Everyone is on the lookout to make their blog better – but where do you start? Some say that SEO is the most important thing for your site, others say social engagement, others still say that the content should come first. For those who haven’t been doing this for years, it can be a bit of a mine-field – and for those who have – it can be easy to become obsessive about a few details and forget about the rest!
Today we take a look at 7 of the most effective ways to improve the quality of your travel blog, and you should be able to implement most of them in under 30 minutes. Handy!
1. Stop Tweeting!
Don’t worry – it’s not quite as dire as it sounds. At certain times of the day, more of your followers are online than others. So, when you’re going to tweet a link to your latest blog post you want it to be when your followers are typically online, engaged, and replying to you. Simple, but overlooked by most. This can have a huge effect on the impact of your tweets. (As can the structure of the tweet itself, which we wrote about previously)
Right Now: Go and sign up for a SocialBro account and let it analyse when your followers are online and active. It will come up with a full week roster of when your followers are most active, and when your tweets get the most attention. Now, you can let it send this data to Buffer App. What is Buffer? It’s a simple app that posts any tweets which you send to it at predefined times, when your followers are most engaged.
So instead, of tweeting the link to your new blog post straight away, put it in your Buffer instead, and let Buffer tweet it when most of your followers are online and available to see it! You can also use Buffer to send the message to your Twitter and Facebook accounts simultaneously – handy. You’ll love it.
2. Fix Your Formatting – Prevent Eyes from Bleeding
You know what scares people on the internet? Large quantities of text. I realise that as a blogger, this isn’t an ideal piece of information to discover – but it’s true. The reason that infographics are so popular at the moment is because they require very little time or effort to comprehend. We live in the lazy information age. I can get my information from anywhere, in under 20 seconds, via Google. People are impatient, and more importantly: distracted. Everything wants your reader’s attention, and sooner or later all but the most dedicated users will circum to temptation and click on another window.
Right Now: Break up big blocks of text! Use big bold headings to divide up long sections of narrative, use images – of funny cats if you have to – to guide your reader down the page. You may not be able to get some fickle internet users to read every word you write, but if you can get them to hook into the main points then they might come back.
3. Cure Death-by-Click-Overdose on Your Site
You know what’s painful? When I’m on your site and I know you write this post that I want to find again, but I can’t remember what it’s called and all I know is that you wrote it a few weeks ago. When I hit the bottom of your site and see and “older posts” link, I sigh to myself… stand up, and walk to the medicine cabinet to get some painkillers for my right index finger. I’m going to be clicking that damn thing for the next 2 hours as I tediously try to navigate through the site.
Right Now: Use numbered pagination! It’s a huge usability win for any site – and it’s especially handy for online publications, like blogs. There are tons of WordPress plugins out there which will let you do this (with almost any theme) very simply and easily. On this site we use WP PageNavi, which is one that’s been around for a very long time. You can even install this extra plugin and choose from a ton of different WP PageNavi navigation styles for it to match your blog.
4. Hire An Editor – Or Become One
If you have a budget, hire an editor. If you don’t, see if you can work with a friend and edit each other’s work. If you’re really stubborn, force yourself to become your own editor. Either way, tell your editor to find a way to delete around 20% of everything you’ve written. You use too many words – all of us do. As John Keating once said:
So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.
Right Now: Decide to become more diligent about self-editing… or start working with someone who can help you. A second pair of eyes is almost alway better, and it will improve the quality of your writing on an ongoing basis. You might be surprised how much you learn from having someone else put words in your mouth. Or so to speak.
5. Solve The Endless-Scroll Epidemic
This is another website usability problem. How often have you read a really long blog post, followed by 300 comments, and then wanted to get back to the top of the page only to find yourself scrolling for… you know… a while? For most blogs, all content ends up in a single, long-form page which will leave users at the end of a very long scroll bar once they’re finished with the post. It’s very much a first-world problem, but the fix is so simple that it’s hardly worth not implementing.
Right Now: Add a “Back to Top” link to the bottom of your site. We’ve got one in our footer, give it a try! It’s so fun you might just scroll down to do it again. Most of the time it’s as simple as adding - <a href=”#header”>Back to Top</a> - to your footer, but you can read more about Back to Top links, or just install this WordPress plugin to get it done quick.
6. Who The Hell Are You, Anyway?
Make it easy for your readers to find out who you are. Put yourself in the shoes of a first-time-visitor. They’ve never been on your site, before and they’re now reading one of your articles. Remember, most first-time-users don’t see your home page - they reach your site via a Tweet, link, email, or search result and go straight into a single blog post. Now, can you tell from your single post page what this site is and who the author is?
Right Now: Add an “about the author” box to the end of your posts or to your sidebar. Make sure it has a short bio (maybe the same as your Twitter bio?) and then link it to your main About page on your site. Who knows? Maybe your reader is the editor for Lonely Planet and they want to find out more about you before getting behind a Hollywood Movie based on your travel writing. Things vaguely like that have actually happened before.
7. Prepare For The Apocalypse Early, and Often
Do you have backups of your blog theme files? What about your media uploads? Ok, what about all your posts and content? They’re in 3 completely different places. Websites can often be temperamental things or, to be more specific, servers can often be temperamental things… and hosting companies don’t always keep backups. If you have a major server meltdown, it’s stupidly simple to fix if you have a recent backup – but it’s often nearly impossible to fix if you have no backups. You can quite easily lose all your hard work with no way of recovering it.
Right Now: Don’t rely on your host for backups, take responsibility for your backups. One of the best solutions out there is a premium plugin called BackupBuddy – it’s expensive, but very worth the price. There’s also a free, and sophisticated (requires some configuration) plugin called BackWPup – and a simple get-started-right-away option called WordPress DB Backup.
Got Any More Tips?
These are just 7 simple improvements that can be made to your travel blog – do you have any others that have worked well for you recently? Let us know in the comments!
Photo by familymwr