Okay believe me I am no expert and I make mistakes pretty much daily (sometimes hourly) on my blog as it is a never ending learning process for me. I did not go to school for web design or coding but rather I taught myself from books, following other blogs and lots of Google searches. As someone though who has been reading blogs for a long time and blogging myself since August 2008, I have noticed quite a few things that I figure might be helpful for other bloggers to audit their own websites.
Here are some things to check on your blog:
- Have a clear contact email listed – not a Contact Form, but your actual email. There are times companies or even other bloggers may want to email you and the Contact Form can be impersonal and I have been told reps will pass you by if they can’t quickly find your email address. If you are worried about being Spammed then put your email like this: email (at) gmail.com. While I am saying to make sure your email address is listed, have a name listed too, at least your first name. People want to know how to address you.
- Have a Search Bar for your site – I cannot tell you how useful a Search Bar is and how annoying it is when I visit another bloggers site and want to search for something and can’t.
- Forget CAPTCHA – I have left sites before because CAPTCHA wouldn’t load right or I didn’t notice it as sometimes it loads after you put in your comment and hit Enter. If you are worried about spam there are plugins (WordPress) you can use like AKISMET that helps.
- If you host Giveaways, list them on your sidebar. They will get buried and forgotten about if you don’t. This also helps bring in more entries as readers will then notice your other giveaways and enter those as well.
- Keep your sidebars up to date – check them regularly for bad links, old Giveaways or other text, old buttons. Do you really need that “I’m Going to BlogHer 2010” button up there still? How about other blog button’s that you don’t even read anymore? You can also create pages to organize links. Such as create a Blogroll page with all your favorite blogger’s buttons, rather than crowding your sidebar with them. Also, list your Ambassadorships and other campaigns you participated in on your About Me page.
- Don’t bombard your readers with ads – Yes I use Adsense but after my post. I was just at two sites who one had Google Adsense text right in the middle of a post and the other had those stupid links that pop up when you hover over a word. I (as well as your readers and companies) want to read a blog post without distraction of ads.
- Use Categories – Make sure you categorize each post so others can click it to find more Recipes, Reviews, Coupons and so on. Better yet you can link your Categories in your side bar so if others want to find them they can just click on the Category name.
- Disclose, Disclose, Disclose! Don’t forget about FTC and if you got paid, got something for free or just want to cover your butt then use a Disclosure in each blog post! I have been to many sites where I know the blogger is doing a review yet they don’t disclose that at all. It is a shame but I even disclose if I paid for someone on my own just so my readers know that and there is no confusion.
- Post pictures – If you do product reviews include pictures (yours, companies, or both!) Heck even if you are writing about anything, include a picture! A picture is a great way to break up all the words in a post and give you a way to get a little personal (or funny!)
- Unless you don’t want your friends and family to know, put your blog as your occupation on Facebook. For example, mine says “Owner and Professional Blogger at Mom and More” That way if someone sees me on Facebook they know which blog I am from and I may get a few more hits on it. Recently we had a Facebook Group for BlogHer12 attendees and it was kinda frustrating to see bloggers comment but not know which blog they are from.
- Have your Social Media Buttons Displayed – I have been to blogs where they had no Twitter, Facebook or RSS links anywhere. Keep your links/buttons visual and promote them.
Okay so what am I missing? Anything you don’t agree with?