Welcome to Week 1 of the Better Blogger Challenge. Every Wednesday for the next 12 Weeks I’ll post a set of tips and an activity to make sure your blog is the best it can be.
Unofficially, Week 0 of this challenge was about checking your social media links.
This week we’ll be cleaning up your blog of excess junk that’s cluttering up your homepage and distracting your readers.
Things That Should NEVER Be On Your Sidebar/Footer
- Your tag cloud – you absolutely do not need this and I don’t know if there’s a single way you can justify this. If you use tags in your blog, they’ll show up on the posts, so if someone really wants to read more about that particular tag, they can click it there. If someone is searching for something, they can use the search bar. It looks highly unprofessional to have this widget up.
- Your recent comments – this can very quickly look spammy, and it won’t add as much benefit to you as it can potentially take away, especially if you reply to comments in chunks and you’re the last one that commented on everything…
- Your recent posts – if someone is on your homepage, they will see your recent posts unless they linked into your blog through a shared post, so to quite a few viewers, this will look very redundant. If you have this one up and want to make sure people are directed to more posts, use your Top Posts & Pages to feature your popular posts.
- Your monthly archive – when I’m talking about this, I’m talking about the widget that shows each month and a drop down or number of posts next to it. There are better ways to do an archive, but this is the wrong way and it’s taking up your readers time and valuable space on your blog without adding anything to their experience.
- Your akismet stats – this is literally a count of how many spam comments have been caught. Can you think of ANY justification to have this?
- Your category cloud – while you may justify listing your categories in addition to a menu, this is not the format to use. It looks unprofessional and distracting, and makes it a lot harder for your viewers to find what they care about than using a traditional list of categories.
- Your admin links – I honestly don’t even know what the hell widget this is, but I know I removed it off my theme and that I’ve seen it on different blogs. If you have anything on your sidebar or footer that links to logging into WordPress admin or other setting info… remove it. Why does WordPress even think this is a good idea? There’s no way you have it on there intentionally.
- Branding for anything you aren’t using – that means any communities you’re a part of that you’ve never used or stopped using? Ditch them. You can keep the information in a Notepad document or other text file for if you start getting something out of that community/site/opportunity, and definitely leave it if companies vett you to make sure you have it before approving/offering (especially if you’re applying for opportunities through them) but if you KNOW this isn’t something you’re doing anymore… take it off.
That’s your Week 1 Activity:
Go in and edit your sidebar(s) and/or footer to remove the junk.
Next week we’ll make sure you’ve got all the must-have blog widgets, and talk about the benefits of the other optional widgets for why you might want them, and why you might be better to leave them off.