First of all, thank you so much for all the kind words on the my recent site update. Today’s blog post is in response to the many questions I received after I launched my new website – from some of who are thinking of starting one ( yayy!! how exciting =)) ) and some of you who have been contemplating upgrading yours. I am spilling the beans on the why and how I went about changing my site and how you can get started with yours.
Obviously there’s no substitute for good content, but here are some powerful things you can do to improve your website from a technical standpoint, independent of the content itself. Whether you are just starting a website or already have one – these tips that I am sharing below are directly tied to increasing blog traffic, reducing bounce rate and upgrading your website from a technical ( and visual ) standpoint.
- Blog Platform : When I originally started my blog, I had chosen Blogger as the platform. But after about 6 months into the site, I realized how constrained it was in terms of adding features or changing the design. Some of you asked about what platform I would recommend – hands down WordPress! It offers flexibility in terms of design and layout, has plenty of theme options and innumerable plugins. If you are on blogger currently and looking to upgrade your site – your first step should be moving to WordPress. Infact, WordPress offers plugins for easy migration from Blogger – so that makes the task much simpler.
- Design : You really-really need to pay attention to this. Get down with a pen and paper and jot down all the features you want your site to offer. Like social media icons, an About Me section or page, easy link to various categories of the content on your site, etc. You don’t want to create too many hops for someone to get to content you want your readers to really see. Consider adding a link on the sidebar to highlight your popular posts in the side-bar or use a top carousel. The span of attention of readers is low ( and statistically known to be dropping ) – so make sure all the content you want your readers to see, is easily accessible.
- Theme : This is tied with the design of your blog. Choosing the right theme is critical to your blog’s readability and flexibility as you add more features to it. Having a clear design in your mind will definitely help narrow down your theme choices. Pay attention to small details such as font size, color scheme – every little thing goes a long way in adding visual appeal to the site.
- SEO and Keywords : This is one of the most intimidating ( and yawn inducing ) topics when it comes to owning a website. Everyone seems to talk about it but no one offers any clear direction on how to approach this beast of a topic. Trust me – this one still boggles my mind ( and I went to grad school for computer science ! ) I think I finally have an answer to your SEO questions – a plugin called Yoast. It allows you to enter the keyword and description that to put in simple words – allows google to match your content with a search easily, thus increasing chances of your content showing up in the top results of a search. Yayy – cue welcome dance for organic readership!
- Optimize Speed : Let’s face it – no one has the time these days to wait for seconds ( 1-3 seconds max is my patience limit ) for a page to load. Think about this – you spend hours creating amazing content, promote it on social media and now someone goes to your site but the page doesn’t load for seconds !! You lost an earned reader right there. And to get more into the technical trenches – google penalizes sites for having slower loads. That can impact where your site shows up in the search results. Now to the solution – I had some major issues initially with site load time – we worked with Go Daddy and hired a free lancing developer from WPFixit to help with the performance. Also, ensure your images are not too big – I use the ImageOptin plugin to reduce the size of all image and video content.
- Mobile responsive : If your social media content drives a reader to your site, but your site is not mobile responsive ( auto formatted to be read on a mobile device ) – then you lost that reader like that. Ensure that the blog theme you choose, offers that option or there are plugins available to help your current one with that. ( I haven’t tried the plugin option, so not sure if that will impact performance )
- Related Posts : I’ve personally found this to be very useful in having readers stay a bit more longer on your site. It is almost a, passive encouragement to stay a bit longer, make themselves at home. I have positively seen an exponential increase in session duration ever since I implemented this feature on the site, which was about a year ago. I use the Yuzo plugin for this feature – it is fairly simple to set up. You can pick how many related posts you want to show and the logic for picking related posts such as similar category, order of post,etc.
- Backup: Remember when Carrie Bradshaw’s laptop ( in Sex and the City) crashed and she did not have a backup? Make sure your hosting provider offers a backup service as well. I use Go Daddy’s inbuilt service, it comes at no additional cost.
These are some of my top tips – tried, tested and learnt ( some the hard way ). Obviously, there are so many other things that help improve a blog’s performance – but these will definitely set you up with a solid foundation. Let me know if you have any questions – leave a comment or send me an email with what other topics you’d like me to cover. xo Neha
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