10 Things that shouldn’t be on your blog

10 things that shouldn't be on your blog from XOSarah.com

I’ve been running Fix-It Friday for eight months now and each month the blogs are looking better and better and my job gets harder and harder! You all are really stepping up your blog design game, but I’m still running across a few of the same issues. Double check that you’re not making any of these mistakes so I can swing by your blog next month and tell you how fantastic it is :)

Generic text

All that comes with plugins, email list boxes, or contact forms, take it out or personalize it.

45 tags / labels / categories

Readers aren’t going to wade through that many items and search engines don’t like it either. Pick your top five to 10 and feature those.

WordPress meta tags or the Blogger Navbar

Don’t care if you use them – your readers don’t, they look like a newbie mistake and they gotta go!

Blog awards and memes

Ain’t nothin’ but CLUTTER.

Super up-close photos of your (or anyone else’s) face

Always scary. (See also: wounds and bugs with more than six legs)

Huge paragraphs

Break it up, use some headings and make it easier for your readers to read.

A navigation with only one or two links

Those links look awkward and lonely, stick them in the sidebar instead.

A list of recent posts

Generally the same thing that’s 10px away on your homepage and a waste of space. Try popular or favorite posts instead.

Search bar at the top of the sidebar

Is that the first thing people are looking for when they visit your blog? Move it down and put a blog intro and photo at the top instead.

Centered text on posts

No. 1 things that is NOT ALLOWED. People! Centered text is difficult to read and looks like a newbie mistake. It’s not different or artistic or poetic, you’re just making it hard for your readers to get through your posts. Left align or justify your text. (Only OK for sidebars and one line photo captions.)

How to double your blog traffic in 90 days (or less!) from XOSarah.com


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  1. says

    I feel like number 10 needs to be etched into stone and given to every single blogger ever. So many bloggers still do this and it drives me nuts! Center justified text is such a struggle to read. Make it stop! Someone should make a Chrome plug-in that left-aligns any site with center-justified text.

  2. says

    Amen! So honestly put- and much more interesting than the “Top 10 things every blog should have” posts I have read.



    Now…off to change that list of categories… :)

  3. says

    I agree w/ most of these, although i don’t know what’s with everyone’s pet peeve against the Blogger navbar. Honestly I find it useful as a blog reader, especially when a blogger forgets to put a subscription link in their sidebar. Even aesthetically-speaking, this navbar has never stood out to me as obnoxious, annoying, or in the way at all with the flow of a site, so I really don’t get the sudden need the blogosphere seems to have lately to banish this navbar.

  4. says

    I actually like the “Recent Posts” in the sidebar. I often arrive at a blog via a post, and I like to look to the sidebar to see what was recently written, and I HATE having to go to the main page, and then scrolling through all the text to essentially look at the titles of the recent posts.

    • says

      I agree. I still haven’t figured out in WordPress how to do a nice expandable/collapsible list of posts by month/year and title like they do in Blogger. I use this ALL the time when I read blogs hosted on Blogger. If I’m new to your blog, or even if I just haven’t had time to read it in a week, I want to quickly skim your latest titles and see what jumps out at me.

  5. says

    The only one I fall victim to is the center text thing… I did not know this was so annoying for people! I do it on my blog but I don’t do it to be artistic or poetic, I just think it looks better lined up with my photos. I guess I have a thing for lines. But I’m not really taking into account how easy it is to read. I will definitely be taking this suggestion into consideration!

    Can I add one thing too? I hate blogs that have a bright background color behind the text… that makes it really hard for me to read! Also when the pattern(s) in the the background are too busy. I can’t focus.

  6. says

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m a new blogger and sometimes it is hard to know what I should or should not do. To date, I’ve done what my gut tells me to do. I find blog awards, a ton of sponsors, and a ton of sponosored posts so annoying. I like to read content and content only! :)

  7. says

    I’m very new to this blogging activity (just over a month). So I have lots to learn and lots of mistakes to correct. I appreciate blogs like yours that allow me to learn as I go and make improvements as I can. I’ll just keep trying. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge.

  8. says

    Number 10 made my day ahah! I hate it when people center their text. I find it makes the page looks messy!
    Fun post! Everyone should follow these guidelines! I think I’m guilty for one or two points though… Should check this out ahah

  9. says

    I should have gone to bed an hour ago but I can’t stop reading through all your design tutorials! I can’t wait to start putting your advice to work on my blog tomorrow. glad I found you through pinterest!

  10. says

    Great list. I need to work on my categories! I do find the list of recent posts useful when I visit some blogs though. Espeically blogs that only show one or two posts on the landing page.

    • says

      I agree. I shouldn’t have to search for the search bar; it should be in a visible place. Many themes even have it nicely hidden until the user needs to use it. So convenient! xD

  11. says

    I actually like the search box up top. I hate having to search for the search bar – it wastes my time hunting all over someone’s blog to find it!

  12. says

    oh – I had no idea centered text was annoying/difficult to read. I’m not sure I know what you mean by “A navigation with only one or two links”. I do all of the last three. Really helpful article. Thank you! I’ve got some changes to make! (and I’ve signed up for your newsletter) http://www.yorkshiretots.com

  13. says

    I agree with all but the search bar. I like the search bar at/near the top so I don’t have to search for it. I’ll often go to blogs to search for a specific post.
    I’d also add that light text on dark background is hard to read. Too much pattern is difficult to look at and having to search to figure out how to comment drives me nuts!

  14. says

    Good reminder, thanks! Sometimes I am tempted to dive in and include #2 and #4 when I see them on other blogs, so I was glad to get a slap on the hand for that ;-)

  15. says

    Oh-oh! I’m guilty of some of those things. Thank you for this list. I will take it to heart. I’m so glad I found your blog. I’m off to read some of your other posts now. Thanks a lot!

  16. ShesAlwaysWrite says

    I’ve been trying to evict the Blogger navbar from my header for ages! All the recommended ways to do it simply aren’t working (even my senior web developer husband couldn’t get rid of it). So frustrating, I hate people thinking I’m clueless enough to leave it.

    • sarah says

      Settings for the navbar are actually available under the layout page now. It’s generally at the top next to the favion option or sometimes gets stuck in the sidebar.

  17. says

    I see that my comment got deleted, but I was asking a legitimate question about #8 and your favorite post plugin? Re-reading it I see that you suggested not to do that, and just have a favorite post containing all of your favorites?

  18. says

    Agree with COMPLETELy: centered text. I hatehatehate when giveaway HTML is centered. Makes me want to die. Huge paragraphs — break that up with lists and images and headings! Ditch the clutter. It’s the worst when you look at something and it advertises a club but doesn’t even link to it.

    Disagree: Searchbar at the top of sidebar. This is EXACTLY where I want it. I hate when I look for it and it’s missing. One blog I frequently visit has it below the fold. No no no.

    Everything else I’m pretty neutral on. Customize everything, use a reasonable number of categories/tag (one or 2 cats per post, 3 – 5 tags).

    • sarah says

      My suggestions have nothing to blog design and everything to do with functionality and ease of use for readers. You can easily use my suggestions and keep your individuality.

  19. says

    Love these tips! I definitely need to work on # 2, 3, 7, & 9. Hopefully with some more classes on html and css coding, I’ll be able to work on moving my navigation bar from the top of my page to the sidebar! Thanks for these tips!!

  20. says

    Thank you so much! I am guilty! I write my blog everyday because I am passionate about my subject. Each time I read about how to increase traffic so I could possibly make a little cash on the side while doing something that I love, I am overwhelmed with the information and feel like an idiot. At least I can now make a few changes! :)

  21. says

    To be honest, I got distracted with blinking widgets on the blog, especially the mouse cursors. :) Through out the time, I prefer simple template like what you have now, and I’m trying to make mine as simple as it can be.

  22. says

    I think I did every single one of these when I first started blogging. Thankfully, I caught on quickly… Or at least I hope I did, lol.