When we talk about blogging, we certainly aren't talking about something that is always glamorous, and we're NEVER talking about something that is easy! Blogging takes consistent work and is always something we must work to conquer. When you keep your blog updated, you're just one step ahead of the game.
I can't tell you how many times I've noticed a lacking updated presence on websites, whether this means that their email is discontinued or their About page isn't the most up-to-date, or something completely different! Of course, I've made these mistakes, too! I'm not perfect. However, these are some of the items I just can't get past witnessing seasoned (and newbie) bloggers miss. These are the basics to keep your blog updated as best as you can:
404 ERRORS + 301 REDIRECTS
A 404 error is the page that appears when someone visits a link that isn't valid on your website (a broken link that might've been updated since that given version, or a random link that never was a page to begin with and was entered falsely. For example, Emma and I's About page here is fashionablyfrank.com/about, but if someone typed in fashionablyfrank.com/about-us, they'd hit a 404 error page. Well, they wouldn't actually, because we redirected it! :)
In order to redirect people from hitting these errors, it's very important to implement 301 redirects on your site. 301 redirects use the wrongfully entered URL and the correct URL and create a mapping from the wrong URL to the correct URL, if that makes sense. Then, whenever someone enters the wrong URL, it will still direct them to the proper post/page. If you set up your site on Google's Search Console tool, you are able to discover the 404 errors that users are receiving and use this report to redirect to the proper URLs that are live on your site.
Equally important is customizing your very own 404 error page. Instead of having the generic, "HTTP Error 404. We're sorry - the page cannot be found," you can use this opportunity to design the page to your liking and add all the features you would need for a successful page that helps direct users to what they are looking for (and perhaps also aid you in your redirecting process).
No lie: the About page is one of my very favorite pages on our website and has always been a favorite part of mine when it comes to creating a blog presentation in general. The About page is your opportunity to showcase the best and the brightest about yourself and give your readers a backstory to who you are and why you started/continue to blog. This is also the place you state your blog's description: mission, message, purpose and intentions.
Sometimes, we as bloggers choose to include time-sensitive information on this page, such as age, occupation or location of residence. These things can change rapidly and must be updated on a regular basis (even if it's just every 6-12 months). I've read numerous blogs when my experience pans out like this: I will find the blog from a particular post (say, from Pinterest) and the gal will be talking about how she is currently 27 and I'll enjoy the post so much that I hop over to her About Me page, discovering much to my disappointment that her bio is two years outdated because she claims she is 25 on her About Me page. She is also "recently married".
This can be slightly embarrassing and discouraging to your readers who expect an updated and current version of your story. What journey has Miss Blogger been on with her partner since the wedding? Do they have a dog? A baby? Who knows! In order to figure out this information, I'd most likely have to sift through many posts for many hours, and I want to know right away if our values align and our journeys mesh, in order to decide whether or not I want to save her blog for later. It's all about instant gratification in this 21st century!
Don't hate on us: we kept Emma's bio as 22 years old for two months after she was 23. ;)
CATEGORIES + TAGS
Categories and tags are a great way to organize the blog posts on your site. Categories are what they sound like: separate "boxes" that compartmentalize posts into "themes" or "topics". Some of our categories here on Fashionably Frank include Daily Living, DIY + Crafts and Food + Cooking. Tags, maybe to your surprise, are not keywords or "hashtags" that you tag your post with. Tags are a "subcategory", in a way.
Say, I'm blogging about a new succulent planter DIY. I would categorize the post as DIY + Crafts and tag it "succulents, gardening, green thumb" - something along those lines. Tags do not generate in search engines as metadata - they are simply a secondary form of categorization. I had no clue of this fact for years after I began blogging (and had well over 4,000 tags on my blog). Whoops.
I always assumed that tags were any subject or keyword that someone would attempt to search to find my post. Nope. That's what your MAIN keyword is for--the phrase you select for your hyperlink (this post's keyword is "keep your blog updated"), that you place multiple times throughout your post, title your media with and include in your meta description, among other SEO (Search Engine Optimization) steps. This is the phrase people will be searching (or the phrase you would think/hope they would be searching) in order to discover your post organically (meaning, not through a social media platform or other form of sharing--directly through a search engine such as Google).
We have chosen to opt out of tags completely, and that's totally your choice, too! I personally don't believe that tags would be any extra help to my readers. Perhaps if I wrote a whole ton on SEO and a whole ton on photography, I would want to separate those two topics within the "Social Media + Marketing" category because those issues are vastly different and I doubt the person searching for photography best practices would also be seeking out SEO best practices. Perhaps they would, but the likelihood of this is slim.
The only exception to this no tag rule is when we are tagging our post as part of a series within a category, such as "Everyday Reflections" and "A City on a Dime". These are series that we encourage people to follow exclusively (apart from the general category), therefore we need an easy way for them to track all of the posts within these series. At the bottom of each post within these series, we provide a link to the rest of the series posts - we are providing the direct link to the tag's feed. Man. How many more times can we say "series" and "post" in a paragraph!?
It's all about convenience and usability, and your choice to decide what works best for your site.
FACEBOOK GROUPS + PINTEREST GROUP BOARDS
Don't even get me going on these items! I'm going to summarize these items so you get the gist but are able to research more for yourself. Basically, Facebook Groups and Pinterest Group Boards are two services you can use to immensely grow your blog following - and what's more important to keeping your blog updated and current than ensuring it gets read and in front of the eyes of new people!?
By doing a quick Google search for your blog's niche and Facebook Groups or Pinterest Group Boards, you will find a plethora of them, including blog posts written by fellow bloggers with the best roundups for your niche topic. Go through these roundup posts and pick a few to join. My general rule is that I won't join any group with less than 3,000 members. You may be thinking that this would decrease your ability to be discovered, but in fact, it amplifies it. Because there are so many people engaging in these groups, you are more likely to get read, commented on, re-pinned, etc. If there were only 500 members, barely anyone would see your posts because there's more competition among the 500 of you. There's enough love to go around, and we must spread it widely!
Most often, Facebook Groups will be organized by an admin (or two, or three, or seven!) who controls the operations and the regulations of the group. They will most likely create theme days and tell you what you can promote on which days (your Facebook page, blog post, etc.). Pinterest Group Boards are different in the fact that they are simply boards that are shared by multiple individuals. Many of the boards have rules such as, "You must re-pin 1 of someone's content for every 1 pin you add to the board." I personally love finding new bloggers through these exchanges, so I don't mind the fair trade-off (and quite frankly think that's the way it should be in the first place). #CommunityOverCompetition, y'all!
SOCIAL MEDIA STATUS RECYCLING
If you wish to amp up your social media strategy, I highly suggest using a status recycling service such as MeetEdgar, or a scheduling service like Buffer. Hootsuite is a great free alternative, but will not recycle posts. If you're not already using Hootsuite, you might wanna get on that.
MeetEdgar is my favorite, but they just recently raised their prices and it may be out of budget for a lot of new bloggers not making profit. Their plans start at $79/month (or $49/month if paid annually), but believe me: the service is impeccable and so, so worth it if it's in your budget.
You import your statuses for Twitter, Facebook, etc. and set a schedule (broken up by categories, for example: Blog Posts, Quotes, Promotional). Then Edgar recycles your statuses, but ensures that it doesn't recycle a recent status too close to the original first post date. And BAM! You never have to worry about scheduling these statuses ever again.
Status recycling guarantees that your information gets in front of the eyes of new people and recycled statuses often get more engagement in comparison to when they were posted the first time. Think about it: the life of a tweet is so short, there's no way everyone who follows you saw it the first time. MeetEdgar solves that issue.
EMAIL POINT OF CONTACT
Just make sure you keep your email address updated in all forms found on the crucial pages of your site (like the "Contact" page)!
Not just "write", silly. Write consistently. Write with purpose. Write with intention. Write like you're never sick of writing (even when you might totally be)! Setting a consistent, dependable schedule is key in developing a tribe that loves you, nurtures you and supports you.
Write with the purpose of providing meaningful, helpful content--do not write with the purpose of venting aimlessly and telling people simply what you had for lunch. Nobody cares, and that's the shitty fact of competing in the current blogosphere. Back in the day, you were able to have a flourishing blog detailing what your children did that day and what you made for dinner.
I'm thinking of a particular fashion and lifestyle blogger that I've envied for years. I was around in her beginning and watched her flourish into the blogging mastermind she is today. What she did was something special. She turned average moments with her family (and her love for cooking, travel and fashion) into tangible profit and admiration. She sold her readers (including myself) on her relatability, not so much what she provided us in terms of how-to tutorials (until much later in present day when this information is demanded to remain relevant). She used no visible SEO techniques and could title her posts whatever the heck she wanted (I still envy her for this; her titles are so beautiful!).
It's the truth: you can't get "famous" as a blogger today the same way you could then. With digital marketing techniques on the rise, it's more important than ever to provide something of value--the latest "hack", "guide" and "cure-all". If you can't appeal to the masses with your clickbait mastery, you're out of the game. Don't let this discourage you. I wholeheartedly believe that every single person has something incredibly special (and meaningful!) to share with the world. This is your time to shine and you shouldn't miss out on your chance to grab it.
What items do you most often modify to keep your blog updated? Share in the comments!
BLOGGER: KATHRYN COFFMAN
Kathryn is the lead contributor + founder at FashionablyFrank.com. Obsessed with leading a life of balance, she started the blog in 2013. Since graduating from The Evergreen State College (Washington) in 2016, she is now a digital marketing specialist through her business, Fashionably Frank Marketing. She believes a cup of coffee is the answer to all of life's problems + that all women should strive to embrace a #girlboss mantra.