As far as the blog goes, I tried to put in as much time as possible to working on it. It’s not that I didn’t have the time to do it, but my mind was elsewhere to say the least.
What I did not accomplish this month was I did not work on my editorial calendar at all. In fact, this post I’m writing at this very moment was the only post I actually wrote in October… and actually I’m doing it on November 1st!
Thank goodness I had scheduled some extra posts to come through in September, but now my content queue is running on empty.
One of the biggest goals I have for next month is to get ahead of the game and have at least 1 month of blog posts ready to go. Sometime in 2018 I hope ramp that up to 3 months of content written in advance.
The main goal is to be done tinkering with the site this year, then create a lot of content and schedule it so that I can have some time to create a product.
Creating a product, whether it’s a course or an ebook, is key to my monetization strategy.
In October, I managed to accomplish 3 things that I feel will help Cash The Checks grow. Here are the 3 major things I did to my blog this past month.
Changed The Font And The Text Size
It doesn’t sound like a big deal to change something so minor. After all, it takes mere minutes, if not seconds, to change a font and the size. But so much thought and planning went into it!
Steve Jobs felt that design was extremely important. He felt design wasn’t just how something looked, but how it worked. He took a calligraphy course in college before dropping out and it really gave him an appreciation of typefaces.
I’m also big on design – and fonts on a webpage are an integral part of its design.
I spent some time researching fonts; both the size, shape and letter spacing. I wanted the typeface of my blog to be visually appealing and easy to read. I wanted something so simple that fonts are the last thing on your mind.
I read up on what the big companies use and used them as a guide. I even went as far as implementing guidelines on how wide the text section of an article should be and how many characters across each line should have.
My choice to improve the readability of my articles was Didact Gothic at 19 pixels in size. It’s a lightweight font that is simple and has the perfect letter spacing.
I’m Doing A Complete Content Audit
Even though I’ve owned this blog for a long time, it’s as if I’m starting from scratch. In fact, it’s even harder since my site is full of outdated information, broken links and weak content. It means that if I ever want Google to pay attention to me, I need to go back and fix every single article I’ve published over the last 10+ years.
Needless to say, it’s a full time job to do a complete content audit. I’m finding that I’m deleting 75% of my old posts. The other 25% I’m updating, which is much more tedious than I thought it would be.
The are several good things I’m finding during this content audit:
- I’m finding that a lot of the principles I wrote about still hold true (gotta love having a finance blog for its evergreen content).
- It’s easier (and cheaper) to “refresh” an old article with updated information than it is to create a brand new article.
- Most of my current audience has never seen 99% of the content I published years ago. So I’m not sending off content that people have seen before.
- Changing the post date has not affected my Google rankings. Google likes it when you update an old post with new information.
- I feel good deleting posts that were under 500 words and lacked any real value. It’s like I’m removing a weight that’s holding my Google rankings down.
It will take me months to complete, as I’m lucky if I get through 3 posts per week. At this rate, I’ll be done in mid 2018. But at least by then, I can be proud of every single page on this blog.
Site Speed Changes
My blog felt “heavy” and I needed to make it “lean”. So I implemented some changes in order to speed up the site.
As I’m sure you’re aware, the speed of your website is a big factor in Google rankings. This article on moz.com from way back in 2013 shows the impact speed has on your rankings.
There are many ways to speed up your blog. I would say most of the work is done by your host. If you get a good host, one that offers “managed WordPress hosting“, you’re well on your way to getting a good score.
Next are the things you can do yourself. The first thing I did was get rid of most of the plugins my site was using. Sure, plugins make your site look nicer, but they also slow it down. The main plugin that was the culprit for me was Shareaholic. The second biggest culprit was Jetpack. I did before and after tests and was able to shave off a few milliseconds off my page speed by removing these plugins.
After that’s done, now it’s time to look at your theme. Free themes are nice, but are they both SEO optimized and optimized for page speed? A premium blog like the ones at Theme Forest are very likely to be good at both.
Finally, there’s some other changes you can make:
- Use a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache.
- Enable compression of your website using Enable GZip Compression.
- Optimize your images using Smush Image Compression
- Use A CDN like Cloudflare or MaxCDN
- Clean your WordPress database so it runs at maximum efficiency using WP-Optimize.
Use the following tools to gauge the speed of your blog:
Here are some of my results, so you can compare:
So this month was a lot of “under the hood” type stuff that I hope will show real results in the coming months. My thinking is this:
If I improve the readability of the blog, more people will stay on the page longer to read the rest of the content. The longer they stay, the more positive signals I’m sending to Google that this site offers real value.
If I provide better content, I will get more social shares, longer time on site and get more pages browed. All of these are positive signals in Google’s eyes.
Finally if I speed the site up, Google’s spider will breeze through the blog, crawling page after page. Not only that, it will increase my pageviews of visitors can navigate through this blog without any delays. Again, more positive signals I’m sending to Google.
So it was clear my focus this month was to improve this blog in order to get some Google love.
How did you guys improve your blog last month?