Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Blogging Tips | 8 (More) Common Blogging Mistakes to Avoid

Blogging tips: 8 (more) common blogging mistakes to avoid
Following the popularity of my first Common Blogging Mistakes post, there have been a lot more mistakes that I've seen since being made by bloggers that I thought would be helpful to include in another blogging tips round up.

Like I mentioned last time, a lot of bad practices and errors are made either due to the restrictions of blogging platforms (Blogger mostly) or because bloggers don't realise it can cause a problem for readers, or opportunities for self-promotion are just being missed. Everyone's preferences are different and they may not be applicable to everyone, but here are some more of the things I've learnt and rectified along the way in my (nearly) four years of blogging.

Everything is geared towards either promoting your blog or making the experience for your readers easier. Don't make them work for it - help them!

Mistake 1. Not explaining an unusual blog name
Unless you use something very obvious (like your name) as your blog name, explain to your readers how you came up with the name on your About/FAQs page. I explain mine in my FAQs page as I'm often asked what mine means (Brits usually "get it" but those who are not familiar with the expression "mutton dressed as lamb" usually don't). When I discover a new blog I invariably go straight to the About page to find a name, what their blog is about, where they live and what their blog name means. It gives you a great insight into a person, and more of an affinity with them if you know what they're all about.

Mistake 2. Not adding ALT Text tags to your images
This is a huge mistake to make... you should always, always add ALT text to increase your visibility on Google and to give your images an instant - and useful - instant description on Pinterest.

This is the best description I've found on the web for it (better than I can explain it):

"ALT [alternative] text is meant to be an alternative information source for those people who have chosen to disable images in their browsers and those user agents that are simply unable to “see” the images. It should describe what the image is about and get those visitors interested to see it.
Without ALT text, an image will be displayed as an empty icon:

In Internet Explorer ALT text also pops up when you hover over an image. Plus, Google officially confirmed it mainly focuses on ALT text when trying to understand what an image is about." -
Source

In other words, your ALT text is what Google uses to find your images when people are image-searching (and the more people find you that way, the more it will boost your Page rank). This text is also what automatically feeds into the description part of an image when it is pinned for Pinterest - if you don't add ALT text it will be whatever you've got the image named as on your hard drive... no one wants the description of the image they're pinning to be "DSC_0035" or similar. There are a few ways to add ALT text:

  • If you use an image storing site like flickr.com or photobucket.com, give all your images a title when you upload them. This will automatically give them ALT text.
  • If you insert images straight into your posts in Blogger, you need to add/change it manually. When you upload the image, click on it to highlight and get the options box open up. Click on 'Properties' and add ALT text there.
  • In Wordpress, add ALT text as you upload images to your Media Library, or click on the image once it's uploaded to your post and click on edit (the pencil icon). 

The ALT text you choose should be as descriptive as possible about the image and, to some degree, the post. Giving it the exact same text as the title of your post isn't necessarily helpful to those wanting to pin your image, not will it help your SEO.

Mistake 3. Not making images Pin-worthy
I think most bloggers know that images should be pinnable, but that doesn't mean they're pinworthy. Informative posts especially need a pinworthy image - that is, one that describes what the post is all about with text or an image and text overlay. The posts that I'm more likely to pick out and read from my Pinterest boards are those that have a portrait (not landscape) image with bold, easy-to-read text overlay.

My favourite sites for pinworthy blogging tips posts are byregina.com and icanbuildablog.com - both have instantly recognisable branding that stand out in my Blogging Tips board. Once these types of images are pinned it's much more likely that they will be repinned too, helping them reach a much wider audience.

This might be a lot of work, but if you're prepared to do it it's so worthwhile: I went back over all my "informative" posts (ones with any kind of text overlay) and redesigned them to fit in with my new branding after I redesigned my blog header. I chose the same font for both (notice the font I use in my header and text overlay are the same?) and changed them all. Once I did that, I pinned them all again, giving all my old posts a fresh lease of life.

Mistake 4. Not getting rid of old links and buttons in your sidebar
It's always good to have a clean up every now and then - check links and buttons in your sidebar yourself by simply clicking through and making sure they work. I see a lot of buttons for old link parties (e.g. the once-popular EverybodyEverywhere is so defunct even the domain doesn't exist any more). Get rid of them as they only serve to clutter your sidebar and slow down your blog's loading time. If you also have buttons for other blogs check that the design isn't an old one - I still see my first button in people's sidebars occasionally and it looks really old fashioned.

If you want to have a really good clean up (I need to find time to do this myself) you can use a broken link-finding website like brokenlinkcheck.com to check your whole site.

Amendment 23/03/2015:
Thank you to Sed Bona for leaving details in her comment about a plugin she uses on her Wordpress dashboard: It emails you each time an old link breaks so you can fix it (it also crosses out the link in the post text to save readers from clicking on a broken link until you have time to fix it). I think this is the one: https://wordpress.org/plugins/broken-link-checker. Very, very handy indeed.

Mistake 5. Not ironing clothes
Especially gifted items straight out the packaging...! The number of outfit posts I see where it's so obvious an item has been gifted because it has perfect crease lines where it was folded and put inside a packet. It looks so awful to have crumpled clothes anyway (the camera picks up on every little crease), but big crease lines in a grid pattern? Not a good look.

Mistake 6. Not registering yourself on gravatar.com
Gravatar is a website that, once you've registered an email address and associated avatar [profile picture], makes your avatar appear anywhere on the internet where you log in with that email address. You know when you're scrolling through a blog post's comments and some have avatars, and some don't? The ones that do may well have registered on gravatar.com. It's now associated with Wordpress so if you use that platform to blog, you may be registered already - but check. Make yourself stand out wherever you go.

And don't forget to use the same avatar everywhere - you might like this Facebook post where I explained the importance of using the same avatar across all your social media platforms and profile pictures.

Mistake 7. Not adding a "reply" option for comments on your posts 
Whilst it is very, very hard (not to mention time-consuming) for bloggers to reply to every single blog comment, giving yourself the option to reply directly to a comment is very important. It also means that other readers who may want to reply to another comment may do so. I'm not sure why some blogs do and some don't allow replies - I've looked on the settings of my (Blogger) blog and can't see where I'd switch them on or off. If anyone can help with this leave me a comment and I'll update this point!

Mistake 8. Not putting links to your blog and social media platforms in your email signature
The biggest missed opportunity to promote your blog and social media platforms is adding links at the bottom of your emails like you would with a business email address. Add a signature that goes out on all emails and replies to include a link to your blog, key social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and newsletter subscription, if you have one.

Have you found these tips useful? Is there anything that you'll find really easy to change... and what do you need to work on over time? Do share in the comments!
Catherine x
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P.S. Like this post? You might also enjoy How to Generate an Audience For Your Blog - and Increase Interaction!

Linking up to: Let It Shine, Brilliant Blog Posts, Friday's Fab Favourites, Sunday Funday
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89 comments

  1. I have a whole post explaining my blog name, haha.

    Corinne x
    www.skinnedcartree.com

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    1. Yours is *definitely* one that would need explaining, Corinne!! ;))

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  2. Brilliant tips! Thank you so much for sharing...there's a few on here I need to do! xx

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  3. I always learn something new from you! Today it was Gravatar. Thanks so much for all your wonderful tips! Peace! Cheryl

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    1. That's so nice of you to say, Cheryl! Thanks hun x

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    2. Too funny, now I am posting on everyone's blog so I can see my gravatar! It's the simple things I guess! :-)

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  4. Thank you for explaining ALT text, now I just have to remember to use it!
    I'll have to go check Gravatar out right now.
    Rubi | The Den | http://www.the-den.blogspot.com

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    1. No worries, Rubi! Both those points are so worth doing :))

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  5. Thanks for the great tips! I didn't know about the ALT text; just went back into some of my recent posts and added ALT text to my photos. Also going to clean up my sidebars!

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    1. Luckily I'd always been (unknowingly) using it as I use flickr to upload my photos. And cleaning sidebars is so important too! Glad you liked the tips, Carrie x

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  6. I always enjoy these tips. I have never heard of Gravtar and will need to check this out ASAP.

    Alice
    www.happinessatmidlife.com

    Hope to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.

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    1. Gravatar's a really good one, Alice! Glad it's helped :))

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  7. So many useful tips, I need to check my gravatar too.

    #BrilliantBlogposts

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    1. Thanks Emma! Gravatar seems to be the number one tip for most people in this post :)

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  8. This is a really great post and covers a lot of things that people forget to do.

    http://www.mintnotion.com

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  9. number 5 for sure! it's just distracting. I also want to echo your previous post a while back about bloggers never acknowledging the comments. I stopped commenting on some of them because they never respond. I am realistic and know that people are busy and can't always respond but it's nice to be acknowledged now and again. Good work, can't wait to see more spring outfits when it's warmer there....high of 81 in texas today!

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    1. Number 5 (ironing clothes) is something that I've never seen mentioned in any other posts like these, but I'm so surprised because it looks soooo awful (and I *hate* ironing)!!

      I know what you mean about replying to comments, Wendy - it's good that you acknowledge the fact that it's unrealistic for most bloggers (especially hobby bloggers) to reply to every comment, as I try to do. But I think it's very important to reply to the questions... I've missed them in the past because I was getting so much spam and had a full time job, and felt terrible that I did. As long as some are replied to on each post I think it gives the right impression that the comments are being read, and that's important.

      And pleeeeease don't tell me about your temps in the 80s, you're so mean =sob sob=!!!!! hehe ;)

      It's still not going over about 8C in the day here (46F) - I'm sick of the cold weather!!!!!!!

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  10. Your tip about ALT text is HUGE for me, dearest Catherine...I had no idea that you could "label" your photos this way!! It sounds quite straight forward to do; hopefully I'll have it figured out for my next blog post!! And I'll be getting registered with Gravatar as soon as possible, too!!

    www.StyleIsMyPudding.blogspot.com

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    1. It is pretty straight forward, Monika - a bit different for each blogging platform and a bit of extra work (unless you've already named them when uploading them to a photo-hosting site such as flickr, like I do) but it's sooooooo important. Even if you do it just for Pinterest so that descriptions come up for pinners that's a really helpful thing to do for your reders!

      Thanks sweetie, so glad you liked the tips! C x

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  11. I learned something today. I've never heard of brokenlinkchecker. Thank you for the great tips. #brilliantblogpost

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    1. It's something I've not got round to myself, Mariet - it'll be a lot of work! But broken links *are* frustrating, and it's on my blog to-do list. Glad you liked the tips :)

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  12. I must register on Gravatar! Thanks for these tips Catherine!
    ♥♥♥
    Jeanne
    http://fashionmusingsdiary.com

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  13. I definitely need to go and look at ALT text next when my head can work. Must pin this post! I managed Gravatar the other week and I have written about my name but I am not sure where.....off to change that next!

    #brilliantblogposts

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    1. ALT text's a big one, Laura, but very important. It'll become second-nature after a while, I promise! So glad you found other tips to help you too, thanks hun

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  14. Nice tips :)

    https://aspoonfulofnature.wordpress.com/

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  15. Thank you so much for letting your inner schoolteacher loose on us once more! And just in time as I'm working on some heavy maintenance of my blog! I started without knowing anything at all and now six month in, i'm painfully aware of the changes and upgrades it needs....ALT, Gravatar, wow! Not bad for us oldies isn't it! :-) Thanks,Catherine, you're star! x, Irmin, www.fashionsabbaticaldress.blogspot.com

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    1. Haha I don't know if you're just very astute Irmin or I've written it somewhere - but yes, I used to be a [photography] teacher!! Don't forget if you're a newbie you can't do or know everything at once, so just do one thing at a time. I still learn about new things now, there's always room for improvement! Thanks hun x

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  16. Hmmm timely reminder that I've NEVER checked my site for broken links ... #BrilliantBlogPosts

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    1. Hehe neither have I, hun - not in a major way, anyway! It's on my to-do list :)

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  17. Excellent post...looks like I have a lot of work to do!
    #BrilliantBlogPosts

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  18. Great tips, thank you very much for sharing, I am off to check a few things =D

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  19. These are awesome tips, thank you so much for sharing - good food for thought :) Mim @ www.mamamim.com #brilliantblogposts

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    1. Mim that's great to hear... it's a lot to do but I always say to people just do one thing at a time, every small improvement makes a difference! Thank you x

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  20. Now all I need to do, is work out how to make a signature for my posts! I have been wanting to do this for ages Catherine but have no idea how to do it! So frustrating :(

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    1. When you say a signature for your posts, Suzanne - do you mean a hand-written like my "Catherine" at the end of mine? Or did you mean a signature on your emails like I mentioned...?

      If it's the former, the easiest (and least tecchy) way is like this:

      - Get a blank sheet of A4 and a chunky marker pen, and sign your name as you want it to appear... make it pretty big, filling at least half the page.
      - Then scan the image and crop it to get rid of excess space around your name.
      - You'll need to make sure you have pure white around the edge so either do it in Photoshop (if you have it), Picmonkey or any other free photo editing website.
      - Add it to wherever you store your photos.

      Alternatively, you can just create an image using a handwritten font rather than doing it by hand and scanning the image. Depends if you want it to be like your actual writing or not.

      You can then add the image of your signature to the bottom of your posts as if it's any other image... don't forget to resize it to a reasonable size, you don't want it to be crazily large (unless you want to look like an egomaniac, haha)!!

      If you meant at the bottom of your email let me know...! C x

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  22. As always these tips are spot on Catherine! I have a plugin on my wordpress dashboard that emails me each time an old link breaks so I can go fix it (it also crosses out the link in my post text to save my readers from clicking on a broken link until I have time to fix it). But I still haven't gotten around to making an email signature with social media links -- adding that to my to-do list ASAP. I always love and appreciate your blogging posts since your is my favorite site for advice! I'm turning into a one-woman Not Dressed As A Lamb blog promoter here in Chicago!

    Sed Bona

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    1. Ashley that WP plugin sounds soooo handy, if only Blogger had tools like that! I'll add an amendment to that point with the details to help WP users.

      And thank you for your lovely comments, I'm always so flattered by the things you say!!!! xx

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  23. Thanks for the tips Catherine. I didn't know about Gravatar, I will look into it now!
    Lots of love,
    Angie

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    1. Another vote for gravatar! Thanks Angie, it was my pleasure :)

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  24. Thank you for sharing Catherine. You, I've done them all but I'm happy to see that I've got better over time (only one from the lost to correct :)
    Ana
    www.champagnegirlsabouttown.co.uk

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    1. You're very welcome, Ana - great to hear you're up to speed with so many things! x

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  25. Thank you for sharing these amazing tips!

    Alisha x
    http://alishaxa.blogspot.co.uk

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  26. An excellent post. I recently read another post that mentioned the importance of using text in images to make them more pin worthy, so that's what I'm concentrating on at the moment....And you just reminded me that I meant to look into adding my blog and social media details at the end of emails.

    So much to do, so little time!

    #BrilliantBlogPosts

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    1. Hehe I know that feeling, Debbie - where does the day go...?!!!! Pinworthy images make all the difference to posts going viral on Pinterest, so it's absolutely worth it! Thanks so much for your lovely comments x

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  27. Very useful tips, only a few hours ago I had a sort through my sidebar :)

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    1. Brilliant, Rachel! Nothing like a bit of blog housekeeping...! Thank you hun x

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  28. I read all your wonderful tips, but the thing that stuck out? I miss Everybody, Everywear. :o) Haha, silly me. Seriously though, ALT Text was something I had been wondering about. Thanks for clearing that one up!

    JJ
    www.dressupnotdown.blogspot.com

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    1. I know, JJ - I had completely forgotten all about it until I saw the button badge in someone's sidebar, then found out the site isn't even hosted any more! Hope you get to grips alright with ALT text, good luck with it (and thank you)!

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  29. Thank you for the gravata tip Cathrine. I need to work out those labels, oh and dont even get me started about seo!
    Laurie x

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    1. Hehe I thought I'd not mention SEO too much this time, Laurie! Gravatar is a really quick one to sort out but so helpful. Glad you enjoyed the tips x

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  30. Great post and thank you for all these post advices you write :)

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    1. Oh Ivana it's my pleasure! I'm just glad that they might help just a little! x

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  31. Oops #5 .. clearly on my current post .. lol. My top is slightly wrinkled duw to closet compression vs. being lucky enough to get packaged wrinkled stuff sent to me .. :-P

    Monica, www.pear-shaped-gal.com

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    1. duw = due .. ugh, darn lap top keys are too close.

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    2. I'm definitely not perfect myself when it comes to ironing, Monica... I can't stand doing it!! But I had a look at your top - it's definitely the sort of fabric that is meant to be crinkled, especially with all that embroidery!

      Believe me, the ones I had in mind when I wrote that point about ironing look a thousand times worse than your top, I'm talking great big criss-crossed crease lines. Your top is lovely! x

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  32. Thanks so much for these tips, I read these ones and your first post's tips as well, very practical and helpful!!

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  33. What a great set of tips. Need to get myself on Pinterest, I'm seriously missing a trick there ;-) #brilliantblogposts

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    1. Gosh yes, Pinterest is one of the best social media platforms for traffic because there's no "expiry date" for pins, unlike FB posts or tweets. Posts can go viral weeks or even months after they were first pinned!

      But be warned, you'll get addicted...!!! Thanks hun :)

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  34. Thanks for all the tips, I am always looking for information to do things right. I did sign up for gravatar, sometimes I notice that it doesn't pop up my picture. I wonder why?

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    1. Hmm I'm not sure exactly why, Nikki - if you find that every other comment doesn't have a profile pic, it's probably because the blogger has some of sort of settings to switch them off. On the occasions when my avatar hasn't come up I've seen that it doesn't come up for anyone. Let me know if that answers your question...!

      And thanks for your comment, glad you liked the post x

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  35. Very helpful for a new blogger like me. Thank you. I've got some work to do.

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    1. Haha yes sorry about that, Casey! ;)) But really - take your time, as I mentioned to another reader above do one thing at a time as each thing you do is an improvement. You can only do what you can do :))

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  36. Mistake 9 - Not having a responsive blog design :-P I don't either but is on my to do list ;-)

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    1. If you're on Blogger you have an automatic design for mobile - you just switch between Yes or No on Template > Choose mobile template. I'm not sure about other platforms though! But that's something that's an awful lot of work if it's something you have to set up yourself, Marco, and I do try to stick to simple things in these blogging tips posts.

      Personally I can't read blogs at ALL on a mobile, I think you must have superhuman eyesight to do that! I like to see photos on a really big screen and text that I don't have to peer at...!!

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  37. GRest tips as always. Is the alt text the one you're supposed to put - in between the words?
    Lauren
    livinginaboxx

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    1. Thank you, Lauren! I've been trying to work out exactly what you mean, and I'm afraid I just can't think what you mean by "in between the words"... what words, & where, do you mean? Sorry if I'm being a bit slow to catch on!

      Very basically, alt text is what you "name" the image within your blog posts (not what it's called on your hard drive). It's what Google recognises as a text description for your image. The alt text is added in slightly different ways for different platforms.

      If you look at the HTML in your blog post for an image, the alt text is preceded by the code

      <img alt="Your alt text here"

      - so you can tell what it will be if you haven't done anything to change it. I don't know if that helps, but let me know what you meant if I've got the wrong end of the stick!

      C x

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  38. I think I do all, but I am not sure about the ALT text of the photos. I certainly do not name all photos of one post differently, only one description. And the Pinterest worthyness of my photos... Hmmm not so sure either.
    Greetje

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    1. I think it mostly goes for informative posts, Greetje - the ones that are a "How to", "Ways to Wear", DIY, recipe, etc. These ones need to be images with text overlay and at least square or preferably portrait format. Outfit posts are generally portrait format so that makes them pinworthy if that's what you post about - which you do! So don't worry, you're probably over-thinking this one. If you did a lot of "how to" posts and included a landscape image with no text then you'd definitely be missing a trick...!

      As for alt text, as long as what you've given as the title of the set of photos is relevant to all the photos in that post then you'd be okay, but if you describe ALL of them as "Winter style - denim jacket with red skinnies and tan boots" (first thing that came to mind!!) and gave that same description to a close up of your pendant necklace then the alt text isn't very helpful for that one image.

      If someone were to pin the necklace picture and had the description in Pinterest coming up as "denim jacket and skinnies" then they'd either have to change it manually or would simply pin it with a confusing description, and once it's pinned you can't do anything to change it. Hope that makes sense! x

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    2. It is indeed helpful. I will be more careful. Usually it is a thing of time (the lack of it). But being aware of it, is the first step.
      Greetje

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  39. FAB tips that every blogger should follow. I've blogged today on how to grow social media following, love a great blogging tips post and yours rocks. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

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    1. Aww Vicki thank you! I always, always read blogging tips posts because you never know what trick you could be missing!!

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  40. Yikes! I am guilty of most of these mistakes. Must.Try. Harder. Thanks so much for pointing me in the right direction! Off to check out your previous tips now! #brilliantblogposts

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    1. Aww don't worry about it too much, Judith - just work your way through them! I was making ALL these mistakes at first and this is just what I learnt as I went along, so it's half the battle to just know that they need rectifying. Good luck, hope they help!

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  41. I never even heard to ALT text, so thanks so much for that, Catherine! You always give the best tips and us part time blogger newbies sure do need the help! (Well I should speak for myself ... I need the help!) ;)
    OXOX
    Dawn Lucy
    http://fashionshouldbefun.blogspot.com

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    1. It's all just stuff I've learnt as I've gone along, Dawn, so it's my pleasure to share it! Glad you're finding them useful, and thank you :))

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  42. Ugh I hate doing the ALT text thingy on blogger - such a ball ache!
    I got your blog name but you're right, some are so obscure it's difficult to read what they even say.
    Thanks for sharing the tips, I'm thinking of revisiting and re-pinworthying some old posts now!

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    1. I have to admit I would find it a pain to do it within Blogger, Vicki, but I add the description when I upload them to Flickr - there you can do all of them in one go (and tweak for each different picture as necessary). Glad the tips have been useful to you, thank you hun! x

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  43. Well, it took me all Friday .. but I have to say .. the broken link plug in was worth my time! Thanks for the tip!

    Monica, www.pear-shaped-gal.com

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    1. Oh wow, Monica... that's dedication!! Well done you. I wish something like that could be done for Blogger - there are websites that can do it for you but it would take even longer I fear. Something for a (VERY) rainy day for me to do, hehe ;))

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  44. I have to say, one thing that bugs me is the Navbar at the top. Anybody can totally remove this in the Layouts page on Blogger, but it seems like nobody does!

    It's silly, but it bugs me.

    Mairi from Remodify

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