Woman writing on a laptop fixing some blogging mistakes

I’ve been thinking about blogging a lot lately. Mostly, I’ve been wondering about making layout changes to my website and whether its time to proceed with a new theme.

As a result of this retrospection, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on other websites trying to get a sense of how different bloggers are making the most of their space.

Rather than finding new trends to follow, I’ve noticed a few that should be reconsidered. I’m seeing a lot of mistakes being made that could be hurting the blogger’s ability to maintain visitors and make a good impression.

I’ve spent the last nine years working on websites, figuring out the best way to use them as a communication tool. Over that time, I’ve come to understand what works and what doesn’t.

I thought I’d share some tips fellow bloggers may want to use to improve their blogs and keep them looking professional.

Are you making any of these 5 blogging mistakes?Click To Tweet

1. Poor use of the sidebars

In terms of blogging mistakes, this is probably the most common. Too often the space next to the post is full of ads, social media icons, badges and other clutter.

People come to your blog post with a goal in mind; they are there to accomplish something. Maybe they want to download a recipe or read a product review. If they come to a page that has a crowded sidebar, they may be put off and not bother reading your post at all.

User experience studies have shown that people have developed banner blindness. That is, they associate any colourful boxes or images on a sidebar as being an ad, even if it isn’t.

You may not have a single ad on your website, but your visitors may associate the colourful boxes and badges on your sidebar with ads. Rather than enticing people to click through to your content, you may be driving them away.

2. The use of text on images

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen blocks of text that are are embedded in an image file. Or an image that has more than 50% of its surface covered in text. Or the use of images for buttons or navigation.

This is a bad practice for several reasons; the primary one being that search engines (ahem, Google) can’t read the text in an image as easily as they can on a web page. If you’re using an image of yourself with text as your “About Me” blurb on a page, sidebar or footer, it’s a lost opportunity to inform Google who you are and what your blog is about.

The second reason, which is also very important, is that users with disabilities who visit your site will not be able to read the text embedded in images. As a website owner, you should be considerate of all of the people who may visit your website. In Ontario, where I live, making sure your website is accessible is the law for some businesses.

Of all of the blogging mistakes mentioned here, this one is probably the easiest to address.  When using images on your website, try to keep the text to a minimum. If you do use text in an image, be sure to use that text on the web page itself.

You’ll notice that I sometimes use text in my main blog image. You’ll also notice that the text is the same as the blog post’s title. As a blogger, I’m mindful of ensuring that all of my text is accessible by Google and those with disabilities.

3. Too many irrelevant ads

I ended up on a blog the other day following a Google search for a recipe. The name of the blog, its top banner and associated images all conveyed that the blog was mainly about recipes, crafts and family updates.

Yet, I couldn’t help but notice several ads throughout the post that were anything but family-friendly or food related. The images used in the ads were hyper-sexualized, as were their associated titles. Many visitors will be turned off be seeing that kind of imagery on a site, especially on a self-described family-friendly one.

Potential brands who may want to work with you in future may also be put off by those types of ads. If Campbell’s were to land on your site to see whether your blog would be a good fit for their ambassador program, a sexualized ad may be enough to detract them from contacting you.

I understand the need to monetize your blog. Web hosting, maintenance, theme and image purchases aren’t cheap. However, you have a choice of who you advertise with.Your blog is part of your brand and who you allow to advertise on your site should share in your blog’s value proposition.

Would you allow ads with sexual imagery to be displayed on the front door of your house? If not, then they probably shouldn’t be on your blog, either.

If you wouldn’t have sexualized ads on your front door, they probably shouldn’t be on your blog eitherClick To Tweet

4. Too much clutter

White space is a good thing, especially on a website. Banners, pop-ups, sign-up forms and other distractions build up. You start with one banner and the next thing you know, your pages look like a kaleidoscope of colours.

I’ve seen some blogs with multiple share buttons and more and more blogs making use of pop-ups to encourage sign-ups.

Studies have shown that people are spending as little as 15 seconds on a page before deciding whether they’re going to stay on it. If those 15 seconds are being spent trying to find your page’s content in among the clutter, it isn’t likely a visitor is going to stick around.

Would you invite people over to your home if it’d become cluttered? Probably not. Spend some time on your site and evaluate whether you need all of the plug-ins, images, and other possible distractions. Your visitors will thank you.

5. Not being mobile-friendly

In 2015, Google announced that it was going to start ranking mobile-friendly websites higher than those sites that don’t display well on mobile. Earlier this year, they rolled out the second version of the mobile-friendly update.

Google is constantly updating their page ranking algorithms to deliver the best results to users. With more searches being done on mobile devices, Google is rewarding mobile-friendly sites with better page ranking on mobile search.

If you’re unsure about how your site displays on mobile, you can use Google’s mobile-friendly test tool. Simply add the URL from one of your website’s pages and click on “Analyze.” Google will scan the page you’ve entered and let you know if it’s mobile-friendly or not. It will also show you how the page displays on a phone and offer links to learn more about mobile-friendly pages.

If your blog pages aren’t mobile-friendly, it may be time to consider a new theme. If you’re on WordPress, you can look into using a plug-in to make your site mobile-friendly.

The points above about clutter and white space are especially important when it comes to the mobile experience. You’ll want to be sure that a visitor on a mobile device can find your content quickly and easily. Ads, sign-up forms, and other clutter should be pushed to the bottom so as not to interfere with the visitor’s experience.

What do you think about these blogging mistakes? Would you like your blog reviewed for potential improvements? Leave a comment below!

Photo Courtesy of Startup Stock Photos