4 Things You Need to Know about Your Blog

1 Apr 2019

As much as many of us don't really want to have to know much about the techie bits of what makes our websites function, a few pieces of basic knowledge do cut down on frustration and anxiety. Today I want to highlight a few things about the architecture of blogs, and give those still using the old Wix blog a trick or two.

 

How can you know if you have the old or new blog?  When you're in the Wix editor, look to the left side stack of tools. If you have the old blog, you should see this green icon in your stack. If you have the new blog, your left side tool stack will show only the fountain pen icon, seen at left in black.

 

 

First of all, yes, please keep using the old version of the Wix blog if you have it. It is still performing better than the new blog which doesn't yet have all the great features of the old (although we're told those are coming).

 

And I recommend against activating the AMP function for the blog, which is supposed to be great for SEO, but instead is causing a lot of problems. And the average blogger -- which is pretty much all of my clients -- really doesn't need it.

 

 

1. Understanding Blog Architecture

 

Blog pages are different from regular website pages. They are organized on a principle similar to the Russian Nesting Dolls you see above.  In brief:

 

  • Main (top blog page) holds snippets, photos, and titles of most recent posts

  • Category pages hold snippets, photos, titles of specific broad topics

  • Tag pages hold snippets, photos, titles of narrower topics

  • Single post pages hold one post and has their own SEO

 

The Main Blog Page is the page that is included in your website menu. It should be titled simply BLOG or something else very clear and short in your url permalink and meta title*. In the old Wix blog, this page can be easily styled to have an attractive layout, a short list of keywords (also called a tag cloud), a short list of categories, a short group of recent and/or featured posts, and social share buttons.

 

*I know you are thinking -- what the heck are permalinks and meta titles. The url permalink is the internet address to a specific page on a website. When typed into a browser bar it will take you directly to that page instead of triggering a Google search.  The meta title is the top line link that is clickable in a list of search results. 

 

 

I caution against putting too much extraneous stuff on these main blog pages because the more you put on them, the longer it takes the page to load. Slow load times is frowned on by the search engines. And infinite lists of tags are overwhelming to readers who prefer to skim not more than about 6-8 items in a list. Plus it throws your page off balance when the tag cloud is longer than your blog posts, leaving huge white spaces on each single post page in desktop view.

 

The most professional recommendation is to have not more than 6-10 categories, and not more than about 10-15 keywords displayed, if at all. Featured and recent posts are mostly unnecessary on main blog pages, looks very outdated, and are of better use to you on other, more static pages of your website.

 

Category Pages make it easy for your readers to find information on focused topics. These pages can't be separately styled from the main blog page. They will look the same, but will show only the posts for a specific category. However, the url for category pages will be unique. See the difference in permalinks between my main blog page ( dewritesites.com/blog ) and 

dewritesites.com/blog/category/SEO. 

 

Unlike the main blog page, it is not possible to separately set meta tags for the category page. You can make some changes such as in text colors, buttons, fonts, etc. -- but watch out, because those changes are likely to also change on the main and tag pages too. These are called universal settings.

 

Tag Pages make sorting through your posts even easier, especially if you have just a few posts per tag -- although the fewer tags you have, the more posts there are likely to be for each one. See how the styling of the tag pages are the same as for the category and main pages here. The tag page also cannot have separate meta tags for the page itself, but don't worry -- each post displayed can be individually optimized.

 

Single Post Pages in the old Wix blog can be differently styled from the main blog page if you'd like.  You can change colors, fonts, and margins if you want, but don't go too crazy because consistency from page to page is important to the user experience (UX) of a website.  Google smiles on relatively consistent design. And readers appreciate it too.

 

 

2. Proper Use of Advanced SEO Feature in Old Blog

 

When you are installing the content and photo(s) for a new post in the old blog, and after adding tags and categories for that post, be sure to scroll down to find on the right side of the editor the button marked Advanced. This area has a few things you can input or change in order to increase the SEO-ability for each post.

 

Although I don't always bother, it's really best to remove the date from the url permalink at the top of the Advanced area. This makes for a cleaner post permalink. Unfortunately we can't remove the bits that say single post. 

 

If your post title is super long, and you know that most of your readers access your blog on their cell phone instead of a laptop, desktop or tablet, you can shorten the blog title at the bottom of the Advanced area. You can also decrease the title font size in the mobile editor.  It's a good idea to check how your blog looks on a cell phone every once in a while and make adjustments to improve readability.

 

Wix will automatically pull your first 40 words or so from the post to serve as the meta description for SEO.  But you can edit this in the Advanced area if it cuts off a whole sentence, or if you want to highlight something else.  You also have the option to install a longer excerpt, which some say helps with SEO.  I haven't found this to make much difference, so I rarely bother with that.

 

 

3. Do the Alt Tag & Click the Star 

 

If your post has at least one photo -- and it should -- it's best for SEO to do the alt tags for the photo. (Wix calls them alt text when referring to SEO for photos.) The space for doing that comes in a pop up tool bar when you click on the photo itself. This pop up can be a bit buggy -- try clicking in different locations on the photo, faster or slower, until the pop up stays open for you. Notice how you can change the position of the photo amidst your post content by using one of the 3 position icons in the pop up.

 

 Another thing to do is to click on the Featured Post star found just under the blue publish post button. Even if you aren't using the Featured Post element anywhere on your website, this is an important setting for a whole 'nother purpose -- that of sharing your post to your social media accounts and ensuring that the correct photos (which should be the first one added to the post, usually) is what is shared to the social media feed. Don't ask me why this is necessary, I have no clue. But have recently discovered that it does indeed make a difference. I'm chalking this up to internet magic.

 

 

4. Debugging and Other Facebook Needs

 

If you are running a business that using blogging as a primary marketing method -- and believe me, blogging beats going to networking breakfasts all day every day in my book -- then you aren't done with you blog chore for any post until you have shared your post with at least your Facebook business page.  But here are a couple more things to do to ensure that the post will look good or work well on those social media platforms.

 

Photo size is important.  Images work best when 1200 x 630 pixels. Photos smaller than 200 x 200 pixels will cause an error in Facebook's debugger and will likely look all blurry and crappy on other platforms.

 

No blog photo, no problem.  Facebook can and will use the generic photo you should have installed in your page settings. See my blog on page settings under my Wix Instruction category or Facebook and techie tips tags. 

 

Debug, scrape, and scrape again. If you are having a lot of problems getting your Wix blog posts to share correctly on Facebook, you can try using the debugging instructions Wix provides here. Even though the page says it is for the new blog, it's the same process for the old blog.

 

 

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