July 29, 2020
This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. Join us!
I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is opening up for business and recreation with social distancing precautions. Our area is mostly locked down again because of a surge in COVOD-19 cases. Stay safe, book buddies!
July’s Challenge Focus: Quality Content
Over the last few months, the challenges have allowed me to improve content.
1. Determine whether your older posts meet your current standards.
WOW! This is a huge, HUGE task! Obviously, I’m doing things differently in my third year of blogging than I did in my first year. Starting in January, I’ve been systematically returning to old posts and updating them. Here’s the checklist I created:
- Read through content:
- In three years, I have developed kinder ways of writing negative reviews!
- Does the format of my review reflect the format I use today?
- Can I add more content (text or links) or delete extraneous content?
- Can I remove outdated or irrelevant content?
- Check all links.
- Run the content through Grammarly. I was not using Grammarly the first year of blogging and I have found several errors by using it to update old content.
- Check categories and tags.
- Fill out the Twitter share section (shockingly, I was not sharing my posts to Twitter in the first year).
- Fill out the Excerpt section (I was not doing this in the beginning either).
- Create a Pinterest graphic for the post (yup, I didn’t use Pinterest the first year either) and make it my Featured Image. (I also share this updated post to Pinterest with the Pinterest worthy image.)
- Check the size of all my pictures and add Alt Text.
- Change the size of Headings and Subheadings to match today’s format. (one thing I was doing was using H4 for less significant headings and I read that it’s best to simply bold the text and not use H4)
- When updating, DO NOT change the original URL! Sometimes I feel like a title change is needed and I have to live with the original URL if I make a change.
Sometimes I feel as if I’ve created an entirely new post! However, this investment of time is worth it because my DA has jumped several points since January! SEO rewards updating.
Yes, it is tedious to update old content. I set a schedule and update one to two posts per week. It will take me a while, but it will be worth it. I created a spreadsheet where I can track my updating project. I made columns for my checklist and also one for ‘reshare.’ That way I know exactly where I left off, which posts have had the ‘treatment’ and which have not, and which posts have been reshared. I’ve linked the older posts (reviews) to my #throwbackthursday posts. So, I’m accomplishing two objectives: updating an old post and creating new content. This provides extra motivation.
I have read that it’s not good to delete a post. (it messes with Google in some way) I’ve been tempted! I simply fix it up the best I can, rewrite parts of it, and leave it be.
Remember to reshare the updated evergreen content posts that you’ve worked hard to update!
2. Check for errors.
Whether writing a new post or updating old content, you can never spend too much time editing for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes! Grammarly doesn’t catch everything and sometimes I need to override Grammarly. It’s especially tricky to catch homophones. In one recent post, I discovered I had written ‘duel’ when I had meant to write ‘dual’ ….. I didn’t discover it during my usual editing and revising phase of creating the post. I actually discovered it when I posted the review to Goodreads and I was reading it over to take out some blog related content that came along with my copy and paste.
I can offer five tried and true tips for editing:
- Read the content backward, word by word.
- Print out the content and read a hard copy.
- Write and edit…. and then return for a final edit a day or more later.
- Read the content aloud.
- Use an app such as Grammarly.
3. Do you have a Voice? A Tone?
Part of quality content creation is finding your unique voice. This is a difficult and ongoing task for me! I know that the blogs I really enjoy reading have an informal or casual tone and a strong voice. Because of my degree work and experience teaching formal writing, I find it difficult to switch to informal writing. It’s actually one of the items I edit during the revision stage. I can write an informal and casual letter, email, or text, but for some reason, blog content reminds me of writing a paper for graduate school and I automatically switch to a formal tone! As I return to old posts and update them, I do notice that my tone is more formal in my first posts. So I guess I’m making progress but it isn’t easy! Can anyone relate??? What tone or voice do you strive for in your blog posts?
4. Do you know the Word Count of your most recent post? Yearly average?
An additional consideration when planning quality content is the word count of your post. Google doesn’t count your words (and claims not to include the word count in SEO), but observers have noticed that posts ranking close to #1 usually have substantial word counts. I often aim for at least 1,000 words per post. Most of my posts reach that 1,000+ word count and some don’t. For instance, WP indicates a word count of 1, 554 for this post. My Thursday posts where I tease a #throwbackthursday review are significantly shorter. Under Insights in your data analysis, WP will give you your average word count for the year. Although I write long posts at times, my word count average right now is 859. I would like this to be above 1,000, but shorter posts pull down my average. Although word count appears to be important for Google ranking, your posts can NOT contain “fluff.” The content needs to be relevant and informative and useful. Word count is definitely something to consider when creating quality content. Have you checked your average word count?
By the way, I recently read that your comments section also counts toward your content length and quality. Encouraging a robust comment section (and using key words) all helps SEO.
5. Do you have a Niche?
Are you creating content for a narrow niche or are you creating content for a variety of niches? I don’t think there’s a definite rule regarding the niche. However, I think it’s important to think about and define your niche in your pursuit of quality content.
Obviously,, my niche is book reviews and bookish content. Within the wide range of available genres, I have narrowed my niche, even more, to focus on four- and five-star historical fiction, literary fiction, women’s fiction, narrative nonfiction, and memoir reads. Although I read outside those genres, I don’t always post the reviews here. I also rarely post a three-star review because that’s out of the niche I have defined for the blog. My non-book review posts are almost always book related. I think that having a well-defined niche is an important part of creating quality content. What are your thoughts? What is your niche?
August’s Challenge will focus on Content Gaps.
I hope you are enjoying this Blog Challenge Series and are finding it helpful!
Have you updated old content?
Do you have additional tips on the topic of quality content? What do you think is the most important aspect of quality content?
Have you seen my recent collaborative post?
Summer’s ONE “Must-Read” Book 2020
Find all the Challenges posts:
Happy Reading Book Buddies!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.
Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.