This will be the first in a series of articles where I will review other blogs and point out improvements, and mistakes that I have made (and improved upon). By no means does this mean I’m “picking apart” other bloggers – or that I’m superior to them, or even that I’m earning more money online. It’s meant merely as constructive criticism, and hopefull some of the things I point may help them. They may or may not take my advice. Doing this will serve several goals, one of which is to reach out to other bloggers, network, and build more community. Another will be to provide my blog with a unique and regular feature, a “selling point” to bring readers back if you will. Last – it will keep my on my toes (in regards to my blog), and keep me from getting any kinds of writer’s block. This should definitely spark some friendly debate as well. I claim only to be an expert in blogging mistakes – because I have made so many of my own (for years now…=)).
I believe every site should have a theme, a niche, a meme, a ‘gimmick’ if you will. When I first started this site I just called it “JTPRATT.com – learning everything about blogging the hard way”. After some time went by, I felt that this didn’t tell anyone in search results, Technorati, or my feed anything (or enough) about my site. So I renamed it “JTPRATT’s Blogging Mistakes”. Now I have a keyword phrase that I use constantly. I’ve done a lot of marketing in my life, and I’ve learned that you always do better with some kind of memorable ‘catch phrase’, and I think that does both. I also changed my WordPress tagline to “Earn Money Online Blogging Beginner to Expert Learning From My Mistakes”. I used keywords that I felt described my blog, and now my home page listing in google and the search engines not only gets more hits, but it gets more “clicks” because it tell people more about my site.
One last item, about how I came up with this idea. You should constantly be reading and learning from other bloggers, in and out of your niche. It’s very popular to review blogs, so much that it’s almost becoming less review and more “I’ll review you, you review me and we’ll get more links and traffic!”. Read How to Review a Blog for more info and tips on doing reviews. Daily Blogging Tips do a great job on their twist to the “blog review”, which is to interview two bloggers and pit their answers one against the other, like this one: Darren ‘Problogger’ Rowse vs. Jeremy ‘Shoemoney’ Shoemaker. They call it the “Bloggers Face Off”. Every time a new one of these come out I just have to read it. I also like the landing page makeovers and reviews at CopyBlogger.
So my new feature and twist on “blog reviews” will be a “blogging mistakes review” – where I will point out mistakes I myself have made on my site(s), that I find in other blogs. Here we go!
Blogging Mistakes – Review #1: MarcoRichter.net
Marco was so kind to include in his Viral Recommendation Carousel, and I promised to return the favor (like three weeks ago) – so his site MarcoRichter.net will be my very first blogging mistakes review.
Marcho Richter has a blog about linkbuilding, seo, blogging tips and resources, and even some WordPress Help.
SEO Blogging Mistakes
- Marco makes an SEO blogging mistake that I mentioned earlier in this article – the title and tagline of his blog are not descriptive enough. His title is “MarcoRichter.net” and his tagline is “The Miscellaneous Ramblings of a Dot Com Tycoon”. Looking at the html title tag in source code, and the title in the top browser bar, it doesn’t even include his tagline, it’s even worse saying “MarcoRichter.net – by Marco Richter”. This is probably why a search for his own domain in google doesn’t list his homepage first (and it should).
Recommendation: Change your blog title to something more descriptive (Marco Richter’s Blog Tycoon), and use a descriptive tagline with keywords that people search for (Blogging Help, SEO, and Linkbuilding Techniques to build a better blog), and use the tagline in the HTML title with the blog name for better indexing.
- Possibly too many outbound links. SEO and inbound and outbound linking is always up for debate, but I’m starting to see more and more information about too many outbound links hurting a site’s performance in the search engines. Read this ProBlogger article on Do outbound links matter for seo. My concern would be with pages like RSS Subscriptions – The Ultimate Resource List. I believe I also read that the number of links is weighted against the amount of text on the page, and this is clearly overwhelmingly more links than content. People bookmark lists like this, but it can hurt you in the SE’s. If you’re going to have a very large list or links in a resource page, I think something like Smashing Magazine does for this WordPress Plugin and Tutorial page is a big better, because around each link they have descriptive text (it’s not just a list of links).
Recommendation: Update your large ‘resource’ pages with more descriptive text for better seo.
- Use Keyword Rich Descriptive Post Titles. Doing a google search for all pages index for MarcoRichter.com you’ll see what I mean right away. I expected to see pages like “Contact” and “Sitemap” have one word titles. But I didn’t expect to see posts entitled “How To”, “Tips & Tricks”, and “Some Little Tweaks”. Some of the other Post Titles could use a little beefing up too.
Recommendation: There’s a little known plugin (that even I don’t use yet) I just found called Title Optimization that allows you to mix keywords in your title tag as well as adding a sub-title that would help a lot. Also, some good reads would be Traffic Driving Blog Titles, and How to Write Magnetic Blog Titles.
Post Blogging Mistakes
- Not having recommended posts. This one is any easy fix, and a great way to keep people on your blog for longer periods of time.
Recommendation: Install a plugin to display recommended posts at the end of each post.
- Not taking advantage of Feedburner FeedFlare. This one is not really a mistake because it’s personal preference, but since the RSS feed is already managed through Feedburner, their “FeedFlare” service is available. You can place a little code in your theme to call Feedburner in your “loop”, and automatically add all kinds of things after each post. The one “I” think is most useful is the “Email this” option. I also like the links to Technorati and saves to Del.icioi.us ones as well, but you can choose anything you want! Why not give people as many options as you can!
Recommendation: Try using some Feedburner FeedFlare by adding the code to your theme and templates.
RSS Feed Blogging Mistakes
- No Email RSS Subscription Form. Marco’s using the Feedburner service already, and they have an option you can “turn on” and people can subscribe to your rss feed via email. Subscribers only get one mail per day with any new posts for that day, and all you have to do is put the form on your site and tell people to signup.
Recommendation: Turn on the Email sub option in feedburner andn add the form to your blog.
Layout Blogging Mistakes
- List more posts on the home page. I know that lots of sites have waaaaay too many full posts on their home page (that scroooooool forever). I learned that the hard way myself. But having only 3 posts per page you don’t get that many options, and you have to use “previous posts” to see more (and usually you would just get 3 more). I like to give people options, as many as possible up front. Maybe you could have just one posts full available on your home page, and display 9 more excerpts? First time impression is everything with millions of blogs online, you want to have as many catch titles in front of them as possible. When I write this, every time I used “previous entries” I got a blank error page.
Recommendation: Make your first post full on the homepage and the rest excerpts, or teasers, or titles using something like the HomePage Excerpt WP Plugin.
- Having things people more frequently want to read in the footer. I realize that to change this you would need to either modify your theme, or get a new theme. But I believe that it’s really poor design to put things people want most often in a footer. If you use something like Crazy Egg, or a similar service you’ll find that in a ‘heat map’, the things that get the most clicks are “above the fold”, and the top nav, top left, and top right parts of the page. Traditionally (in web design) the footer is the part of the page that gets the least attention and the fewest clicks. If you ever setup adsense on your page with an adblock at the top, side, and bottom of a post, the one at the bottom always gets significantly less clicks (like 15-20% of or less) than the leading ads. So….if you want people to prominently see (and view, and click) your recent articles and comments – put them in your sidebar (or a two column sidebar).
Recommendation: Experiment with putting recent posts and comments in your sidebar
Alright – there you have it, the first Blogging Mistakes Review! It’s not like Marco is making a ton of mistakes – he’s got a great blog, and he’s doing TONS of things right. I love his sitemap, his blog is clean and friendly, and there are great articles on blogging, linkbuilding, and SEO. By implementing some of my recommendations, he would have better SEO and search indexing, more rss subscribers, visitors would stay longer and read more, and he should even get more visitors via organic search results.