We’re back with another Blog Critique from Momcomm and The SITS Girls!
Mel, Fran and I are dissecting a blog from top to bottom in three areas: design, navigation/functionality and content. The reason? To help the featured blogger meet her blog goals and become even MORE awesome.
The goal of a blog critique is to help all of us learn and grow. One suggestion for a particular blog may very well apply to multiple members of our community and get us all thinking about how we can improve what we do.
Remember to click through all of the blog critiques listed at the bottom of this post and see which tips you can apply to your own site.
Christina says that Mommy Loves Coffee is a parenting resource blog — a place to help parents feel like they’re not alone with personal stories and informational resources… along with honest, in depth reviews to help parents make informed decisions when it comes to their children.
Her main goal is to be engaging, informative and honest. She gets freelance work from her blog, so she considers it her online resume. But she struggles with keeping her content balanced.
Header and Menu
- Your color scheme is lovely and welcoming. Your header is great. It is clean and uncluttered and draws the reader’s attention right to the critical elements of the top of the page.
- The only minor comment I have is about your tagline where you have the phonetic spelling of coffee – this seems really long and when I read it, it confuses me: is the blog about coffee? The real thrust of your tagline is “keeping mommy awake for all that life throws her way”. I’m not sure you need the phonetic stuff at the beginning.
- Your navigation bar is crisp and to the point. Kudos for having links for an about page, a contact page, as well as a page for PR and Media. I love your Mommy Resources page – tons of helpful content there. But the Events and Fitness Tips are a bit sparse on content – do you really need them?
- Bonus points for having your social media icons right at the top of your sidebar. I love that they are placed there, where people can see them right away. As you move forward with your blogging, consider adding ones for Pinterest, Instagram or StumbleUpon if you use those services.
- Your sidebar organization is well thought-out and again, very uncluttered. Great job! I think that everything is where it should be with one small suggestion: your category options are really far down in the sidebar. There’s no other place on your home page where you can access your categories. Because you cover such a wide range of content, I’d like to see your categories displayed higher up on the page, with each being visibly listed as opposed to a drop down menu. This will allow your readers to quickly get to the content they want, and new readers to see what types of things you write about.
- Thank you for having a search bar and positioning it high up in the sidebar! Your welcome box with your photo is also perfect – it conveys you and the personality of your blog perfectly!
- As I said above, your color scheme is really nice and soothing to the eye. While I like that your post title color is completely in keeping with your color scheme, a slightly brighter or darker version of that same color would help your post titles pop out more and draw the reader’s eye to the title
- Since your blog’s content includes tutorials, it’s especially great that you have a LinkWithin widget at the bottom of each post. It’s some nice eye candy that will encourage users to click!
- While it’s GREAT that you have sharing buttons at the bottom of each post, they get lost being under your LinkWithin thumbnails. Plus your readers will rarely click “share” and search through all the ways to share. They look at what’s in front of them and if it’s not there, they probably won’t do it. Consider adding both StumbleUpon and Pinterest sharing buttons if you have accounts there (you should, since you do craft tutorials and those do well on Pinterest and SU!) Also, with the widget you’re using, your retweets don’t have your Twitter handle in them.
- You might also think about adding a retweet and FB “like” or “share” button at the top of your post. It seems duplicative (and counter-intuitive), but a lot of people tend to click on the share options at the top of a post versus the bottom.
- To start out, your navigation overall is really solid, so the points below are pretty minor!
- Your Mommy Resources page is a terrific addition to your site. Think about ways to market that page more, maybe tweet about it once or twice a month. Interlink to it over and over again in posts that call for it.
- I noticed that you don’t have a favicon. It would help extend your branding. Your designer can easily create one for you in no time at all.
- I really like that you’re putting your footer to good use. Reader comments aren’t always particularly fascinating, so they’re not worthy of sidebar placement, but they do show new visitors to your site that people are engaged. I like that you’re putting them in the footer.
- Putting your current giveaways down there in the footer is another way to drive traffic to those branded posts – good job.
- I agree with Gigi that your sidebar is well organized. But I think putting your DIY tutorials in the footer instead of the sidebar gives them short shrift. This is some of your best content and you’d get continued traffic to them if they were called out more visibly. See if you can find a place in the sidebar for them that makes sense without overcluttering.
- Your goal stated that you wanted to be informative and engaging on your blog. Hurray! You definitely strike the right tone to be meeting this goal. You have a great conversational tone with other moms.
- Your writing has a welcoming feel that also makes you come across as really educated about the topics you write about. I don’t feel like you’re shooting from the hip – you really know what you are talking about. This is such a valuable asset, because it will continue to foster trust with your readers.
- You also expressed concern about having the right balance with your content. You’re definitely heavy on the reviews. If you’re worried about balance, think about creating a more structured editorial calendar. Perhaps you do reviews on Mondays and Fridays, and use the in-between days for your other non-review content. This will allow you to set expectations with your readership as well as nudge you toward striking the right balance.
- You obviously put a HUGE amount of time into writing your product reviews – brands must love how thorough you are. I would consider making your reviews not QUITE so long. There’s so much information there that it’s difficult to digest – and it’s such great info, like this one you did for Stokke.
- If you must keep the product reviews that detailed, try playing around more with using <h1> and <h2> tags and bullets to break the content up into smaller chunks. Also consider vlogging a part of the review so it’s more interactive as opposed to a long swath of text. Sections where you talk about the design and aesthetic of a particular product would be a perfect use for a vlog. And, you can get your kids involved!
- Your DIY craft tutorials are fan-flipping-tastic. Again, I think you have so many terrific things to say that you may want to re-examine how you structure and organize these posts. For example, your post on Easy DIY Halloween Crafts for kids was AMAZING! BUT (I hate that word!) there were something like ten different crafts in there! Oh my goodness, I got a little intimidated.
- That post was a PERFECT candidate for a posting series. You could easily have broken each craft into its own DIY tutorial post and had a full week’s worth of content ready to go. And, with smart interlinking between the posts, you’d have a big SEO boost as well. The reader wins, because they see a steady stream of great content that’s easily digestible. You win because you can coast on that series of posts for days!
- I love your Coffee Chat series. It’s a great way to give back to your readers by linking up their comments to their blogs. Have you ever considered making this a weekly meme with linky? I think you would get great participation on this. You could share your perspective on the weekly Coffee Chat topic, then let your readers write their own posts on that same topic and join the linky. Because your subject matter changes every week, it gives people something new to write about. Pour Your Heart Out at Things I Can’t Say is a fantastically successful weekly meme that I think you could model your Coffee Chat after (and think of the Google juice and extra pageviews you’d get by having all of those people linking up to you!).
- I like how you use a related posts plugin and links within your post to other resources on similar topics. You did a good job of this on your post Weaning Tips for Breastfeeding Mothers. Keep it up! This will keep readers coming back for more.
- I believe your real strength in terms of content lies in your mommy tips and DIY posts. Since your posts cover a lot of different topic areas (reviews, tips, DIY, coffee talk), consider having a separate RSS feed for your review posts. That way, people who aren’t necessarily interested in reviews can still get all of your other great content! To set up a separate RSS feed for a different post category, you need to understand the basics of WordPress and feeds – but here’s some info to get you started.
- Overall, you are talking the talk and walking the walk. I think your biggest hurdle is post length – and that’s something that can be easily remedied with the tips I’ve shared here!
So, did you learn anything from this blog critique? Let us know in the comments below.
And be sure to head over to visit Christina from Mommy Loves Coffee and leave her some comment love. Check out her site, see if you agree with our assessments, and maybe even leave one of your own!
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