52 Ways to Optimize Your Blog While on Your Break ~ Search Marketing and Internet Marketing Blog Online

52 Ways to Optimize Your Blog While on Your Break

It wasn't too long ago that I wrote a post on changing your Blogger title tags to improve SEO results. I can say first hand that one small, extremely important change has done wonders for my traffic boosting monthly visitors from 50 to a couple hundred - and increasing each month. This post also hit home for a number of subscribers and readers - most of which appears to have achieved the same benefit from the change.

I have been working on a list of additional tips, quick fixes, etc to continue to aid in increasing traffic which I plan on publishing soon. I stumbled across Jennifer Slegg's post this morning and thought I would summarize her terrific list - which covers a much wider range than the list I had been working on :) To get all of the details, stop by JenniferSleg.com and read the full post. It is a terrific read and will, no doubt, aid in your blogging efforts (I know I picked up on a few things myself!

Per Jennfier, a couple things to note: each one should take you 15 minutes or less! And it will leave you your lunch break as actual blog writing time. Some do require you to have FTP access to upload plugins. Many are Wordpress specific but could be easily adapted to your blog platform of choice.

1. Run far, far away from the default template
With the number of free blog templates out there, there is really no excuse to be running the default template on your blog unless you just finished installing it five minutes ago.

2. Where’s home?
If your logo is not linked to your homepage, make sure you have a clearly labeled link near the top that says “Home” so people can link to your website easily.

3. Get searching
Adding a search box can help those who wind up on your blog but can’t find exactly what they are looking for.

4. Customize your 404 error page
If people end up on a page that doesn’t exist, a customized 404 page can go a long way to helping people find what they are looking for so they don’t simply hit the back button instead.

5. Underline your links
This is especially important if your blog is targeting a not-so-tech-savvy audience. So while those green mouseover links look hot, the lack of underline-ness can trick some people.

6. Keep your navigation consistent
Inconsistency can make it difficult for people to easily find what they are looking for.

7. Keep your entries consistent
We all go through periods where we might post six times in a day but then go six weeks without a peep. If you know your schedule is going to get crazy next week, use your coffee breaks this week to write some short but sweet blog entries you can schedule to post next week when you are too busy to do it.

8. Have a backup list of blog topics
When you come up with those blog ideas you don’t have time for, just write down the potential title and maybe jot down a couple of points and save it for one of those days when you have writer’s block and can’t think of a single thing to say.

10. Add a favicon
Many RSS readers use the favicon when they are displaying posts from your blog, so why not add a favicon to help your blog stand out more to readers when they go to their RSS reader.

11. Add Sociable
Make it easy for people to share your content with other social networks by adding the Sociable plugin by Joost De Valk.

12. Do some spell checking on older posts
Use ieSpell in Internet Explorer or even the Google toolbar built-in spell checker and do some quick spell checks on your older entries, especially the more popular ones.

13. Set up a blog-centric Twitter feed
More and more people are using Twitter as their first choice for getting industry news. So once you have set up a new Twitter account for your blog, go to TwitterFeed and set it up to begin automatically posting everytime you have a new blog post.

14. Don’t require registration to post comments
A few years ago, blog spam made this option popular, but with a good blog spam tool and comment moderation, there should be no reason why you should be requiring people to register first.

15. Comment on the blogs you read
Take a minute to comment on a great blog post you have just finished reading. It doesn’t have to be anything totally deep, even just a “Thanks for the article, I never thought of marketing ___ from this perspective before, it is definitely giving me ideas!” Chances are good that not only will the blog author visit your site, but other readers who have read the blog entry after you will see your blog and click through to your site.

16. Comment on your own blog
Interacting with commenters can go a long way to increasing the number of comments each entry gets, as well as providing a useful “forum” to engage and interact with your readers, all on your own site!

17. Make it even easier to comment on your own blog
Absolute Comments adds a reply link next to the usual “Edit, Delete, Unapprove/Approve, Spam” options when viewing comments in admin… when you click reply, a text box will pop up to enter your reply comment.

18. Highlight your own comments
Matt Cutt’s has made a post on how to do this, which is now on my to-do list.

19. Recognize your top commenters
There are plenty of plugins that do this.

20. Show off the recent comments made
You can show snippets from the most recent comments made on your blog. And as a bonus, depending on what comments are made, it will highlight older blog entries that might be long gone from the front page of your blog or recent posts list.

21. Add your blog to your email signature
Add a blog and a short tag line to intrigue people to visit.

22. Create or update your about you page
Have you recently received any awards, guest blogged on a high profile site, spoke at a conference or quoted in a major newspaper? Your profile pages should include relevant information such as your bio, but also things like your username (preferably with profile links) to thinks like social media sites you belong to.

23.Create a contact us page
Don’t put your straight email address on your website. Use a contact form instead so you don’t need to worry about the spam. There is a great contact us plugin that includes spam protection so you shouldn’t have to deal with contact form spam.

24. RSS Feeds
Make sure your RSS feed button is placed prominently. If your RSS button is hidden away or not noticeable, you just might find that people won’t bother to subscribe rather than hunting around for it.

25. Offer full RSS feeds over snippets
Many bloggers want visitors “on the site” rather than just in the RSS reader, but it is better to get them reading, enjoying and anticipating a full blog entry in their reader than it is to just give them a snippet they might only click through on 5% of the time.

26. Start tagging
Make a point of tagging a few of your older blog entries a day, and before you know it, you will have a great tag representation of your posts for others to use.

27. Recommend related blog entries
You just wrote a fantastic blog entry that has been Stumbled and Dugg… but do you make it easy for those new-found fans to write other articles you have written on the same topic? If you install a recommended entries / related posts plugin, it will automatically pull several related blog entries to recommend to your readers at the end.

28. Highlight your most popular posts
What are your most popular posts of all time, either by page views or comment count? Add a list of popular posts to your sidebar.

29. Recommend other blogs
Add them to your blogroll so readers can see what else you read. Not only are you sending traffic and links to blogs you admire, but you just might see some of those bloggers reciprocate and recommend your blog back to their own readers.

30. Get your own domain
Still lingering on yourname.wordpress.com or yourname.blogspot.com? Even if the yourname.com isn’t available, in the longrun it is still best to have your blog on your domain. So spend your coffee break looking up domain nams for your own yourname.com.

31. Don’t get too widget happy
Don’t sit down one day and add twenty new things to your sidebar. Start with two or three, then slowly ramp them up. This way you can identify any load issues, and you won’t be stuck figuring which of the twenty you just added is causing problems.

32. Check for blog spam
Never got around to getting your Akismet API key? Do it now. Sure, if your blog is new, maybe you have been fortunate enough to only get a handful of spam comments and/or trackbacks on your blog, just enough that you can easily handle it in simple comment moderation. But trust me, there will be a tipping point when the slow trickle will become a flood.

33. Check for signs of hacking
Similar to checking for spam, this involves doing a site:yoursite.com search in google, and appending one of the usual suspects of blog spam keywords (ie. “site:yoursite.com viagra” would be the search term).

34. Check those title tags
Wordpress has this nasty habit of putting the title of your blog first before the title of the blog entry. Just install the SEO Title Tag plugin.

35. Make sure you have good permalinks
Are your blog URLs something along the lines of http://www.yourfabulousblog.com/p?=89 Not very descriptive nor search-engine friendly. Make sure you are using permalinks that include information from the blog title such as http://www.yourfabulousblog.com/how-to-optimize-your-blog.

36. Make your post slugs more manageable
This is one thing I consistently forget to do, and I know I’m not the only one! When publishing a new blog entry, your post slug (the permalink URL title that is usually the same as all the words in your blog entry title) should not be thirty words long, as some blog entry titles wind up being on occassion!

37. Write killer article titles
A blog entry with a great title is also much more likely to go viral because a lot of people that submit things to Digg, Sphinn etc just can’t be bothered to rewrite the title - nor would you really want them to. So a great title is crucial.

38. Have you optimized your images?
Sure, people either love love love the traffic they get from Google image search, or they despise it because they end up with image leechers. You can do this manually as you upload each photo, depending on your version of Wordpress, or you can use a plugin like SEO Friendly Images which does it for you automatically.

39. Add a technorati widget
Make it easy for people to favorite you on Technorati. First, you need to sign up and claim your blog, if you haven’t already. Then add a button like this:
Add to Technorati Favorites
(That is to this blog, if you’d like to favorite it!)

40. And add some other easy RSS subscribe buttons too
Add links to things like Bloglines and Google Reader so your readers can subscribe to them easily. You can add them individually, use one of the wordpress plugins or use something like FeedButton which makes a rollover like this:

41. Fix for RSS scrapers
Don’t you just love it when you post a new blog post and then see it syndicated immediately on other websites? If you are code-savvy, you can edit the RSS yourself or you can use the RSS Footer plugin. Bonus tip: It works for ads too, your RSS ads will be displayed wherever your blog entries are scraped.

42. Make sure you are pinging Google
Are you pinging the Google blog server? The Google blog search updates incredibly fast - as in within minutes of pinging, you will see your blog entry in the blog search results, and it isn’t much later than most blog entries end up in the regular Google search too. Learn more about pinging Google here. Or you can submit your feed to Google here for a one-shot ping.

46. Label ads as ads
People hate being tricked, and this can impact whether people want to follow you or not. So if you accept advertising, label it as Sponsors or Advertisers.

47. Avoid going into advertising overload
You can make far more with one or two well-placed ads than you can with 10 different ads plastered all over your blog.

48. Use nofollow on links if needed
Essentially, if you are selling links or you are linking to a site that you cannot vouch for its authority or trustworthiness, you should pop a nofollow on the link to stay in Google’s good books (if Google search traffic is important to you, that is).

49. Link to other bloggers as you’d like to be linked
When you link to other’s blog entries, link to them as you would like them to theoretically link to you. You hate it when people refer to your blog but don’t include a link… or include an unlinked URL.

50. Subscribe to competitor’s RSS feeds
You can get great ideas by seeing what your competitors are talking about and linking to, and you can use it to bounce off of for your own blog entries.

51. Link to your competitor’s blogs
News flash… many of those subscribers might also subscribe to you too, it isn’t a case where readers have to pick one over the other. And chances are pretty good that other blogger isn’t viewing you as “competition” but rather a cool new look into the same market area.

52. Check on old links
You should definitely do a link health check on your blog on a regular basis. Visit your outbounds, check to see if you should nofollow anyone (especially for those blog entries you might have done before nofollow even existed) and just do an overall look at all your links to ensure they are all helping and not hurting you!

53. Robots.txt for duplicate content
Sometimes how the date archives are done on blogs you can end up with duplicate content because blog posts might be indexed under their own pages, their category pages and then a couple of date pages as well. Create a robots.txt to prevent Google from indexing the unneeded date pages.

54. Set up a Google Webmaster Central account
Sign up here and then verify your site. This will give you information on your site such as any 404 pages Googlebot has found, the number of subscribers (using Google Reader or iReader), top search queries and top clicked queries.

55. Keep your blog updated with the latest version
It is important to ensure you keep your Wordpress, MovableType or whatever blog platform you use updated with the latest version. Yes, it can be a pain, but it is even a bigger pain to clean up a blog that has been exploited in some way.

56. Backing up your blog
And while we talk about updating your blog, it is also important to backup your blog files and your database on a regular basis, so if disaster strikes you won’t discover you have lost all your template files and two years worth of blog post.

2 comments:

Stef said...

What a great list! Next time I have some time on my hands, I'm going to try to work my way through it. Thanks!

Glamiva said...

I bogged about this article of yours! Helped me a lot! Thank you so much Jon!