With just a few days left in 2012, there’s no better time to think about next year’s goals for your blog or website. Even if your site is just a hobby, there are steps you can take to make sure it’s the best it can be, and this is the perfect time to do that.
As a group, bloggers tend to create goals that are out of their control – getting a certain number of fans or followers, for instance, or achieving a certain level of traffic. While we all want to increase our numbers and stats, putting your success or failure in the hands of other people is rarely a good idea. How can we expect others to care as much about our sites as we do? We can’t. That’s why it’s so important to make improvements based on the things we can control. If we concentrate on making our sites awesome, the numbers will follow.
5 Ways to Improve Your Site in 2013
1. Determine your site’s purpose and unique selling proposition.
There are millions of blogs and websites out there. Why should people visit yours? If you’re not sure, it’s essential that you spend some time figuring it out. Your answer doesn’t have to be mind-blowing – you just need to be able to articulate what you offer and how it’s unique. On this site, for example, my goals are to (1) provide helpful information to bloggers and (2) gain clients for my design, consulting, and hosting business. Every blog post, page, and link is created with those goals in mind.
Even if you aren’t selling anything, you still need an idea of a purpose and intended audience for your site. On my personal blog, I write about money and single parenthood. My audience is generally other single parents who want to improve their finances and/or know they aren’t alone in their day-to-day struggles. Sometimes my posts are entertaining, which is what I want most of all; I like to think I might be able to put a smile on someone’s face as they think, I know exactly what that’s like! Knowing who I’m writing for and why I’m writing helps me work on #2….
2. Write great content.
You’ve probably seen this over and over, and that’s because it’s true. No matter what else you do with your site, the content you write is what brings people back (or makes them run away screaming!). If your posts are boring, full of grammar and spelling errors, or irrelevant to your audience, you’re going to have a hard time building your site into anything beyond an online diary that only your mother reads.
Being able to create awesome content goes back to knowing your audience and your site’s purpose. If you know what you’re writing and who you’re writing it for, it should be fairly easy to figure out what to write. No one can hit it out of the park every single time, but you should strive for posts that are well-written, interesting, and provide a different point of view – your own.
3. Make your site visually appealing.
You knew I was going to harp on this since I’m a web designer. But honestly, there are few things that turn off visitors faster than a site that is ugly, difficult to navigate, and/or cluttered.
Take a good look at your site. Does it appear professional? Is your content organized and easy to find? If not, make a plan to fix the issues ASAP. If you aren’t good at that stuff, consider hiring a web designer to help you. First impressions mean everything in an online world with unlimited choices – if your site sucks, readers will just get the information somewhere else.
4. Make sure your site is technically sound.
Is something displaying incorrectly on your homepage? Is your site buggy and full of errors? Got outdated themes and plugins? The end of the year is a great time to take care of it!
5. Get social.
Social media is a bigger part of our lives than ever, and that isn’t going away in 2013. Even if you aren’t willing to jump on Facebook or Twitter just yet, it’s important to communicate with other people who share your online interests. From reading other blogs/sites in your niche to joining online groups, there are tons of ways to get to know other people who are both interesting to you and interested in what you have to say.
It’s also essential that your website provide an easy way for visitors to share your content with their social networks. There’s a reason why every website you visit has icons at the end of each post – they’re encouraging readers to say, “Hey, friends on [insert social platform]! I read this article and enjoyed it, and I think you will, too!” Word of mouth is the best way to promote and grow anything on the internet, and you don’t want to miss out on those opportunities by excluding social from your repertoire.
Putting it All Together
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned the unrealistic goals we tend to form; the ones that give all the control to external factors. However, it would be dumb to assume that people don’t want higher traffic or larger stats – how else do we measure our progress?
By determining your website’s purpose, writing great content, making your site visually and technically appealing, and harnessing social media, you are ensuring the continued growth of your site. I have never known a blogger or website owner who did those things and didn’t experience growth. While you can’t focus solely on the numbers, you can rest assured that making these improvements to your site WILL result in greater things to come in 2013.
What are your goals for your website in 2013? How do you plan to reach them?