Here is a quick author website check-up list for you to consider to improve your site.
The Internet never stands still. So if you haven’t made any design or content changes to your author blog for a while, perhaps you are missing out on gaining or retaining valuable unique visitors.
With these few tips, 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 check-up 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 if you have your own self-hosted site.
Ditch Your Sidebar
I can hear you screaming from here already. Why should I get rid of my sidebar?
Your sidebar is where you probably have your book cover images linking to Amazon, your social share, and follow buttons.
Plus, you might have a blogroll or any number of other widgets. You might even have some affiliate banner ads.
But well over 60% of website traffic is now on mobile devices.
When someone visits your site on a mobile device, your sidebar is demoted.
Visitors will only see it if they scroll way down after all your page content, related posts, and comments.
Check your website design on your phone, and you’ll find out just how lost and ineffective a sidebar is today on any website.
Desktop and laptop visitors can see your sidebar.
But because the number of desktop 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.
Then add your book links towards the end of each post you publish.
Another option is to publish an advertising page or two. You can do this by creating landing pages on your blog.
You can keep your sidebar, of course. But make sure that there are no high-value items included in it.
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 a large number of visitors to your blog post.
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.
You can use this technique to improve your existing blog 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 you use an H2 (heading 2) and any paragraph titles H3 (heading 3) because this helps your SEO ranking with Google and Bing.
Light, Bright and Minimal
Dark, crowded web pages and blogs are out of fashion and difficult to read, especially on mobile devices.
Be a minimalist and get rid of the clutter and darkness.
Check your widgets and gadgets as they so often clash with each other, and the colors 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 color 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, Images, Images.
Did I make my point with this heading?
You really want your post to be shared on social media. But without an eye-catching main image, it won’t get 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.
Here’s a quick free tip. Why not include an image of one of your book covers to help you sell books.
You can also include an embedded link to your buy site within the text of an article.
Remember replacing the useless sidebar? Make more use of your pages and posts to add a call to action to promote your books.
You can add an ‘About The Author’ widget following all your blog posts. It’s a great tool to include your short bio and your latest book.
Add More Links
You should use both internal and external linking.
It can help you to improve your ranking on search engines. So adding a few links in your posts should be a must.
When you add internal links between your posts, it helps you retain readers on your site.
You are offering them a closely associated article to visit.
External links help add authority to your post and your author platform overall.
Shout Me Loud has a great article on why external linking is good for your blog.
You can use external links to promote your books, of course, but you should do this in moderation.
Track Your Progress
I have Analytics on the dashboard of all my WordPress blogs. I 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.
You can get traffic data about your amount of traffic, bounce rate, and top referring sites.
When you know how your website ranks, you can take action to improve it.
Lastly, Check Out Other Author Websites
You don’t need to steal directly from other blogs. But you can copy ideas and adapt these to your blog.
Look for concepts concerning home page styling, content format, contact page, and tools that you could incorporate into your site.
You can also check the design of a book page for ideas.
If you have a self-hosted site, changing your WordPress theme might even be worth considering.
Making changes can only improve your online presence, so think about what you can change or modify.
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.