Making changes to your blog at mid-year

ReadingBlogs

It's good to check and refresh your blog periodically

We’re half way through the year and it’s a great time to look back at what’s been working (or not working) on your blog. It’s also a great time for a mid-year refresh to get it ready to produce for the rest of the year.

This came up when working with a client who was getting feedback that some things just weren’t working as well as they should and she knew it be worth her while to pay attention to what feedback was coming her way. She decided to work on removing these obstacles her visitors were experiencing and some of which were confirmed by her analytics. The problem was, she was a little overwhelmed by what she considered the “techie” problems she feared running into. From the feedback we knew where the main pain points were, and she decided to take a look at some cosmetic changes she might be able to make during this review.

Where to start

Popups: One of the biggest objections she received was about her timed pop-ups, something she understood was an effective way to capture the all important email addresses from visitors. What she’d not realized was that there were actually two pop-ups on top of each other, and an exit-intent popup that caused grief for visitors. A couple of things came to mind during this part of the review: 

  • You need to test your popups performance, and
  • less is more.

One of the most irritating popup issues is when one appears (at what seems to be 1 second after you arrive on the page and it blocks your view of the content before you’ve even had a chance to see anything. And, this box asks (or demands?) your email information immediately so you can move on. Not a great experience for a visitor, who is often so turned off they leave your site, never to return.

Everyone says they hate popups, but they continue to be proven as an effective capture opportunity, because people actually fill them in. They just don’t want to be beaten over the head by them, or have issues finding the close button on a popup so they can get to the job at hand. It’s not that they hate popups, it’s that people hate obtrusive popups. How are yours performing?

Categorization & tagging

The next item she received less than great feedback about was how confusing it was to find particular types of posts on her blog. She’d felt this herself when she recognized some of her older posts weren’t getting much play any more. People didn’t know the value in these posts because they couldn’t locate them. All that blood, sweat and tears and her posts disappeared, never to be seen/read/commented on again.

It seems she’d never really gotten used to categories and tags, mainly because there was this “uncategorized” option that seemed to be working, until it wasn’t. She decided to update her category pages to make them more visual and easy to connect with (I actually took that one away for my own blog), and she recognized her archives were also not as well developed as they could have been for the content that could be useful and valuable to visitors. A reworking was definitely in order in these areas to upgrade the visitor experience. 

Sidebar clutter

The sidebar still contained links to previous events, follows and several ads that were not performing as expected. These ads were performing so poorly, while eating up valuable real estate on the page, she decided to remove them and focus ads on her own products. This was an easy one to spot and address. While she was at it, she decided to revisit her branding and change up some of the items that could benefit from a refresh of icons/imagery to remain on the sidebar. Some repositioning was also in order to make sure the right message was being seen at the right time.

Comments

She had been frustrated by the amount of spam hitting her blog, even though she looked out for plugins to keep spam to a minimum. Legitimate comments were sometimes few and far between these days. It seemed to her that people are commenting less and less, and in the meantime, getting lost in the spam. Not good. She struggled with people saying they didn’t like her comment system and suggesting an alternative every so often. She made the decision to turn comments off. Problem solved.

There were a number of things she could have undertook to change at this time. She loved her theme and didn’t want or need to change that, and besides, she hadn’t really looked at what was going on until she started to pay attention to the feedback she was getting. 
So she made those changes and will be watching to see how they impact her visitors for the remainder of the year.

My question to you would be, have you gone in and reviewed (or fine tuned) your blog lately to keep up with the feedback you’re getting? Are you someone who uses the “set it & forget it” method? (You know who you are, you either set up the blog page yourself or your developer did, way back when and you haven’t touched it since. Either way, this would be a great time of year to review and remove those minor annoyances so you can improve the visitor experience by making some changes to your blog in the very near future. 

What small changes to your blog can you make right now to make things run more smoothly for your visitors?