It completely confuses me when I land on a blog I can see has been around for awhile, yet when you see it, it screams “beginner”.
Why wouldn’t you change these few things at the very beginning and not worry about them later? Because some of them just make you look really… inexperienced…
This is the very first thing I remove when I create a new blog for myself or install one for a client. There is absolutely no need for that widget to be in your sidebar or footer, leak link juice and confuse people.
Running Twenty Eleven Theme As It Is
Twenty Eleven and Twenty Ten themes (the ones you get when you install WordPress) are great themes and with a little customization they can look as good as any premium theme. But running it as it is makes your blog look so plain and amateurish.
Change the headers, fonts and some of the colors and you will make it look much better. If you add some nice font for your titles, and style your sidebar, your blog will look much more professional.
There are very few blogs I’ve seen running tag clouds in a smart way. Most of the tag clouds are automatic, containing all tags on a blog and of course, tags are added randomly, with no plan.
If you want to display a tag cloud on your blog, make sure you hand pick every tag and make it a part of your SEO strategy. Having a cloud with some general words like “google”, “blog”, “tips”, make no sense from either usability point of view, nor SEO.
Log In to Comment
I still see blogs that are running commenting systems (Blogger, WordPress) asking people to log in to comment. If you really want people to comment, don’t do that.
If you are worried about too much spam, you can always use a system that will filter some of it for you, like Livefyre we are using here.
No Share Buttons
In this day of social media, it is crazy not to have any option on your blog to share content on social sites. I recently landed on a very popular blog in an industry I have a lot of interest in and the blog had no sharing buttons.
I messaged the owner telling him that a blog as popular as his should definitely have them, since a lot of people would love to share his posts. He said “Just copy the link and share it”.
Really!? I know how to do it, but if you don’t make it easy on me, why would I do it? I will just go and do something else.
No About Page or Contact Info
One way to get your blog to grow is to connect with people, and about page and contact page are essential. You need to tell people who you are and why are you creating the blog. Giving them a way to contact you makes you approachable and you never know when you can be of some real assistance to people or when someone may offer you a nice opportunity.
This is one of the things that is “killing” me when I see it on a blog. Please, don’t be desperate for comments so much that you approve every one of them. If the person did’t leave a real name or the comment is something like “Thanks for the post” or “Great advice”, they are probably not the ones you need to approve.
Social proof shown through high number of comments is great – if they are real comments. And it is easy to see when they aren’t so you are just making yourself look ridiculous.
There are things you can do on your blog from the very beginning to make it look more professional. This isn’t about tricking people into thinking you have more experience, just making sure your blog doesn’t scream “Amateur” for months to come.
Is there anything you would add to this list?