Promote and Market Your Content: Get Interactive

October 14, 2014

Promote like a rock star.

Welcome to our series on promoting and marketing your own content. Every other week, we’ll debut a new post designed to help you push your blog content to a wider audience like a marketing rock star, and show you how to build a larger and more engaged community of readers along the way.

Running out of ideas what to write about on your blog? There's a source of content you may not have thought about: your own readers. Engaging your readers in the content creation process not only helps you develop fresh new posts for your blog, but they'll likely help you by promoting the posts through their own networks. Not only that, but when your audience is more invested in your blog, they're more likely to remain loyal readers.

We've already talked about guest authors and inviting your readers to submit guest posts is always a great idea. Perhaps they have an experience they'd like to share related to the topics you post about. They may have cooked a recipe you posted or followed your craft tips to create something for their home. Or perhaps they've visited the place you're writing about or used a product or service that you've reviewed (or even that you provide). If you see someone in your comments with a great story to share, why not invite them to write a post for your blog?

Maybe a full guest post requires more time from your readers than they're able to offer. You could instead invite them to submit photos or videos and combine these into one or more posts. Whether they're showing off something they created inspired by your blog or sharing the views at their favorite place to read it, audience-generated photos or videos can make a big impact.

Another option is to run a survey (don't forget to share the poll with your followers on social media). This gives you two posts - one announcing the survey and one talking about the results. Ask their opinions about a hot topic that's come up recently on the blog or invite their views on what you should write about next. If you're ambitious, you could even do a question of the month or the week and make it a regular feature. Be sure to check out our tips on how to add a survey or poll in a post.

Even if you don't directly solicit content from your readers, you may find that your interactions with them, through the comments or on social media, inspire new topics for you to write about. Perhaps a question comes up a lot and you'd like to put your answer where more people can see it. Maybe somebody presented a controversial opinion that you think deserves a full response. Whatever the inspiration, don't be afraid to pull a conversation up out of your comments and feature it in a blog post.

These are just a few suggestions for engaging your audience in the content creation process. Have you created posts through interaction with your readers? Share your experiences or tips in the comments!

Typepad 101: Responsive Instagram Widget for Responsive Designs

October 08, 2014

With more responsive designs being readied for release, we want to help you make the best use of your responsive design by pointing out widgets that help your sidebar content to be fluid as well. In this Typepad 101 article, we'll provide information on how to setup and add the Instagram widget Instansive.

Configure the Widget

Below is the general setup of the widget. The first option available to you is to choose whether you would like to pull in photos from your entire Instagram account, or if you would like to crowdsource Instagram images from a specific hashtag. Use a unique hashtag for certain photos in your account? Even better.

Responsive Instagram widget for your Responsive Design
Responsive Instagram widget for your Responsive Design

Additional options available for customizing the widget are:

  • Type of widget (select from: grid, seen above; slideshown; and columns)
  • number of columns and rows
  • fade in or out
  • preload the images to help with load time
  • show the caption from the shared image
  • remove photo padding so the images sit closer together in the widget

There are advanced options, which many won't need to use, but they allow you to choose a different widget setup depending on the size of the window/device in which the widget loads.

You can use the slider, positioned on the right side of the example, which allows you to adjust the widget size so that you can see what it will look like at different widths.

Get the Code

When you've configured the widget, you can click Preview to confirm it appears the way you would like it to display on your blog. If it's looking good, click the Get Code button and copy the code provided.

Responsive Instagram Widget
Copy the generated code

Add the Widget

With the code copied, log into your Typepad account and go to the Content screen at Design > Content. Click to add the Embed Your Own HTML module. You'll want to give it a name/label so you remember what it is when making future changes to the Content screen. Paste the code into the HTML portion of the configuration pop-up, then click OK and place the module where you would like to see it displayed before saving your changes.

If you would prefer the widget have a header above it, then you can use a Notes Typelist in place of the Embed Your Own HTML module.

When you're done, load your blog in your preferred browser, or on your mobile or tablet device, to see the widget in action.

Responsive Instagram widget
Instagram widget live on blog

Do you know of other services that have responsive-friendly widgets? Leave a comment to let us and others know!

Promote and Market Your Content: Guest Authors

October 01, 2014

Promote like a rock star.

Welcome to our series on promoting and marketing your own content. Every other week, we’ll debut a new post designed to help you push your blog content to a wider audience like a marketing rock star, and show you how to build a larger and more engaged community of readers along the way.

Previously in the series, we pointed out how to highlight previous posts on your blog which readers may have overlooked. Another great way to increase your readership and market your content is to ask another blogger to be a guest author on your blog. You can reach other fans of the invited author and potentially be asked to provide a guest post on one of your favorite blogs in the future!

Is there a blog you read regularly with really great posts that you would like to share with readers of your blog? Ask the blog's author if they would write a guest post for your blog. The blog doesn't even need to be on the same subject.

For instance, you write a cooking blog and one of your favorite blogs is about do-it-yourself projects. Ask the writer of the DIY blog if they'd be inspired to branch out and write on a subject related to your blog. Or even let them write about a DIY project that you think your readers will appreciate. You'll get great content from a blogger you already enjoy to share with your readers and you've started a dialogue with another blogger who can talk up your blog with their readers and can ask you to share a post on their blog. You can see a good example of a guest post on a Typepad blog at Pulp Sushi.

Guest posts are also great if you need to step away from posting for a bit but you still want to keep your blog fresh while you are on vacation. For an example of a guest post series, see Typepad blog Mary Makes Dinner.

Keep in mind you should be writing and publishing high quality, unique guest posts which are meant to reach a wider audience and not just for SEO purposes. Try to avoid linking unnecessarily back to your blog multiple times (once or maybe twice - remember less is more!) and you'll avoid potential penalties by search engines.

Do you like to read guest posts? Are you trading posts with your blogging friends? Share your own tips and links to your guest posts in the comments.

Promote and Market Your Content: Highlighting Hidden Gems

September 17, 2014


Welcome to our series on promoting and marketing your own content. Every other week, we’ll debut a new post designed to help you push your blog content to a wider audience like a marketing rock star, and show you how to build a larger and more engaged community of readers along the way.

As a blogger, there is no better feeling than seeing a post get a lot of attention. People are commenting, sharing the link with their friends on social media, and you're feeling the buzz of a successful post. But what about those posts that you put just as much care and work into that haven't quite taken off?

It can be frustrating to look through your old posts and see content that you worked so hard on that hasn't reached its potential. In our first post about marketing your content, we talked about leveraging social media to drive new readers to your blog. Today, we'll explore some ideas for showcasing the posts that aren't getting so much traffic so they get the attention they deserve.

Use Popular Posts to Direct Readers to Related Content

If you have a post that's doing particularly well, you might take that opportunity to link to other posts from there. A simple list of links can be very effective. Using the Unordered or Ordered List option in Compose, you can add a short list of related links of your choosing to the bottom of the post. It could look something like:

Creating the list yourself allows you to handpick the links you want to include and easily change those out later if you want to highlight different content. Positioning the links at the bottom of the post is a natural way for readers to locate related content, so they shouldn't find it intrusive.

For a more automated option, check out the Recommended links and posts feature. The feature's primary function is to link to content on other sites but it can be used to link to just your own content. Zemanta designates content on your own blog with a special icon for easy selection.

Another simple way to let users find more posts like the ones they like is to use the Categories feature. For instance, if you post a book review, you can categorize that with all of your other book reviews and they will all show together on an archive page for that category.

If you add the Category link option in Blogs > Design > Content: Post Footer, a reader will easily be able to click that post footer link to find more reviews.

Use Your Sidebar to Showcase Content

There are several options for directing readers to quality content via your sidebars.

A Link TypeList allows you to create a custom list of links of your choosing and easily add that to your sidebar. It can be edited and updated at any time, so you can easily switch out links and track how content is doing over time.

You can take this idea one step further and use the Sidebar Image module to add image links to your special posts. You can use an image that you included in the post itself, or get creative and make an image just for the sidebar link. Make sure to include a caption so people know where they're clicking to!

If you're a Beta user, the Spotlight Posts feature allows you to showcase posts from a specific category in your sidebar. We recommend creating a category just for posts you want to highlight and then use that category in Spotlight Posts to direct your readers to that content. These can be posts that are getting a lot of traffic but it can be used for any posts, including those that could use some extra attention.

More Tips

Do you have a favorite way to drive traffic to the hidden gems on your blog? Share those in the comments and stay tuned for more posts in our series about marketing your content.

Promoting and Marketing Your Content: Social Media

September 03, 2014


Welcome to our series on promoting and marketing your own content. Every other week, we’ll debut a new post designed to help you push your blog content to a wider audience like a marketing rock star, and show you how to build a larger and more engaged community of readers along the way.

Today marks the beginning of a new series, stepping away from common blogging mistakes and shifting your focus to learn how to better promote and market your content. Getting your blog started on the right foot is important, but continuing to present your blog to a wider audience can be more so. This series will cover ways in which to garner more attention for your content, with your content, and today we start with social media.

In series past, we’ve reminded you that sharing your content to social media is a great tool for establishing your blog and building a readership. So, too, is it important for maintaining, and continuing the growth of, your blog. In fact, it can be quite essential for helping promote older content, which is something we’ll be covering in a later post.

Some bloggers may feel that the initial, and easier, method of sharing their blog post to services like Twitter and Facebook is all they need do. It’s a great start, but who says it should stop there? You can grow your readership with a slow build, but why not do it better, faster, and controlled (in large part) by you?

How you use the services available to you is up to you, but we have a few tips for helping push your content further.

Go Beyond the Basics

Go beyond the initial sharing to the major social media services. Instead of simply allowing the post title and link be shared to Twitter and Facebook, use the options on the compose page to customize the message that gets sent out, using attention-grabbing phrases or hash tags for popular keywords.

Another step to go beyond the basics is to promote your content to major services instead of waiting to see if readers will do it for you. For example, why wait for them to share your post(s) to Pinterest? Take charge of sharing your content and start pinning them yourself.

Use that same mindset for your other favorite social media outlets.

Take the Extra Time to Curate

Be creative and smart by curating the shared content for your posts. Use an eye-catching image that will draw people in as they scroll through their social media accounts. Even better, use that same image to lead your post into the meat of its content. Combine that with a crafted excerpt, you have a better chance of grabbing the attention of the people who happen upon your shared content.


Taking the time to create a great (and relevant!) image, and to write a bold excerpt so passers-by become curious and click to see the rest of the content, is what pushes you from simple sharing to marketing. You move from content creator to marketing strategist for your blog's brand, increasing the range and chances of increased views for all content, not just the newest.

Cross Post

We're not one for limits, and placing limits on what you can and can't do for your blog doesn't make sense to us. Beef up your marketing strategies even further with cross posting. It may seem like heavy lifting at first, but the extra work can reap big rewards. The effort you put into pushing your content to one service can be exponentially increased by how you cross post your content to another service.

Using the first of our images above as an example, a suggestion of steps to further market our content could be:

  1. Create the image to grab attention and give readers an idea of what they'll find if they continue through to the rest of the content.
  2. Craft an excerpt that teases at the content. Don't be vague; be smart. You want to pique their interest even further, not hide what the real content is behind dubious phrasing. Sometimes that involves getting straight to the point, while others allow for a bit more fun.
    How I Got Lost and Beat Up Sasquatch
    (and other lies I tell myself)

    What started as any other random drive around town somehow became a perilous, and extremely bumpy, journey down a forgotten brick road of long ago. Many muttered curses, failed attempts to turn around, attacks from prehistoric bugs fended off, and other run-in's with "wildlife" later...? What's a girl to do but tell her story of heroism and strength.
  3. Share the post to Pinterest, using the image created, pinning it to a relevant board in your account with the most followers. Make sure to copy the URL of the pinned post for use in the next step.
  4. Provide ways for readers to reach and/or share the content even further. This could be an additional post to Twitter, with carefully crafted text, a hashtag, and a link to the post on Pinterest; or it could be a post to your fan page or timeline, using the photo, your excerpt, and a link to the post on your blog AND a link to the post on Pinterest.
    Read More!

    Pin to Read Later or Share with your Followers!

Cross posting between your blog and other services, then from one service to another, guarantees your content will be seen, and shared, by more people than if you were to do only the minimum. Make the effort to go the extra mile; it'll pay off.

More Tips

We have more great tips coming up in this series that will help you to market your blog, but we want to hear from you too! What methods do you use for continuing to promote your content beyond the bare essentials? We'd love to know what works best for you.

Typepad 101: Utilizing Categories

August 27, 2014

Assigning posts to categories can be a great way to organize content on your blog and to direct readers to older content in a subject of interest. Depending on the topic of your blog, you may want to organize your blog in many categories or just choose a few broad categories. Search engines will also index your posts by categories, so keep that in mind.

At Settings > Categories, you can add or edit the default categories.

Add Categories

When composing posts, you can add new categories on the fly too using the Add a new category... link in the right column of the Edit Post page.

Add a new category

See the Knowledge Base article on Categories for more information.

How else can you utilize categories? Read on for more tips.

Create a Featured category to spotlight posts. Posts with large photos are perfect to be highlighted using the Post Carousel. By creating a Featured category, you can make sure posts which include photos are highlighted in the carousel. The sidebar modules - Spotlight Posts and Sidebar Carousel - can also be used to highlight posts in a specific category instead of a text link.

Limit which posts display on the Front Page. By choosing to only display posts assigned to specific categories on the front page, you can essentially create multiple blogs with a single blog. For example, a blog is mostly about DIY projects with occasional personal posts which may not be of interest to visitors looking for DIY ideas. Create a personal category for your blog and link to the category index in the Navigation Bar or use the category feed with the Feeds Module to display the latest posts in the sidebar.

At Settings > Posts, you can opt to display only posts assigned to a specific category on the front page.

Limit Recent Posts

For more information, see the article on Posts Settings.

Identify when keywords should be used instead of categories. You don’t necessarily need to assign a post to several categories for search engine optimization. Instead of creating a category for every possible subject, use the Keywords feature to help search engines categorize your posts in search indexes. Think of categories as a way to organize your posts to help readers find related content and keywords as a way to help search engines better index your content. You can add a lot of keywords but use restraint with categories.

Add Keywords

For more information on Keywords and other SEO tips, see the SEO Overview article in the Knowledge Base.

Link to the category indexes on a Landing Page. When you opt to start your blog with a Landing Page, you can link to category indexes to allow readers to jump to specific areas of your site - i.e. News, Projects, Events - quickly.

You can find tips for creating a Landing Page in the Knowledge Base as well!

What ideas do you have for utilizing categories?

Avoiding Common Blogging Mistakes: Design and Structure

August 20, 2014


Welcome to our series on common blogging mistakes, and how to avoid them. In this series, we've featured posts designed to help you avoid mistakes that are common to both new and veteran bloggers, full of tips and tricks guaranteed to help you become an even more passionate, engaged blogger with a growing audience. If you missed a few, don't worry. You can catch up here!

This week, we're wrapping up our special series on avoiding common blogging mistakes with a conversation about design and structure. As a Typepad blogger, you have your choice of fantastic, professionally designed Themes right at your fingertips (Blogs > Design), and the option to create and customize your own themes with our Theme Builder and Advanced Templates options.

If you're a "ready to go right out of the box" person, you're in luck. Just visit the Design area of your blog, and click the Choose a theme button. We've even started offering gorgeous, high-impact Responsive themes that display beautifully on all devices, from tiny mobile phones all the way up to giant widescreen monitors. Check those out under Responsive!

Design loving (and adventurous) types with a more advanced skill-set can take advantage of our Theme Builder, Advanced Templates, and Custom CSS features. The Theme Builder (Pro Plus and above) and Advanced Templates (Pro Unlimited and above) can be located in Design > Choose a new theme, under the Customizable heading at the left. Custom CSS (Pro Unlimited and above) can be found at Design > Custom CSS. Go for it!

Wait, wait. Before you go for it, let's talk about a few of the mistakes many bloggers make in the course of designing a new blog or renovating a well loved one. These common blunders can be easily avoided, helping to ensure that you are presenting a well-designed, beautifully organized blog to the world. We'll tell you what they are and how to avoid them.

1. Poor color choices. Are you using color irresponsibly? Clashing colors, light text on a light background, and an over-abundance of different colors should all be avoided. Instead, stick to a few complementary colors that reflect your theme and personality, and make sure your text is easy to read and links are easily distinguishable to your readers. Need a little help? ColourLovers is a great resource for color palettes.

2. Cluttered, under-utilized sidebars. Take a look at your sidebars. Are they crammed with ads, widgets, and lists of links taking up every inch of space? Are things stacked willy-nilly with no rhyme or reason? If so, simplify, and get those widgets organized. Take an honest look at what you have displayed on your sidebars, and remove anything that isn't essential to the form or function of your blog. A cluttered sidebar can be distracting and confusing for your readers, instead of directing them to look at the specific items there. Need a little guidance on how to organize your sidebars? We have just the thing, right here.

3. Too much text on the front page. Posting frequently is a fantastic way to build your SEO and keep your readers interested, but displaying too many posts, or several long posts on the front page of your blog can lead to longer load times and infinite scrolling for your readers. Displaying fewer posts on your front page, and using the Split Extended Entry feature to display an excerpt while keeping the rest of your longer post under a "Continue reading" link are two easy ways to keep your blog tidy. You can even generate excerpts automatically! Here are a few more tips to help with load time, and make sure your content is quality.

4. Lack of visual impact. You may write the most interesting blog in the world, but without a little eye candy, reader interest is bound to wane after awhile. Including images, embedding relevant video, and adding interesting graphical elements to your posts make it easy to be eye-catching. Check out these tips on maintaining high quality images, embedding video, using the signature module, and adding a text overlay to your images for some visual appeal. Want to take your navigation and visual impact to the next level? Add the Post Carousel to your blog - you won't be sorry.

5. Missing vital elements. A great looking design, and well written and structured posts are what discerning readers look for in a favorite blog, but are you leaving out other vital elements that will help them utilize your blog effectively? Including a search option, Navigation Bar, and About Page are not to be missed, and adding things like subscription options, a welcome message, and social sharing options are highly encouraged too.

How are you using design and structure to make an impact with your blog? Tell us about it and leave a link to your blog in the comments!

PS: We hope you've enjoyed our special series on avoiding common blogging mistakes! We're getting our next special topic ready now, so watch this space for more great tips and tricks to help you become a better blogger!

Customizing the "Continue Reading" Link with CSS

August 13, 2014

Note: Today's tip uses the Custom CSS feature, which is available at the Pro Unlimited subscription level and above. Upgrading is easy - learn how here.

If you use the Split Extended Entry feature, you know that it's a great way to tease your readers with an excerpt of your post on the main and archived pages of the blog. The link that appears then easily guides the reader to the rest of the post content.

Here's how it looks:

Default link

Let's learn how to jazz that link up a bit. The class name for the link is entry-more-link, so that will be our starting point. To keep things simple, let's make the link a little larger in size and bold, like this:

.entry-more-link a { font-weight: bold;  font-size: 125%; }

Changing the font is as easy as:

.entry-more-link a { font-family: Courier, Arial, sans-serif; }

It's a good idea to stick to websafe fonts. You can learn about those at w3schools.

A color change for the link is easy, too! You can find a ton of colors to choose from here. Just replace the CC6600 in the example below with your own color code.

.entry-more-link a { color: #CC6600; }

If you want to get really fancy, you can replace the entire link with one image. This is great if you have a special font you want to use or if you want to draw attention to the link with a graphic.

First, create your image and save that to your computer in a websafe file format - GIF, PNG or JPG. The image shouldn't be too large. Our example is 160 pixels by 35 pixels - large enough to stand out but it doesn't dominate the post too much.

Then, go to Library > File Manager in Typepad and upload your image. After uploading the image, click on the filename in the listing. That will open the image so you can copy the URL from the browser's address bar.

Next, go to Blogs > Design > Custom CSS and add in this code:

.entry-more-link a {
display: block;
text-indent: -999px;
background: transparent url( left center no-repeat;
padding: 10px 0;

Be sure to update the code with the URL for your image in the area highlighted above. You may also need to adjust the padding to allow your full image to show. When you save and view the blog, you should see your image where the "continue reading" link was, like this:

Link with image

Looking good! And it wasn't too difficult, right?

We love to share little ways to make your blog special. What are some customizations you'd like us to cover? Let us know in the comments!

Avoiding Common Blogging Mistakes: Filler Content

August 06, 2014

Avoid Common Blogging Mistakes - Filler Content

Welcome to our series on common blogging mistakes, and how to avoid them. Every other week, we'll debut a new post designed to help you avoid mistakes that are common to both new and veteran bloggers, full of tips and tricks guaranteed to help you become an even more passionate, engaged blogger with a growing audience.

In light of the recent Google Panda algorithm sending some bloggers' statistics into decline, one of the more common issues that bloggers reported being penalized for was having what we refer to as a filler post.

A filler post is one that doesn't consist of much content: a lone image or file; or a short paragraph without substance. The rare filler post, served as a quick update to your readers, may be acceptable, but we highly encourage blog owners to consider how they can write a more complete post so as not to be penalized for something that's avoidable.

Ways to Kill the Cheap Fill

  • Can't keep up with your posting schedule?
    Decide whether you need to change it to make it less demanding (it is your blog after all). Post your best and you won't disappoint yourself or your readers, even if that means posting once a week or less.
  • In a creative funk?
    Make better use of when you're feeling your most creative by jotting down notes, taking photographs, mapping destinations, writing a bulleted list, creating pie charts—it's up to you! Once you have those items, you can use the momentum to create drafts of posts in your blog that you can then go back to develop at a later time. This can help rejuvenate you when you're in a slump, saves you time, and reduces stress.
  • Still don't feel like some of your post topics can stand on their own just yet?
    Shelve them and go back to them later! Or perhaps what you need to do is challenge yourself in some way related to the topic—consider all angles, try something different, approach it from another direction, or completely flip it on its head and do the unexpected. Work it until it solidifies. Don't chew it to death, but there should be meat enough to entice the reader to keep looking, keep reading, and to keep coming back for more.

When You Can't Avoid the Fill? Reinvent it.

Reinvent what a filler post means for your blog. Instead of publishing a post that's essentially a fluffy bit of nothing, change what filler content means for your blog, without the fear of search engine penalties. How you choose to reinvent it is up to you, as well as what your goals are for your blog. You can brainstorm and decide what's right for you, but here are a few ideas to get the wheels turning:

  • Invite guest bloggers to post on a specific topic.
    This can be something you'd like to cover as well, giving readers different views on the same topic, or it can be something you'd like to learn more about and think your readers would as well.
  • Write up a report on some event or thing.
    This doesn't have to be a book report like the ones that made your insides squirm back in your school days (unless you were a lovable nerd like some of the support staff who loved book report days). Take a step back and consider how your readers might be curious about some of the things you do, create, have, succeeded or failed at, and so on. You may not have thought it would be of interest to them, but we bet there are more than you think.
  • Start a discussion with your readers.
    Blogging doesn't have to be a one-way street—in fact, it really shouldn't be, unless that's what you prefer. Posting discussion points, and trying to engage your readers, is more than just slapping questions in a post. Take care to answer them yourself so that it's communicative and real content. An added bonus of building a community through discussion is that it can provide a place where an unexpected exchange of ideas happens, giving you more to write about at a later time.

Quantity Isn't Everything

An important factor to remember about blogging is that the amount of posts you publish each week, month, or ever, isn't everything; that should never be your real goal. Quality beats quantity every time, and why that is lies in one aspect of blogging that is often forgot: the general format of blog posts and blogging is setup to foster connections.

Readers want to establish a connection, to find something interesting in what you say and share—to find that common denominator so they can relate. Giving anything less than that to your blog, and to your readers, so that you can appear to have more real content than you do, can become exhausting—more to the point, disheartening.

To feel like the quality of your work means something, and to avoid having your blog penalized for filler, strive for the quality. Stop thinking about filling the gaps between published dates. You'll find that even some of your shorter posts become less fill and more substance.

Have thoughts about filler posts and how to avoid them? Leave a comment and let us know!

Avoiding Common Blogging Mistakes: Your Sidebars are Languishing

July 23, 2014

Be a Better Blogger
Welcome to our series on common blogging mistakes, and how to avoid them. Every other week, we'll debut a new post designed to help you avoid mistakes that are common to both new and veteran bloggers, full of tips and tricks guaranteed to help you become an even more passionate, engaged blogger with a growing audience.

Typepad offers easy ways to add all types of content to your blog's sidebars - images, links to other sites and pretty much anything else you might want to include. The downside is that it's easy to add content to the sidebar and then forget about it. This can lead to slow load times, broken outbound links, and a blog that appears unkempt.

When we perform a Blog Tune-up Service, one of the very first things we check is the health of the blog's sidebars. You can do this yourself easily and it can help reduce clutter on your blog while improving load time.

At Blogs > Design > Content, you can see each item that you have set for the blog's sidebars. First, look at the general number of modules you have in the sidebars. If it's a lot (maybe more than 10 in each sidebar), it's time to consider getting rid of non-essential items. Some widgets and banners are only relevant for a specific time, so those are easy to remove.

Then, starting at the top, go through each item that's not a built-in function, like ads and outside links, and check for:

Correct HTML tags: Simply open the module, copy the code and paste it into a validation service. If there are incorrect tags, replace the old code with the corrected code and save. It's important that HTML tags are formatted properly - it's not something you can approximate!

Functionality: If you have a banner or link to an outside site, click through it from your blog and make sure the site is still functional and the content is what you expect to see there. If you have a dedicated blogroll, it's a good idea to do this periodically so you know you're directing your own readers to sites you'd visit yourself.

Relevance: Each item in your sidebar should either aid readers in getting around your blog, learn more about you, or provide information that's in some way relevant to your blog. If you write about food and have links to different cookbooks or other chefs, that makes sense and adds value. If you have content that is not related to you or your content, consider removing it. Readers will likely ignore it anyway.

Finally, check to see that your sidebar items are in an order that puts important elements at the top. A good order is something like:

  1. A welcome blurb and photo of yourself
  2. Links to your major social media profiles
  3. Subscription options
  4. Search module
  5. List of categories
  6. Outside links and banners

This prioritizes information about you and navigational items so your readers can easily find more of the content they're interested in. A quick sidebar check up once a quarter will ensure that your blog remains in tip top shape.


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