If Dogs Could Read – Blog Review

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:


First impression

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.


Content

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.


SEO

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.


Ads

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!


Summary:

  • 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.


If you like this blog post and found it helpful, why not share it with your preferred social network? Handy links and bookmarklets above ^^^ 😉

47 comments to If Dogs Could Read – Blog Review

  • Dee

    Very nice blog. You’ve got some great advice and a good clean break down critique. I enjoyed reading.

  • Thank you so much for the review!! I loved it.

    Everyone – Please feel free to leave whatever suggestions you have. I have thick skin so you won’t hurt my feelings, especially if it helps me build a better site.

    Thanks again SY!!!
    Chris
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Farewell Entrecard =-.

  • Thanks Dee. That was very kind.
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Farewell Entrecard =-.

  • hospitalera

    @Chris
    You are welcome Chris! SY

  • It is a good worthy review. You tell what the blog some good thing that already had, and also you tell what must do to improve it.
    .-= dana@online knowledge´s last blog ..Nokia N900 for Mobile Blogging =-.

  • Wow great review. You also gave me some great tips on what I can do to improve my own blog. A lot of really interesting info.
    .-= Jessica Guerro´s last blog ..Finding Niche Topics For AdSense =-.

  • I see that you removed the ads from your site. I think that is a great idea at least starting out, especially if you are getting irrelevant ads. I do want to say though that you should test placements for ads early, but maybe deactivate them if they are a little too much. That could dissuade readers from becoming frequent readers, as he explained so well. Truth is though that ads support sites and people generally understand that.

    I have to say though: I love the URL. It is not packed with keywords, but it is very memorable and brandable.

    Good luck with your blog and I wish you the best!
    .-= shae@Internet Make Money Online´s last blog ..Get Paid to Write Content =-.

  • Shae –

    As you noticed the ads are gone. I’ve started making the changes that SY mentioned.

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Chris

  • Seo services

    Nice post! For every celebrity blog, thousands are maintained by ordinary people. Launching a blog is about the simplest way to create a personal Web site. Once you’ve configured your blog’s appearance and characteristic options, you simply start posting.

  • This list will be EXTREMELY useful! best of luck for your new venture. I really enjoy it.
    Thank you very much.

  • That’s a very helpful critique to get rid of excess ads because it can be off putting for readers. That was very brave of him to be critiqued so publicly, but it must be helpful to have that insight from another expert blogger!

  • webmarketing

    This is real good stuff! Online marketing is done to create back links. I am of the opinion that Links play vital role in increase the popu;arity of the website. Further, Building links through reciprocal link exchanges is a simple yet very powerful website promotional tool.

  • hospitalera

    @Dana
    That is what a review is basically, or not?

    @Jessica Guerro
    You are welcome.

    @shae
    Good advice, just one minor mistake, “he” (me) is a “she” 😉

    @ Chris
    Glad to see that the fat lady is gone 😉

    @Seo services
    Not quite so simple as you put it, why would then somebody need “Seo services”?

    @Affordable logo design
    You are also welcome.

    @Chuggin
    You are right and wrong. Yes, Chris was very brave, but I am not an expert blogger, just a bit longer around then he 😉 We have a saying in German “Four eyes see more then two.” And that is what a review is all about for me, looking at things with another pair of eyes. In the end, we are all expert blog — readers 😉

    @webmarketing
    Google values most editorial backlinks and least directory links and similar, direct reciprocal links are also a very bad idea. Oh, and if you really want to get your backside kicked by Google, participate in link exchange schemes, you can say Good Bye to your PR and SERP very, very fast, SY

  • “Google values most editorial backlinks and least directory links and similar, direct reciprocal links are also a very bad idea.”

    With “direct reciprocal links” do you mean a situation where bloggers A and B trade links for each other’s blog? I thought that was a good idea.

    Chris
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Farewell Entrecard =-.

  • Nice review.. Maybe next time you can review my blog…
    .-= car blog´s last blog ..How to choose car Rim =-.

  • hospitalera

    @Chris
    Yes, direct link exchanges are the least effective ones and Google actually frowns upon them. Best to have a healthy mixture of links, from perfectly optimized, anchored text links to nofollow links in a blog roll. The more natural your links are and look, the better. So, you need a bit of everything to be credible in Google’s eyes, SY

    @car blog
    I had a short look at your blog and would strongly suggest the use of a spell checker / proof reader. If you are still interested in a free review, please come back to me in November, after I am back from holidays / vacations, SY

  • Well Well that was some honest and tearing-apart critique but i must say you may be hated for this but you have done a wonderful job if Chris pays attention to it I think he will do much much better. I must also mention that Chris was sporty enough and i liked that he worked on the loopholes mentioned by you, Bravo Chris! You are a true sport!I think its a great idea to introduce a thing like blog Critique and rate them accordingly, it will not only help people who are unable to find the areas of improvement on their own, it will also give readers a better quality blog to read.

  • I’m guessing that other people have made some of the same mistakes (I hope I’m not the ONLY one! : ) and they can learn from the critiques as well.

    Thanks to SY for taking the time to do it.

    As far as the “tearing-apart” piece of it, I love it! I would much rather learn about the problems now and get a chance to fix them than wait forever and wonder why I’m not getting any traffic.

    Bring on the honesty! I can take it. : P
    Chris
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Canine Allergies: Is your dog allergic? =-.

  • SEO is basically content and inbound links. Proper page naming and title tags with keyword focused anchor text will win your site on the search engines. It’s sounds simple, but it’s a lot of daily work to build links and content. Thanks for the great post.

  • @Ted: Would you say my blog is a good example of this? Am I doing it correctly?

    I have dashes in my URLs, so I’m not sure if that makes a difference to Google.

    (ie. http://www.ifdogscouldread.com/featured/canine-allergies-is-your-dog-allergic)

    I’m also using All-in-one SEO pack for WordPress and filling in the data.

    Thanks for commenting!
    Chris
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Canine Allergies: Is your dog allergic? =-.

  • hospitalera

    @Chris
    I personally think dashes are better, as the words are better distinguishable. I would, perhaps, get rid of the “featured” part in the urls. Just the domain – post title, at least that is what I do here on this blog, but also there are different opinions around. You have to be careful then never to use the same title twice, apparently the universe will implode then 😉 SY

  • hospitalera

    Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention, answer religiously to each comment made, that builds community and makes your blog looking busier. SY

  • I’ve been following your blogs for a while now and this is honestly one of the best I’ve read. Its a simple and organised blog. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • hospitalera

    @John
    You are welcome! SY

  • @hospitalera
    “answer religiously to each comment made”

    This sounds like great advice, I’ll start doing that. : )
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Canine Allergies: Is your dog allergic? =-.

  • I found this article today on how reciprocal links effects your Google page rank. I thought you might find it interesting.

    http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356

    Chris
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Canine Allergies: Is your dog allergic? =-.

  • Every thing is happening in this world, I believe dog’s do read blogs in future.

  • Cooool blog! I love dogs…We have a female Cane Corso. She speaks and thinks very well lol

  • @Chandra
    Who knows.. I know my dog can understand many words in English. The challenge is whether or not he decides to listen.

    @Jimmy
    Thanks for stopping by! I’ve never met a Cane Corso. It looks like a BIG pup. According to Wikipedia, they weigh in at 88-110 pounds.
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Canine Allergies: Is your dog allergic? =-.

  • hospitalera

    @Chris
    From the link you posted, “Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging” The keyword here is excessive and it is a fine line to walk 😉 SY

  • Some really valid points. Too much marketing or overmonetization often reduces the effectiveness of a blog when it comes to conversions.
    I think though that it is a typical newbie error
    Thorough review by the way. Nice.
    .-= Lesbian Movies´s last blog ..D.E.B.S Lesbian Film Clip =-.

  • Nice post! starting a blog is just the easiest way to create a personal Web page. Once you’ve configured your blog’s appearance and characteristic options, you simply start posting, but if our blog is related to something damn sure information that could really help people, then i m sure it will get good reward and appreciation too.

  • @James
    Thanks!
    I’m trying to blend some of our personal experiences with the facts to make my writing more enjoyable. Its a fine line, but worthwhile (I think).
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Pet Photography Tips =-.

  • My comment would be that the search engine optimization process can sometimes be mistaken for a singular, sprint-to-the-finish project, when in fact, it’s more like a marathon. Searchers rarely ever convert on the first click and thus, SEO campaigns that merely target a few popular keywords and call the task finished may be fooling themselves.

  • I assist dog rescue groups here in Las Vegas the blog was of interest to me. Local rescues in the area would also be a great source of possible backlinks and articles. Could even do a regular feature like adoption of the week and feature a different dog each week. Just a thought.
    .-= Charles@Las Vegas Property For Sale´s last blog ..Time Running Out for the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit =-.

  • Nice blog and so useful and praisewothy information!But I’m lazy about to write blogs to my pet:)Your article propel me to do sth for my cute little honey…Thanks so much!
    .-= Veronica´s last blog ..Special offer =-.

  • @Ebiz Graphics

    I’ve started using Market Samurai (you can find a link for it on this site) and I’ve found it very helpful when it comes to finding keywords. I read an article the other day that said that more than 7 keyword phrases is a waste because each additional phrase you use dilutes your search results on Google. It sounds like more is not always better. : )
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Is My Dog Going Bald? Canine Hair Loss Explained =-.

  • @Charles
    That’s a great idea. Thanks!

    @Veronica
    It means a lot that I can help. Thanks for stopping by.
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Is My Dog Going Bald? Canine Hair Loss Explained =-.

  • Many of bloggers make same mistake again and again while designing themes, they allocate more space for add’s and less for article text, which is meaningless. I m really happy with your theme, its the best, Simple and Sober 🙂
    .-= Moshe Lavi@ceramic knife´s last blog ..Home =-.

  • “simple and sober”.

    Wow, that’s the first time I’ve heard that one. : ) Thanks for the complement. I moved away from my old blog host because it made the article look cramped and didn’t provide the layout I wanted. Now that I’ve moved to WordPress, I no longer have that issue.
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Aspirin and Your Dog: Proceed With Caution? =-.

  • I like this blog theme for it is very nice with easily readable font size. The first impression that this blog creates is sufficient for the viewer to read more. The quality of the content is even more beautiful. Congrats Chris and hospitalera.

  • Thanks a bunch for the complements. I’ve got a few surprises coming later in the week that should be interesting. : )
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Halloween and Your Dog =-.

  • Hi, great point in the SEO catorgory on the importance of internal links pointing to the right place. I use the Buoyant Plugin in wordpress and it allows you to load up all your keywords and then automatically created anchor text internal links whenever the word is mentioned in the post.

    • hospitalera

      Enzo, I can’t find this plugin, do you have a link, it sounds very useful! SY

  • Sorry, I have just googled it and it seems that it may only be available to wordpress direct customers.

    Here is the infor from the plugin page on my site:

    Bouyant PageRank Plugin

    This WordPressDirect plugin manages internal linking of keywords in your posts to pages you intend to promote. When keywords appear in your content, this plugin can automatically link them to your homepage or category pages. WordPressDirect will automatically populate the plugin with your site keywords upon installation.

    Here is a link (non aff) http://www.wpdirect.com. Let me know if you need anymore info.

  • hospitalera

    Sounds very much like this plugin: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/seo-automatic-links/ I am using on another site and it’s free 😉 I had a quick look around the wpdirect web site, not really sure what it is all about? Seems like advanced autoblogging to me. If I am correct with that, that wouldn’t be my cup of tea in all cases. I prefer good old original and handwritten content for my sites 😉 SY