If you build your blog with WordPress you know how difficult it is to choose a theme from the enormous list of freebies or you purchase a ready-made theme. One of the first things you must ask yourself when building a blog is what you hope to achieve. Ultimately it will probably be to earn income from affiliate ads, Google Adsense or from promoting your own products. If you’re money driven right from the start then you’re probably doomed to failure.
Below are a number of mistakes that can be made when designing and setting up a new blog:
There is a school of thought that says you shouldn’t place any ads on your blog until it has been indexed and that you should continue to add content regularly and build a following before placing any advertising. Google wants to see content, not sites plastered with advertisements that has little to say.
Very often less is more. Matt Cutts recently announced that Google has started penalizing sites that have too much advertising, especially “above the fold”. This goes back to giving the reader a good experience, i.e. providing her with useful content more than anything else.
When you land on a site and are confronted with dozens of flashing arrows, ads, banners and content that’s splattered with links and pop-up advertising, what do you do? Yup you leave. Even if that content is the best in the world you’re probably not going to stick around and read it. A large part of owning a successful blog is constantly monitoring which ads are getting clicks. If something’s not performing, remove it. You may find that other ads will subsequently get more clicks.
2. Social Media Access
Some of the free WordPress plug-ins offer dozens of social media buttons but only use a few of the most popular ones. If your reader has to make a choice and is confronted with too many options she probably won’t choose any at all, plus too many buttons will just make the site look cluttered.
The colors used on your blog are very important, they should be easy on the eye and attractive. There are certain psychological reasons for not using red type for links because it’s the color people associate with danger. Always use a light background with dark type, you may have 20/20 vision but don’t assume your visitor does too. You no doubt have a number of favorite blogs; ask yourself why you like them, what attracts you to them and why can you read the content easily. Unless you’re promoting something that is totally avant-garde, keep it simple. Light type on a dark background is extremely difficult to read, don’t do it.
4. About Us/Me
You’ll be surprised by how many people will read a well-written About Us/Me page. Make sure yours is complete and it’s a good idea to add a photograph. It’s an important part of trust building. Tell people why you do what you do, where you come from and anything else that’s relevant. It doesn’t have to be long but it should be honest. You may want to change it occasionally or at least check it to make sure it’s up-to-date.
Competition in any niche is fierce and the only way to stay ahead is to keep your reader interested and engaged, and that means adding content in the form of articles and videos on a regular basis. If people bookmark your blog and come back to find there’s nothing new they will soon lose interest. Content should always be original and unique.
6. Pop-Ups & Sign Up Forms
One of the latest trends for getting someone to sign up to a list is by throwing a pop-up in their face. Some marketers insist that pop-up forms are very effective, I find them extremely annoying especially if I’m halfway through reading something, I do close it without reading it or subscribing.
Again it’s going to take some experimenting and that means monitoring how many sign-ups you get with a static sign up form versus a pop-up. Once you’ve found which works best for you then you can further split test different designs.
It’s a great temptation to go out onto the Internet once you’ve written an article and grab somebody else’s picture or graphic. Problem is anyone who looks at a number of websites and sees the same graphics may get the impression that everything on your blog is unoriginal.
Take your own photographs whenever possible. If you own a product that you’re promoting get somebody to take a picture of you with the product, that way nobody else will steal it! Even if you join a site where you pay for graphics, they’re not original either but you will have permission to use them.
8. Moderating Comments
I’m always surprised when I come across blogs where all comments have been approved, despite their relevancy. Always moderate comments and discard the trash (they are only looking for backlinks anyway) and take the time to answer questions or thank people who have left constructive comments. Comments can become conversations between visitors and the blog owner, and can be very useful for getting ideas for additional content.
9. Quality of Content
You can write the best articles in the world but if they’re chock-full of spelling or grammatical errors this can be off-putting for a reader. If your spelling isn’t as good as it should be write your article in Word or any word processing program where you can check your spelling. If you don’t, people will think you don’t care and that looks unprofessional. Have someone else check your copy or hire a professional to write your articles.
10. Easy Navigation
You want your visitors to stay on your blog as long as possible and that means making it as easy as possible to use. If it takes more than two clicks to find something, then you’re going to lose readers. Categorize everything with a logical index and build internal links to take people to other relevant content.
Google takes into account how long your site takes to load. Too many graphics, too much advertising and too many plug-ins will slow your site down considerably. There are few people who will wait more than a couple of seconds for a page to load. Run occasional tests to make sure your site is loading quickly; there are many free sites online you can use to do this. They will also show you where any problems are.
You want your site to look as professional as possible even if it is the first blog you’ve ever made. Monitor everything you do to find out what’s working best and continually strive to improve.
Can you add to this list? Please let us know if there are any other reasons why a blog or site can look unprofessional.