Today you’ll learn about how you can check broken links on your website, why you should use bullet lists in your content, what breadcrumbs are, and more… All together 5 things that helps you make the best of your website content – and they all start with the letter B.
You do not want to send your visitors to a non-existing page. Not on your own website. Not on another website you’re linking to. It just comes across as unprofessional.
Your links are there for a reason, so make sure you give your visitors what they expect – to land on the correct page with the information you’re linking to.
There are a few good tools out there to make sure you’re not running a website with broken links:
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Plugins for your website system
- External tools
Let’s talk about each of your options:
Google Webmaster Tools – crawl error report
Keep track of your broken links via Google Webmaster Tools (under Health > Crawl Errors). Now, go to your own Google Webmaster Tools account and check if your site has any errors (I’ll be amazed if you have no errors listed).
Plugins and extensions – broken links checker plugin for WordPress
If you’re running WordPress, you can install the clever little Broken Link Checker plugin. It monitors your site and will automatically let you know in the dashboard of your WordPress admin when it detects a new broken link.
Other tools for checking broken links
If you want to scan your site for broken links right now, you can use any of these popular tools:
- W3C Link Checker
- Integrity website link checker (for Mac. One of my favorite tools)
- Xenu’s Link Sleuth (for Windows. The site might look ugly, but the tool is widely used and recommended)
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool (one of my favorite tools)
Checking your broken links is important when you do a content inventory of your website, which is a great start for creating your content strategy…but we’ll talk more about that when we get to the letters I and S in this series.
In the meantime, make sure you prepare your basics: in our previous blog post you can read about “Audit your content – what do you have and what do you need?”
The topic of blogging is huge! Your blog is the heart of your content marketing, especially for small businesses. Yes, it’s a lot of work…but it’s worth it, and not as difficult as you might think. A good blog post for both beginners and pros is “7 business decisions to make before you start a blog” by Nicholas Tart.
My general top 3 tips for blogging are:
- Own your content – your blog should be on your website, not somewhere else. Your blog is part of your business, so think of it as part of the family.
- Publish on a regular basis, whatever that means to you (daily, two days a week, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly)
- Do not publish a blog post just for the sake of blogging! Think Quality over quantity – if your content isn’t very useful for your readers, keep on working on it until it is. Then publish it.
When you’ve been blogging for a while, your focus usually turns to finding good blogging tools. My absolute favorite tools for blogging are WordPress as a publishing tool, and Scrivener as a writing tool…but you’ll read all about it in an upcoming blog post.
To get some new ideas, Social Media Examiner just published a curated list of 22 useful blogging tools.
More blogging for both beginners and pros
Later in this series you’ll learn how to make your blogging and content creation easier:
- plan with the help of an editorial calendar
- what to do about writers block
- guest blogging in two ways
- the different types of content
- how to get ideas for blog posts
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Love them or hate them – lists are a great way to help your readers quickly scan your content. We’re not talking about blog post topics like “Top 5 tips to blah blah blah…”. We’re talking about actual html coded lists, like the one below telling you about the difference between numbered lists and bulleted lists:
- Numbers indicate an order of importance (1, 2, 3, etc.)
- Bullets can be used for items that are listed in no particular order
You should only use bulleted or numbered lists to enhance your content. A blog post only made up of bullet points is really boring to read, so surround your lists with paragraphs of text.
Bullet points are not only good for your readers – it’s also very practical when you’re creating an outline of a new blog post. List the things you want to write about, and then convert them into headings and sentences. If you number them, you’ll quickly be able to see if you have a gap in your content flow.
Some ground rules:
- Keep your bullet points short and sweet, and use your surrounding text to elaborate on the points.
- Have a theme for each bullet list – don’t confuse the reader by mixing and matching unrelated points.
For more information about how to create great bullet lists, see these blog posts:
- Little Known Ways to Write Fascinating Bullet Points
- 8 Quick Tips for Writing Bullet Points People Actually Want to Read
- Five Ways That Strategic Bullet Points Make You a Stronger Blogger
- Best Practices for Bullet Points
Buffer – schedule your social media updates
You know when you find that awesome website that you want to share with your followers, or you just published your own great blog post and you want to spread the news about it…but:
- you’ve already posted a ton of stuff to your Twitter account today (and you’re starting to look like a spammer)
- your target market isn’t active at that very moment (so they probably won’t see your update)
- you’re going on holiday and want your Twitter account to post updates to your followers while you’re away
If any of the above rings a bell for you, then check out Buffer (referral link). It helps you schedule your updates on Twitter, Facebook (both pages and profiles), and LinkedIn. That way you can make sure your new blog post pops up in your target market’s streams at the perfect time of the day.
Now when you’ve heard of Buffer, I’m sure you’ll notice the specific sharing buttons on many different blogs. If you have a Buffer account, you can quickly add those blog posts by just clicking the sharing button (just like you do with Twitter and Facebook buttons).
You’ll get space for an extra post in your free Buffer account if you sign up for Buffer via this link.
There are many ways you can improve the looks of your content in Google’s search results. What we’re talking about is something called “Rich Snippet Markup“.
You will read about more about the different things you can do with rich snippets markup in our upcoming blog posts, but in the meantime you can test your own pages with the help of Google’s rich snippets testing tool.
What are breadcrumbs?
If you look at the screenshot above (from Google search results), you’ll see a breadcrumb trail for one of my blog posts. This gives Google searchers some extra useful information about what category the blog post is in. The main reason you would do this is to (hopefully) increase the amount of people clicking on the link to your page.
If you scroll up to the top of this blog post on my website, you’ll also see a breadcrumb path. This helps you navigate my website better (as an addition to the main menu navigation), and gives you a better context for the page that you’re on.
SEO isn’t only about what you see in the search results – it’s also about your website visitors. What’s the point of visitors coming to your website if all they do is getting frustrated and leave? Help your visitors, and they’ll thank you by staying longer on your site and visit more of your pages. If they like what they see, maybe they’ll sign up for your newsletter (hint) – and that’s one of your conversion goals, isn’t it?
How to you implement breadcrumbs?
In this video, Google explains what breadcrumbs are and how you can implement it on your site:
If you’re not a coder, don’t worry. For WordPress websites you can use Yoast’s SEO plugin and easily implement breadcrumbs for each post and page.
In upcoming blog posts you’ll learn how to get your profile picture to show up in the search results.
Did you find this blog post useful? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.
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