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.
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!
P.S. Like this post? You might also enjoy How to Generate an Audience For Your Blog – and Increase Interaction!