Larry Brauner
Like you, I typically visit many blogs and websites each day.

Some websites clearly have it together. They have lots of website traffic and appeal to visitors.

Other websites aren’t bad. They have good potential. With a few tweaks here and there, they could enjoy much more website traffic and appeal much more to their audience.

I promised myself that I’d write up some suggestions for improving blogs and websites. I realize that while much is possible, we can’t hope to do everything. We need to apply the 80/20 rule and focus on strategies and techniques that are easy to implement yet promise substantial benefits:

  1. Make Your Text Easier to Read - Some months ago, I noticed that my blog’s text wasn’t visually sharp enough. It was difficult to read. Upon examination, I noticed that the font wasn’t quite black, and the background wasn’t totally white. The links were grayish. After a few minor theme changes, the color scheme was improved. Low contrast combinations or light text on a dark background always require extra effort to read.
  2. Optimize for Human Eyeballs - A site’s title tells search engines and their users what the site is about. The title is the bold headline in search engine results. Using keywords in your site’s title can help you rank higher for those keywords. Recently, I changed the title of my blog hoping to rank higher on more keywords, and my traffic fell. The new title was unfortunately less relevant and less appealing to my potential readers. I changed my title back, and traffic rebounded. The takeaway: Optimize for humans, not just for search engines.
  3. Use Headings to Break Up Long Articles - Headings break up an article into sections and help make the article easy to scan and read. Limiting paragraph size helps too. Headings, however, like titles, can tell search engines what an article is about and are an excellent place to insert your keywords.
  4. Link Out - I provided a rationale for linking out to other sites in The Blogger’s Guide to Links and Comments: “Use of outbound links enhances your pages in ways that both search engines and people can easily appreciate.” The advice in that article applies equally to blogs and conventional websites. Unless you’re linking to ads, use only dofollow links.
  5. Link Internally - This can be huge. Linking internally increases a site’s circulation, and it increases the perceived relevance of both the linking page and the page linked to. Link to another page or article on your site when you have the opportunity. In a blog, you can even link to a tag, as I often do. A blog site map such as the once generated by the Wordpress plugin Really Simple Sitemap makes it easy for visitors to find a blog’s archived content. I use internal links on my blog nearly everywhere, even in places which aren’t obvious.
  6. Be Social - Adding a social dimension to your web presence makes you real and credible. Join all the major social networking sites, and let visitors know how they can connect with you. Google Friend Connect and Facebook NetworkedBlogs widgets add sociability to your site and enable readers to publicly endorse you. Bloggers can join blog networking sites as well such as Technorati, Entrecard, BlogCatalog and MyBlogLog.
  7. Make Subscription Simple - Make it as easy as possible for readers to subscribe to your blog or newsletter. Blogs should offer subscription by both email (using a service like Aweber) and RSS (using a service like Feedburner). I’m always amazed when I have to hunt for a way to subscribe to a site.
  8. Use Social Bookmarking - Make your content easier to find and, as is the case with some social bookmarking sites, create quality links into your blog or website. Some of the social bookmarking sites I use are Digg, Delicious, Propeller, Reddit, diigo, Jumptags, Google Bookmarks and iZeby.
  9. Encourage Comments - Not only do I generally ask readers to comment, but I comment back as well whenever it’s appropriate.
  10. Extend Your Domain - If your domain will expire with the next twelve months, you might be signaling to search engines and savvy visitors that your site is only temporary.

I’ve omitted other ways that you can improve your website, because they’re harder to implement, and because they’ll give me something to discuss in a subsequent article. ;-)

In any case, we have our work cut out for us. :-)

What do you think?

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47 Responses to “10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog or Website”

  1. Bachrum on November 23rd, 2009 1:12 am

    I think that your way of optimizing your site is correct, but I read in many other blogs that the way of improving the blog reputation or quality needs a lot of things, maybe about 200.

    Do you have a good plugin for social bookmarking for a WordPress blog?

  2. Source Blogger on November 23rd, 2009 1:23 am

    Hi Larry,

    This is Source Blogger…

    I read your blog when it updates, on occasion.

    Just a few recommendations for your site.

    1) Tweak the font style. Needs to be more “reader-friendly.”

    2) Increase Your Font Size (I am viewing your site on a Samsung SyncMaster 213T 21″ LCD Flat Panel Monitor.) It is still too small.

    3) Place larger space between paragraphs.

    4) Define your links. Some readers see colored, bolded links as emphasis, not a hyperlink. Use 0000FF (Blue) and underline.

    Thanks,

    Source Blogger

  3. Larry Brauner on November 23rd, 2009 1:25 am

    @Bachrum

    There are many more factors to consider, but these ten are relatively easy and a good start.

    One useful plugin which I mention in Why WordPress? Plus List of My Top Dozen WordPress Plugins is AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget, but I do my social bookmarking using Social Marker.

    @Source Blogger

    Thank you for your input.

  4. Mel Smith on November 23rd, 2009 1:31 am

    Some good advice Larry, I’ll have to check and see if my site is configured this way, and make some changes.

    Thanks Larry

  5. MySpace Effects on November 23rd, 2009 4:56 am

    Thanks Larry for some really good advice and for the links. They are very helpful.

  6. Wil on November 23rd, 2009 9:37 am

    Thanks for these tips, I find social networking still the most difficult to implement, especially for a new site, do you have tips for that?

    Also, I never knew about Aweber, thanks for pointing that out.

  7. Inez Bracy on November 23rd, 2009 10:14 am

    Larry,

    More great content. Thank you.

    I look forward to your posts.

    Inez

  8. DaniG on November 23rd, 2009 10:15 am

    Great article. I’m new to blogging and slow to add all these features, so I’m glad you posted it. It allows me to go back and enhance my site. Thanks!

  9. Jenny on November 23rd, 2009 10:31 am

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks so much for the tips. I must say that I have never used internal links in my blog, but will start doing it right away now. I’m probably going to rethink my design, too. I’ve tried to make it look nice, but am now wondering if I have sacrificed easy readability. Thank you!

  10. Debbie Morgan on November 23rd, 2009 10:50 am

    Hi Larry,

    As always, good information. I’ve done many of the things you suggest and will work on the others. Thanks again!

    Deb

  11. Cheryl Hughes on November 23rd, 2009 12:14 pm

    Great advice Larry! I hadn’t really given much thought to internal linking, will definitely be giving the site a tweak or two now. Thanks again for another great article!

  12. Jan Tallent on November 23rd, 2009 2:50 pm

    Great article and I am going to share it with my over 6,000 twitter followers.

    I would add one thing - as a proofreader and editor one of my biggest pluses or minuses on judging a blog is good editing - I have read some really great WRITING showcases that totally lose their power, for lack of a better term, with typos and misspellings and bad grammar.

    There are a lot of terrific blogs that I visit in either my proofreading capacity or just as a reader but I cannot for the life of me recommend or share ones with more than a couple of the minuses.

    Fair or not, unless it is just a fun / pleasure blog, these things do make a difference to some readers AND if someone is blogging for business, it REALLY DOES MATTER!

    thanks for the wonderful tips!

    Jan

  13. Chris Boyer on November 23rd, 2009 3:16 pm

    Great tips, Larry (as usual). The linking tips are very important. Allow me to add one extra tip - keep your blog post titles to less than 70 characters (to allow for easy re-tweeting).

  14. DaisySoapGirl on November 23rd, 2009 5:23 pm

    I’m always learning how to make my blog better. Thankfully you’re pointing me in the right direction.

  15. Larry Brauner on November 23rd, 2009 9:48 pm

    Mel, My Space Effects, Inez, Dani, Jenny, Deb and Delores, Thank you all for your encouragement.

    @Wil Looks like you’re on the right track. You might consider adding Google Friend Connect or a Facebook fan page.

    @Cheryl You put me off until way after your morning coffee. Wonder what that means. ;-)

    @Jan Good point. I’m planning to discuss content and research in upcoming articles.

    @Chris Thank you for adding that. Let’s speak soon.

  16. Latief@AnotherBlogger on November 24th, 2009 1:17 am

    Hi Larry. This is an awesome article. Great tips for bloggers. Thanks for sharing. My blog is going to 100 articles, I’m inviting you to write a little tips on my blog. What do you think?

  17. Larry Brauner on November 24th, 2009 1:34 am

    Thank you Latief.

    Keep up the good work.

    Hopefully we can do it some time in the future.

  18. Will on November 24th, 2009 6:47 am

    Hi Larry,

    I think this is a never ending topic that will always need adding to/updating - ( 10 more easy ways etc) … and attract plenty of visitors/comments. This type of post nearly always adds something important to my own “things-to-do-list” - and then it’s a question of prioritising them appropriately. Adding the FB widget is something I’m going to do immediately by the way. Thanks for reminding me!

    Cheers

    Will

  19. Larry Brauner on November 24th, 2009 10:04 am

    Hi Will,

    You’re a step ahead of me. However, most of the steps people will need to take to improve their blogs and web sites will not be as easy as these ten.

    In any case, I’m very happy you found my article useful.

  20. Buck Sommerkamp on November 24th, 2009 1:29 pm

    I enjoyed the article but my brain gagged on #10. Savvy visitors may actually look up my domain expiration date, but would a search engine really do that? I wouldn’t think a search engine would “care” about how long I send my money to the registrar…please elaborate on that if you would. Thanks!

  21. Larry Brauner on November 24th, 2009 2:30 pm

    Thank you for an excellent question, Buck.

    Once of the main challenges a search engine faces is to validate the authenticity of each web site.

    You and I, the search engines and everybody else, we all know that there’s no shortage of make-a-quick-buck spam websites on the Net.

    Do you believe that the owners of these sites would be willing to pay for multiple year domain registrations?

    No?

    Right.

    Well, the search engines don’t believe so either.

    Consider the possibility then, that a website with a multiple year registration might score higher in authenticity than a similar site with only a one year registration.

    The same holds true for dedicated IP addresses vs. shared ones, but I’ll save that for a future discussion.

  22. Sandra on November 25th, 2009 6:43 pm

    Hi Larry. Once again, you’ve enlightened me. I never thought about multiple year domain registration in that way before. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Also, I will use the sitemap plugin starting today. That’s just for starters because as usual, your article is jam packed! Thanks!

  23. Sandesh Mascarenhas on November 29th, 2009 2:55 am

    Hi Larry,

    Very nice tips.

  24. Ajith Edassery on November 30th, 2009 3:07 am

    Great tips Larry. I was wondering about another point related to the layout - about the three column format in particular. I had a few regular readers complaining that the three column format makes their life difficult. Did you hear any such remarks?

  25. Larry Brauner on November 30th, 2009 12:40 pm

    Ajith,

    Never heard complaints about 3-column blogs. They are certainly very useful for the blogger, since they make it possible to show twice as much on sidebars “above the fold” than do 2-column blog.

    Thank you for your comment.

  26. Sachin on December 1st, 2009 9:53 am

    Great article Larry, very detailed. These tips would surely help a lot of aspiring bloggers out there. Keep it up!

  27. James Avory on December 4th, 2009 6:55 am

    You got it one hundred percent right in those ips you give to websites owners. But there is also a case of Google’s chiefs changing their rules of search from time to time. That is big threat to anyone that is not keeping up the newest and latest information about SEO tactics. E.g., meta tags are no longer so important and regional proximity of links is much more important. We need to remember that there are no static rules. Everything moves slowly forward.

  28. Stocks on Wall Street on January 15th, 2010 8:40 pm

    Hey Larry,

    All great tips that I agree with. I just renewed my domain as it was expiring in 11 days. Definitely a mistake of mine

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  31. Beth Smith on April 13th, 2010 1:17 am

    Very helpful. Still have so much to learn. Thanks

  32. Deborah on June 13th, 2010 6:08 pm

    Thanks for such straight forward and easy to understand tips and ideas. Having just started our website, blog and social networking I have been in a bit of a tizzy trying to sort it all out.

    I will be spending a lot of time here going through all your wonderful posts.

    Thanks so much!

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  34. Sandy on August 13th, 2010 9:35 pm

    These are time tested and true. I have also learned over the 11 years building social networks, that age is an important factor. I have seen where Google and Yahoo are giving a temporary boost to new domain names.

    Great blog BTW!

    Sandy

  35. Dofollow Pro on March 22nd, 2011 8:26 am

    Hey Larry,

    I totally agree. Encouraging comments is a great way to get to know other keen bloggers and create some valuable traffic channels if you comment on relevant websites. It can also be great for search engine optimization depending on the type of links you receive back to your website. I find that my blog gets about 27 spam comments a day but it’s not an issue with a decent spam blocker.

    Kind Regards,

    Kirk @ Dofollow Pro

  36. Bruce on April 2nd, 2011 10:09 pm

    You said: “Make Your Text Easier to Read”

    I totally agree. In an effort to learn more about this blogging business I’ve been trying to educate myself and have been reading as many blogs as I can. I am amazed at how many are a real pain to try and read. I find the ones with a black background the worse, and it doesn’t seem to matter what color font is used.

    Bruce

  37. Jeff Monson on April 4th, 2011 1:09 pm

    Thanks for the info! I am an SEO newbie and have recently begun to ramp up my SEO efforts by learning from blogs such as yours…I can’t afford the thousands of dollars for a professional SEO service. In respect to social bookmarking, I can’t seem to get a good explanation as to what it actually does for a web site. Would you mind explaining how that works? I’m unfortunately one of those “need to know the inner workings” kinda guys!

    Many thanks,
    Jeff Monson

  38. Larry Brauner on April 5th, 2011 8:21 am
  39. Brandon on April 5th, 2011 10:23 am

    Hey Larry,

    As an SEO professional, I couldn’t agree more with your article.

    I’ve also found that using Web 2.0 properties like Squidoo and Blogger to link back to your site are also very powerful.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Brandon

  40. Ray on April 7th, 2011 1:42 am

    May also want to consider embedding a video version of your content. I think some people process information better in video format better than reading. Powerpoint, Jing Project capture tool and YouTube iare all you need! :)

  41. Jeff on April 9th, 2011 11:43 am

    @Brandon
    “I’ve also found that using Web 2.0 properties like Squidoo and Blogger to link back to your site are also very powerful.”

    There is some software that automates creating & doing this linking, e.g. SeNuke is one that comes to mind. What do you think about using that type of approach to the Web 2.0 links?

  42. Internet Specialist Mark on April 11th, 2011 9:16 am

    Hi Larry

    Thanks for a great blog post and reminding me about how we should focus our efforts on strategies that give us the most return for our time. I, like you, read a ton of blogs everyday and sometimes forget to simply “interact” with the website owners, especially when they contribute to the community like yourself :)

    I would definitely like you to elaborate more about the shared and dedicated IP issue that you mentioned in response to Buck. Have you done tests to see if this effected ranking, all things being equal? (I’m sure you did and why I’m excited to learn from you since our tests were not as conclusive..)

    I do have to make one criticism and Source Blogger mentioned it as well and it’s in regards to your first point “Make Your Text Easier To Read”. I actually find the font size on your blog difficult to read. It didn’t stop me from reading the whole thing as well as the comments from your educated subscribers but I did want to point it out! Guess it’s like Dan Kennedy said..great copy will be read ;)

    Ok, looking forward to more great conversations with you sir.

    Sincerely,
    Mark

  43. Larry Brauner on April 11th, 2011 2:35 pm

    Hi Mark,

    I have no personal evidence that a dedicated IP helps SEO, but I’ve heard from several sources that it does.

    There is a case in which it definitely helps.If you’re on a shared IP, and one of the other users gets the IP blacklisted.. you’re blacklisted too.

    I discovered this the hard way when I had trouble accessing one of my own sites.

    As far as text size is concerned, I recommend using Ctrl scroll-up on your mouse if you need it.

    Thanks,

    Larry

  44. Tim on April 20th, 2011 12:05 am

    Absolutely Right! Go with the 80/20. You can do tons of minor tweaks, or just do a few simple, and cost-effective things. The domain expiration is something many of us overlook, and I did, too,, for a long time. Extending to 10 years is not so expensive, if you are serious about your business, and there are very definitely advantages in the SERPs.

  45. Gavin on April 21st, 2011 3:34 pm

    Nice tips. Like Tim, I try and make sure I buy my domains for a long period, and I think interacting with the reader through comments is a good idea.

  46. Bob Diamond on June 4th, 2011 7:35 pm

    “Optimize for humans, not just for search engines.” - many of us take this for granted. Great tip!

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