Reading challenges. Book case clear outs. Book buying resolutions: Over the last few days my blog feeder has been stuffed with posts from book bloggers describing their plans for the next twelve months.
January is also a good time to think about improving your book blog and setting some goals for the coming year.
You could decide this is the year to bite the bullet and switch to the WordPress block editor (yes I can hear you several of you groaning at the though of that) .
Or you might decide it’s time to find a new theme that will give you more flexibility with design and layout.
But you don’t have to do a big make-over like this. Even small changes can make a difference to how your book blog looks and how easy it is for your readers to use. Because just like our houses, blogs need regular attention to prevent them looking messy, out-dated and unloved.
And if your blog has been around for a few years, it’s a fair bet that it’s got some corners that need sprucing up.
So I’m going to give you seven ways you can give your blog the once-over, to make it easier to manage and more successful in the long run. Since some of them are more time-consuming than others, it’s probably best to spread them out across a few months rather than tackle them in one go.
1. Refresh Your ‘About’ Page
This is likely to be the page that gets the most traffic on your book blog. New readers land there because they want to know whether your blog content matches their interest. Publishers, publicists and authors will use the page to discover more about you before inviting you to review books or join bour tours.
First impressions count. Make sure your ‘About’ page is clear and up to date. For tips on how to do this take a look at my post Why It’s A Mistake To Ignore Your About Me Page
2. Refresh Your Other Key Pages
Take a look at each of those pages. Make sure the links are all working correctly (if you’ve changed the URL for any of your book reviews, it’s highly likely any links from your review index will be broken).
Delete any old content. Give an update on each of your projects.
3. Freshen Up Your Homepage
Does your homepage look very much the same as it did you launched your blog? If it does, an upgrade is long overdue.
You can make this upgrade as big or as small as you want.
If your theme looks rather dated or you wish you had more flexibility with widgets, navigation bars and colours, then it might be time to change your blog theme for example.
But if this is too big a task or you’re happy with your current design, focus instead on some smaller elements. Maybe just change the header image or – if your theme allows – just the colour of headings and hyperlinks.
Do pay attention to your navigation bar and the side bar. These are valuable spaces that help guide your readers around your blog. They can become cluttered all too easily. So check that your navigation menu items really do point to the most important pages. Try to avoid having too many items in the bar – think whether some of those pages could be grouped together and accessed via a drop down menu.
For your side navigation bar, scrutinise every item and ask yourself whether it has any genuine benefit to your readers. If not get rid of it.
4. Check All Images on Your Site
These clean up tasks will help speed up your book blog and improve your chances of being picked up in a Google search. But I warn you now that it’s a time-consuming activity. So maybe one you want to spread out across several months.
Large images use a lot of your available quota in the media library. They also take a long time to load on a page which can be irritating for visitors to your blog. So check your media library for large images and “optimize” (shrink them in other words) by using a tool like JPEG Mini. Any images with a PNG extension need to be changed to JPG or JPEG which is a more compressed ( smaller) file type.
Also check that you have alt-text in place for every image. Also called “alt tags” and “alt descriptions,” alt text is the written copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load on a user’s screen. This text allows search engines to better crawl and rank your website.
For more suggestions on using images take a look at my post Using Images To Take Your Blog To a New Level
5. Repair Broken Links
Nothing is more irritating than visiting a blog site and clicking on a link that you find interesting – only to get this kind of message:
Broken links can cause you to lose a potential reader but can also hurt your visibility in search engines. Google for example considers a site that’s full of broken links is one that’s poorly maintained so their algorithm will not rate you as highly.
You can install a plug in to find broken links across all your sites. Or you can use a free service like Broken Link Checker that will scan all your content and give you a list where the link is broken.
6. Clean Up Categories And Tags
Categories and tags help organise your content in a way that makes it easier for visitors to find content on specific topics. You may have created too many similar categories/tags and have duplicates. You may have some that are no longer relevant. Others that could be re-named. Take a look at your categories and tags using my step-by-step guide. It’s not the most fun of activities but you can ease the pain if you do it while watching a good film or listening to an audiobook.
7. Update/Remove Old Content
Take a look at the oldest posts on your site. Are they still relevant? If not, just delete them.
If you decide to keep them, think how you can update them to make them more current or give them new life. Maybe it’s as simple as changing a photograph or adding some new links. Then you can re-publish which will bring them to the attention of your followers who weren’t around when you first published that post.
If you don’t have time to do this straight away, just make a plan to tackle them one by one over the coming months. Updating posts is a lot quicker than writing new content so is perfect for days when you lack inspiration or energy.
Did you find these tips helpful ? There are many more listed on my ‘book blogging tips‘ page. If you can’t find the answer to your problem, do let me know.