This being my content marketing week here at Traffic Generation Cafe, I thought that an audit of this particular blog will fit right in.
Why? Because the content of the blog is definitely as unique as the blogger herself.
Her titles rock, her topics have teeth, and she shares some great tips in each and every one of her posts. No wonder, she is building some loyal readership so quickly – including me.
However, her blog is good, but it’s not great.
And today, I’m dying to share my point of view on how she can tweak it here and there to truly become one of a kind.
Let the (friendly) bashing begin.
January 21, 2011
From the laptop of: Ana Hoffman
I’ve never heard of you just a couple of short months ago, and now I can’t go anywhere without seeing that you’ve been there already!
Way to network, get connected, learn, share, stand out!
Let’s go over some basics first.
Title: The Friendly Blogger | Basic seo, traffic generation and link building tips
Description: basic seo, link building and traffic generation tips to help build your blog.
Google PageRank: PR0
Alexa Rank: 179,579
Indexed pages in Google: 499
Domain Age: 2 months
Let’s start with the word “friendly”. Love it! It’s warm and fuzzy, intriguing, and builds trust right away.
Then I get to your blog… and what do I see?
Ying yang, lots of black color, and well… although smiling, but not such a great picture of you.
As a side note: I know you recently moved your blog to WordPress platform, and that was huge. I do understand that you have a lot of loose ends to tie – still.
However, they need to be tied very quickly. This uncertain design of yours might be pushing away some potential readership.
So here are a few things I would change design-wise:
1. Design changes to consider
- Your general theme is “friendly”. Stick with it. That means no ying yang!
- Needless to say, you need a header that stands out, tells your readers what you are all about, and invites them to check you out. Right now, there’s not one thing that’s working for me in your header: color, font, tagline… I would love to see you start from scratch.
- Background: needs to be a solid color without any pattern. Patterns are for amateurs!
- Favicon: what does “C” have to do with your blog? Definitely in need of a new favicon.
- Your opt-in form doesn’t come together for me. Call to action is weak. The ebook image looks out of place. Just doesn’t entice me in any way to give up my email address.
- I would either entirely get rid of or completely rework this section: The Friendly Blogger is proud to be a do-follow blog. Grab a cup of coffee and stay awhile…
- Footer is out of balance. Too little info to the left, too much to the right. Not wisely used space right now, although it’s great that you have it.
- I can see your sitemap link at the very bottom – makes it look like you are unskillfully hiding it.
2. Page Layout
Although I do really like the colors you are using to highlight your content, your page layout leaves me a bit puzzled.
You have way too many content “sections”: Headline, Featured, Popular, Latest…. I would stick with magazine-style format here, simply listing all your latest posts in chronological order with maybe one featured post.
I bet your click-through rate will greatly increase if you do that.
Your popular posts and such can go into your sidebar.
Your navigation bar is simple and easy; love that.
However, I do have a question about your “How To” section and Guest Posts. I am not sure either one of them works for me.
The “How To” looks very empty making me feel like your blog doesn’t have much to offer. I know it’s not true and the problem lies in the fact that you have to manually update the page and you simply don’t have time for it. So either, catch up or take it down. For now, it plays against you.
Guest posts… I am not impressed. If you would like to display them, I would organize them by blog. That way I might actually be interested in clicking over. Maybe it’s just a personal opinion, but how did you put it? “My blog. My Rules.”
Looks like you are the one to watch out for since you are aiming for the same niche I am in! (I know, too many smileys, but you have that effect on me – LOL._
1. Are you in a good niche?
Yes. People always want more tips on how to grow their business efficiently.
However, it’s also a very over-saturated niche and you definitely need to become one of a kind to make it to the top.
I am not too concerned for you though. So far you are doing great and I have confidence that you will only improve.
Also…. I’ve got a question about the word “basic”.
Basic as in newbie? New blogger, new entrepreneur, new webmaster?
If that’s where you are going with it, then your good niche just became better.
There are not too many blogs that write about the basics of successful blogging, SEO, etc. I get questions from newbies all the time and I definitely understand their frustration.
So there’s definitely a demand there…
However, it’s also a tricky niche to be in. Sooner or later, your readers will not be newbies any longer, in which case what do they do? Move on to blogs with meatier content? Or do you “grow your content” with your readership?
You’ll have to decide.
Either way, right now your content doesn’t match the word “basic”.
2. Niche keywords
You make it very clear what keywords you would like to target – they are posted in your meta keywords.
A word on that: since you made an effort to attend a SERPd interview with Danny Sullivan on Wednesday (I wish more bloggers would be so willing to learn new things, Lisa!), you know that meta keywords don’t work for SEO purposes whatsoever.
However, by listing them, you open a door for your competition to get some ideas on what they should target.
I would take out most of them and leave only the very generic ones, like “traffic generation”, etc.
Also, you have to remember that your blog home page is just that – a PAGE, as far as search engines are concerned. It’s not your entire blog.
So you need to narrow down the keywords you’d like your home page to rank for and focus on those.
For instance, I focused on ranking Traffic Generation Cafe for only 1 keyword. All other search engine rankings are tied to my inner pages.
Let’s move on to the fun part, shall we?
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 blog title tag is: The Friendly Blogger | Basic seo, traffic generation and link building tips
A couple of things to point out:
- It’s too long (ideally should be under 70 characters – yours is 75)
- Should start with your main keyword (Google gives the most weight to the beginning of the title tag).
- Shouldn’t have any stop words in it, like “and”
- You are focusing on too many things. SEO, traffic generation, AND link building? I would narrow it down.
Your blog meta description is… well, pretty bad. basic seo, link building and traffic generation tips to help build your blog.
Just looks like a bunch of keywords. Lack of attention to details, like capital letter.
And this is what it looks like in the search engine listings:
Definitely not anything I would like to click on. Would you agree?
Description plays a huge role in whether your potential visitors click on your listing or not. It should be definitely written with readers in mind, but still mention your main keywords, preferably at the very beginning.
2. Heading Tag Structure
These are headings and subheading you use in your posts, sidebars, etc.
I am impressed with this one, Lisa. You did pretty well with appointing your heading tags according to content importance!
One thing I would change though.
Your home page <H1> tag is “The Friendly Blogger“. I would change it to a more keyword-oriented tag, since I don’t think you’ll have any problem ranking for “friendly blogger” – I don’s suspect you’ll face any tough competition on this one.
What heading structure should be for your home page – ideally:
- H1: Blog’s name (main keywords)
- 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 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.
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!
1. Permalinks and Slugs
Since you are still in your initial stages of setting everything up, Lisa, I would definitely recommend rethinking your permalink structure.
What is permalink?
Permalink, or permanent link, is a URL that points to a specific page on your blog after it passes your home page.
WordPress gives you several options on how to set up your permalink structure. You can find those options in your WP dashboard under Settings ==> Permalinks.
Right now, your permalinks are set to Month and Name, which is not the best one. I would love for you to reset it to Custom and set it as /%postname%/, as in the screen shot below:
Why is this important?
In short – for SEO purposes.
Since most of your search engine listings will be those of your posts, you want to help the search engines to best determine which keywords to rank them under. Naturally, you want to use your keywords in URLs to help your rankings and the closer to the beginning your keywords are, the better. Month and year just get in the way of that.
Another side of the coin here are your human visitors. Your link will be much more likely to be clicked if it corresponds well with the searcher’s query and your URL structure plays an important role in that.
By the way, if you decide to take my advice and change your permalink structure (like you have any choice in the matter! LOL), you’ll need to install the Redirection plugin, and make sure that under Tools -> Redirection -> Options, URL Monitoring select box is set to “Modified posts”. Now you can change those permalinks to perfectly SEO‘d permalinks without having to do anything else, or worry about the search engine consequences.
Now, moving onto slugs.
I am going to keep this one short and sweet – you definitely need to get into the habit of picking MUCH better slugs than you are right now, Lisa.
If you are not sure what it is I am talking about, take a look at this post:
2. Internal Linking
You have 17 pages with 404 “Not Found” errors.
That’s something you need to address quickly, Lisa, and it’s very easy to take care of.
Just check your Google Webmaster Tools to see which pages cause the error and redirect those pages to something valid – you can do that within the Redirection plugin I recommended earlier.
3. Incoming Linking
You are getting some decent links from good blogs, Lisa.
I have 2 suggestions:
1. Spread your wings a bit and stop hanging around the same blogs all the time – for link building purposes, at least.
2. Start commenting with your keywords as anchor text and not as “Lisa” or “Friendly Blogger”. I know it’s not always easy, but you can certainly do it on sites with KeywordLuv, like mine.
Overall, I think your blog rocks, Lisa!
I also know that you are a DOER and in a couple of weeks, we will hardly recognize your blog because of all the changes you’ll be making.
Look forward to it!
And now, my dear readers, it’s your turn. Go to http://www.thefriendlyblogger.com/ right now and let Lisa know what you think of her blog in general and point out the things you would change. Lisa and I are listening!