Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blogging the Write Way: Less is More

While this title actually applies to all manner of things on a blog, I am specifically here to talk about advertising. If you are reading this post, then you probably want to make some money off your blog - and if you work hard at it and are any good, I agree 1000% that you should make some money off it! But you are not going to get rich quick, no matter what, and loading your blog down with advertisements isn't going to help - in fact, it will kill you faster than you think!

Statistics show that most people will wait for a page to load if they believe it is something they are interested in or looking for, but most people will not wait on a page that takes more than 10 seconds to load - some studies suggest less than half this time! Some will still wait - more if the page contains something they are searching for (as opposed to simply being interested in) - but most will close the window and try another link. Worse yet, almost none of them will ever return!

First, remove all clutter and unnecessary widgets, objects, and images you spot right off the bat. Do readers really need to see your picture? Do they really need your bio? Get rid of everything that doesn't directly pertain to your subject matter or clearly add some functionality or value to the blog. Once you've done this initial work, find out how fast your page loads. We need to get that under four seconds.

Text loads quickly, but images, video, audio, and - especially - scripts take time. Some ways to cut this time are pretty obvious: scale pictures down through an image editing program (there are many available online for free, such as Picnik) or use smaller pics. If you know what you are doing, you should go in and specify the dimensions for your images (height and width), otherwise the browser has to discover these on its own, which adds to the load time.

Provide links to video and audio instead of embedding them in your post. Here, you run the risk of sending viewers away from your site, where they might not return. Worse yet, they might not be able to find their way back! I suggest using a TARGET attribute on all links, which forces them to open in a new window or tab (depending on the viewer's browser settings). Others will tell you not to do this, as many find it annoying. This is up to you and depends on your audience.

Scripts are often necessary for gathering statistical information. However, placement of scripts matters greatly; whenever possible, move all scripts to the very bottom of the page. They will still load and run normally, but the page will load faster.

If you are using a blogging platform like WordPress, remove or uninstall all plugins and add-ons you are not using. Be thorough here - don't leave something installed just because you might use it one day. Remove it and keep the file in case you want to reinstall it later.

Finally, we get to the meat of the sandwich:

If your blog is chockful of ads, get down to some serious work and research which ads are bringing you money and which are not. Remove those that are not. Check out those that show videos or large graphics first and remove all of those you can.

Of course, ads are an entire subject in and of themselves, but if you have ads that are literally just setting there, get rid of them! Most ads run by script and due to ad placement, you can't move them all to the bottom of the page, so if an ad is not generating revenue, GET RID OF IT! Having more ads does not mean you will make more money - actually, the opposite is true: viewers are turned-off by too many ads. Not only are they less likely to click on them, they are less likely to return to your blog at all!

While these are some basic, common-sense tips you've likely thought of on your own, it doesn't hurt to take a moment and check your blog. Over time, things get added, moved, and removed, and it's easy to forget the details. Bookmark this page and every few months, come back and run through the simple steps outlined above.

Optimize your blog for fast loading and watch your audience grow!

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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