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How to spring-clean your blog

(spring-cleaning your blog)
Here are ways I found to clean up a Blogger blog. I've found and fixed many things with content, images, navigation, theme, descriptions, and analytics. [4 minutes]

Spring-Cleaning Steps

Clean up the content

  • Remove old posts: delete old posts with no traffic and no usefulness to readers (some were Facebook-update type posts, from before Facebook was a thing). Also delete the comments.
  • Use headings: create proper headings and subheadings, since Blogger added support.
  • Remove cruft: remove broken links, outdated information and unhelpful asides.
  • Enhance clarity: clean up rambling bits, convert list-like paragraphs to bullets, add bold titles to bullets to aid readers in skimming the post.
  • Clean HTML: remove extra HTML elements that crept in over time, to be tidy.
  • Remove blank paragraphs: removing random white space improves post appearance.
  • Add read times: add [5 minutes] etc time estimates to help readers decide.
Some old posts I edited so extensively that I could republish them as new and redirect from the old URL, but I haven't bothered with that.

Clean up the images

  • Replace hotlinks: replace hotlinks with Blogger uploads of the images. Also helps prevent http resource on https page.
  • Design images: using Adobe Spark to create post images, it can dynamically reshape the image for each social network.
  • Replace old images: really old images may look low-res on new monitors, so pick a higher-resolution image.
  • Alt text: add a text description of the image. It overrides the page title for Pinterest description. Warning that if you don't set a Search Description (meta tag), description comes from first 140 characters of the post, which includes alt text from heading images.
  • Title text: optionally add text to show up on mouse-over. It overrides both page title and alt text to be the image description on Pinterest.

Clean up the navigation

  • Revise titles: rework post titles be more direct (8-12 words, under 60 characters) using one or more key phrases from top organic searches.
  • Make intro concise: write intro paragraph under 200 characters to avoid truncation in mobile post list or Pinterest description. Each sentence must be under 140 characters to avoid truncation when used in search result snippets or social shares.
  • Add Search Descriptions: enable under Settings:Search Preferences:Meta Description. Then add a Search Description to each post based off the 200-character intro.
  • Use broad labels: re-label using only a few categories, a category for each major audience, each post in 1 or 2 categories only.
  • Add internal links: add internal links to other posts a reader of this post might be interested in.

Clean up the blog

  • Pick theme: change from Contempo to Notable since images are not important in my posts.
  • Tweak timestamps: I removed the year from dates shown on the blog. My posts are so old 👴
  • Revise blog description: rewritten to sound better when sharing blog on social media.
  • Enable comments: switch from Google+ comments to Blogger comments, since commenting dropped off radically under Google+.
  • Tune AdSense fill rate: reduce fill rate from 60% to 5% to show fewer ads. I'm just playing with AdSense, only made €15 in 5 years anyway.

Clean up your discoverability

  • AdWords: run a campaign for niche posts that aren't ranking yet, with custom redirects for a short URL for the ad.
  • Set up HTTPS: enable HTTPS by default and HTTPS redirection.
  • Webmaster Tools: added https:// domain and sitemap.xml to Google Webmaster Tools, also register with Bing Webmaster Tools.
  • Google Analytics: add filter to exclude referrals from spam domains ("Campaign Source" filter), and exclude "m" in "Exclude URL Query Parameters" on the view, so you don't have two rows for each page.
  • Sharing + Follow Buttons: add proper sharing and follow buttons as Blogger built-in ones aren't great. Right now using Shareaholic with all the tracking and advertising crud turned off.

Things I should do

  • Social sharing: I should actually share my posts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.
  • Pinterest Images: for Pinterest, best images have post title and nice photo, often a portrait.
  • Respond to comments: Many old comments I never replied to. I should spare time to reply to people soon after they comment.
  • Podcasts / Videos: I want to try creating companion podcasts and videos, now that it's much easier to create rich media with decent video and sound quality than a few years ago.

Q & A

Why the cleanup effort? After letting the blog languish for 5 years I checked Analytics and found it was getting a few hundred hits a month to a few popular posts. I'd recently started playing with AdWords out of interest, and began to see the blog from a whole new perspective of internet advertising, though I don't expect to make any money from it. So, I decided to clean things up.

What's the blog topic? There's no topic 😔 I post informational content - summaries, how-to's, reviews - on a wide range of subjects with mostly non-overlapping audiences. Wide-ranging helpful blogs do not gain a loyal followers, unlike niche-topic blogs or entertaining blogs. Were I more serious about wasting my time on blogging I'd have separate blogs on sub-domains for "books", "tech" and "lifestyle", instead of just labels.

Where do you get traffic? Mostly organic search for low-competition key phrases, and some referrals from attribution links for some of the how-to's. I usually write "niche posts" (not like this one) when I can't find what I want online, then I figure it out and post about, then other people find my post.

What'll you be doing next? I'm hoping to do more book summaries. Literature reviews were my strong point in academia. Probably mixing in random how-to's, but unlikely to be highly technical like some of the old ones (use only in-house tools now). I do want to try embedding companion podcasts into some posts.

P.S. After you've decluttered your blog, try decluttering your home with the outbox method.




Any more advice for cleaning up the blog? Drop me a comment.

Comments

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