Most authors have a website or blog, but is yours working for you?
Here is a quick blog and website check-up list for you to consider.
The Internet never stands still, so if you haven’t made any structural, design or content changes to your blog for a while, perhaps you are missing out on gaining or retaining valuable visitors.
Here are a few tips that you can check to see if you might be able to make some simple tweaks to your website that will help improve its performance and appeal to readers.
These website checkup tips apply to all types of blogs and websites, so they can be applied even if you use free services such as Blogger, Wix, Weebly or WordPress, or have your own self-hosted site.
Ditch the Sidebar
I can hear you screaming! Why?
Because the sidebar is where you probably have your book cover images linking to Amazon, your social share and follow buttons, plus your blogroll or any number of other widgets.
However, well over 50% of website traffic is now on mobile devices, so when someone visits your site, your sidebar is demoted to be viewed following all your page content.
Check your site on your phone, and you’ll find out how lost and ineffective a sidebar is today.
Sure, desktop and laptop visitors can see your sidebar, but as this percentage of visitors is declining, why not make some changes that will work for both technologies?
The easiest way to accomplish this is the place your social share and follow buttons at the top of your pages or posts, and add your book links to the end of each post you publish. You can keep your sidebar of course, but make sure that no high-value items are included there.
More reading: How to check your blog’s site speed.
Write Great Titles and First Lines
After you have slaved over writing a post or a new page, take your headline and first line and check them on Google. Look firstly at the number of results they return.
A very low number means very little interest, so it won’t attract many visitors.
Secondly, scroll down to the bottom of the search page and look at related searches. This small list can give you ideas that may work better.
This technique can be used to improve your existing posts. If you are getting very few visitors, try changing your title and first line.
Another tip. Your title will be automatically set as H1 (heading 1), but if your platform allows, make your first line or subtitle H2 (heading 2) and any paragraph titles H3 (heading 3) as this helps your SEO ranking with Google and Bing.
Light, Bright and Minimal
Dark, crowded web pages and blogs are out of fashion and a pain to read, especially on mobile devices.
Be a minimalist and get rid of the clutter.
Check your widgets and gadgets as they so often clash with each other and the colours don’t match the design of your site. If it’s not a necessity, get rid of some of them.
Also, clean sans-serif fonts are much easier on the eye.
Another minor change you can make for readability is to change the colour of your text from black to dark grey. On a white background, this makes reading your posts less of a strain for readers on all devices.
Use Images. Use Images. Use Images.
Did I make my point?
You really want your post to be shared on social media, but without an eye-catching main image, it won’t garner much attention.
Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard and in particular, Pinterest attracts visitors by using an appealing image.
Also, so an image can be shared correctly, make sure it is larger than 400 x 200px, as many social networks will not share smaller images.
Images within the post or page are not vital for social sharing, but they do help break up a long text.
Free tip! Why not include an image of one of your book covers, with an embedded link to your buy site within the text of an article? Remember the useless sidebar?
Add Some Links
Both internal and external linking help improve your search ranking, so a few links in your posts should be a must.
Internal linking between your posts helps retain readers on your site by offering them a closely associated article to visit, while external links add authority to your post.
Shout Me Loud have a great article on why external linking is good for your blog.
You can also use external linking to promote your books, but do this in moderation.
Track Your Progress
I have Analytics on the dashboard of all my WordPress blogs and can see how my blogs are performing at any time of the day.
But if you don’t have a self-hosted WordPress site, accessing these two sites through your Google account is just as informative.
Lastly, Check Out Other Author Sites
You don’t need to steal, just copy!
Look for ideas concerning styling, content and tools that you could incorporate into your site.
Importantly, though, keep in mind that more than half of your site’s visitors will be using a mobile device, so make sure you check any changes you make to your site on your phone or tablet.
More reading: 21 Questions You Can Ask To Help You Sell More Books