Today felt like a good Friday to start a brand new series on Traffic Generation Cafe, called “Blog Audit Friday“.
I get a lot of requests from my readers to take a look at their blogs and see what kind of improvements I can suggest.
And that’s where the idea for the series came from.
Why don’t we all learn from other bloggers’ mistakes? Why don’t we all see how we can make our blogs better, attract better and more loyal readership, and maybe even make a buck or two in the process?
These posts are not meant to be “I write it, you read it” kind – this is a reader participation series.
Every blog I write about, I need your feedback on: go check them out, see what you do and don’t like about them, and let us know in the comments.
Remember: this is meant to benefit us all.
Without further ado, let’s get the party started.
Introducing my first victim/beneficiary:
November 12, 2010
From the laptop of: Ana Hoffman
Thanks so much for being so willing to let me take your blog apart for the sake of my readers. Very brave of you. Even I had no idea what this would look like when I am finished with it.
I’ve been very impressed with your tenacity, great business skills, and the ability to produce high-quality engaging content – can’t wait to see you guest post for my blog!
But for now, here is what I thought about your blog: good and bad.
Title: Internet Network Marketing MLM Home Business Blog Tips | WAHM Mompreneurs
Description: Heather C Stephens Sharing Clever Internet Network Marketing MLM Home Business Blog and Social Networking Tips for Work From Home WAHM and Mompreneurs
Google PageRank: 0
Alexa Rank: 124075
Indexed pages in Google: 150
Domain Age: 1 year, 8 months
First, I visited the home page URL http://www.clevermarketer.com/ just to get a quick and objective look from a casual browser’s point of view.
What I liked about it:
1. Uncluttered design and sophisticated simple colors.
2. Heather’s smiling face and your signature – it immediately showed me that I am dealing with a real person and the one who I am very likely to like off the bat.
3. Loved the black and white pictures of mothers; being a mother myself, I felt a sense of belonging right away.
What needs to change:
1. Blog Width
The very first thing I noticed was how wide the blog was. Although there is no hard and fast rule as to the optimal width of any website, including blogs, the general consensus is that it should be under 900 pixels.
Make it too wide and you quickly make your site much less user-friendly. Moving your eyes across a full screen like that is very tiring to your eyes and not easily scannable.
2. Information Overload
There are so many things posted on the front page that you visitors might end up leaving without clicking on any of your links or posts.
Give them too many options, and they are more likely to not make a choice at all.
Cut down on the amount of posts on your main page or at the very least make them look more like magazine-style excerpts.
I see 3 opt-in forms plus a footer opt-in on your home page. One would be better with a clear call leading to it.
3. Main Blog Theme
Every new visitor wants to know right away what your blog is all about. It’s not too difficult to figure it out, but it’s not super-easy either.
I saw 2 potential theme titles on your home page:
“You’re a Clever Mom, become a Clever Marketer too!”
“I help moms use social media and fun, clever marketing trategies to create additional streams of income from home.”
Both are nice, but neither stands out or draws attention.
4. Footer Bar
Your MaxBlogPress Subscribers Magnet footer bar shows up every time I reload a page – I definitely think your frequency settings need to be changed. Plus, I am sure you know, that your entire call to action doesn’t show up; only the first line.
Home Page SEO Analysis
1. Heading Tag Structure
What it should be – ideally:
- H1: Blog’s name
- 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.
What it is:
- H1: Missing
- H2: Blog tagline – missing. Instead, your recent posts are all in H2. It’s not a terrible thing, but if you had a keyword-oriented tagline in H2, it would be much more SEO-friendly.
- H3: all your sidebar widget have H3 headers. Since I don’t believe you would like to optimize for keywords like “Let’s Connect” and “Recent Comments”, H3 heading could be put to much better use!
- H4 and H5: under-utilized – in other words, non-existent.
2. Home Page Load Speed
Anywhere from 27 to 30 seconds.
Target speed for any webpage download time is 2 seconds. I would say 2 seconds might be a bit unrealistic for a blog; I would set my target at 6-7 seconds.
- First and foremost, getting rid of as many plugins as you can is a huge step.
- Your home page has too many images to download. Since your browsers has to go back to your server EACH time it needs to load an image, and you have about 47 of them on your home page, that’s a lot of going back and forth.
- I don’t think you need to show your related posts under each post on your home page. Additionally, I would switch to a related post plugin that doesn’t have images to download; just a personal suggestion, but absolutely up to you, of course.
- I know it’s sort of cool to see your signature being written under each of your posts, but that too slows down your page. Plus, using flash scripts is just simply not very search engine friendly. I would definitely change it to a static one.
I can definitely see that you are trying to keep your visitors on your blog by providing them with as many navigational options as possible.
Makes sense in many ways.
However, too many links can actually cause the opposite effect: readers get overwhelmed and leave. Not to mention, that too many links leading away from any page, including the home page, doesn’t make too much sense from SEO point of view.
Let’s take a look at how some A-list blogs do navigation:
Very sleek on Copyblogger.com; only 4 tab choices.
Same with Pearsonified.com
As busy as it gets on Problogger.net
Of course, this is personal preference.
However, when it comes down to issues like this, I always look for inspiration to those who already “made” it. What works for them, will probably work for the rest of us – of course we always need to do our own testing before know for sure.
Now let’s take a quick look at the meat of your blog – your content pages.
1. Heading Tag Structure
Once again, let’s take a look at your headings here.
- H1: post / page title – perfect
- H2’s and H3’s: subheadings and sub-subheadings – perfect; however, your sidebar widgets are in H3 as well (of course, they have the same settings as your home page)
- H4: your blog’s name, and possibly related widgets – not used
- H5: same as above: sidebars etc. – not used
2. Possible Duplicate Content Issues
I’ve noticed that you are very fond of particular keywords: network marketing, internet marketing, home based business, just to name a few.
The problem is that far not every post will rank on Google for any of these keywords, nor is it meant to.
However, by using the same keywords over and over again, ESPECIALLY in your title and description tags, you may lead the search engines to believe that you are posting a bunch of duplicate content.
Let me explain with an example.
Here are some of your title tags:
- Internet Network Marketing MLM Home Business Blog Tips | WAHM Mompreneurs (home page)
- Twitter | Internet Network Marketing MLM Home Business Blog Tips | WAHM Mompreneurs (category page)
- Social Media | Internet Network Marketing MLM Home Business Blog Tips | WAHM Mompreneurs (category page)
- Network Marketing Home Based Business Activity Plan (post)
Plus each of them has been used more than once on your blog verbatim.
Most internet marketers define duplicate content as syndicating the same article or post to many different sites without changing it at all.
However, that’s not it at all.
Duplicate content issue arise when different URLs on your blog lead to the same or extremely similar content.
I am not going into great detail on the issue in this post, but do take a look at this post Deftly Dealing With Duplicate Content to learn more.
Bottom line: if you use very similar titles for many of your pages/posts, then it might lead search engine bots to believe that this is duplicate content.
Try to avoid any appearance of this by simply varying your page titles more.
3. URL slugs
If you are not sure what URL slugs are, please read this post first:
This is another area of your blog that could use some help.
Using keywords in your URLs can definitely get you a step closer to getting ranked for those keywords.
However, the more words you use in your slugs or what comes after your domain.com/ part, in other words, the more you dilute your keywords, since Google considers ALL of them as keywords.
I would change to:
http://www.clevermarketer.com/self-discipline-network-marketing-home-based-business.html (that’s if you want your post to rank for self discipline, network marketing, home based business).
This one is however perfect: http://www.clevermarketer.com/get-blog-comments-part-2.html (maybe just get rid of “part”)
Bottom line for a perfect slug: use as few words as possible while still using your keywords for the post (NOT for the entire blog!).
Last but not least, let’s take a look at your links.
1. Internal Linking
Not good. 🙂
Most of your internal links go to (in the order of the most linked-to and down):
- the rest are mostly going to several category and tag pages.
The point of internal linking is to pass the authority to the pages that you would like to get ranked higher. I don’t think http://www.clevermarketer.com/feed/ is one of them.
Read more on how to properly use internal linking to achieve better search engine placement:
- Start linking to the post you want to rank for; don’t link to category or tag pages.
- I don’t think you are intentionally linking to your RSS feed page. The problem is that your RSS feed button shows up on every single page of your blog. Don’t worry; I am not going to tell you to get rid of it – of course you want to encourage your readers to subscribe! However, you can tell the search engines to nofollow those links. The easiest way to do it is to check your theme to see if it offers the option to nofollow certain links). For example, this is what it looks like in the Thesis theme, which I use on my blog:
2. External Linking TO Your Blog
Sorry, Heather, no great report here either.
- You don’t have many links to your blog
- The links you do have are of low quality (coming from Google PR 0 to N/A pages)
- Your anchor text is not targeted, i.e. you are not using your keywords as anchor text to lead back to your blog.
Additional reading on link building:
What I would start doing:
- Use this post Treasure Island of Link Building: How to Find the Best Links Every Time to start building links through commenting on high PR blogs leading back to the post you would like to see ranked on Google.
- Do more guest posting on busy, high-trafficked blogs.
- Network with bloggers who have busier blogs than you do – they will end up writing about you and your blog.
This and that
Invalid HTML code
You have A LOT of it. Invalid HTML code can cause problems for search engine bots and can results in not indexed pages, lower search engine rankings, etc. Plus it might cause your blog to render in some browsers incorrectly.
Just to give you an idea, your home page alone returned 169 errors and 112 warnings via http://validator.w3.org/.
To learn more about invalid code, read:
Wow, took me 2 days to write this… But I am happy with results; I hope you are as well, Heather.
How can we improve, if we don’t know what we need to improve upon?
I know this sounds like a lot of work, but I am here if you have any questions.
Look forward to seeing the new and improved CleverMarketer.com!