The blog basics…
When it comes to maintaining our blog, I’m sure most of us just go our merry way and don’t really keep up with the boring stuff. I include myself, of course. Simply checking you’ve done all you can to ensure your posts are easy on the eye and keep readers engaged goes a long way. Saying that, I am aware of what needs doing, and I try to set some time aside for a bit of blog maintenance and check my posts are set out as they should be to keep Google happy and everything running smoothly.
I’m not an expert, however, I’ve been blogging for two years this coming October and have picked up a fair bit as I’ve gone along, mostly self-taught or just things I’ve realised myself and made a point of figuring out. *My blog is self-hosted, so if your platform is WordPress.com some of my tips may not apply to you.
I like to spend some time each week or at least every couple of weeks doing a spot of maintenance to my website. If this is something you’ve not been doing – it’s time to start. A simple broken link (or fifty) can harm your ranking so let’s go through my blog basics checklist. If you prefer, some of what I will mention can be done weekly or monthly, whichever fits with your schedule. Here I will cover not only maintenance, but other little bits and bobs you can do to improve how your blog is indexed, thus improving your ranking.
1. Have you used appropriate headers 1,2,3… In your blog posts?
Google likes you to as it allows the text a recognisable format so remember to use them throughout your posts. Plus, breaking up the text with headers makes for an easier, less monotonous read. Highlight your chosen text (separate it from the rest) and then click the “paragraph” dropdown (top left) and choose your header from the list. If you’re not sure, you can also check you’re using headers whilst drafting your post – click the ‘text’ tab in the top right-hand corner and have a look at the HTML.
It should be clear if your titles are the correct headers, you’ll see something like this – <h2 style=”text-align: center;”>Fix Broken Links</h2> Here I can see that my title is indeed an H2 (header 2). When you’re done checking, switch back to visual mode and continue with your draft. Remember to try and use your focus keyword in your headers as this really helps your SEO.
2. Check you’ve added your image Alt Tags…
I bang on about this at any given opportunity. Simply put, when an image doesn’t load for whatever reason, you’ll see the “image container” instead (an empty white box). If you’ve been good and added your tag (to describe the image) then at least the reader will know what the image is depicting.
This is equally important for the blind, visually impaired, or anyone using a screen reader. They will be told out loud what the image is via your tag. Google can’t recognise an image without an Alt tag (your images are also indexed) thus ‘allegedly” affecting your DA. I wrote a post all about the importance of using Alt tags, covering the subject in more detail if you would like to learn more. Again, use your focus keyword/s in your alt tags too.
3. Make Whitespace Work…
Hit return and leave some above and below your images. I prefer my images to fill the column they’re in – side to side, as aesthetically it’s pleasing, and appears more professional. However, something I picked up on a while back is that it’s important to leave some whitespace – at least around the top and bottom of your images, just like I have above. Separating the images from the text makes for a less-cluttered and cramped read, it’s just easier on the eyes and breaks the page up. I must admit, it took me a while to get used to the appearance of white gaps, but now I wouldn’t look back.
4. Fix Broken Links
The SEO checker will flag up any broken links, but I find it simpler to use a separate, specific broken link checker as this will highlight the actual link URL, you can then go straight to the link and fix it. Check your broken/dead links here. You might be surprised or even shocked at just how many there are. I checked mine earlier this week and had seventy-nine broken links. One thing worth noting is that if a commenter leaves their blog link and in the meantime they decide to become self-hosted, close their blog or even make it private the link they left will become broken or dead.
I have a lot of these and my way of dealing with this is to edit the URL of the commenter (from your dashboard) change the old link for their ‘new blog’ link which you can copy and paste. Save, then test the link. There may be a simpler solution to this, if you know of one please do let me know! Again, you’ll be surprised at how many broken blog links you have in the comment section.
Check your “Shop the post” or “Wish list” widgets for sold out items and replace them.
It’s surprising how items go in and out of stock so you’ll need to keep an eye on that. Remember, these are dead links too. I see this frequently when visiting blogs, and personally don’t like to see sold out items remaining on widgets as this can give the impression you’re not keeping your blog up to date. It’s easy to miss the odd one, guilty as charged. This is more likely on old posts but just be mindful – if a reader clicks on a dead link it doesn’t bode well with Google. Most affiliates will give ‘sold out’ notifications, prompting you to update the widget.
Don’t forget, your DA and PA score will fluctuate, this means they can reduce, or increase accordingly so try to keep up with your maintenance. Moreover, backlinks are key if you want to grow your online presence, go on commenting sprees and always leave your blog link. I often find a reader has visited my blog via the link I left when commenting on another’s. Look for other ways to increase backlinks to your blog – the more backlinks there are to your blog, the better you’ll rank.
Moz metrics are updated once a month so any changes you make won’t be reflected until the next update, so bear that in mind. I use the Small SEO Tools website, simply enter your blog URL to check your DA/PA or, if you’re not using the WP Yoast plugin and want to check for SEO issues, scroll down and find the list of other checks you can perform, this will be on the right-hand side of the page. – Check yours here
Finally, make sure you’re running the latest version of your theme and any plugins and delete those which you aren’t using. This can be done via your dashboard and keeps your site safe. The importance of which was highlighted by Jenny at confessionsofanonlineshopaholic recently, when her blog was hacked via an out of date plugin. Her personal story is worth a read.
So, that’s the basics covered. Do you keep up with your blog maintenance? I’d love to know how.