It takes a lot of time and energy to create and maintain a blog; from design, coding, content, marketing and building a community – it can be a bit overwhelming. Also, depending on the topic of your writing it can include a plethora of other necessities such as content managers, professional photography, contributors, community managers and so much more.
The reasons listed below are applicable to all blogs, it doesn’t matter the topic, size or CMS. Here are 10 reasons why your blog sucks.
1. Updates are Inconsistent
Consistency is the key to your blog’s success. It’s an essential part of creating trust with your readers. They won’t trust you if you disappear for months at a time. This void will make it impossible to build a following because your readers won’t know when to return to view new content.
To help you be more consistent you’ll need a blogging schedule at the start of your blogging efforts. If you’re going to post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday than make sure you do, without fail. Once you have built up a loyal readership they will hold you accountable and will call you out if you don’t post. Plus, you don’t want your readers to feel as if you’ve forgotten about them so make sure you post when you say you are.
2. Difficult to Navigate
Does your navigation have 20 things listed under one heading? If so, it really needs to be organized and cleaned up. An easy to use navigation is helpful and leads to a happy reader.
Navigating a blog isn’t just about the menu, if a blog has a lot of post content it can be tricky for your new readers to view old content that is still relevant today (evergreen content). Present your visitor with related content from your archive at the end of every new blog posts to not only provide them with additional useful articles but to also enable a longer shelf life for your content.
A cluttered sidebar is distracting to a user and can add to navigation confusion. Far too often there are posts, pages, email signup, ads, social buttons, search bars, categories, photos and who knows what else overwhelming your reader. Remember the KISS method and do your best not to overwhelm your readers with too many options. Consider the primary action you want your reader take first and put that front and center.
3. Annoying Comment System
I leave comments to engage with like-minded blogs and nothing is more annoying than having to create an account on yours or some obscure comment system I’ve never heard of just to leave a comment. Use something that many people are already using like Disqus or Livefyr. These widely used comment systems give the reader various options to log in using Twitter, Facebook, Google +, with the comment system itself or as a guest.
Additionally, if your blog only allows a reader to leave a comment with Facebook then it might turn some people away. I know half the world is on Facebook but that doesn’t mean your readers want to use there personal account to leave a comment on your posts.
Finally, If I can’t find the comment box – well…. come on.
4. No Useful Content
I can’t tell you enough how essential it is to provide useful content to your readers. Jay Baer points out in his recent book YOUtility that “most people are not amazing so might as well be useful.” Approach your blog with this same methodology. Think about the content that you have on your blog, does it help anyone? Does it help the reader solve a problem, does it inspire them to try something new, does it answer their questions or does it bring them happiness? If you’ve answered no to all of the above than you seriously need a blog reality check.
5. Blog Design is a Basic Template
A well-designed blog is becoming more and more of a necessity. Your readers will notice when you take the time and or make the investment to create a custom blog design that reflects your topic and purpose.
6. Lacks Visual Media (Photos)
All content and no visuals can be a little boring. Large photos can spruce up your blog, increase the quality and add context to your written work. It’s important to remember that much like good writing you must also have good photos.
If your blog takes 3 minutes to load no one will ever read your work. Website speed is a vital part of usability and it can also test the patience of your readers. There are many elements that affect how quickly your blog loads, one tool that you can use to help you optimize the performance of your blog is PageSpeed tools made by Google Developers. PageSpeed will help you identify performance best practices that can be applied to your blog, and PageSpeed optimization tools can help you automate the process.
Make sure to test your site’s speed and make adjustments where needed.
8. Not Social
When readers find something they like, they want to share it. If your blog doesn’t make it easy for readers to share your content your blog is not taking advantage of growing through your readers. By “sharing” we are referring to social media share buttons. People have grown accustom to seeing those buttons everywhere and sharing information with there friends with a click of a button. If the share buttons are hard to find, don’t work properly, or worse, you don’t have any at all, than stop reading this and go add them right now.
9. No Blog Direction (Goal or Specific Purpose)
You might have experienced this, you go to a blog and you wonder, “what the heck are they writing about, what is this blog supposed to teach me?”
You don’t have to have your blog goal set in stone from day one. It’s also important to note that your blog content can change. Blogging is a continuous learning process, topics might be taken away or added but your overall direction must be set from the start.
For example, if you’re going to be writing about food than don’t all of a sudden bring in the topic of art’s and crafts. Unless you’ve decided you’re going to make the transition to writing about lifestyle activities than this type of switch can be disruptive to your readers. But, if you pick a broad category such as lifestyle in the beginning you can bring in an array of topics as time goes on, much like editorial magazines do.
10. Not Mobile Friendly
Now that over 50% of Americans own a smart phone* it’s a good idea to make your blog mobile. By this I mean, your blog design needs to be mobile compatible. A user shouldn’t need to zoom-in to read the content, photos should adjust to fit the mobile screen and overall you should avoid it looking like a broken mess.
Many of our client’s blogs are seeing an increase in mobile traffic; about half of their monthly traffic comes from mobile devices.
For most people smart phones are the first thing they touch when they wake up and it’s the last thing before going to sleep. Don’t you think it’s about time you made your design mobile compatible?
Having a great blog is work. It does take time, energy, and dedication.
If you’re reading this, worrying about whether your blog sucks or not, that’s actually a good sign.
If you’re willing to make the changes necessary, than your blog may have a chance. There is plenty of room for good blogs on the web. Be in demand and stand out by being useful.
It’s tough, yes, but it’s worth it.
Hurry up and make a change.