Chris from If Dogs Could Read and I had over the last few days some discussions on Facebook. In the end I offered him to write a blog review about his family dog blog. And he graciously agreed to be dissected by me, torn to pieces, humiliated and put off blogging for all eternity. Ok, the last one was a joke, I try to improve my writing style and to use this peculiar thing called “humor”, a thing very alien to Germans 😉
OK, now seriously, here is my blog review and what I would change and what I would leave as it is:
Oh, hello fat lady, what are you doing there, in the top right corner? As I opened the blog for the first time, I was greeted by a large 250×250 ad in the top right corner that tried to encourage me to get rid of my flabby tummy. Thanks, I know I have to lose weight, but please don’t push it in my face, at least not on a dog blog – that seems somehow dodgy to me! Apart of the ads (more to them later), the theme is great. I would seriously inquire if the theme creator has a referral program and promote it! Actually, if they had a fitting banner size, I would even use it to replace the fat lady. In case the fat lady isn’t visible to you, I am speaking about the 250×250 adbrite adspace in the top right-hand corner. Put a banner there that promotes this nice theme and you will see much better conversion rates than with a “flabby tummy” ad from adbrite. But back to the basics 😉
As I said, a very nice, very clean theme and navigating through the content was also very easy. I didn’t get lost once on the way, and that means something in my case. There is really nothing what I would change with the actual WordPress theme, it is very well chosen. Apart of the ads. But more to this later.
Again great, well written, original and relevant content just as Google loves it. This blog needs a few more articles, but that will come with time. The photos are also well chosen and properly accredited, something that I really, really enjoyed seeing! The more and better targeted posts a blog has, the better it will rank in the search results of Google and the like and attracting valuable, targeted traffic. I would invest some time in researching what people look for on Google when looking for a dog related blog. Use the Google Keyword Tool to see what Google thinks that your blog is all about, linkvendors’ seo tools to check a lot more aspects of your web site and Market Samurai to find topics people do search for. Try to find profitable niches and topics to write about, without becoming unfaithful to your original idea. It is all about finding a balance between your passion (dogs) and finding a niche that is related to that topic and, in an ideal case, does not have too much competition.
Try also to set and draw out a plan of what your blog is all about, set a basic topic, something a bit narrower than “dogs” and line out how you will fill in the subsequent sub-topics. I think your blog has good potential for becoming an authority blog in your chosen niche, as you surely know what you are writing about.
Only one little thing to mention here: I checked some internal links and they go still back to your old Typepad blog. I would go through every blog post and make sure that all links still work like they are supposed to do. Perhaps one of the readers here has more suggestions for you in that field.
The amount of ads is for me, the biggest problem with this blog, for a variety of reasons. First of all, the relation ads / content is not good. You have too many banner ads and text ads on your blog. In my experience, Google judges the quality of a blog also by how many ads a blog carries compared to how much original content is present. The ads are also not very well targeted to your blog content. I don’t think you make a lot of money with these ads, correct? So my suggestion would be: to take them down, leaving at most the 250×250 adspace in the top right corner. Put there something that is related to your blog, either a referral banner for the theme you use or a nice Amazon ad for a dog related item. Get rid of everything else, yes, also of the ad in the header. Later, when you have more readers, and when you know what “sells” on your blog, you can still re-introduce them one by one. I would also suggest that you get rid of the “free link exchange banner”. Google is not really happy about link exchanges of any kind, and I guess that it also doesn’t get you much valuable traffic. So, now that I have told you what you have get all rid of, here are some suggestions as to what you can do to
Promote your blog
Your goal should be to
a) Get a lot of faithful readers / subscribers that come regularly back to your blog and read it and comment on it and
b) Get a lot of natural search traffic.
To help both causes, the best thing is to brag about your blog wherever you can and to update your blog regularly with great content. You are actually lucky to write about such a common topic like dogs as there are plenty of related forums and blogs around. Have a look also at my article about how to write your own backlinks. Become, if you are not already, part of a few online doggy communities, leave helpful comments on other doggy blogs and write up some articles that link back to your blog and its sub-pages in places like Infobarrel, Squidoo, Hubpages and Ezine. (see banners on the right hand side for links). And don’t forget to put your blog url into your own email signature!
- Get rid of most ads, keeping only one and make it relevant to your blog.
- Get rid of the link exchange banner.
- Make a plan of potential topics for your blog.
- Update your blog regularly (regularly being the important word).
- Find dog related online communities where you can promote your blog.
- Do a bit of link building, but keep it natural.
Go through my check list for new web sites, a lot of these things you will have already done, but better check twice. And don’t forget to add your blog to Google Webmaster Tools so that you can see at once if there is a problem in Google’s eyes with your blog.
So, that was it. Hope I was not to brutal. If anyone of my readers has a moment of time to jump over to Chris’ family dog blog and leave a comment or two, I am sure he would appreciate it. And if you have some more ideas how he could improve his blog, I am equally sure he would be glad about more tips and ideas.
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