With the new year upon us, it’s a great time for bloggers to think about what lies ahead. And given that my day job involves giving this advice to people, I thought I’d share my personal top 5 recommendations for your very own 2021 blogging resolutions.
Do you have an SSL certificate? If not, get one now! Google’s has been listing what they deem as good quality design and habits for sites – and security is one of them. SSL certificates are sort of a digital lock. They contain unique information that says it belongs to your site with other information about you – and then provides an encryption key. Long story short, it keeps data secure and improves your search engine rankings.
If you’re on a free platform like Blogger, they have a build in function to turn it on. Squarespace and wordpress.com include it with theirs. But for those of you who bought your own domain and are self hosted, you can get free or low cost SSL certificates through your hosting platform. Shoot them an email, or look through the add-ons to your account. Most will set them up for you!
And as I know MANY bloggers have worked hard to get those SEO slugs and keywords in place, and worked on speeding up their site – having an SSL cert is a major step to boost your ranking.
(And: for those of you who monetize with ads, it’ll improve your revenue. Most providers offer two tiers of ads – one for secure traffic, one that’s insecure. Guess which one gets higher CPMs.)
This is just for those of you who are monetizing your site through ads. Is your ads.txt file up to date? Starting 3 years ago, all online advertisers have been requiring an ads.txt file (it’s a plain text file that gets uploaded into your root director with a listing of who your authorized advertisers are)
If it isn’t, you are missing out on money. So make it a habit to check to see if all your providers (whether it’s AdSense or a bigger Ad Network), to check in monthly to see if anything changed.
Note: If you’re on the network I’m on, and use their WordPress plugin – if you check the box to let them manage your ads.txt file, it’ll always be up to date. (And if you want to check out the network I’m on – well, feel free to sign up here: https://apply.shemedia.com. I don’t get a bonus if you do. SHE Media is always looking for quality sites of any size with a primarily female audience)
If you’re worried about uploading files to your root directory, and you’re on WordPress, just use an ads.txt managing plugin. It’ll create a virtual file with whatever you put in the space.
But this isn’t a new change – but it’s an important one!
Have you put thought into your mobile layout? Most blog templates are responsive these days, but if you haven’t updated your site’s layout in a few years, you might be getting punished by search engines by not having a responsive template. And you’re probably missing out on ad revenue too. Responsive templates will display a mobile friendly version for people visiting you on well, a mobile device. Instead of trying to shrink your desktop design to fit a phone.
And Google has maintained that it’s a MUST for good SEO.
Your Blog As an Archive
Have you been focusing more on social? Instagram, TikTok, even Twitter? Remember that your website can serve as a place to backup those great posts and photos – since you never know what lies ahead. Remember how quickly Vine disappeared? So take your popular posts on Instagram, and repurpose that into a blog post! Or take that long thread of yours, and turn it into a blog post! Blogs are a great source of passive revenue through advertising (passive meaning you don’t have to chase down those opportunities, once you set the ads, the money comes back to you) – but it only works if you keep updating it! (Since search engines prioritize blogs that update regularly – it helps get fresh eyes on your content.
Even if you’re focusing on creating content for Instagram, YouTube or even TikTok – think about how you can take that content there, and adapt it for the page.
If you’re trying to get hired for more editorial writing, turn your Twitter threads into something you can use as your portfolio. Use that work as an outline or template for your blog!
Do you know if your site is accessible? I’m sure you spent a lot of time and money getting your layout just so. But is it something that can be accessed by someone using a screen reader? There are a lot of mark-up tools on a website that lets things be read clearly. And if you aren’t utilizing them, you might be losing part of your audience.
There are ADA compliance plugins for those on WordPress, which can give options to adjust font size, make your layout friendlier for people with color blindness, etc. And they can call out images that you didn’t include alt-text on.
(Over on social media, you should make it a habit to always use alt-text when it’s available. And to see if you can close caption your videos before uploading – that way no audience gets left behind)
Like what you read? Help support my work! I have links to my PayPal, Ko-Fi, and I have a Patreon where I’m going to be sharing site tips and trends like this through the year. And as a Patron, if you have questions, you can ask them on those posts, and I’ll do my best to guide you to the right answer.
I’ll be taking each one of these “Resolutions” and going in-depth, but it’ll be Patreon-only content!