January 2019 Genealogy Blog Party: Tune Up Your Blog

Elizabeth O’Neal, who hosts My Descendant’s Ancestors,  came up with an interesting topic for the January 2019 Genealogy Blog Party – Tune Up Your Blog! This is definitely a step away from the usual family history-related themes.

I have to admit this is a double-edged sword for me and I decided to approach it partly from a tech viewpoint (and my tech vision is decidedly limited) and partly from sharing updates, revisions and additions I’ve made to my blog.

First, the fun stuff – I spent hours at the end of 2018 deleting, revising and updating static pages on my blog. Those are the white letter tabs in the black band under the empty branch image at the top of the page.

I condensed some categories and deleted a number of pages to make the choices easier to navigate. These tabs are the links to my Resource Toolbox and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to try them out.

All of my categories have useful info and some great tips in them, but some have way more details in them than others.

Ancestor Brick Walls has been condensed way down and now features my Ten Most Wanted. Check out my ancestors and if any of them are also yours, PLEASE contact me.

Blogs – If you are looking for some new blogs to follow, browse my list. It is up to date – if my feedly list shows no new post for the past 3 months, I delete the blog from my follow list. Therefore, most of the blogs here have recently published content.

GeneaGems – This list has live links to each and every GeneaGem about which I’ve written. No need to scroll through the categories on the side of my home page.

Non-U.S. Links Links to Canadian, Chinese and European free resources for genealogy research

U.S. Links – General and U.S. State Links – Links to many mostly free resources for U.S. research. The state links are a work in progress. All 50 states will be completed by the end of 2019.

That covers the tune up part of my blog that readers are able to see.

Now for the tough part – Elizabeth gave lots of suggestions for tools to tune up the back end of our blogs so that readers have a more user-friendly experience.

I will be the first to admit that I’ve taken the easy way out on this!

Many of her suggestions are excellent, but they are beyond what I’m capable of fixing, as I know nothing about customization and coding of blogs. A few of the other tools required account creations and I didn’t want to get on any more mailing lists, so I skipped those.

Here is what I did understand:

1. Although Google tools are considered “must haves,” a couple of years ago, one of those tools told me it couldn’t verify me as the site owner and I never did figure out how to fix that. It had previously recognized me. Since I don’t run a business on my blog, I’ve never worried about it. I again got the unverified message and it said something about inserting code. The word code raises the hair on the back of my neck and I run. End of that story.

2. I tried out the Varvy SEO tool, which lets you know how easily a website is being found and how accessible it is for users. Most of the findings were green – good to go.

HELP! It did say that not all images have ALT TEXT (I haven’t a clue what that means and I’m not sure that’s even important) and it also said that on mobile devices, the font was small. (I would adjust that if I had any idea how to do it. If it means adding code, it isn’t going to happen.)

On the positive side, it says my blog loads fast, the website is secure and page links work. I do use a broken link checker and repair bad links whenever they pop up.

3. Jetpack, another tool suggestion, is something I have installed on my blog. It allows me to monitor web traffic, tells me how many visitors I’ve had and other such details.

That’s about the length of my attention span for the tech end of my blog. As long as it’s working, I’m happy. 🙂


3 thoughts on “January 2019 Genealogy Blog Party: Tune Up Your Blog”

  1. Food for thought I have not used any of these tools for analysis, other than confirming (through Blogger’s built-in tool) that my blog looks OK on mobile screens. Like you, I’m pruning my blog reading list, dropping anyone who hasn’t posted in 6 months. Still considering what other tune-up steps to take. So many ancestors, so little time, and I hate to spend a lot of time on behind-the-scenes stuff.

  2. I’m working on my “tune-up” right now, as well! It’s proving to be A LOT of work, but it sounds like your edits went ok.

    ALT text tells your readers what your image is when they can’t see it–if their browser just doesn’t load the image, or if they’re using a screen reader, having ALT text would allow them to understand the full story. Plus, ALT text will tag in search engines, which improves your SEO! It’s always difficult to decide on the text for genealogy photos–for me, at least! (I’m a technology teacher, and it’s really been helpful for this month’s blog party.)

  3. I often do little tune-ups when I link to an older post. Checking through it to see if spelling errors etc. got past me in the early days. I haven’t used the broken link checker in a while – thanks for the reminder, Linda.

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