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Blog Development Report: July 2018

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Blog development report

As I’m building this blog, I’m also reporting on what I’m doing to improve it. I hope this gives you ideas for how to slowly improve the mechanics of your own small business blog.

I include some takeaways below so you can see how the lessons I have learned apply to your own business.

Last month I set these targets:

My blog development goals for next month are to:

  • Promote the Business Blogging Made Simple Facebook page
  • Continue working through Blogger U
  • Set up my categories and then add effective menus
  • Read Manual Pinning Simplified and decide on a replacement strategy to BoardBooster.

Business Blogging Made Simple Facebook Page

Well, I did a lot of soul-searching this month to be sure I was taking the right steps and targeting the right people.

I changed the name of the page to Blogging for Small Business. I still need to do some cosmetic work on the page to ensure it reflects the change, but I think the name is more appropriate for what I am trying to achieve.

Takeaway: Think about your audience. They are who you are trying to reach, so make whatever you do relevant to them.

Blogger U

I continued to work through Blogger U. I chose this month to focus on the New Blogger Bootcamp course. Designed to be done over 6 weeks, I’m going through it rather more quickly.

The good thing is that this section of Blogger U is highly structured, step-by-step and easy to follow for anyone who is unfamiliar with WordPress, what hosting is, the concepts of posts and pages and so on. It really is pitched at a beginner level.

I’m not at the beginner level, but I know there is more I can learn. So when I saw one of the initial topics was security advice, and then further on there was a topic on key WordPress plugins, I wanted to review those lectures.

Unfortunately, you can’t get to those elements unless you complete all the previous topics. I have been playing the videos I am not interested in (like how to buy hosting and choose a domain name) at 2 x speed just to get through them. Thank you, Vimeo!

Another constraint is that this course included a lecture I have already seen that forms part of another course. I have no issue with reusing the content. It makes perfect sense to me that this video serves a purpose in two different areas. But I would rather not be forced to watch it again for the sake of it, when I have seen it quite recently as part of another course.

I understand that if you are going through the New Blogger Bootcamp, you’d want to see this video at this point. You might not have seen the video in the other course – why would you have watched that right now? But you will probably end up in the other course at some point and you’ll have to watch it again then.

It would be nice if the video appeared, with the acknowledgement that you have already seen it, and would you like to watch it again?

But it’s a small point, when the videos are so short, typically under 10 minutes, I can put my iPad on double speed playback, stick it on mute and get ready for bed – it’s done by the time I’ve cleaned my teeth.

NB: this is not an encouragement to “cheat” on online courses! You paid good money to get the learning, so use it. In this instance, I wanted to be able to pick and choose the content, and rightly, the course owner chose to do what would be the best thing for the majority of students going through the Bootcamp and stop people doing that.

Plugins

This month, I changed from Yoast to The SEO Framework. There was a lot of angst in the online communities related to a recent update of Yoast and I decided that I didn’t want to use Yoast any longer. It is a good, solid plugin that many bloggers recommend, but there are risks you take when you use the free version of any plugin for business purposes.

When you rely on a vendor, you need them to get it right all the time, or it affects your SEO results (or whatever). Unfortunately, tech glitches happen, and people don’t always check what will change when they update.

However, The SEO Framework seems simple to use and was recommended to me, so I’m going with that for now.

I deactivated a few plugins that I am not actively using right now, to save them loading in the background.

I also switched from Table of Contents Plus to Easy Table of Contents, because TOC+ hasn’t been updated in a long time. It’s important to only use plugins that are actively maintained by the creator/owner to ensure they are still secure.

Takeaway: Carry out regular reviews of the plugins you use. Remove any you no longer need to save the load on your site.

Site Audit

I did a site audit with SEOSiteCheckUp.com. I figured it was important to get some of the basics right before having too much content on the blog (or too much traffic).

Personally, I didn’t find the report that useful. There are some good suggestions in it, like removing inline CSS. The recommendation that my domain name should include my exact keyword makes SEO sense, but no sense in relation to my branding.

Takeaway: As with all things, we have to make business decisions based on what we are prepared to do and what we feel is the right thing. Don’t let an automated, cookie-cutter SEO report be the only thing you use for SEO optimisation.

SSL

I sorted out SSL. Finally. The issue I was having was that the SSL certificate was installed, but the http to https redirect hadn’t been implemented. My host company fixed that last week so that’s now in place and the green padlock shows up in the browser address bar like it should.

Takeaway: Host companies can be helpful! Go to them first rather than try to sort things out by yourself.

Categories and Menus

Yep, totally going to get on that over the summer.

Replacement for BoardBooster

Farewell, BoardBooster. You served me well. I bought and read Manual Pinning Simplified, and while it is a super simple strategy – and I felt there was a lot of general stuff in the book that I already knew – I can see that it would work.

Frankly, I am moving away from mass promotion on Pinterest. I can’t get on with Tailwind, which feels over-engineered. You need to find what works for your audience, but I think manual pinning from time to time will be enough for me at the moment.

I will let you know how my Pinterest evolution works out. Without BoardBooster I think the Pinterest game has changed for many people.

Next Month’s Targets

My blog development goals for next month are to:

  • Improve and link to my course, How to Organise Your Blog Content
  • Continue working through Blogger U
  • Set up my categories and then add effective menus – maybe August will be the month I get on with this!
  • Take some time off, as it’s the holidays.

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