Starting a blog is not a simple task. If you add the yearly goals and plans to it, it can easily become overwhelming. At least it does for me. But it all changes the minute I get a new follower or a comment on my blog. I am sure many of you will agree. Isn’t that what we are all striving for?
One of the major issues that new bloggers face is lower engagement (ie, comments, shares and likes) and that can be huge discouragement, especially when they just start out. We all need those approvals. I was in that position not a long time ago.
I used spend hours scouring the Internet trying to learn everything and read everything. I still do that, but not for the basic things. So I thought I will share with you those little things that made a huge difference in my blogging statistics and engagement rate.
Here is a checklist for the new bloggers to ensure you have everything you need to increase your blog engagement and follower count. They are not going to be general advices nor highly technical. These are stuff that you and I can work on. So let us get on with it, shall we?
A checklist for bloggers, old and new, to increase blog engagement
1) Is your Home button easy accessible?
This may sounds really silly but I have had a few long conversations about the home tab on the menu bar, or the lack of, in some of the blogs with other bloggers who regularly blog hop. If you do not have one, you are losing out on the valuable readers who want to read another post but are not able to.
I know it seems like a small thing but having the ability to go back to your main page matters to blog hoppers and new visitors. While you are at it, just ensure a click on your blog header leads to your home page as well.
2) Are your graphics easily shareable?
It comes as a no brainer that every post of yours should have some image attached, a feature image or a book cover at the least. While how you use these images is up to you, just make sure these blog graphics are easily shareable across the social media.
Some of the places that I recommend for downloading such high quality, copyright-free images are: Freepik and Pixabay. And I use Canva to edit them into blog graphics. Canva even has templates with recommended sizes for each social account.
If you are a GIF lover like me, before you unload a tonne of them on to your post, make sure they are of good quality and will fit to a common size. Having different sized animations or just too many of them for that matter easily annoys the reader. We do not want that, do we?
3) Do you have a follow button?
Be it a blogger or WordPress blog, you definitely need a FOLLOW button. It is indispensable and you cannot skip it.
Be it a blogger or WordPress blog, you definitely need a FOLLOW button. Do you have these essentials on your blog? Check the post!Click to Tweet
I am not talking about the follow icons to your social accounts (GREAT if you have them as well) but I am talking about a way to follow your blog post through RSS – basically a WordPress reader follow button, Bloglovin or Feedly.
Many readers like me will be reluctant to share their email addresses and we are all drowning in the unread mails (okay, it might be just me) and might be unsubscribing after a few weeks. So no, subscription by email is not the same. ADD A FOLLOW BUTTON RIGHT AWAY.
4) Do you include short paragraphs?
As you would have seen in my posts, I love to write or talk to my readers. And my posts are usually long winded and I like it that way. But the Internet is full of studies that tell us what is the perfect post length and I am sure writing 1500+ worded posts are not that.
My suggestion: Long or not, write what you want to write but make it easy for the reader to enjoy them by breaking it up into lot of short paragraphs. I mean paragraphs with 2- 3 sentences. Let us face it, our attention spans are not getting any better.
While you are at it, consider including headings and subheadings to the post. Make them simple. Make them witty. Make them catchy. They can be however you want, but just add them!
5) Do you interlink your posts?
Another simple thing that you can do to make your blog sticky (making readers hanging on for a long time) is to hyperlink to relevant older posts. All you have to do is to add the link to your text and point them to go to yet another of post in your blog, just to keep the traffic juice flowing.
The key is relevance. For instance when I talk following your blog, I can link it up to my ‘Why I follow your blog‘ post, but not the ‘Five Must have elements for your author website‘. (See what I did there! *insert evil face*). Just don’t overdo it, a mistake I often commit.
You can also consider including a ‘Related post / You may also like’ section at the end of each post! I do both. Bonus points if you set these link to ‘open in a new page’.
6) Is your blog comment friendly?
A trouble that many new bloggers have is increasing the blog engagement and comments. The blogging community is really welcoming and me love meeting new bloggers. But it goes without saying that you should make it easier for your readers to leave comments on your blog.
I might be biased but I know there are many bloggers like me, who dislike using the Google+ commenting form. It gives very few options to sign in and links back to only Google profiles. Sigh it is quite cumbersome.
I strongly suggests going back to Blogger’s comment forms if you are using Blogger. Disqus is a great alternative if you are self hosted on Blogger.
Since we are talking about things that I hate about comment forms, I do not understand why some themes do not show comment form directly below the post and ask us to open another window to comment. I will add an image just to make what I am saying clearer.
Please do not your readers jump seven hills and seven seas to comment on your blog.
Please do not your readers jump seven hills and seven seas to comment on your blog. Make commenting easoer #C4CCClick to Tweet
7) Is your blog SEO friendly?
I am definitely not the most qualified person to tell you about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but I am going to tell you the simplest things that can help you to improve your SEO, that even a #newbie can do easily.
If you are self hosted install the Yoast plugin right away and you can follow the wizard to set everything up. And you are good to go!
If you are not using Yoast, it is still alright. There are smaller things that you can do anyway.
Try to include the keyword (or the word that you want Google to associate with your post, in the simplest terms) in your title and headings of your post. For instance, I can add “new blogger checklist” as the keyword for this post.
Also mention the keyword in the first paragraph of the post. But the key here is not overusing the keyword. 2-4 times in a 500 post is good enough.
Bonus points if you add in the keyword in the ‘Alt text’ of the blog images. It generally helps the search engine to understand what the image is about.
I will add more to this list or make a new post as and when I learn more. (Update: which I finally did!)
8) Are your images Pinterest worthy?
Okay, I am currently obsessed with Pinterest and have been reading a lot about, and this is applicable only if you are focusing on Pinterest for your blog. If you are thinking if you should sign up for Pinterest for your blog, you definitely should.
Try to images that are well proportioned to fit the Pinterest vertical scheme. Add at least two pinnable vertical images to your post so that you have more pins to be re-pinned.
If you think these large images are disturbing, you should try the trick to hide images in a post.
That is all for this post people! It doesn’t matter if you are a new blogger or experienced, give a quick check on to you blog to make sure you have all these on board.
And newbies, if you have problems implementing any of these or would like to hear more on these feel free to ask me.
Let us chat
Do you have all these on your blog? New bloggers, what are the problems that you need help with? And the experienced bloggers tell me what are your essentials and if I missed out anything. Let us chat.