Blog Audit Fridays are some of the most extensive and intense posts I write for Traffic Generation Cafe.
Because they take a lot of time. And because I get to take apart someone’s creation; something they’ve most likely put their sweat and tears into.
However, I strongly believe that this is the only way for us to grow – to receive an honest feedback and suggestions to build a stronger website and in turn business.
Anticipating your questions on how you can get your blog audited by me, here’s my answer: become on of my top commentators and you’ll have a great chance of getting an email from me begging you to let me criticize you – with good intentions of course.
And that’s exactly what happened to this week’s Blog Audit Friday winner (I hope he still feels this way after he reads my post!): he commented, I asked, he said Yes.
February 4, 2011
From the laptop of: Ana Hoffman
Thanks so much for being one of my top blog commentators for a few months in a row.
Your presence, intelligent opinions, help to other readers are greatly appreciated and this blog audit is my THANK YOU to you.
Brace yourself! )
Title: Simplebutcreative – Blogging Tips & Tricks For Beginners (we’ll get to those symbols in your title later)
Description: Simplebutcreative is your number one guide to all that is blogging. Learn how to create your own blog today. Blogging is the best marketing tool in the world.
Google PageRank: PR0
Alexa Rank: 139,520
Indexed pages in Google: 56 (!!!)
Domain Age: 11 months
All right; here we go.
So I come to your blog and the first thing I see are ADS! Very top of your sidebar. Bam!
Secondly, I have no idea what your blog is all about and why I should stay.
Your domain name “SimpleButCreative” tells me nothing about the nature of your blog and there’s no tagline to shed any light on it either.
The closest I get to learning about your blog is from the Title all the way at the top of my browser window, but only because I was looking for it. Your average reader won’t.
So what do you do now?
Well… not really, I just started. But many of your readers do, I bet. Something to think about.
Design changes to consider
Let’s dig a little bit deeper into your design and see what kind of changes your blog might benefit from:
- Already mention the need for a tagline, your motto if you will; something that will immediately tell your readers what the blog is about and how it’ll benefit them.
- Move the ads down the sidebar.
- Your sidebar is quite cluttered right now; I would add more space between the sections.
- I would remove your FB fan page and NetworkedBlogs widgets. Networked blogs you don’t need at all. FB fan page is a good widget to have to get more fan, but when you only have 19 of them (20 with me), it shows NEGATIVE social proof. In other words, it tells your readers “this guy must not be that popular; why should I join him?“. Get more fans first; add the widget to the sidebar later.
- You have 2 Connect with Me sections; obviously, one too many. Plus, you display too many ways to connect with you – 8 in all. Too many choices usually means that your readers will not make a choice at all – narrow it down to the essentials only.
- I would also remove “Pick Your Topic” section in your sidebar; shows how few posts you really have on your blog.
- I suggest you add an opt-in form to your sidebar and get rid of it under your featured post – you’ll make your home page look cleaner and make sure the opt-in form follows your readers wherever they go.
- I am not very fond of the way you display your home page posts – the images are huge, makes it look cluttered. The beauty of Thesis theme that you use on your blog is simplicity; in your case, you lost it. Take a look at my home page and you’ll see what I mean.
- Post pages: too many big images, Subscribers Magnet opt-in forms are too much in your face, and the dirty pink color you use for your author box… well, I’d change that.
Read more about how to avoid negative social proof in this post:
The point of a good navigation system is to give your readers enough of diverse ways to explore your blog without making it feel cluttered.
I do like the simplicity of your top navigation bar; 5 tabs – perfect number.
I would however change the order.
I know “Work with Kevin” is your priority tab, but look at it from your readers’ perspective. It would be their last choice to take a look at. Move it to the end.
As your blog grows, I would also add an archive tab to give your readers more opportunities to explore your blog.
The main this I wanted to talk about here is, once again, your sidebar.
Right now you have only two widgets in your sidebar that allows your readers explore your blog further.
Unfortunately, one of them that I already mentioned – category widget – shows more of negative social proof than invites readers to explore your blog.
The other one – recent posts – is great to have, BUT it basically shows the same posts as you can see in the content section of the home page anyway.
My point is: you are loosing your readers by not giving them enough ways to get engaged with your blog.
There are plenty of other widgets to choose from: most popular, most commented on, etc. Make sure you get good use out of them.
1. Are you in a good niche?
From what you’ve told me, you’d like to target beginner bloggers.
I say GREAT! to that.
I think we have very few blogs that are truly dedicated to beginners only.
I get SO MANY inquiries from people who are just starting and looking for help in different areas of blogging.
However, I would never send them to your blog, Kevin – as of right now, anyway.
Because your content and the way you optimize content doesn’t reflect your goals.
There are very few posts a beginner can truly use to learn how to start a new blog. There are plenty of other blogs that will have TONS of great info for your potential readers, so why should they choose you?
This question goes to the heart of your blog.
If you hope to grow your blog and start making a true income from it, you’ll have to step it up, my friend – no question about it.
2. Niche keywords
I see your keywords in your Meta Keywords, Kevin – and so does the rest of the world.
I would suggest that you take most of your keywords out of that meta tag, leaving only the most generic ones.
Here’s a highly simplified quick tutorial on how to rank on Google for your keywords:
1. Through on-page optimization.
Meaning: use your keywords for that particular post/page in the title and description (better towards the beginning), and throughout your post.
You do it in some places, but not others.
2. Through off-page optimization.
Links, in other words. Links (also referred to as “backlinks”) pointing from other websites to your website.
And not just any links, but links using keywords as your anchor text.
You are definitely NOT doing that.
Most of the links coming to your site have “kevin” as their anchor text.
Given that I just published a nice big post about anchor text and how to properly use it, I won’t rehash the same info here; feel free to take a look at the post:
1. Meta Tag Structure
This information is mostly used by search engines to determine your rankings; it’s also what you see in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Your title is: Simplebutcreative – Blogging Tips & Tricks For Beginners, but as I noted above, here’s what it looks like to search engines: Simplebutcreative – Blogging Tips & Tricks For Beginners
Why? Because symbols like “-” or “&” are not search engine friendly. That’s why you see most SEO titles look like this: “Traffic Generation Cafe | Generate Targeted Website Blog Traffic“.
You see that “|” symbol, located right above your “enter” key on the keyboard? That’s the best one to use in your titles.
Additionally, your title is not keyword optimized at all – unless you really want to rank for simplebutcreative and not much of anything else.
Your description is Simplebutcreative is your number one guide to all that is blogging. Learn how to create your own blog today. Blogging is the best marketing tool in the world.” and in my humble opinion, it’s neither SEO, nor user optimized.
Those 3 sentences are completely disconnected from each other, don’t carry a uniform message and definitely wouldn’t make me click on the link in the search engine results.
I won’t go into SEO aspects of how to make your title and description scream to the search engines RANK ME!; it seems like I do it in every one of my blog audits.
2. Heading Tag Structure
These are headings and subheading you use in your posts, sidebars, etc.
Here’s your current tag structure:
[h1] SimpleButCreative [h2] The Only 7 Methods Of Making Money With Any Website or Blog [h2] Top 5 Social Bookmarking WordPress Plugins – Share Your Blog Post To The World [h2] MLM Pyramid Scheme Cartoon By Pat Petrini [h2] Don’t Pay For SEO Services! Free SEO Report in Minutes! [h2] Goodbye 2010! Here’s to new opportunities… [h2] What’s Your Favorite Web Hosting Service – Hostgator Review [h2] Thesis Blogussion Theme Bundle Pack [h2] How To Submit Your Blog To Technorati [h2] How To Install Thesis Theme On WordPress [h2] WordPress Plugins That Really Matters [h3] Connect With Me [h3] Who’s this guy? [h3] Check Out The Recent Post [h3] Follow My Blog [h3] Pick Your Topic [h3] My Favorite WordPress Theme [h3] Search Simplebutcreative
What it should be for your home page – ideally:
- H1: Blog’s name (with your main keywords for the blog)
- H2: Your blog’s tagline – should be keyword-rich
- H3: Your recent posts
- H4: related content in the sidebar, like the heading of an “about” widget.
- H5: Unrelated headings in your sidebar, footer, etc.
Definitely, a few minor changes might help.
What it should be for your posts:
- H1: post / page title
- H2’s and H3’s: subheadings and sub-subheadings
- H4: your blog’s name, and possibly related widgets
- H5: same as above: sidebars etc.
And here’s what it is:
[h1] The Only 7 Methods Of Making Money With Any Website or Blog [h3] Tools That Power My Blog: [h4] Article by Kevin Pagarigan [h3] Connect With Me [h3] Who’s this guy? [h3] Check Out The Recent Post [h3] Follow My Blog [h3] Pick Your Topic [h3] My Favorite WordPress Theme [h3] Search Simplebutcreative
As you can see, you a missing out on some great ways to use keyword-rich H2 and H3 headings in your posts; whereas, you sidebar headings get too much weight.
Side note: if you want to check your own blog structure, just go to http://validator.w3.org/, add your URL to validate your code and make sure you check the “Show Outline” box – that’s what will give you your blog outline at the very bottom of your page, along with all HTML code errors you’d better fix!
I took a look at your home page images and out of about 29 of them, about 18 don’t have any ALT tags.
Yet another missed search engine ranking opportunity.
Read more about ALT tags and how to use your images to help your search engine rankings in this post:
This & That
This looks like a good place to talk about your indexed pages – or the lack thereof.
Your blog is getting close to being 1 year old. Yet you have only 56 INDEXED PAGES.
In comparison, Traffic Generation Cafe is 7 months old and has over 1400 pages indexed.
One of the big reasons behind this is how inconsistently and infrequently you post, Kevin, but I am sure you already know that.
Since your blog is your main means of income (meaning, you didn’t set it up to support a different business; this is your business), you need to do better than posting once per week.
I used to post 3 times a week from the inception of TGC; however, at some point I realized that I needed to increase that number. So I went to posting every day and my traffic almost doubled.
I am not suggesting that you start posting daily, just yet anyway. But at least 3 times per week is a good number.
Bigger problem with your lack of indexed pages:
It seems like you are excluding some of your blog pages from being indexed on purpose.
I am not sure you know about this and if you do, what you thinking behind this is.
For instance, your blog comments are currently not indexed. This effectively means that your commentators aren’t getting ANY links from your blog!
Sometimes, it’s better to have 2 websites instead of one, but not in this case.
http://simplebutcreative.com/ and http://simplebutcreative.com/ are 2 different sites as far as search engines are concerned, I would love to see you fix it, Kevin.
Read more about canonizalization issues and how to fix them in this post:
Your current categories sound more like tags to me.
For instance, your “Technorati” category. Is this really a topic you want to constantly write about? I doubt it. This makes for a better tag.
I saw the same problem with the rest of your categories, Kevin.
Categories are supposed to be “subdivisions” of your main theme, which, in your case, is how to create a blog.
As far as search engines are concerned, your categories define what your blog theme is and they’d better be very well-related to it.
For instance, if I wanted to know how to build a blog from scratch, I would need to learn which blogging platform to choose, what themes, what plugins, how to install everything, how to troubleshoot, etc. These are all potential categories you can choose for your blog, Kevin.
DoFollow vs NoFollow
I see that your ENTIRE blog is COMPLETELY NoFollow, Kevin, which basically means that you are refusing to follow your own links within your blog.
WordPress comment system is nofollow by default, but can be easily changed to dofollow with the help of a plugin.
Quite honestly, this is a first for me and I wonder what your thinking behind this strategy is.
I noticed that you accept all trackbacks that come your way, even the ones that lead back to spam sites.
Even though your blog is NoFollow, I still wouldn’t associate my blog with those kinds of sites and wouldn’t give them a link.
Take a look at what I think about spam trackbacks in this post:
And now, my dear readers, it’s your turn. Go to http://www.simplebutcreative.com/ right now and let Kevin know what you think of his blog in general and point out the things you would change. Kevin and I are listening!