Blog' Widget - Returning visitors may remember one of your posts, but can't find it anymore. This widget will help them find it again. If you don't add this widget, there is a higher probability that they will give up.
  • No Subscription Widget - Some of your readers will be interested in your new posts. You have to provide them means to subscribe to your blog by email or with feeds. Install the corresponding widgets.
  • No Followers Widget - Build a crowd of followers by allowing them to join your blog. Add the corresponding widget.
  • Not Enabling Comments - Let people participate to the dynamics of your blog. Let them put comments on your posts. You always have the possibility to filter these if necessary.
  • No Labels On Posts - Labels are a mean to tag your posts (at least on Blogger). For example: vegetarian recipe, chicken recipe, etc... Have them displayed below each post. They will appear as links that users can click. If they do so, they will access all posts having the corresponding tag. This is great for navigating between posts.
  • No Navigation Links - On Blogger, use pages (you have maximum 20 per blog) to create menu pages, then install the page widget to let readers access them. It is another mean to organize your blog and make it accessible to users.
  • No Feedback Widget - Readers like to read feedback information about your blog (for example, with the statistic widget). I personally love the popular widget, which displays the most popular posts on your blog. Readers are interested in this information.
  • Not Listing Your Blog - On Blogger, make sure the visibility of your blog is set to true in the settings. It will be listed on Blogger and accessible by all search engines. Think about Technorati listing to have an idea of how you blog fares compared to other blogs.
  • Low Stamina Posting - That is the ultimate traffic killer. Blogging is nothing less than running a marathon. You need to post frequently and have at least 50-100 relevant and valuable posts before raising significant and regular traffic. Don't be obsessed about posting exactly 2 posts per day, and don't wait until you have 30 post before dumping them all. Just post them as they are ready. Don't strategize, it does not help with traffic. Do post often.
  • Quality vs Quantity - If you have 20 posts and meet all quality requirements described above, it won't help with traffic. You may see small spikes in traffic as you work on quality, but it will not be sustainable. When it comes to blogging, quantity trumps quality (unless content is mediocre). In other words: quality support quantity, but not the other way round.
More web related posts here.