You might think you’re on top of your blogging. You’re publishing posts regularly. You’re even active on social media.
But are you paying as much attention to your blog as you should be?
If you’re in a bit of a blogging rut (i.e. you’re producing and promoting new content but not much else) then you might be neglecting some other crucial aspects of your blog.
Here are seven warning signs your blog isn’t getting the attention it needs. And seven ways to turn things around.
When your blog is new, it’s normal to only get the occasional comment. But a sudden drop-off in comments (and other responses such as tweets, emails, “likes” on Facebook when you link to a new post, etc.) could be a warning sign.
A lack of comments (or responses in general) usually means your readers aren’t as engaged as they could be. And the problem can be self-perpetuating. If readers see there aren’t any comments on any of your recent posts, they may be reluctant to make the first comment.
Having no comments or engagement on your Facebook page can also be off-putting to new readers. It certainly doesn’t make your blog look like it’s thriving.
In the short term, you could encourage more people to comment by specifically inviting them to at the end of posts. You could even ask a few blogging friends to stop by and leave a comment.
However, a lack of engagement usually means you need to look at your overall strategy. Are you writing posts that are genuinely useful to your readers? If not, what could you write that would truly resonate with them?
When did you last send anything to your email list? Many bloggers fail to send out emails, or have long gaps between emailing. (Assuming they started an email list in the first place.) Perhaps you’re waiting to promote a product you’re finishing off. Or maybe you’ve just been busy, and posting on your blog itself was all you could manage.
If you don’t have an email list at all then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with your readers and make more money from your blogging. Email tends to convert well into sales – usually much better than social media or search engine traffic.
If you do have a list, but don’t send out emails regularly, your list will go “cold”. People will forget who you are and why they signed up to hear from you. And if the first email they get after weeks or months is a sales email, they may well unsubscribe or even mark the email as spam.
Get into the habit of sending something useful to your email list regularly. Some good options are:
Schedule sending out a regular email (at least monthly) just as you’d schedule writing your blog posts.
Is your search engine traffic slowly declining month by month? Or has there been a sudden drop in traffic for no clear reason?
If you’re not sure how much search engine traffic you’re getting, the best way to find out is by using Google Analytics. It’s great for tracking all sorts of data about the visitors coming to your site and how they’re using it.
If you don’t know your search engine traffic at all, you might need to pay closer attention to your blog’s stats. While there’s no need to obsess over them, it’s well worth checking them regularly to stay on top of any problems.
With a healthy blog you’d normally expect a steady growth in total search engine traffic as you publish more posts each month (which creates more opportunities for readers to find your blog via search engines) and as your site gathers more backlinks.
If your traffic has been slowly dropping off, it could be because you haven’t published many posts recently. Or maybe your blog has a lot of competition, and your competitors are now outranking you for some key search terms. It might help to look for your best-performing posts and see whether you can make them even better.
If your traffic has dropped sharply, there could be a technical issue with your site. Or your blog may have been penalised by Google. You can find out what’s happened by using the Google Search Console.
If your blog is hosted on WordPress.com, the WordPress team will handle all the updates for you.
But if your blog is hosted on a site such as Bluehost or Hostgator then you need to ensure you’re keeping your version of WordPress and all your plugins up to date. (Some web hosts will update WordPress for you automatically, but you still need to keep an eye on things.)
If you can’t remember when you last updated anything, or know it was several months ago, that’s a problem. You can see how many updates are needed by looking at the red number next to “Updates” in the sidebar of your WordPress dashboard.
Outdated WordPress installations, themes, and plugins can pose a serious security risk to your blog. If there’s a security flaw in an old version of a plugin (or WordPress itself) and you don’t update it, your blog might get hacked.
Even without the security issues, you should always be running up-to-date versions of WordPress and your plugins so your blog functions at its best. Old plugins might not be fully compatible with newer WordPress installations, and so you need to keep them up to date to avoid issues with your blog.
It’s always good to take a backup of your blog before updating WordPress or any plugins, just in case something goes wrong. (You can do this with a variety of different plugins.) To check for available updates and apply them, go to the Updates page in your WordPress dashboard.
Do you just sit down and write whatever comes into your mind? Many bloggers do. They don’t have an editorial plan or a content calendar that allows them to plan for content that takes the reader on a journey.
This can be fine for some types of blogger. For instance, if your blog is essentially a personal diary it might work well for you. But for bloggers who want to make money or build a profile in their niche, not having a plan or calendar can really hold them back.
If you don’t plan ahead for the “big picture” of where your blog’s going, chances are it won’t really go anywhere. You might write posts week after week without really getting any traction.
You’ll probably run into other issues as well. What happens if you can’t think of a good idea one week? Do you write something that’s sub-par, or skip that week altogether? Neither is an ideal solution.
Creating a simple content calendar doesn’t need to take long. You can simply grab a notebook and jot down ideas for the next month of blog posts. Alternatively, you could use a spreadsheet or a plugin such as Editorial Calendar.
Think about how you can take your readers on a journey from where they are to where they want to be with your content. What questions could you answer? What obstacles could you help them overcome?
Along with a gradual slowdown in traffic, some bloggers see a gradual slowdown in sales. Perhaps one of your products sold well a year or two ago, but since then sales have gradually dwindled to nothing. Or maybe the affiliate sales that gave you a nice extra income stream have dropped off, and now you don’t have much money coming in from your blog at all.
Obviously, if your goal is to make money from your blog then declining sales isn’t a good sign. Even if the slow down is gradual, a downward trend is a warning that something needs to change.
For busy bloggers, a drop in sales might not be immediately obvious. It may take months for you to realise you’re no longer selling as many ebooks as usual, or that a particular affiliate payout seems to have stopped. Just as you should keep an eye on your blog’s traffic, you should also keep a close eye on your income.
Sales can drop for all sorts of reasons, and it’s worth trying to figure out what’s happened. For instance:
Have you had any emails or messages from readers recently alerting you to problems with your site?
Perhaps your contact form wasn’t working properly, or they couldn’t find the information they needed on your About page (which you hadn’t updated in years). Maybe something displayed strangely on their phone, or they couldn’t sign up to your newsletter. They may have even found a lot of broken links on your “recommended tools” page.
For every reader who contacts you about a problem, there were probably others who couldn’t find or do what they wanted and left your site, possibly forever.
Readers can be put off when they see obvious issues with your site (e.g. something isn’t displaying correctly, the information on your About page is out of date and your social media links don’t work properly). If your site looks neglected, they’re less likely to trust your content.
As well as promptly addressing anything readers contact you about, it’s also worth regularly checking key pages and features of your site to ensure they’re working as you’d expect.
Every three to six months:
It can be hard finding time to regularly write great content for your blog and maintain it. But if you only focus on writing posts and neglect everything else, you’ll struggle to see the success you want.
What items on my list are you struggling with right now? Tell us how you’ll be fixing them in the comments.