Can you believe we are on the cusp of 2017?
Whilst 2016 has been a hell of a year for both good and bad reasons (I’m hoping to soon film the New Years Resolutions tag like I did last year to expand on this!), 2017 is likely to bring its own chances and challenges. I for one, want 2017 to be the year where I take better care and attention to both myself and this here blog.
To encourage me with the latter, and to hopefully help out those of you who also want to look after their blogs a little better, here are some of the things you can do to get your blog fighting fit in 2017.
Do a mini SEO audit
Uh oh – the dreaded SEO. You are either obsessed with it, or not quite sure what it is. But there is a middle ground that will help you to improve your blog without causing you stress!
There is this amazing tool called Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool (try saying that after a few proseccos), which basically scans your site and highlights the key elements where you can make quick fixes to improve your SEO.
You can get the free version which scans up to a certain amount of pages on your site – here are the areas you want to look at in your mini audit using the tabs once your site has been scanned:
Look out for 404’s. These are error codes and basically indicate you have a broken link i.e. the page no longer exists or hasn’t been redirected properly. If you have any 404’s, you can click on the ‘In Links’ tab to see which pages are linking to the broken link. Simply find these pages and remove the links!
Every page needs to have a unique title. This shouldn’t be an issue on your blog as the Page Title should be your blog post title. However, it’s still worth a look in case there are any duplicates. Try keeping your titles to 60 characters max if you can.
This is the description used in the search engines (and are sometimes shown when you share a link on social media). Make sure all your pages have a meta description of ideally a maximum of 160 characters, minimum 120.
Us bloggers love to use an image or two (or five, or twenty). Large images can massively effect your site speed, so using the Images tab, look out for any images over 100kb (there’s a filter on SEO Spider, select ‘over 100kb’). These images are too large and should be replaced with smaller ones to improve your site’s speed.
As well as image size, a great way to improve your SEO is to add alt text to your images. This text describes the image and gives you the opportunity to add relevant keywords. On SEO Spider, scroll along to alt-text and you should find which images are missing this description. There isn’t really a maximum character limit on alt-text, but don’t go stuffing it with keywords!
Helpful stuff to read:
This is a great guide to using the tool with a few screenshots for if you get lost following my instructions above!
Finding The Right Keywords For Your Blog Posts
This is a post I put together earlier this year on how to use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to find the right keywords for your posts – super helpful when updating your meta descriptions and image alt text!
I can’t promise you that an SEO audit is fun (because I’d be lying), but it is a bit therapeutic…y’know, like a spring clean?
Plan content that’s manageable
I am the worst when it comes to content planning. I either kinda sorta forget about blogging for a bit, or I feel the intense pressure of leaving a day too many between keeping the blog updated.
For Christmas, I got the beaut blog planner you can see in the photos (shop here), and I aim to utilise it as much as possible to forward-plan. You don’t have to get a fancy planner to be more organised, but I find it helps!
The key for me, as someone who works full time, is to plan content that’s manageable. Don’t aspire to write a post every single day because the content will be crap and rushed. That’s not to say other FT workers who blog every day are creating bad content, it’s to say that if I was doing it the content would be crapola.
I’m aiming to use my planner to plot out blog post ideas as and when I get them, so that when I do have the time to sit down and write/take and edit photos, I’ll already have a bank of post titles at a minimum to work from. Ideally, I’ll also have some extra notes to guide me as to what the hell I was thinking when I came up with the idea!
Of course, the ideal situation is to write there and then when the lightbulb flashes in your head – but let’s face it, our best ideas come to us at the most inconvenient times.
Up your photo game
Over time, I have struggled a bit to come to terms with how important good photography is in blogging. I’ve always romanticised the idea that people are coming to read my blog for the words.
Whilst for many, the words are still where it’s at, the fact is that a great flatlay or other fancy looking image is going to entice a reader to click through from Bloglovin/Feedly/social media/your blog itself.
In 2017, I want to make more time (somehow) for making sure I get the best snaps with the resources I have. This should be easier now that the afternoons are starting to brighten up!
I’d recommend getting soft boxes if you don’t have them already, for those times when good lighting just ain’t happening.
Et voila! There are some of the ways you can improve your blog in 2017. I’ll be right there with you trying to make this space the best it can be so stay tuned!