How to Improve Your Blog – A Quick Website Review

website reviews can improve your blogsite

Chris Stott, Founder of Really Simple Web

Often, you need someone else to review your website or blog before you can improve it. This quick site review is from Chris of Really Simple Web, and it can help you improve your own blog or website.

He gives away a free cut down version of his full site review to a few of his social media buddies each week – and I jumped at the chance! His tips range from layout to monetization to social media strategies.

I bolded the comments that stood out to me as particularly insightful, which could be applied to any blog or website. I’ve also taken some of his advice already — for instance, I removed some of the Google Adsense ads and respositioned others.





Chris’ Disclaimer: These are my opinions. I do make money with Google Adsense and affiliate offers, but different things work for different markets. Making changes to your site is your own decision.

The Good Bits of Quips and Tips

I like the way you have a photo of yourself on the site – shows personality. Maybe just a sentence about who you are under the photo with a link to further information if required.

You clearly write a lot about a lot of things and research your articles well. However, if I was a first time visitor to your site, what credibility indicators prove that I should listen to you?

Do you write on any other Internet properties? It might be worth using Google author tracking code so that you can build up yourself (your name) as an authority online.

I like the fact that that you have quick links to your navigation in the top menu and you have category pages.

Good to have popular articles in the side. Popular subconsciously tells people that these articles are worth reading.

There is a lot of content on this site, which is commendable. To improve your blog, I think it could be showcased in a prettier package.

Help for Writers and Bloggers

75 Ways to Make Money Blogging - How I made $60,000 last year with my Quips and Tips blogs. If you love to write, why not pay yourself?

73 Tips for Firing Up (or Just Firing!) the Muse- Because a writer's biggest struggle is motivation & persistence.

Monetization Tips

How much do you really make from Google adsense/adchoices? For ads to work, they need to help answer the question of the searcher. If I am searching for dating help, then the fact that I am getting served ads for bank accounts and grammar checking isn’t at all relevant for me (unless you have such a high volume of traffic that it doesn’t matter).

I read your article about divorce and the ad at the bottom of the article (by which point I’m looking for what to do next) was for email marketing. How does that help with my potential divorce?

What’s your CTR for the ads? If it is below 5% then the ads definitely aren’t targeted enough for your traffic.

As for ad positioning, I would try positioning your ad box within the post, floating top right. In the side bar it just gets skimmed over.

You may be better served testing affiliate marketing for more targeted offers.

I see you have your own eBooks – I’d promote those more instead of random ads. I like the fact that you have squeeze pages for these. I don’t like the way it pops up a new window to get to them.

You might want to look at masking your affiliate links.

The Look and Feel of Quips and Tips

I’ll be honest, I don’t like your header. If you are serious about improving your blog (and you are) then it is worth dropping a few bucks on a graphical header. If you only have a few dollars there are plenty of people on Fiverr.com who can do you a header banner / logo for $5.

If you’re interested in building a community, move your subscribe options to the top of the side bar and putting a sign up form at the end of your posts and on your about page.

Think about a single action that you want people to take on your site and drive them towards that action. That means removing any distractions that would stop them doing that. Want them to click on an ad? Great – just don’t have share buttons, loads of info in your footer, endless related articles to go to etc. They will get lost.

I’d get rid of the share/save link. Just have the big three: Facebook, Twitter and G+ (and maybe email to a friend).

You have too much info in your footer. You aren’t trying to build community so nobody is interested in your latest comments.

Technical Bits

I don’t get your Quips and Tips for gifts, goals and stuff (linked via images from the sidebar) and how you have them set up. Do you have separate wordpress installs for all of these? That would be very resource hungry on your server.

To improve your blog, remove the site map from the navigation bar. Best to have a ‘start here’ page or similar.

Search Engine Optimization

I haven’t done a full SEO analysis as I’d need to know more about how you target your articles and have access to your analytics. I hope you have Google Analytics and you assess on at least a monthly basis what your traffic is and what they are looking for.

Also, the site overlay is a good way to get an idea of how people take certain actions on your site.

Action Points

I’d like to see the following:

  • A header to make the site look more professional
  • Remove the irrelevant ads (unless you are making a lot of money) OR split test different ad positioning.
  • A ‘Start Here’ page or an ‘About’ page for the site (rather than you), focusing on How the site helps the reader and why they should listen to you.
  • Less share buttons and clutter in general.
  • More focus on promoting your own products
  • Use of inspirational images – rather than just book covers.

This is only a quick review. I could go in to more detail and provide more specific action points, but this should give you something to go on!

For more ways to improve your blog, read Reasons Why Your Blog Isn’t Attracting and Keeping Readers.

What do you think about this quick website review? How can his tips help improve your blog? Comments welcome below…

To learn more about Chris Stott, go to Create & Conquer – where he writes about creating & conquering in business. 

17 Reader Comments

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  1. This was an excellent website review. I have no idea what Google Author tracking code is, so that’s some homework I’ll have to do tonight.I also need to learn SEO analysis. I am curious why he recommends only the big 3, FB, Twitter and G+? Thanks for sharing some great tips I know I can utilize on my own blog.

  2. Great article !

    When it comes to positioning ads, extensive testing and optimization is required to get the most out of your blog. And that’s because no 2 blogs generate income the same as they will most likely have different topics, themes and layouts.

    Just keep testing different positions, different ads and tweak the number of ads per page so that you get the most mooolah without scaring users away.

  3. Thanks for your comments!

    For me, the trick is balancing my need to make money as a full-time blogger with my desire to create a reader-friendly website. It’s hard!!!

  4. Great article…. I totally agree that it’s a good idea to have someone else look at your blog for critique, it’s very difficult to find mistakes in your own work. Much easier to see it in other peoples work. I also like the point about not cluttering up your blog with too many Ads and only have relevant Ads on your site. I see too many blogs so cluttered I can’t get to the content.

  5. Jason says:

    On the topbanner, I agree with Chris that it needs some help. People form an impression about your site in an amazingly small fraction of a second.

    Just don’t click my site for a good example – I have no topbanner! :) What can I say? It’s default Thematic – not my main site. Oh well. I’ll give it a custom design. Someday.

  6. Great tips.

    Blogging isn’t just about writing, it’s about doing the little things that continually improves your user / reader experience.

    Your action points are great!

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Hi Laurie,
    As a new blogger, I am taking away two specific suggestions from Chris for my own site. The WordPress theme I use is fairly limiting, but specifically thematic for me. The only location I can add widgets is one rather thin side bar.

    Specifically, Chris suggested moving the Google Adsense to inside the posts themselves. This my first, and perhaps biggest, take away from your sharing of his critique.

    The other big take away for me was the addition of subscription options to each post and to the ‘About’ page.

    Each of those really strikes a chord for me, and will be my major targets for immediate improvement. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  8. Thanks for your comments!

    I took his advice and am replacing my book images with interesting pictures from flickr. Not here on Successful Writers, but on my other blogs. And I’ve removed alot of the Google Adsense clutter, in favor of ebooks that are more targeted and profitable.

    Uppal ~ I always appreciate your comments, thank you! I never thought of my blogs as being original or distinctive in style, so I’m pleased by your words.

    Karen ~ Glad to that this is good motivation. Every blog needs a review every now and then, like a good housecleaning :-)

  9. Karen Lange says:

    Thanks for the info and sharing your experience. Am often tweaking my blog (at least in my head anyway:) so this is a good motivator.

  10. UPPAL says:

    Hello Laurie,read the latest post about improving the landscape of your blog. A few suggestions are ok but it is like ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’I love your blog for its originality of the thought process and distinct style.The icing on the cake is your personal charm.Please keep it that way.A few changes here and there don’t make much difference.
    A simple and sober look is always appealing.I agree with you that what mattersin the end, is the content.
    For me your new pic has enlivened your blog.

  11. Thanks for your comment, Hope! I’ve prioritized changing the header as low, low, low…it just didn’t seem to be the best way to improve my blog. I want a simple, functional header.

    How important is the header, really? I don’t know…I visited Debra’s blog and her header is gorgeous. But it’s the content that is the most important thing.

    So much food for thought!

  12. Hope says:

    Hey, this is a pretty cool post. Chris has some great ideas, especially about changing the header. You could even come up with something simple yourself, if you have experience with graphic design software.

  13. Hi Debra,

    I remember you from before – you said you were starting a blog! I’m looking forward to checking it out :-)

    Cheers,
    Laurie

  14. Debra Torres says:

    Hi Laurie,
    Thanks for posting this. It caught my eye because I’ve started a new blog this summer. I’m just a “newbie” at this, but am very excited at the potential. And I love to learn from people who have experience. I do think your blog is looking great, and I do agree with Chris about your photo – personal images are such great “connectors”! Please drop by my new blog at: http://www.mychristiandevotionalblog.com and let me know what you think. Constructive criticism ua welcome!

  15. Thanks for your comment, Jim – it’s great to see you here :-)

    I think I don’t have a clear focus or goals for my blog. I just want to write articles to help readers – and I want to make money, of course! After all, what I do provides value to my readers, so I deserve to earn money from it (paraphrasing Steve Pavlina). Plus, I work on my blogs full-time, so naturally I need them to bring in the bucks.

    I think a “Start Here” link is a great idea; I’ve seen it on other blogs, and I like it.

    I really like featuring a book at the top of my articles, but it is NOT a money maker. Maybe I’m wasting valuable real estate there….I hate to abandon this because I love promoting books, but if I want to make money as a blogger, I think it has to go. :-(

    What do I want from my readers? I haven’t thought about that….I’m still mulling over Chris’ suggestions. I don’t really want to promote my ebooks because I’d rather just write articles.

    So much to think about! Still chewing it all over…

  16. Jim Bessey says:

    This is a solid, no-baloney review, Laurie.
    Some of these I’ve seen before, and many of them I’ve ignored for too long. (I don’t rely on my blogs to earn my living.)
    Biggest points I see:
    1. Where do you want your readers to Start?? It’s easy to become confused or even intimidated by so much great content.
    2. What one, specific action would you prefer your readers to take?

    We seem to be bombarded with “cool” widgets and buttons for our readers, and often end up overloading our blogs with these ‘suggestions.’ But which ones really matter? ReTweets? FB Posts? Comments? Email Subscriptions? EBook sales?

    Attracting readers, esp’y repeat readers, is great. But what do we as bloggers and writers WANT from them? Love? Devotion? Money? I think this is where many of us get lost.

    For me, most of Chris’ observations and suggestions are spot-on, even the ones I just plain keep ignoring — I know better! -grin-

    What do YOU think of his review of your site(s), Laurie?

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