Blogging: How to lose me as a reader

petpeeves.jpgThis post contains 11 of my pet peeves that guarantee a blogger will lose me as a reader, and it also invites my readers to  discuss their pet peeves.

(1)  Banner advertising

I come to blogs to read high quality blog content and I expect to find that content above the fold. If you have banner advertising you are compelling me to scroll down to find the actual content in your blog posts.

The message is that your advertisers and any income you gain from clicks on the banner is more important to you than readers are.

(2)  Too much advertising everywhere

An excessive amount of advertisements above your posts , between your post titles and the text in the post, at the end of the posts and in your sidebars increases page loading time, makes it difficult to find the actual content, and distracts me from away from reading the content found in your blog posts.

The message is that your advertisers and any income you gain from clicks on the advertising is more important to you than readers are.

(3)  Too many embeds, widgets and gadgets

An abundance of animated icons, embeds, widgets, gadgets and other useless “tat” like annoying auto-play music, chat boxes etc. on the front page and in the sidebar increases page loading time, makes it difficult to find the actual content, and distracts me from away from reading the content in your blog posts. If a blog that is not in the music blog niche has auto-play music that I do not have a choice of clicking on to hear or not – it’s the kiss of death.

The message is that you are not a serious blogger who has put their readers first. Your blog is your own personal playground and it’s perfectly equipped for you.
Why having a well designed blog is important
Widgets: less is more

(4)  Broken links, links to “bad neighbors”, links to unrelated sites

Nothing is more annoying than clicking on a “404” (not found) link. Although broken links checkers are available the message is that either the blogger isn’t aware of where to find a broken links checker or just doesn’t care enough about their readers’ experience to locate them and fix them or delete them.

If you have linked to “bad neighborhood” sites this tells me that you either don’t know how much about which sites to avoid linking to. Either the blogger is not aware that there is a bad neighborhood checker or doesn’t care that their blog is linked to drug peddling, prono, casino or link farm sites.

Links in your blogroll are made accessible for reader use. They signify the relationship between “related” blogs. If a blogroll contains many links to unrelated sites, then I question whether or not that blogger clearly understands what linking is all about.

Quality reciprocal link exchanges in and of themselves are not a bad thing, but most reciprocal link offers are of low quality. If too many of your links are of low quality it may make it harder for your site to rank for relevant queries, and some search engines may look at inbound link and outbound link ratios as well as link quality when determining how natural a site’s link profile is.
Understanding Backlinks
Understanding Reciprocal and Non-Reciprocal Links
SEO Basics for on Page Optimization
Getting the perfect link

(5)  Inappropriate use of anchor text “click here”

I will grind my teeth and try to find a way to teach you how to use anchor text properly and if you don’t respond then you will lose me as a reader.

(6)  No About page and/or blog description and/or contact information

Personal profiles are a cross-section of your life intended to will intrigue readers and make them want to find out more about you and your blog.

A blog description is a brief description highlighting through the use of keywords the main topics that you write about. Space permitting you may want to outline what you hope your readers will learn or gain from reading your blog. Search engines show up only 160 characters in the search results, so it would be better to keep your blog description under 160 chars.

Contact information is essential to readers who want to ask questions and share feedback that is not post-specific.

I find it hard to believe that a serious blogger who is attempting to promote their blog would fail to take the opportunity to provide basic information. A brief introductory biography, a blog description,  a statement that clarifies the purpose(s) for the blog are the means  readers use to determine what your level of expertise in your niche is, is and what to expect in your posts.  If you fail to provide this basic information you will lose  me as a reader.

(7)  Busy, loud or black backgrounds

I’m visually challenged. Dark backgrounds, busy photo or fabric like backgrounds with fonts that lack enough contrast to be easily read are not reader friendly cause your content to become difficult to find and to read. Loud neon colored fonts are likewise visually challenging.
Blog Design: Which colors do you use and why?
Blog Colors on Different Browsers and Monitors

(8)  Rant skillfully with style and integrity or not at all

A talented wordsmith can use language in effective ways to point out shortcomings and to put forward convincing alternatives.   Blogs filled with posts and comments that are not linked to authoritative sources and are focused on impugning the character of others such as politicians, business leaders and fellow bloggers by featuring rants filled with cursing, bathroom humor and/or sexual humor and/or sexual innuendo appeal to some readers – I am not among them.

(9) Bloggers who pretend they are journalists

Although an increasing number of journalists and media outlets do have blogs, most bloggers publishing on current events are not journalists. Bloggers who have no first hand knowledge of the events they blog about, and who make no attempt to research topics as fully as possible prior to writing and publishing, and who do not include authoritative links so their sources, and/or who do not employ valid reasoning, will lose me as a reader.
How to Become a Better Blogger 3: Ethics and Links

(10)  Too much “insider lingo” in posts and/or comments

The use of insider lingo or jargon assumes that I have been a reader of a particular blog in a particular niche forever and that I “get” all of your inside jargon and humor when I don’t. As you have failed to make your content and discussion welcoming and inclusive you will lose me as a reader.

(11)  Too many personal inclusions

Too many injections of personal information and family goings on posted into blogs that are not in the “personal” niche means you will lose me as a reader.

Related blog post: onecoolsite: tips from a reader

Question to readers:

Do you have pet peeves that you would like to add ?

78 thoughts on “Blogging: How to lose me as a reader

  1. HaHa! I get it. I have to go back over the links that are identified and fix them! Gosh I am smart! Thank you for this post. i would have been clueless to this if I hadn’t read your post.

    1. You’re right. Broken links don’t fix themselves. Maintaining them in a blog with hundreds of posts and thousands of links is not a small feat.

    2. You asked about posting PDF files on your blog in another comment that I cannot locate at present.

      See here for accepted file types http://en.support.wordpress.com/accepted-filetypes/

      The following processes are outlined particularly for users who wish to upload a document and add its download link to a blog post or page. http://en.support.wordpress.com/uploading-documents/

      If you want to embed the document itself into a post, then you will have to use a third party application like Scribd or Google Docs.
      See here:
      http://en.support.wordpress.com/scribd/
      http://en.support.wordpress.com/google-docs/

      1. Thank you very much. I read and understood that. I have 5 pages across the bottom of my header. One page is titled “free amigurumi patterns” This is what I did so people could click on the image and be taken to the pattern.
        I published the PDF file on an untitled page.
        Where are these untitled pages stored?
        I linked the image on free ami patterns to the PDF on the untitled page.
        It worked but I have no idea where it is stored and I can’t edit it because apparently PDFs can’t be edited. It did need a small edit so I repeated the whole process again. it worked but I have no idea what I am doing and although I sell patterns elsewhere, for fun and goodwill, i would like to offer more but I am not sure if the process is correct in the long term.
        Thanks and I at least have my many broken links corrected now.

        1. All media file including PDFs uploaded into the blog are on WordPress.com servers and are found in your Medial Library. PDF’s cannot be edited in within the blog.

  2. Thank you, timethief, for your reminder. I’ve just tidied up my sidebar and have added an Archieve page. I’m working on minor improvements each time with your tips. Many thanks. It’s wonderful to have someone like you on WordPress.

    1. Hi Janet,
      I’m so glad I was able to help you. I think a Page with the Archives short-code on it superior to using the Archives widget.

      P.S. The support forums are very busy these days and I’m spending far too much time there answering questions rather then on my blogs.

  3. I have tried to break my widget addiction and just focus on those that try to help the reader find the information they are looking for – I still add and take away trying to find a balance.

    My pet peeve is no white space. If I land on a post that is two solid paragraphs with no breaks and is so long I have to scroll I usually bounce.

  4. I’ve been blogging since 2004 and had never, til now, heard about broken-link checkers! I’m relieved to discover I don’t have any. (Did have a few days ago though – all my images broke, what a headache!)

    I also dislike dark backgrounds and a pet hate of mine is yellow font colours against a pale background or red against blue, etc. It’s too jarring.

    There’s a blog I read quite regularly that has, imo, too much advertising, but I’ve come to enjoy the posts of the blog author and so I just put up with it. However, I do tend to use the ‘page info’ in Firefox Tools to block the ads and embeds that I find the most annoying.

    Actually the thing that I find most annoying is something that is done in blogs all over the ‘net and that’s having the panel at the right and the content on the left. Why? Because stuff on the left is processed by the right hemisphere of the brain and stuff on the right is processed by the left hemisphere. So, for blogs that have imagery or imaginative stuff on the left and text or logical/rational stuff on the right – it’s being processed wrongly. (Plenty has been written about it and there’s plenty of info about it online).

    Val

    1. @Val
      Wow! I once had to fix broken links on 700 entries with images. It was misery.

      Our pert peeves are the same. What I do is subscribe so I get the entries on my feed reader. I also use Firefox with AdBlock Plus so I don’t see any advertising.

      … the panel at the right and the content on the left. Why?

      I’m on vacation right now and don’t have the links close at hand, but there are studies that demonstrate the vast and overwhelming majority of surfers read web pages in a an F shape.

      This theme allows me to switch the sidebar to the left hand side but I prefer not to.

      1. 700 broken images? Ouch!!

        I also read blogs in a feed reader, but not all bloggers allow the full post to show in the reader. (Come to that, I think my image heavy second blog is set to this as well, so I’m just as guilty of it.)
        Hadn’t heard of the ‘F shape’ reading.

        1. 700! Yikes! I inadvertently lied. I made a typo that should have been 70 (seventy) and it was tortuous enough. I have my feeds set on summary to thwart the content thieves who keep helping themselves to my posts. Some blogs I subscribe to have summaries and some are full posts. I can usually tell by skimming the first two paragraphs whether or not I’m interested enough to settle back and read the full post. If that’s the case then I click into the blog. :)

  5. I don’t have any pet peeves beyond those you’ve written about. Why anyone would use the busy/black backgrounds is beyond my comprehension. I can only assume they aren’t irksome to everyone, though this is difficult to imagine.

    I’m a newbie and appreciate your blogs. I’m currently trying to better understand categories. I’ve somehow managed to create a page when I meant for it to be a post. Once I figure out how to fix that, and understand how the categories are meant to function, I should be fine. I’ll keep reading and playing around with things, until I get it figured out.

    I mostly wanted to just say thank you, so … thank you.

    1. Hello there,
      There are actually many people who do have blogs with dark and/or busy backgrounds. The darkness of the background isn’t problematic if the font color is light enough but in many cases it’s a low contrast gray color. Busy and/or loud backgrounds simply distract readers away from reading the content. Thanks so much for the feedback on this post, and also for your kind words. I hope you find the articles in this blog to be useful.

      Pages and posts are different.
      http://en.support.wordpress.com/post-vs-page/
      Posts http://en.support.wordpress.com/posts/
      Pages http://en.support.wordpress.com/tag/pages/

  6. When it comes to categories and tags we are most certainly in agreement. You can have the best contents in the blogosphere, but if they can’t be found then who will ever know? Unless we learn and use basic SEO and use categories and tags, we cannot expect search engines to index our posts and make them available in the SERPS (search engine page results).

    You do not have to use the Digg button provided by wordpress.com. Any Digg image linked to the correct spot for submissions can be used. Here are the specs http://digg.com/tools/integrate. Perhaps making your own and seeing it it loads faster is the way to go. If it doesn’t you can always remove it and revert to the wordpress.com one.

    Another alternative is to use the getsocial live bookmarks or social bookmark builder or social bookmarks on wordpress.com. I have used them all and they do not slow down page loading time.

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