Time For A Spring Clean
OK so the last time I did this sort of post I may have been a little too optimistic. I still have 755895 RAW files on my computer and the list of newsletters I’ve saved for later is piling up. There’s only so much you can do in between Christmas and New Year and most of my plans involved cheese. I don’t regret anything.
Instead I thought I’d list a few tasks that can realistically be tackled (or at least started) in January. It’s a great time to look at what you’re currently doing in terms of blog maintenance and seeing if any adjustments can be made.
Basically I had a bit of a wake-up call at a recent Chloe Digital event when I realised that not everything was working as it should be. You may think that the development side of things is done when you redesign, but it really needs to be viewed as an ongoing process. I’d let a few things slide, which could have been seriously detrimental to my business. It was a bit of an epiphany, leading to me spending a wild Saturday night re-categorising old content.
It’s probably not as exciting as photographing rose lattes, but hopefully these technical tips will lead to better opportunities in the future.
1. Keep Your About Page Updated
This is probably the most important thing. I got rid of all the twentysomething references just before my birthday, but I hadn’t even checked that all my links were working. Ooops.
It’s not self-indulgent, your ‘About’ page is the first place brands will head and any information needs to be clear and up to date. It needs to state where you live, what you write about, your point of difference and contact details (Lucy has a handy post covering this from the brand perspective).
Looking back, I probably jotted down a lot of fluff and prioritised the sliding widgets, instead of making my page really work for me. Now I’ve realised that the blurb has to be revised more often, I wrote the bulk of it almost two years ago and was still referencing old collaborations. I’ve cut things down and I’m considering a few formatting tweaks for 2018.
In an ideal world : Set a reminder to update information every six months or whenever something significant happens, like a relocation.
2. Get Data Obsessed
Another turning point at the Chloe Digital event, was getting an outside perspective on my Google Analytics. Usually I just look at my best performing posts every month (Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages) to see if I can brainstorm similar content, but the CD Team dived even deeper and identified some major user experience issues.
Basically any categories in the top navigation bar were getting at least 5x more views than those in the sidebar and I’d lumped plenty of useful posts in the wonderfully descriptive ‘Etc’ section. I had originally asked my developer about adding more categories, however I was being pushed towards a more simplified design and didn’t think much of it at the time. After installing heatmaps (WordPress has a handy plugin so you can see where exactly people are clicking) I realised that most people stick to the top of the page and social media buttons.
There is so much to be gained by looking closely at analytics. I’d recommend using the search bar within Site Content > All Pages to look at popular pages, categories and even posts from a certain year. If a page isn’t getting enough love, then it may be worth having a reshuffle. I’ve definitely seen an increase in views, after making my ‘Let’s Talk About Race’ tag more prominent and adding in some clearer categories (create an annotation on Google Analytics to track results). It’s so important to make the most of your archive and increase ways of finding it.
In an ideal world: Check your analytics regularly to see whether your categories are actually being seen. Install heatmaps to see how people are using your site, before making any major decisions.
3. Brush up on SEO & Fix Broken links
If you’re anything like me, you probably have posts consisting of angsty song titles that have nothing to do with the content. ‘Legs and Lobster’ seemed fine in 2012, but now it just screams Daily Mail sidebar of shame.
I’m constantly reminded of my random post titles when I look at my analytics and the ‘Sort Your SEO Challenge’ by Jasmin Charlotte prompted me to rework a few. I know that not everything I write about fits into a neat, searchable box but there’s no harm in making things as descriptive as possible. She also advises installing a broken link checker, using a keyword tool and checking site speeds.
If you’re a WordPress user, then you can go even more SEO crazy by adding meta descriptions to your categories and pages using the Yoast plugin. You never know who may stumble across them.
In an ideal world: Implement some SEO practices and set aside some time each week to update titles. If your archive seems overwhelming, then prioritise the most evergreen and viewed posts first.
These are just a few things you can do to make your blog foundations stronger. This year I’d like to make a few tweaks to my mobile design and main layout as well as how my posts are constructed. I’m still slightly nostalgic when it comes to having a sidebar (remember the good old days of 2010), but I’m tempted to scrap it entirely for my next redesign. Watch this space!