Spring is here, and many of us are talking about Spring Cleaning this or that, and typically these topics are about some room in your house. Well, why not carry that over to your blog as well? Our blogs can get cluttered over time as well, so I wanted to share a few tips on tidying things up and making our blogs look better. Let’s start at the top and work our way down.
The header is the first impression – it is the first blog item that visitors are greeted with, and so it deserves to be wonderful. Ask yourself if you like your header and if it fits your blog’s mood. Do the colors work well together? Is the font readable? Are the colors used in your header carried through the rest of your blog? If you can streamline the colors, it really helps solidify your brand.
Your menu is the next step we should work on. How many menu links do you have? Is your menu cluttered? This is an easy place to end up with too many links as we add new pages. You want to have a handful or so links up there, so think about categories. Can any items be grouped and rather than being listed separately, can something be part of a drop down menu? I had a lot of links on my former menu, but with the rebrand and redesign, I grouped a lot of things.
Be creative with the drop down headers. For example, I created a header “Motherhood” and listed all the mom and family related categories there. Then I created a “Lifestyle” header, and everything else goes under that – such as food, finances, blogging, etc.
The sidebar is probably the biggest clutter magnet. I feel like I’m constantly making tweaks to mine and trying to clean it up. The sidebar should start with an icon or headshot with a quick bio and social media icons and be followed by various important items, such as an opt-in form. You also definitely want to include a search bar.
A sidebar is also a great place to showcase your best posts (I have a featured posts section) and any projects or campaigns you are affiliated with. I have a few rotating banners with the companies I am an affiliate for or projects that I want to showcase. Otherwise, I try to limit things on my sidebar. You certainly don’t want to list out all and every membership you have, as that list can get very long. A footer might be a better place for some images that may be required on each page. I recommend a separate memberships page (maybe in a drop down from an about link) to list all the groups you have joined. The sidebar should have good information on it, but also not distract from your main content.
There are things that do not belong in our sidebars. I sometimes still see the WordPress “meta” tags – take that out of your widgets. It looks unprofessional. Also, sometimes I still see counters on blog sidebars. You really should focus on your Google Analytics and not try to display a counter that isn’t meaningful.
Your Main Content
The content area of the blog is the prime location for your visitor’s eyes, so it needs to be easy to follow. I like themes that allow for excerpts of the posts rather than the full post on the front page. This gives visitors a quick view of what you have been sharing and allows them to select where to go.
Doing a quick scan down your main page, we next can focus on spring cleaning our headlines. Can you think of any way to re-word your headlines to make them more interesting? If so, feel free to make some changes (just don’t change the permalink to the post).
Another important piece of your main content are images. Do you have a good featured image for each post? If your theme allows it, you can see a thumbnail of the main image near the headline and excerpt of the post. While you’re at it, are there large, long images on your important posts that someone can Pin? Pin-able images are very important for blog growth, so remember to add a vertical image to your posts.
Now let’s chat about spring cleaning the way we finish our posts. What action do you want your readers to take? Do you want them to leave a comment? If so, ask a question. Do you want them to share – then ask them to do so. End your post with a “call to action” so your readers know what you would like them to do next.
Finally, do your posts have a signature? The bottom of a post is a good place to place your bio and social media links as well as an opt-in form. If someone made it to the bottom of a post, they are likely interested in your blog are likely to subscribe to get more great content.
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What spring cleaning plans do you have for your blog?