Blog Audit Challenge 2020: June #blogauditchallenge2020

June 29, 2020

June’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

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.

 

June’s Challenge Focuses on Links:

Of the topics covered so far, I think I feel the best about my use of links to enhance my content and to attract visitors. At least, I feel more confidant in discussing links than I have previous topics! I can always improve, but I think I’m doing OK in this area.

There are two types of links:

1. Internal Links

  • The importance of using internal links is to keep visitors engaged with your content and spend more time on your site. Part of analyzing your blog data is tracking the “bounce rate,” i.e. the time visitors spend on your site. If a visitor only reads the page which caused them to land on your site, this contributes to a high “bounce rate.” If a follower or visitor looks at another page on your site (either through a link, a menu tab, or the search bar, etc., this helps to lower your “bounce rate.” Low “bounce rates” are optimal and increase your SEO! (see what I did here?!)
  • In my posts, you will usually notice internal links. When appropriate, I will link to related content (e.g. a book by the same author or a post with a similar topic) and I also include links to previous content in my ICYMI section. In my menu options, I have included pages with links to a great deal of blog content. In these monthly blog challenge posts, I am linking back to each previous month.
  • TIP: I have recently learned that SEO best practices suggests not using “see here” when creating links. SEO likes it when you use specific descriptive words. So instead of “see review here,” it would be better to write “see my review of Simon the Fiddler.” In my monthly wrap up posts, I have been writing “my full review here” (which you can see in my May Wrap Up post)….starting tomorrow, I vow to do better in creating internal links with more specific descriptive wording for my wrap up post!

2. External Links

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: May #blogauditchallenge2020

May 30, 2020

May’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

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 starting to open up for business with social distancing precautions.

May’s Challenge focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

SEO is something I continue to work on, and I find it becomes more routine over time. Keywords are a critical component of SEO.

1. Key Words in Headlines

  • Key words are the words that individuals put in the search bar to search for content.
  • Key words are the most important component of SEO.
  • Identifying key words is a critical first step in creating content. Think about what people would search for in order to find your content. Various apps are available to help you find optimal key words. I have never used this option, so I  can’t offer a recommendation. A search on Pinterest will result in more articles than you could ever use on SEO and Key Words.
  • Reviewing books makes the selection of key words easier because the book title in my heading is also my key word(s).
  • In addition to showing up in the title of the post, key words need to appear (naturally) throughout the content of the post. At first, it was easy to include my key word(s) in my post title but I had to make a conscious effort to sprinkle the key words throughout the content. So in place of using a term like “this book,” I had to form the habit of replacing these phrases with the book title. Using key words becomes even more effective when you can use them in subheadings.

2. Labels, Tags, and Descriptions

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: April #blogauditchallenge2020

April 29, 2020

April’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in a 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!

Well….April continues to be a bit derailed due to Covid-19! I hope that if you are reading this that you are well.

April found me having difficulty reading books with heavier content and I had a serious case of the “blahs.” How about you? Doing any hard thinking is a discipline these days!

April’s Challenge is to focus on Design:

1. Images

In my first year of blogging, I discovered how important it is to have at least one Pinterest quality image in each blog post. Before that discovery, I simply used a book cover as an image. (I need to note here that I can’t stage photos with books because I read exclusively on the Kindle.) Now I use a book cover image that I grab from Amazon and “enhance” it. First I use the app PhotoGrid to add a background for the book cover. I save this image in PhotoGrid’s already squarish format. Next, I open Canva and use a template I created for Pinterest that has been designed for a square image and that has the Book Title at the top and my blog name at the bottom. I use this template over and over again and switch out the picture, color, and text. Here’s the last Pinterest image I created using PhotoGrid and my Canva Pinterest template:

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhom (coveer)

In blog posts, I attempt to incorporate other images. For example, in my review of Code Name Helene, I also used a real-life picture of Helene. In addition, I always include an author’s photo.

I have a certificate from a community college in graphic design, so I’m familiar with using images in a layout. The creative use of images is an enjoyable aspect of creating a blog post.

Something new I’m experimenting with this year is using animated GIFs. I think it’s important not to overpower your content with gifs, so I use them sparingly.

As with any new element, there’s a learning curve and I had to experiment multiple times to master the process for using them in a WordPress post.

2. Optimize Images

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: March #blogauditchallenge2020

March 30, 2020

March’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in a 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!

Well….March was a bit derailed due to Covid-19! I hope that if you are reading this that you are well.

On the subject, I found this video clip very helpful, reassuring, and comforting!

March found me preoccupied with finding paper towels and toilet paper! Because of orders to stay home and isolate, I spent many reading and blogging hours ordering food and paper goods online. I had difficulty reading books with heavier content and had a serious case of the “blahs.” How about you? Thinking strategically about the blog became nonexistent. So, I don’t have too much to report unless good intentions and reflection count for something!

March’s Challenge is to focus on The Trimmings:

1. The Header

In anticipation of the March Challenge, I contacted an artist friend in February and inquired about designing a new header for the blog. The header needs to reflect my site and my personality and set a tone. When I first started the blog, I set it up quickly and impulsively and grabbed some generic graphics from Google images….I realized later that this is not recommended and I’ve known for some time that I need to come up with my own original artwork or pay for the right to use an image.

My header reflects me and my personality, but I don’t think it reflects what I DO. I know I need to think about branding.

  • My style– I’m a casual person. I love informal, warm, and welcoming. My current floral header reflects my love of nature, lots of color, and gardening, and it sends a warm vibe. So I’d like to keep that feel but stylize it so it’s uniquely me and doesn’t look like I pulled it from Google images! I think I’d like a pen and ink drawing and water color.
  • My mission-My header needs to convey a clear message about what I do….it needs to reflect my mission (from the January Challenge). Right now I have some words that suggest what I do, but I’d like my header to also visually reflect what I do.
  • My branding– I need to match my header to the rest of my branding. I definitely want my branding to reflect the informal, friendly, warm, and bookish vibe.

Definitely, I have a great deal of work to do in this area, and after the Covid-19 situation dies down, I will have more brain power to devote to this task!

2. The Side Bar

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: February

February 28, 2020 

February’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in a 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!

February’s Challenge is to focus on Information Pages:

1. About Page

One of the first things I look for when I land on a new-to-me blog is the About page. I’m disappointed every time there isn’t one. Jo Linsdell states that the About page is statistically one of the most visited pages on a blog, and I’m adding to those statistics every time I visit a blog. Before I give a follow, I like to know just a little bit about the blogger. I’m looking for a picture, points of connection, and a smattering of compatibility. One item that Jo Lindsell suggested is including a CTA (call to the action on the About page), so I edited mine to include that. I hope you’ll give my About page (found among the menu tabs) a glance and that you find it helpful.

2. Legal Disclaimers

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020

February 3, 2020 

Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in a 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!

January’s challenge is to focus on organization, strategy and the creation of an action plan:

1. Create a Mission Statement For Your Blog

From the earliest days of my blog, I’ve thought seriously and carefully about my mission statement, my niche, and my followers. I’m thankful that my reviews have resonated and connected with so many followers and readers! Thank you!

The mission of my blog is to share a love of great literature across a variety of genres with an intentional focus on new releases, thoughtful themes, diverse cultures, and “own voices” authors. I desire to be a trusted reviewer for your next great read! Conversations are always welcome. 

2. Do a SWOT Analysis of Your Blog

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A Shout Out to Bloggers #amonthoffaves

December 18, 2019

Shout Out to Bloggers

Image Source: Canva

Bloggers!

I see your effort! I appreciate your consistent quality content! I treasure your support, encouragement, and interaction! I love our blogging community!

For today’s post, I’m linking up with Girlxoxo and Traveling With T for Month of Faves: Blogging Community. Because I have so many bloggers I follow, I will NOT attempt to shout out favorites here because I would end up with a very long list! If I have interacted with you on our blogs, please know that you are among my favorites. (You know who you are!)

A Month of Favorites TwithT

What I find most interesting about the community of bloggers is that it gives me an opportunity to engage with bloggers from many countries and states. A few of the bloggers I follow hail from Canada, Israel, France, Jersey (Channel Islands), Nigeria, and from different regions of the U.S. All of you brighten my inbox and twitter feed! I’m looking forward to another wonderful and productive year of blogging and engagement!

For today’s tribute to the blogging community, I’ve based it solely on stats and I’m shouting out several bloggers who have consistently commented the most on my posts.

A Shout Out and Thank You to My Top Commenters:

Nicki at The Secret Library Book Blog

Rain at The Withering

Carla at Carla Loves to Read

Jennifer at Tar Heel Reader

Tina at Reading Between the Pages Blog

Lynne at Fictionophile

Jaymi at Orange County Readers

Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Reviews

Jonetta at Blue Moon Cafe

thank you

Thank you for your support, encouragement, and interaction!



QOTD:

Do you have bloggers that you interact with regularly?

What do you love most about the blogging community?



A Last Minute Gift Idea For Your Book Worm!

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

B00QJE3MGU

Also…..ICYMI…..there are some ideas for book gifting in this post.

gift stack of books



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



Looking Ahead:

My Best of the Year and End of Year Round-Up posts are coming soon!



My Fall TBR:

I finished my Fall TBR!



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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 photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Blogs and Podcasts

December 11, 2018

For this post, I’m linking up with two great memes. One is That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesday

…and the second is with Traveling With T: A Month of Faves: The Blogger Love Edition. I have a huge list of favorite bloggers, but for this post I couldn’t possibly mention everyone. I’ve decided to divide the list into bloggers and podcasters.

If you’ve popped over from Traveling With T or That Artsy Reader Girl, Welcome!

A Month of Favorites TwithT

 

My Favorite Blogs and Podcasts

Blogs-Podcasts

Blogs

The Thankful Heart

Visiting The Thankful Heart is always a lovely treat that’s filled with reflection, love of family, books, and recipes. Rhonda at The Thankful Heart embraces a spirit of thankfulness all year long. ***EDIT to add that Rhonda is no longer publishing new content.

Modern Mrs. Darcy

Always high quality and consistent bookish recommendation, this is one of my major resources for my best reads. MMD AKA Anne Bogel has also created an online Book Club ($10/month) and it’s a wonderful bookish community.

The Ardent Biblio

A lovely literary lifestyle blog filled with great book recommendations, links, and inspiring ideas for literary dinner parties. Michaela and Rikki offer excellence in content, blog design, and photography. I love to stop in and “look.”

The Lexington Bookie and Jennifer Tar Heel Reader

Amanda and Jennifer always writes quality and comprehensive book reviews and we share many of the same favorites.  I’ve listed them together here because they are both also super encouraging and supportive which has been important in my journey as a fairly new blogger.

Traveling With T and That Artsy Reader Girl

Of course, I am pleased to include the hosts of  today’s memes where you will find an abundance of book reviews. Also, I greatly appreciate their support of the blogging community in providing opportunities like this for link ups.

Podcasts

I find that I need to limit my podcast intake or it seriously cuts into my reading time! Out of the many great podcasts, these are the ones that I’ve recently been listening to the most often (the first two are my “must listens”):

Fron the Front Porch Logo

From the Front Porch

I never miss an episode of From the Front Porch which features southern charm and the delightful bookish and lifestyle chatter of Annie and Chris. In fact, sometimes if I want to relax and not read, I will listen to a back episode. It’s a must listen every Thursday.

What Should I Read Next Logo

What Should I Read Next

This is a podcast from Modern Mrs. Darcy in which the guests tell her three books they love and one book they hate and she suggests three new reads for them. I always gain great reading ideas from this podcast and it’s a must listen every Tuesday.

Reading Women Logo

Reading Women

This podcast focuses on literary fiction and stretches my horizon as I hear about books that are not always making the best seller lists but might be winning other literary awards. I listen often and enjoy the hosts.

Popcast Logo

The Popcast

OK….. this podcast isn’t often literary but it’s my attempt to keep up with pop culture as explained by Jamie and Knox. It’s always entertaining! I listen to selected episodes based on the episode descriptions that sound appealing.

Sorta Awesome Logo

Sorta Awesome

This is another podcast that helps me keep up to date with pop culture, especially related to women’s issues. Some episodes are more interesting to me than others, so I pick and choose. The hosts also include occasional book reviews.



What are your favorite blogs and podcasts?


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



Looking Ahead:

This weekend, I’ll post my regular weekly review. I’ve read two books this week: Dear Mrs. Bird by A J Pearce and  The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (releasing in January). Both are interesting and very different from my usual reads. Dear Mrs. Bird will be reviewed on Friday 12/7, then The Dreamers on Friday 12/14.

 



My Fall TBR

I FINISHED ALL the books on my Fall TBR list! Usually I can’t get to every book on my list, so I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment. My winter TBR will post on December 21.



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Please share some of your favorite blogs and podcasts in comments.



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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 photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.