Brisbane SEO Blog — Community Consulting Summary

Our third Community Consultation finishes up today with an overview of the ProBlogger community’s feedback for Brisbane SEO Blog.

As always, the results have been illuminating. You might even be able to take away some tips and tricks for your own blog.

New to community consulting? You’ll want to read Darren’s launch post as well as Brisbane SEO Blog’s introduction to the community.

Here are the elements which proved most important to ProBlogger readers.

Lack of connection with the business

Brisbane SEO Blog is a business blog, and the primary aim of any business blog should be to raise the profile of the business and gain new clients. At the moment, the blog is not adequately connected to the main SiteMost website. If a visitor arrived via search results they would only be able to reach the main site via the About page.

I would firstly suggest making the SiteMost logo a link to the main site, as this is what visitors expect. I’d also make it clearer to new visitors that the blog is an offshoot of SiteMost — perhaps with a tagline or a paragraph at the top of the sidebar.

If it’s not clear which company is responsible for the blog (and how to learn more about it) even the most successful business blog won’t be able to reach its full potential as a promotional device.

Getting more subscribers

One of the owner’s main aims for the site is to convert more readers into subscribers. He’s taken the essential first step by offering both RSS and email subscriptions in a prominent location on the page.

The blog could attract more subscribers by adding a subscribe link to the bottom of posts, and by offering a freebie with every subscription (such as a short eBook or report). A number of readers suggested both these strategies would help to persuade them to subscribe.

Greater distinctions between posts

Some readers felt that the gap between posts was too narrow and this impacted on readability. The issue was worsened by a sub-header for related posts which matches the blog’s headlines for size.

This readability issue is easily fixed by adding some more space between each post and shrinking the related posts heading down to the text size used for the body of the posts. It’s essential that headlines be the biggest and most eye-catching text on the page.

Turning visitors into customers

A business blog presents an opportunity to convert visitors into potential clients. Without a Contact or Services page this task is made very difficult. A number of readers suggested refining the About page to emphasize the faces behind the business and their credentials.

I’d also suggest including a little information about the services offered by the company, with a link to a dedicated ‘Services’ page readers can visit for more detailed information.

Adding a Contact page to the navigation bar is essential. It’s simply impossible to get web-based business without it. As a local business it would probably be wise to include a phone number and PO Box in addition to an email address. I’d suggest promoting a ‘Services’ page in the navigation bar also.

Some readers also suggested an additional page explaining what SEO is and its benefits. I think this is a great idea. Most clients who hire SEO consultants (unsurprisingly) aren’t experts at it themselves. It can’t hurt to tell potential clients what you’re capable of.

Showcasing the best

Displaying a list of your best posts should really be a requirement for any blog. It shows new visitors straight away the best of what you have to offer. It also helps to draw them deeper into your blog (making it more likely that they’ll stick around or subscribe.) A number of readers really missed this feature on the blog.

Less is more

The content list on the main page is very long and took some time to load. Some readers requested less posts on the main page and others wanted to see only post excerpts displayed.

MyBlog Log and ads

Some readers felt that the MyBlog Log widget seemed unprofessional on a business blog. I’d also add that these widgets can sometimes be several hundred kilobytes all-together as the button images aren’t efficiently resized.

Other readers wondered why the blog was advertising third party services. It’s worth considering whether the reader attention would be better spent on SiteMost’s own services.

The good

It seems like the blog’s owner (Peter) is on to a good thing with his content as it received almost unanimously positive reviews. The visual design was also positively received overall, though some readers disagreed with the color choice and the lack of custom imagery. While color is always subjective and I don’t think you can please everyone, a unique logo wouldn’t go astray.

Another thing that I really liked to see was the relative lack of clutter on the blog. While I still think a few things could be subtracted (and a few more added) the blog is very simple and clean overall.

The prize!

As always I found myself with a shortlist of about five names who’d each written a really high quality review. You guys sure don’t make this easy ;-).

This week’s iPod Shuffle winner is ericabiz for her savvy review, though it was her partial rewriting of the blog’s About page which really impressed me and put her a step above the rest. Thanks Erica!

Make sure to stay tuned for blog number four.

Brisbane SEO Blog — a ProBlogger Community Blog Consulting Project

Problogger-ConsultingWelcome to our third Community Blog Consulting 2.0 project. A few minutes spent sharing your feedback on this week’s blog could see you win an iPod Shuffle!

If you’re new to the community consulting at ProBlogger, the launch post should explain everything you need to know.

This week we’ll be looking at Brisbane SEO Blog. It’s the business blog for SiteMost, an SEO company based in Brisbane, Australia.

Pete is the blog’s author and described the blog’s aims as follows:

Although the company is only fairly new, the team have been optimising websites for over 5 years. We actively participate in many SEO communities and forums and this has helped gain some exposure and reputation within the industry.

Our current goal with the blog is to try and attract more subscribers and as a byproduct of this, further enhance our reputation and authority within the search marketing industry.

A summary of the community feedback (with my own commentary) will be posted in 4 – 5 days, so make sure to get your comments in soon.

The iPod Shuffle prize will will be awarded to the commenter who leaves the most useful, interesting and respectful feedback for the blog’s author.

Brisbane SEO Blog screenshot.

The key questions you’ll want to consider are:

  • What do you like about this blog?
  • What could be improved?

You might want to focus your comment on these areas:

  • Design — usability, visual appeal, readability, navigation.
  • Content — how could it be made more valuable?
  • Promotion — how would you suggest the blogger promote the blog?
  • SEO — can you see areas for improvement?
  • Monetization — could this be done more effectively? Do you see any missed opportunities?

We’d love for comments to be as constructive, helpful and practical as possible. I’m sure Peter and the rest of the team at SiteMost can’t wait to hear your insights.

Hypebot — Community Consulting Summary

Heya — Skellie here.

Our second community consultation has drawn to a close – this time we consulted for Hypebot. We’ve had a terrific response from the ProBlogger community (as always) with plenty of insights shared.

Those new to the project will want to read the Community Consulting launch post. You can also revisit the post where Hypebot was introduced to the community.

What follows is an overview of some of the main aspects of the blog that were highlighted by ProBlogger readers.

Lack of whitespace

The ‘whitespace’ of any website is essentially its empty areas. Without whitespace to frame distinct elements it can make your blog seem jumbled and make it difficult for the eyes to isolate individual elements (for example, separating posts from the sidebar).

While a number of readers thought Bruce’s sidebar was too wide, I think the real issue is the lack of whitespace within the sidebar and separating the sidebar from the posts. The edge of each post runs almost to the edge of the sidebar with very little padding, making the overall effect a little tough on the eyes.

To help alleviate this problem, I’d suggest narrowing the width of the third column and using the freed up space to add whitespace around the post column.

I’d also suggest adding an extra line of space below each post, to help make each content item distinct from the next.

Dark on dark

Some readers also found the contents of the sidebar difficult to read because the background and text are both dark. I’d suggest going with a much lighter gray instead, or any light color which looks good with the design.

Hidden essentials

A number of readers urged Bruce to add an About and Contact page to his site. While I agree that a Contact page should be added, there is already an About page available. For so many readers to miss it indicates that it needs to be made more prominent.

The ‘About’ page is the place where visitors decide to become readers. For that reason, it needs to be incredibly easy to find. I’d suggest moving links to the About and Contact page (once added) to the top of the right-hand sidebar.

It also seems strange to use a different layout for the blog’s About page. It’s important to maintain consistent branding across all your pages, so I’d use the blog’s existing layout instead.


It’s difficult to find a blog without an inch of clutter, but decluttering is a worthy goal for all of us. Taking away the unimportant elements of our site allow more attention to be directed at what is important.

Bruce could remove the following unimportant elements in order to create a lean and usable sidebar:

  • Recent posts. Hypebot’s posts tend to be quite short so readers will find it quicker to scroll down than it is to interact with a list of titles. A recent posts list is only really useful on blogs with very long posts.
  • Links, privacy policy and blogroll. The links and blogroll could be moved to their own dedicated page. The privacy policy should be linked from the About page.
  • Recent comments. While I don’t mind the kind of recent comments display which gives a preview of each comment, the widget currently on the blog won’t be of much interest to new visitors. If you were a new visitor, what would you rather read? The content, or (insert person you’ve never heard of) commented on ( insert post you haven’t read yet)?
  • The tag cloud. If you’ll allow me to be a little opinionated, I think tag clouds are just one of those things designers started doing simply because they could! A simple list of categories is much more readable and usable, so I’d keep that and lose the cloud.
  • Kudos for Hypebot. The About page is where you convince potential readers to pay attention, so the CNN recommendation would be more effective displayed there.
  • Books clip-art. Clip art is good for Power Point presentations but doesn’t really make for good web design.


One common suggestion from readers was to increase the size of the links in the sidebar — something I strongly agree with. The font size should be equal to that used in each post.

To help distinguish links it might also be worth making them bold or underlined. Other readers also requested that the headlines on each post be left aligned rather than centered, for a more fluid reading experience.

News vs. Commentary: a common problem for bloggers!

Many readers congratulated Bruce on his writing style and content. I was also impressed with Bruce’s confident blogging voice.

One of the questions he asked was “Am I achieving the right balance of news vs. commentary?” I do have some concerns in this area (I suspect many bloggers do), and this is an issue I’ve personally struggled with in the past.

As a one person show, it’s incredibly difficult to break news. Unless you’re an industry insider, you’re essentially forced into a reactive role — reading about news elsewhere and posting it on your blog. The problem with this is that you’re probably going to be recycling news from other sites in your niche — sites that your target audience are most likely already reading!

The original source of the news will always get the links and mentions, making news aggregation a very difficult growth strategy to pursue. Without the ability to break news, I think commentary is a much more viable option. People will still go to other sites to watch the news break, but they will come back to read your unique take on it.

I think Darren’s approach is illustrative of how best to do this. While there are regular news posts at ProBlogger, they’re almost always accompanied by a reflection on what the developments mean, and its impacts.

People will still read the posts even if they’re already familiar with the news because they’re interested to hear what Darren has to say.

Bruce is an expert in his own niche and I have no doubt that readers would love to read his commentary. My suggestion to Bruce would be to focus on commentary more so than he is currently doing.

It’s impossible to compete with well-resourced and staffed music news sites when it comes to being the first with news, but they may never be able to offer the kind of insight Bruce is capable of.

The Prize!

Sheesh, you guys don’t make picking a favorite comment easy, do you? Fortunately we have a few more prizes to go around, thanks to Bruce’s generosity.

This week’s prize-pack winner is Anthony Lawrence. I was impressed both by his attention to detail and his respectful approach to the review process. He’ll soon be the new owner of an iPod Shuffle and 5 CDs courtesy of Bruce’s booking company, Skyline Music.

Our five runner-ups, Jen, CompuWorld, Michael Martine, coolthought and Sakura will also receive a CD of their choosing.

Stay tuned for the introduction of blog number three. — a ProBlogger Community Blog Consulting Project

This week a new blog awaits your feedback as part of the Community Blog Consulting 2.0 project.

If you’re new to the project, it’s recommended that you read the launch post. This week, there’ll be another chance to win an iPod Shuffle, in addition to some special bonus prizes.

In this post we’ll be looking at The blog’s owner, Bruce, says that its main goal is to cover how the internet and technology are changing the music business as a news source, guide and commentator.

Bruce has provided the key questions he is hoping to get some feedback on.

  • Without loosing my core music industry/tech audience (which in itself could be much larger) how do I increase my readership?
  • I’ve recently been approached by more than 1 of the established blog networks. Would a niche blog like this benefit from such an alliance or be hurt by a perceived lack of independence?
  • Since my current audience is specialized, but small, do you think I could/should sell ads? If so, how do I get an idea of what to charge?
  • Am I achieving the right balance of news vs. commentary?
  • I recently simplified the design and may have gone too far. How can the design be improved to encourage more time on the site?

I’ll now throw it over to the ProBlogger community to provide your advice, suggestions and constructive critique. The commenter who provides the most useful feedback for the blog will win an iPod shuffle from ProBlogger and 5 CDs from the artists at Bruce’s booking agency, Skyline Music — a prize that will be provided by Bruce.

5 runner-up commenters will also receive a CD of their choice from Bruce’s roster of artists.

A summary of the community feedback (with my own commentary) will be posted in 4 – 5 days, so make sure to get your comments in soon.

We’d love for comments to be as constructive, helpful and practical as possible, and will be taking all these factors into account when deciding on the winning commenter.

Fashion-Incubator: Community Consulting Summary

Hi all — Skellie here. Our first foray into Community Consulting 2.0 has wrapped up. With 65+ insights shared, it’s time to summarize the main recommendations given into an actionable plan for Kathleen’s blog, Fashion-Incubator.

If you’re new to the project, you might want to read the Community Consulting launch post and take a look at the post where Fashion-Incubator was opened for critique.

Every inch of the blog was pored over and evaluated, which has helped build a comprehensive body of tips and lessons we can all learn from.

In what follows, I’ll try to summarize the key recurring themes from the feedback Fashion-Incubator received.

Width issues

The most frequently mentioned aspect of the blog was its 4-column layout. At a 1024 x 768 resolution — the resolution most visitors would be using — the fourth column did not fully fit on the screen. Visitors can’t be expected to scroll around horizontally to view the full design of the site.

A common solution presented was to simplify the design down to three columns — something I strongly agree with.

A number of readers also felt the information on the page was too compacted. The space freed up by removing a column could be used to add more whitespace between the columns remaining. This would make the page more readable and inviting overall, and help to make the content stand out from the sidebars.

More simplicity needed

Many readers also felt the blog would benefit from greater simplicity. The sidebars are filled with links, ads and information which many readers felt could be done away with.

De-cluttering is an important practice because for every inessential item you subtract, you’re allowing a bigger chunk of reader attention to go towards what is important. My suggestions for de-cluttering the blog are:

  • Remove the calendar widget and archives in the sidebar. As many readers pointed out, visitors are much more likely to browse by title rather than date. A separate archives page with post titles would be more useful, and would help de-clutter.
  • Move links and resources to a separate page. There are a lot of good resources here, but many readers found that it was too much information presented at once, and the overall effect was distracting. I’d suggest moving these links and resources to their own dedicated page.
  • Remove recent entries. The blog is only showing short post excerpts on the page, meaning it is already much easier for readers to scroll down the page than it is to pick out titles from a chunk of text. Kathleen will be able to free up a lot of space by removing this element.
  • Simplify Amazon advertising. Many commenters found the number of Amazon ads overwhelming. Kathleen has highlighted that these are important resources for her readership, but I would suggest offering affiliate links to the books on a separate ‘essential resources’ page, linked prominently towards the top of the sidebar. I’d also suggest cutting down the number of Amazon books advertised on the main page. Focusing more attention on less ads will lead to more click-throughs overall.
  • Simplify other advertising. Some readers felt that the amount of advertising overall impacted on their engagement with the blog. One thing Kathleen might consider is to assess her advertising strategy and retain only the ads that are performing well.

A more vibrant design

Another commonly cited issue was that some readers felt the design was too plain. A frequent suggestion was to add a logo or header image to the site — something that will not only make the blog more visually interesting, but will also help with branding and differentiating the blog from its competitors. Another simple way to liven up the design would be to add more imagery and formatting to posts.

A group of readers also suggested that post headlines be made larger and permalinked. As headlines are doorways into your posts, it’s important to emphasize them over the rest of what’s on your page.

What is it?

Throughout the review process a common question readers had trouble answering was: what is Fashion-Incubator about? Short of reading the content, there is no information available on the main page to introduce the blog to new readers.

Visitors are unlikely to invest time in reading posts unless they feel there’s something in it for them. That’s where things like tag-lines become important. As a new visitor, I found it difficult to work out what the blog was about and who its target audience was.

Some readers felt the blog’s About page was not easy enough to find and could be made more helpful. Though including author information is worthwhile, most visitors to your About page are primarily interested in two questions: what is this blog about and what can it offer me? It’s essential that you answer these two questions before anything else.

Emphasizing the book

Kathleen is a published author and sells a book she’s written through the blog. The book essentially forms a handbook to accompany the posts and is considered by many of her regular visitors to be required reading.

For that reason, it’s essential that the book is given greater emphasis. I’d suggest moving it into the top-left corner of the screen (where the calendar widget currently is) and making the image clickable — taking you to a page with more information on what it is and what it offers.

Subscription options

A group of readers suggested that the RSS icon should be moved towards the top of the sidebar. This is something I agree with, though I suspect only a small portion of the blog’s target audience would be using RSS, as the blog is not at all tech/internet related.

Those interested in subscribing are likely to do so via email. For that reason, I think the email subscription form needs more clarity. It’s quite vague at the moment and could prove confusing to some visitors.

I’d title the form ‘Get new posts emailed to you’ and provide instructions to ‘type your email address here’. Being clear about what subscription involves will only help increase subscriber numbers.


While focusing on what could be improved is more useful for the blogger, I think it’s worth acknowledging some of the things readers were impressed with.

The response to the blog’s content and writing style was generally very positive. A number of commenters also highlighted the engaged and active community of loyal readers and commenters Kathleen has built.

Many other aspects of the blog were mentioned by individual and smaller groups of readers — too many to mention here. You can view the full break-down of feedback in the comments on Fashion-Incubator’s introductory post.

The prize!

The quality of the feedback was outstanding overall, making it hard to choose a winner. That being said, there is only one iPod Shuffle to give away!

This week’s prize winner is Cathy Moore. Her feedback spanned everything from design to content, it clearly outlined some key areas for improvement and it was delivered with a lot of respect. Congratulations!

What’s next for ProBlogger Community Consulting?

We’ll be kicking off our second review in a few days, following the success of this one. Another blog, another prize, and hopefully many more lessons to be learned!

Fashion-Incubator – a ProBlogger Community Blog Consulting Project

Problogger-ConsultingIt’s time for our first Community Blog Consulting 2.0 project. Darren previously explained what this is and it’s worth reading that post to get yourself up to speed. Your participation in the project could see you win an iPod shuffle!

This week we’ll be looking at Fashion-Incubator. The blog is maintained by author Kathleen, with the help of a few other writers. Kathleen sells copies of her book through the blog.

Update: Kathleen has requested a revision of the blog’s description. It’s a blog written for those who manufacture items made with a sewing machine. In her words: “Think operations and engineering, not Heidi Klum and Project Runway.”

I’ll now throw it over to the ProBlogger community to provide your advice, suggestions and constructive critique. The commenter who provides the most useful feedback for the blog will win an iPod shuffle.

A summary of the community feedback (with my own commentary) will be posted in 4 – 5 days, so make sure to get your comments in soon.

A screenshot of Fashion-Incubator.

The key questions you’ll want to consider are:

  • What do you like about this blog?
  • What could be improved?

You might want to focus your comment on these areas:

  • Design — usability, visual appeal, readability, navigation.
  • Content — got an idea for a great viral post the blogger could write?
  • Promotion — how would you suggest the blogger promote the blog?
  • SEO — can you see areas for improvement?
  • Monetization — could this be done more effectively? Do you see any missed opportunities?

We’d love for comments to be as constructive, helpful and practical as possible. I’m sure Kathleen (the blog’s owner) is eagerly awaiting your advice.

ProBlogger Community Consulting 2.0

Problogger-ConsultingWould you like your blog to be constructively critiqued by hundreds of ProBloggers (and aspiring ProBloggers)? Read on to find out how you could be the next recipient of a ProBlogger Community Consultation.

Last month I ran a little experiment here on ProBlogger – ProBlogger Community Blog Consulting. The idea was to see what would happen if together we helped a blogger improve their blog. The guinea pig first consultation was with a blog called Sourcebench which was the recipient of the ProBlogger community’s advice (84 reader comments plus my own summary of the comments and personal advice). Whether the advice was taken on board or fully implemented I’m not sure – but there were some immediate and significant benefits for the blog being reviewed.

  • For starters they got some great advice. The PB community is a wise bunch and there was some great advice and tips given.
  • Secondly they actually got a nice boost in traffic. Check out the spike on Alexa for an illustration of this (it’s a pity that they didn’t seem able to capitalize on it as it would have made a good little launching pad).
  • Thirdly I noticed a number of other blogs linking up to it in the days of the review.

The other benefit was for the wider ProBlogger community. I had numerous emails from readers thanking me for it as they learned a lot about how to improve their own blogs by watching the consulting going on.

At the time of this first consultation I said that we might do them more regularly. I had over 100 bloggers email me to ask if they could be the next blog reviewed.

Today I’m pleased to announce that in the month ahead we’re going to give it another go.

There will be 2 changes this time

1. Skellie has agreed to coordinate the project (she’ll select blogs, summarize the feedback and add some of her own thoughts). I’ll participate along with everyone else but Skellie will head it up.

2. There will be a charge for the blog which is the subject of the consultation (we’ll start this at $250 USD – paid up front). The reasons for this are numerous:

  • I want to be able to pay for Skellie’s time and I would like this project to pay for itself
  • it’ll help us to cut down the numbers of applications and help us to identify people who are serious about improving their blogs and who are willing to back it up (I know when I pay for something I tend to value it more).
  • it will enable us to offer the wider ProBlogger community an incentive to participate (there will be a prize for one person who gives advice).
  • it will be an interesting experiment into a new way of making money from blogs (and afterall, that’s what this blog is about).

So next week we’ll kick this off on Monday and announce the blog being consulted with. We’ll allow you all 4-5 days to get your advice and tips in and then late in the week Skellie will post the summary of the advice.

We’re looking for Blogs

Are you interested in being the subject for our next blog consultation? Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • A blogger who is serious about improving their blog
  • A blog with room to improve
  • A blogger who doesn’t mind getting constructive criticism. This will put your blog in the spotlight and you’ll hear both the positives and negatives of what people think about it
  • A blogger willing to hold off on making any changes on their blog for the week of the consultation (you can post, just not make big changes to your blog until the consultation is over)
  • A blogger willing to give us a little latitude while we experiment with this new project
  • A blogger willing to put $250 USD up to pay for the consultation

If you’re interested – please email me (darren AT problogger DOT net) with the subject line ‘CONSULTING’ as soon as possible. Please include the link to your blog.

PS: a little more on the fact that we’re charging for this.

I know that for some $250 will put this type of consulting out of your reach. However considering the large numbers of bloggers wanting to participate, my limited capacity to help everyone and my desire for this project to pay for itself I felt the need to charge. I don’t expect to become rich off this project – but do want it to be self sufficient.

Lastly – the price will probably vary from week to week as we see how things work (or don’t work). Depending upon the demand and how the experiment goes the price might come down – or it could go up. It’s a demand and supply thing and we’ll see where things end up.

update – a quick update. We’ve had 16 applications to participate already (after 7 hours). We’ll keep the application lines open though as we’ll be looking for blogs for future weeks.

Behind the Scenes of The Fake Steve Jobs Blog – [VIDEO]

I came across the following video this morning at InsideGoogle. It’s of a presentation that Dan Lyons (aka Fake Steve Jobs) gave at Google recently.

It actually goes for 51 minutes (but there’s not a lot visual about it so you can listen to it while doing something else) and is basically Dan telling the story of starting the Fake Steve Jobs blog, seeing it take off, struggling to monetize it, the eventual unmasking of him as it’s author (it was an anonymous blog for a long time) and what’s happened since.

I post it here because it’s a fascinating story, made me chuckle, touches on blog monetization and shows some of what can be achieved through a blog with a little luck, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. At it’s peak – his blog was doing 500,000 visitors a day – quite a story.

Sourcebench Community Blog Consulting Summary

Problogger-Consulting-SourcebenchThe first ever ProBlogger Community Consulting job has been wonderful to watch this last week.

A quick recap on the idea – together we know so much more about blogging than any of us do individually. So together this week we’ve been critiquing and work shopping one blog – this week it was Sourcebench. You can read more about the why and how of the idea here and see the first community blog consultation here.

So how do we sum it all up and pull together some take home advice for the blogger behind Sourcebench? Over 80 varied pieces of advice were left – so it’s impossible to come up with a definitive list of things that Sourcebench should do – but here are a few of the main themes from reader comments:

Header and Whitespace

Perhaps the most overwhelming piece of advice was the size of the header and the amount of white/empty space. Here’s how Sourcebench looks when I view it on my laptop (what appears above the fold).


My first questions when seeing the page was ‘what’s it about?’ and ‘where is the content’? While a clean and minimalistic design can work well – I think most who left comments felt that this design was too clean and too empty – to the point where content was hidden and readers were confused over what the site was about. Perhaps on a larger screen there is more able to be seen – but on smaller screens it probably needs some reworking.


Most readers responded well to the little cartoon icons. Similarly – the response to the name ‘sourcebench’ was positive.

What’s it About

A recurring theme in reader’s comments was that their first impression was that they didn’t know what the site was about. While the title tags of the blog do say ‘building a better web’ – I wonder whether something that is more specific would work better as a tagline – particularly if it was repeated on the actual page in key positions. People make a decision about whether they’ll continue to read a blog in the first couple of seconds – part of this is based upon whether they feel the topic of the page is something that they have an interest in.

Mixed Objectives

Numerous of readers left comments that they were not sure what the main objective of the site was. Is it about promoting the company behind the blog (to get new clients), is it to make revenue from advertising, is it about building the profile of it’s author, is it to generate a community….. While a site can have more than one objective – I think it’s important to have a primary objective (particularly in the early days of a blog) and then to centre the design around getting a conversion around this objective. So if it’s about advertising – put ads in a key position, if it’s about getting clients or raising the company’s profile – put something front and centre that sells this etc.


A number of readers pointed out that to comment on the blog it was required that people register and login. This will always decrease the participation rate on a blog. Also I noticed on the front page that there is no indication that there is the ability to leave comments – signaling to readers that they can participate. Lastly a few readers said that they wanted to see social networking tools – enabling readers to pass on the site or posts on it via bookmarking, emailing to friends etc.

Font Size

I wasn’t personally put off by the font size – but quite a few readers felt that it was at least 1 or 2 points too small. Perhaps this could be enlarged slightly. A number of others commented that they felt that the font style was difficult to read.

Tag Cloud

I’ll admit that I’m not really sold on Tag Clouds and rarely use them. To me they look messy and when I’ve tested them I’ve not found them to get much click action. However that’s just my prejudice. Others commented that the tag cloud didn’t work for them – some suggesting that the smallest fonts in it were too small to read.


We’ve already pointed out that the large header and welcome pushed the content way down the page under the fold – a problem. A number of others suggested that content/posts needed to be highlighted more prominently – perhaps using some sort of a ‘featured post’ system. I mentioned above that people make a decision whether to stay on a site in the first few seconds. This is partly decided upon by the topic – but then reinforced by the quality of information that they find there. You need to give people a reason to subscribe – and on a site like this that reason will almost always be that they found something useful and think you’ll produce more that will help them. As a result it’s important to find a way to highlight the most useful and helpful content possible.

Visual Elements

I didn’t see many mention this – but it strikes me that despite the little cartoon characters in the header/welcome that many of the posts had nothing about them that were particularly visual. I find that posts with a visual point of interest tend to get more attention than others. Also break up the posts more with headings, styling etc.

About Page

There is information about Sourcebench on (or linked to) from the front page – however a number of readers pointed out that there was no dedicated ‘about page’. Web users are wired to look for ‘about pages’ if they want more information about a site – so I’d suggest creating one that has dedicated information for those wanting to know more. Call it something like ‘About Sourcebench’ – the more obvious the better. Position it prominently.


If one of the objectives of this site is to generate revenue from advertising then it’ll be vital to find more prominent places to display it. Ads in footers can work – but there are much ‘hotter’ spots on blogs – particularly above the fold and also (but less so) at the end of blog posts (around comments).


A few readers felt that the footer didn’t really fit with the rest of the blog. I don’t mind it – but when you compare it to the wide empty spaces of the top half of the blog it is quite full. If you’re going to put so much information in a footer it’s important to think about how to draw people down into that area.

There’s a lot more that has been advised by readers during this community blog consultation – so I’ll leave you to read the full comments on the introduction to this week’s consultation.

What’s next with ProBlogger Community Blog Consulting?

This first experiment with Community Blog Consulting seemed to go quite well. My theory that our community is wise and can produce excellent advice was proved to be true in my mind and I hope it was beneficial to the blog being critiqued (in fact it seems it was because they have announced a redesign as a result of it).

As a result community blog consulting will continue in the weeks ahead. I’m chatting with someone to help coordinate it and hope to share more about it in the coming days. In the mean time – if you’d like to be the subject of a blog consultation feel free to leave a comment below. No promises that we can use everyone who offers – but we’ll select one of the comments below to be the blog that we look at next week.