Out of the years that I’ve been blogging (both casually and professionally), I’ve learned a lot of technical skills and hacks from various sources like friends, online articles, and reputable blogging experts/professional bloggers. Over time, I’ve also learned how to make my own blog better and how to cater to what my audience needs and to not just do what I want.
Now I want to pay it forward and share a couple of simple actions that will effectively improve your blog.
Read on so you can apply them to your own blog ASAP!
SET YOUR FEATURED IMAGES
One of the painful things I had to face recently for my blog was uploading my featured images one by one. Yep, you read that right! Like what most amateurs did, I set my featured images simply as the first photo on my blog. And I completely neglected the “Featured Image” field on my sidebar.
Afraid that I would upload the wrong image or misuse the function, I just let it be. One day, I found a theme that I really loved. It was everything I wanted and more! I had one tiny yet disastrous problem with it.
I had no featured images on ALL of my blog posts.
I silently whimpered and hoped it was just a bug in the theme. It turned out that I literally had no featured images in any of my blog posts! Being me, I quickly panicked. But good thing I found a hack.
For old WP versions: How To Turn Your First Post Image Into Featured Images. (Psst, it's as easy as copying a code!)
— The Bae Blogs, Etc. (@thebaeblogs) June 23, 2017
I’m still using the same code as of this writing (October 2017) – my mild OC self is just trying to ignore the fact that most of my featured images look like crap. I figured since I could easily publish new content every week, I don’t need to fret on my old blog posts.
And because I have 1,000+ publish blog posts to date, it would be a complete pain to edit them one by one.
So if I were you, learn the value of featured images ASAP!
ORGANIZE YOUR CATEGORIES
When you have new readers, expect him to look for your categories and take it from there. It’s important that your categories are organized and some of your best works are highlighted. This helps your reader stay longer on your blog and reduce your bounce rate*.
* the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.
Also, keep in mind to NOT PUBLISH UNCATEGORIZED CONTENT. Personally, it’s one of my pet peeves. Technically speaking, it can also hurt your content.
How? Imagine writing a really informative long-form blog post. It’s packed with information and it’s evergreen (a bonus!), but you completely forgot to choose the proper category.
Readers who have the link can open it directly, but what about those lingering in your blog? Even if they searched for it, it most likely won’t pop up because it has one ingredient missing: the category.
One missed step can already decrease that blog post’s exposure. Ouch!
So go ahead and check if you have Uncategorized posts and fix them STAT!
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF BASIC SEO
Ever since I learned the basics of SEO, I couldn’t stop yapping about it. I know I promised a long time ago that I’m going to do a blog post on it – I still am! Just finding the right time to do it.
But to give you a gist, here are the basic SEO fields you can focus on now:
- Alt description – This is particularly helpful for our visually-impaired readers. Bots can’t read pictures, so you need to describe what the person should see. Here’s an example: “A girl reading the newspaper while sitting on a stool in a cafe shop.” The alt description can have other functions, but I’ll discuss it in detail on my “Blogging SEO” blog post.
- Meta description – This summarizes your content. In a way, it gives your readers their expectation once they open a particular blog post. This can be found at the bottom of your SEO plugin after the Title, Slug, and Keyword.HOW IT LOOKS ON GOOGLE:
- Slug – As you can see in the photo, the post slug is the user-friendly and URL valid name of a post. It customizes and shortens your article’s URL for readability and convenience. Here’s an example of a bad URL: http://www.thebaeblogs.com/product-review-proactiv-integrated-acne-treatment/. It’s simply too long. Hurtful to the eyes, right? But if I change it into just http://www.thebaeblogs.com/proactiv, it makes it friendlier visually, don’t you think?
- Title – Always go for a clickbait if you want to catch your readers’ attention. But never make it superfluous and obnoxious-sounding. Sometimes it also helps to just be direct, like how I do when I write reviews. Example: Maybelline Inti-Matte Nude Lipsticks | Swatch + Review. When it has something to do with cosmetics, I make sure to put the entire product name since these things can be really confusing (and misleading).
- Keyword – I think some bloggers have a hard time thinking of a keyword, so here’s a tip: If you were Googling the topic, what would you type? It’s a fairly easy way to determine which keywords you should target.
- Content – Stick to your keyword and spread it in your content moderately. Don’t overdo it if you don’t want to be accused of keyword stuffing!
UPDATE YOUR “ABOUT ME” SECTION REGULARLY
Times change. What you were last year might not be who you are now.
You’ve also probably turned a year older since then, so if your age is not “20-something” in your blog, it’s best to change it ASAP.
I know bloggers love putting personal information in the “About Me” section of their blogs, and some of them are not permanent info so you might want to keep an eye on that.
You might also be the type of blogger who changes his social media handles frequently. If you do, don’t forget to redirect your readers so you can stay connected!
USE THIRD-PARTY PLATFORMS FOR HIGH-QUALITY IMAGES
Back when I didn’t know Smush existed, I just uploaded images as is. I like uploading my photos in high resolution since my blog posts are photo heavy and I like doing “photo dumps” wherein I just upload a bunch of photos and do less talking.
Fellow bloggers suggested Smush Plugin since I use WordPress as my blogging platform. It optimizes your photos since you can lower the size (helping you save memory space and decrease uploading time) while keeping the same high quality of the images.
Photoshop would also do if you have that app. Instead of selecting “Save Image As”, select “Save As Web” instead.
You can also use third-party platforms to upload your high-quality images. There are Tumblr and Flickr, to begin with.
PROOFREAD YOUR BLOG POSTS
Some bloggers commit the cardinal sin of not proofreading their blogs posts before hitting that publish button. For me, that’s a big no-no. While human error is always there, it wouldn’t hurt to be extra careful and read your blog post again before publishing it for the entire world to see.
This also helps you churn out more ideas and make your blog post closer to perfection.
TIP: Copy and past your blog post to a different writing platform/editor to help you see errors better.
Reading the same texts in a different platform with a different font gives you a different (and often better) perspective so you can easily spot that you’re missing a period or a comma or when a word needs an S at the end.
You can also sleep on it and re-read your blog post first thing in the morning. This is when your mind is most vacant from other life shenanigans, so it would do your eyes and mind good to start the day with some reading.
It’s better that you spot that cringe-worthy paragraph before your 1,000+ readers do!
RESPOND TO COMMENTS
There’s no better way to let your readers know you’re listening to them than by replying to their comments. Aside from rubbing elbows with Google and making your blog SEO richer, it makes you a more approachable blogger.
From a personal perspective, I don’t understand how some bloggers never reply to comments. I understand that life can be hectic sometimes, but if you can waste 2 hours on social media without breaking a sweat, I’m pretty sure you can also make time to respond to your readers’ comments.
If you’re the type of blogger who doesn’t get a lot of comments, it can take as little as 5 minutes to answer them all in one sitting.
So what are you waiting for? Dig into those unanswered comments now!
I’ve loved Grammarly since I used it to check my articles for a former client. But you don’t have to stick with the website version. You can install the app and have it on your search engine bar so you can always check your grammar whether you’re composing an email, posting a status on Facebook, tweeting a life realization or writing a blog post!
It helps a lot to have an automatic grammar police nearby. Want to take it a notch higher? Go premium!
I hope these little hacks provided useful information on how you can improve your blog with actionable steps.