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You’ve been focusing hard on your blog – picking a theme that puts the focus on your content and creating great, engaging posts that benefit your readers. So why aren’t you getting the traffic, engagement, or brand partnerships that you’ve been working for? Sometimes you can have the best content in the world, but have some other issues going on with your blog or website. In my day job, I often review and audit websites and offer tips and tricks for the owner to improve the site going forward. These are some of the most common issues I see when looking at other websites!
You’re Not Self-Hosted: This is the number one mistake anyone could ever make, especially new bloggers. I get it – it can be hard to shell out the money for hosting and a domain name, but without your own domain name, you won’t ever look professional. Consider a brand or potential sponsor getting a request to sponsor “yourblog.blogspot.com” – this could lead readers to think that the brand is associated with Blogspot, rather than your particular website. And if you do find a partner with a URL like that, readers might not remember what your website is going forward – they might only remember the top-level domain, which will make it harder to find you again. It doesn’t even have to be very expensive – my hosting and domain names are less than $100 per year. If you’re looking to make the move to self-hosted and start to increase your traffic and monetization, check out BigScoots – they’re my favorite!
You’re Using Comic Sans: Poor old Comic Sans takes the fall, but there are a lot of terrible fonts that are sorely overused in design and blogging. Papyrus, Bleeding Cowboys, Stencil… the list goes on, and you can probably think of a few others. There’s a reason these fonts regularly get listed on “do not use” lists – they’re unprofessional and dated, and when used on your blog or website, that’s the message they convey. If you’re using these fonts, consider browsing some alternatives. Google Fonts is super easy to integrate into a WordPress blog, and DaFont has a huge library of free fonts to check out – Pinterest is also a good place to look for free fonts to use!
You Don’t Interact With Readers On Social Media or In Comments: Creating a loyal audience is important when growing your blog, but you can’t build a relationship based on one-way communication. If visitors are commenting on your posts, be sure to reply – maybe they’re sharing more valuable tips you can benefit from, or have questions about a point in your post. If you’re struggling to get comments, consider including a question at the end of your posts as a call to action. Check your notifications on social media regularly – engage with your followers by posting content they’ll benefit from, and reply to their posts! Twitter is especially fun to interact on – it’s easy to find other people with your interests.
Your Bio Sucks: Admittedly, the bio page is a delicate balance, so it can be tough to get “right”. Without drawing on your entire life story, you want readers to be able to quickly get an idea of who you are and what you’re like. I’ve seen bios that detail each year of someone’s school life, pages that include little substance or are written in a way that doesn’t connect, or worst of all – blogs without any sort of “about” page. Your readers want to quickly get your backstory – especially new readers who might be jumping into your blog without any context. If you aren’t feeling very inspired, this is a great post on how to improve your biography, or look at this post with some of my favorite examples!
Your Layout Is Bad: If you’re using the WordPress default layout, it might make you look a bit amateur – you don’t have to spend a ton (or any!) on a theme for your blog for it to look great. I’ve gotten my last two themes on Etsy for super reasonable prices, and many designers even offer installation, if you’re a total newbie. There are tons of resources for free themes, like these for WordPress and Blogger. Be sure that it’s mobile responsive, though – almost 60% of all traffic online now is on a mobile device. Themes that aren’t responsive won’t display well for visitors on phones or tablets, and they might not be able to read any of your content. If you lose them, you might not get them back!
You Have Pop-Ups: Repeat after me: I will not use pop-ups on my website. There’s nothing worse for me than visiting a website and having to close an opt-in or call to action (and it’s even worse when something pops up on every page.) Instead, consider adding your mailing list signup to the top of your content or sidebar areas, or adding a call to action as a header image. I’ve always found it to be a bit presumptive to ask someone to subscribe to you before they’ve even had a chance to check out your content! Some pop-up widgets aren’t responsive either, meaning they can’t be closed or minimized by mobile visitors. If you have to use a pop-up, be sure to test out to make sure it can be closed on a mobile device. Google is actually starting to penalize websites that use pop-ups, so be sure you’re working within their guidelines if you do choose to use these.
There’s No Mailing List: When your visitors do click through to read your great posts, they’ll want to subscribe to get emails from you. If you don’t have a mailing list yet, there’s no better time than now to start! ConvertKit is really popular with bloggers and entrepreneurs to manage mailing lists, but the old standby MailChimp is great for beginners (and free for up to 2,000 subscribers!)
Your Site Isn’t Secure: A few months ago, Google and other search engines started penalizing websites that aren’t using a secure SSL certificate. Basically, SSL is a setting that provides extra security for your visitors – it lets browsers connect securely to different websites. In addition to being penalized in search results, Google Chrome (the most popular web browser) will display a message to visitors that your site is not secure if you don’t have an SSL certificate. This can definitely scare away visitors who think your site may be hosting malware or other material harmful to their computers. It’s typically pretty easy to turn it on – I just emailed the guys at BigScoots, and they issued the SSL certificate right away for no extra cost. Your host can help you out more with this. You can learn more about encryption here!