Do You Crave More People To Engage With On Your Blog? Check These Settings Now.

How easily can all visitors engage with you on your blog?

Is it as easy as you think it is?

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Did you know that you could be preventing some visitors to your blog from leaving you comments?

After receiving an e-mail from Jean, who blogs at, who had seen one of my posts at the Senior Salon Pitstop weekly linky party hosted by Esme and Julie, I was somewhat concerned when she mentioned that it wasn’t easy for her to engage with me on my blog.

Jean explained that she didn’t want to leave her e-mail address, create a WordPress account or use social media to be able to leave me comments. I understand why she didn’t want to leave any of those details. After all, our information is private and shouldn’t be given out if we don’t want to give it out.

WordPress offers ‘Discussions‘ options where users can decide how easily readers can engage with them without leaving any personal details. I thought I already had this option switched off, so nobody needed to leave any personal details, and I was right, but it didn’t explain why Jean thought she had to leave her personal details if she wanted to comment on my posts.

Upon further checking my discussion settings, I saw where the confusion was coming from and want to highlight it so those who wish to engage with me without personal details can still leave comments knowing they do not need to give any personal information.

Let’s Look At The Discussion Settings On WordPress.

  • Ensure you’re viewing your blog’s dashboard in the Default view. To do this, click on the View button in the top right of the screen when viewing your blog’s dashboard.
  • Go to Settings – Discussion.
Screenshot highlighting the discussion setting on the dashboard of a WordPress blog
Make sure you’re viewing your blog’s dashboard in the Default view.
  • On the Discussions Settings page, look for the Comments box.
Image highlighting the Comments settings on the Discussion Settings page of a WordPress blog.
Look for the comments settings box.

As you will see from the above screenshot, I have turned off both the ‘Comment author must fill out name and e-mail‘ and ‘Users must be registered and logged in to comment‘ options. So why wasn’t Jean able to leave me a comment?

It seems that, for whatever reason, in their wisdom, WordPress has decided to still show visitors a login box when these options have been switched off. This is what Jean and visitors who are not logged in see.

Screenshot highlighting the login box when wanting to leave a comment on a WordPress blog.
The log in box tricks visitors into believing they have to leave personal details to be able to leave comments.

And this is what WordPress say –

Comment author must fill out name and e-mail: When this setting is on, anyone leaving a comment will be forced to leave a name and a valid e-mail address. If the setting is off, visitors can leave anonymous comments. While your commenters do not have to fill in the e-mail field if you’ve turned this setting off, it will still be visible to them when they comment.

So I understand why Jean thought I wasn’t making it easy for her to engage with me.

If you only want readers to engage with you who must leave their name and email address, ensure you have this option switched on.

If you only want comments from readers who are logged in and registered, ensure you have the ‘Users must be registered and logged in to comment‘ setting switched on.

If you want comments from both, ensure both settings are switched on.

However, if, like me, you’re happy to allow anyone to leave you a comment, then switch both of these settings off.

Don’t forget to click the ‘Save‘ button in the Comments settings box if you make any changes.

Are There Any Disadvantages To Switching These Discussion Settings Off?

The main disadvantage is that it could open the gates for spammers and trolls to leave you comments. However, the Akismet antispam software on WordPress catches and places the majority of spam into your blog’s spam folder, so you’ll never see it unless you check what’s in it.

Further down on the Discussion Settings page, there is more help to filter out spam and troll comments.

  • Look for the ‘Before A Comment Appears‘ box, and you’ll see these two options.
  1. Comment must be manually approved: If this setting is on, all comments will go into moderation, and they will need to be approved by you before appearing on your blog.
  2. Comment author must have a previously approved comment: If this option is on, any visitors that have had a comment approved on your blog in the past will get a free pass through approval and only comments from new visitors will go into moderation.

As you will see from the following screenshot, my blog is set for manually approving all comments before they appear on any of my posts.

Screenshot highlighting the 'Comments moderation' settings on WordPress
Decide which level of protection you want to stop the comments of spammers and trolls from appearing on your blog posts.

This helps me stop unprofessional, rude, nasty comments from appearing on any of my posts, even if they’re from somebody who has previously left a friendly comment.

My thanks to Jean for contacting me about discussion settings on blogs. And apologies for the confusion WordPress causes in insisting a login box shows when visitors do not need to leave any personal details when wanting to engage or leave a comment.

If you see a login box or are asked to leave your name and email address when leaving a comment, try leaving a comment without filling in personal details or logging in. If the blogger you’re engaging with has switched off the ‘Comment author must fill out name and e-mail‘ and ‘Users must be registered and logged in to comment.‘ options, your comment will go through.

If either or one of those options is switched on, you’ll need to follow the instructions to be able to leave a comment.

Let’s wrap it up.

  • Check the discussion settings on your blog to see if you’re preventing visitors from leaving comments.
  • Decide whether you want only certain visitors to be able to leave comments or if you’re happy for all visitors to leave comments.
  • The majority of spam comments will go straight to your spam folder. Remember to empty your spam folder regularly.
  • To stop comments from trolls appearing on your blog posts, switch on the ‘Comment must be manually approved‘ setting.
  • Consider whether comments from those who have previously left you a friendly comment do not need to be manually approved by you.

If you have questions about the discussion settings on your WordPress blog, leave them in the comments section.

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5 Powerful Blogging Tools That Will Get Your Blog Noticed

Getting readers to engage with you by leaving comments on your blog posts is something many bloggers crave.

And when those comments clearly show that your post has been read, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

However, once you get visitors reading your posts and leaving comments, you need to do all you can to ensure they keep coming back.

Writing good quality posts that make your readers want to engage with you and each other is one way to keep your readers returning, but you also need to ensure they can easily find your other similarly themed posts, which are often buried deep in your blog archives.

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Need more readers and followers? These 5 blogging tools will help

Here are five blogging tools that work for me. Not only do they give my readers a way of finding more similarly-themed content, but these tools have also helped bring me many new readers and followers.

1. The Search Bar

The other day, I was writing a new blog post and wanted to include links to some posts I had read on other blogs.

However, try as I might, I couldn’t find one of the posts I wanted to link to. Even worse, there was no search bar on the blog concerned.

It wasn’t long before I gave up looking for that blog post. I didn’t have the time to find it.

You can make it easy for readers to find what they are looking for by including a search bar on your blog.

Does your blog have a search bar? If not, WordPress has a ‘search’ widget. Click here to find out how to install one.

Once you’ve installed a search bar, open up one of your blog posts and check you are happy with its position. Ensure it’s visible and easy for visitors to find. The search bar on my blog is the first widget on my widget bar to the right of all my blog posts.

Remember, too, that you can use the search bar when looking for your own posts. You can save yourself a lot of time by doing this instead of scrolling through all your blog posts on your blog’s dashboard.

2. The Menu Bar

Navigation is of prime importance on any blog. Make it difficult for visitors to navigate or find more content, and they’ll probably give up and never return.

That’s why it’s essential to have a menu bar on your blog.

A menu bar allows your readers to check out what is on your blog and helps direct them to other parts of your blog they’d like to explore.

Many bloggers can be frightened by including a menu bar on their blog or adding items. However, it’s an easy and straightforward process.

Click here for details on how to set up a custom menu bar on your WordPress blog.

However, don’t overload the menu bar on your blog, as it can look overwhelming. And ensure you keep it updated and check that everything works on it.

3. The ‘Contact Me Page

Just imagine another blogger, a magazine editor, or somebody from your local radio station wanting to contact you to invite you to write an article or appear on a show. How exciting would that be? But they can’t find a way of reaching you privately!

Not everyone wants to leave a comment when they want to invite you to write a guest post, be interviewed, or ask you to appear on a show. If you don’t have a ‘contact me’ page, and nobody can find a way of contacting you privately, then they’ll probably move on and give that opportunity to somebody else.

On the menu bar of my blog, you’ll see a ‘Contact Hugh’ button. That’s how people can contact me privately.

I get lots of people contacting me every week. As a result, I’ve written guest articles, appeared on radio shows and recorded podcasts, all of which have allowed me to promote myself and my blog. In return, I’ve got hundreds of new readers and followers to my blog.

Make sure you’re contactable. Click here to find out how to set up a ‘contact me’ page.

4. The ‘About Me’ Page

Ever since my early days of blogging, I’ve been told and know that many new visitors to a blog will want to find out a little about the blogger behind the blog before deciding whether to follow or not.

When I visit a new blog, I first look for an ‘about me’ page to find out more about the blogger.

If the blogger doesn’t have an ‘about me’ page or it’s difficult to find, I’m more likely to move on than check out the rest of their blog.

If you do have an ‘about me’ page, ensure you allow new visitors to introduce themselves by allowing them to leave a comment on it. And, don’t forget, a friendly reply is more likely to keep that visitor returning to read your posts.

Click here for details on setting up an ‘About Me’ page and what to include.

5. The Gravatar

The image that appears next to all comments is known as a Gravatar. A gravatar is created for you as soon as you leave your first review or comment on the internet.

How many times have you clicked on the gravatar image of somebody who has left an excellent comment on a post and not been able to find their blog details? Frustrating, isn’t it, especially when you think it may be a blog you’d like to follow.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes many bloggers make, as soon as their gravatar is created, is they forget about it. Many don’t realise they can add an image and leave links to their blog and social media accounts on their gravatar.

If a reader then clicks on your gravatar, they’ll see the links to your blog and social media accounts and be able to visit them. That means more visitors to your blog and social media accounts which could result in more followers.

Click here to find out how to add links to your blog and social media accounts to your gravatar.

Let’s wrap it up

  • Many blogging tools can help readers notice your blog and keep them returning.
  • Make sure you have a Search Bar on your blog to help visitors find other content.
  • Ensure your blog includes a menu bar, but don’t overload it with too many items.
  • Ensure the links on your blog’s menu bar all work. Check for broken links at least once a month and fix any that have become broken.
  • Ensure your blog has a page where readers and visitors can contact you privately. Not everyone will want to leave a comment inviting you to write a guest post or to appear on a radio show or podcast.
  • Many new visitors want to know a little about the person behind the blog before deciding whether to follow or not. Tell visitors a little about yourself on an ‘about me’ page.
  • Ensure your Gravatar has links to your blog and social media accounts.

This is an updated version of a post originally published on Hugh’s Views And News in September 2018

What powerful blogging tools do you use on your blog, and why do you use them? Share them with us by leaving a comment.

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4 Tips For Housekeeping Your Blog And Improving Its SEO Rating

Performing housekeeping on your blog has many benefits. After all, who doesn’t want their blog to look like a friendly, easy-to-use and inviting place old and new visitors will want to keep coming back to?

If you’re a blogger looking to expand their readership, performing housekeeping on your blog is something you should seriously consider.

But what blog housekeeping jobs should you consider doing?

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This is why blog housekeeping is essential.

During a 4-day heatwave last month, I couldn’t venture outside, so I took the opportunity to do some blog housekeeping. Here’s what I did.

1. Delete old, out-of-date blog posts.

I always feel that old, out-of-date blog posts that can not be updated or rewritten do nothing but drag down my blog.

They hang around like some uninvited members of the family you hardly ever see or have contact with. You know they are there but feel afraid to ask them to leave.

I had over 400 blog posts on my blog, some of which were doing nothing apart from attracting spam comments. They were dead ducks. They were not attracting any new views, visitors or comments.

I ended up deleting over 80 posts. Not only did I feel good getting rid of what I considered clutter, but I was also able to cut the number of spam comments by deleting those old posts.

After deleting them, I felt a lot better about my blog. I felt much more positive knowing I had removed all the deadwood.

Some bloggers claim that deleting old posts is not a good idea because they can look back and see how much they have improved since those early posts. But when you’re somebody who never goes back to read old posts, mainly because you don’t have the time to do so, deleting these old blog posts is like cutting away the string tied to the brick holding your blog down.

2. Fixing broken links.

A downside of deleting old blog posts is that any pingback and links you have to them will become broken.

I used Broken Link Check to run a report showing me broken links on my blog. It’s free to use.

Since SEOs like Google rank blogs lower that have broken links, cleaning up and fixing broken links is a job every blogger should consider.

That first broken link report could be long and overwhelming, but once you start running a broken link report every month, you’ll soon conquer that job.

Fixing broken links was the best bit of blog housekeeping I did because it improves your blog’s overall ranking, meaning more traffic and visitors to your blog.

3. Categories and tags

When I checked how many categories and tags I had on my blog, I was shocked by the number.

What amazed me was that many categories and tags were no longer active. Like some of my old blog posts, they were deadwood.

Checking which categories and tags are no longer active is easy.

Follow this guide.

  • On your blog’s dashboard, click on Posts and then Categories. (Click on Tags to manage Tags).
Image highlighting where to manage categories and tags on your WordPress blog
How to manage categories and tags on your WordPress blog

A list of all your categories will show how many posts you have under each category.

  • To delete a category, click on the meatball menu next to the number and click on ‘delete.’
Image showing how to delete categories on a WordPress blog
How to delete categories on your WordPress blog

Follow the same process for managing the Tags on your blog.

4. Menu Bar

I also took the opportunity to tidy up the menubar on my blog. Although it was not what I considered ‘top heavy’, I moved some items to sub-categories.

Here’s an example. I moved some fictional stuff to sub-categories under ‘Fiction.’ When you now hover over ‘Fiction‘ on the menu, you’ll see the sub-categories pop up.

Blogs with top-heavy menus can look overwhelming and messy to visitors.

Click here for more help with menus on your blog.

Once you start housekeeping your blog, it will make you feel much more positive about your blog.

Try and get into the habit of housekeeping your blog at least once every six months, although I’d recommend running a broken links report at least once a month.

Let’s wrap it up

  • Performing housekeeping on your blog is something every blogger should perform at least once every six months.
  • A well-kept blog is a blog that old and new visitors will want to keep coming back to.
  • Fixing broken links on your blog will improve your blog’s SEO rating.
  • Run a broken link report for your blog once a month. Fix any broken links.
  • Delete categories and tags that are no longer being used on your blog. Too many categories and tags can confuse readers.
  • Delete old out-of-date blog posts, especially if all they are doing is attracting lots of spam.
  • Try and keep the menu of your blog to a minimum. Top-heavy menus can look messy and overwhelming.

How often do you perform blog housekeeping? What do those jobs involve? Do you have any simple tips for housekeeping your blog? Share them in the comments.

Remember that a well-kept blog is a positive and friendly place for your visitors and readers.

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Are You Making Any Of These 7 Simple Blogging Mistakes?

Have you come across any of these 7 simple blogging mistakes I’ve recently come across? Or are you making any of these mistakes? If so, they’re simple to fix. 

Are you making any of these 7 simple blogging mistakes?

1. Not giving readers enough ‘white’ space.

What is ‘white’ space? It’s the break between paragraphs that helps give the eyes a bit of a rest, making reading your blog post more comfortable. 

Opening a blog post and being faced with vast blocks of paragraphs isn’t an attractive look unless you enjoy looking at brick walls that have no top or bottom.

How to fix the problem. 

Split your paragraphs up, so they contain no more than four sentences. This gives visitors a more comfortable read. 

Inserting images between paragraphs is also considered ‘white’ space. Your blog post will look more inviting to read. 

2. Not adding a link to the next part of a post/story. 

Have you ever wondered why some parts of a blog post don’t do as well as previous parts?  

I recently read the first part of a short story split up into several parts because of its length. However, there was no link to part two, so I had to hunt the post down. I had to do the same for the next four parts. 

Given that many readers have limited time, not all of them will be like me and hunt down the next part of a blog post.

How to fix the problem 

When you publish a blog post you’re splitting into parts, go back to the last part and, at the bottom of the post, add a pingback to the next part. Then, readers can click through to the next part after finishing reading the part they’ve just read.

You can also add pingbacks to previous parts at the beginning of a post.

3. Creating pingbacks to the ‘home’ page of a blog

Have you ever wondered why somebody has not thanked you for linking to one of their blog posts? It’s probably because you’ve linked to the ‘home’ page of their blog.  

When creating a pingback to the ‘home’ page of a WordPress blog, no notification is sent. Therefore, the owner of the blog may be unaware that you’ve linked to their blog.

How to fix the problem 

Don’t create pingbacks or links to the ‘home’ page of any blog. Always create them to a blog post (unless it’s the home page). 

Not sure what the ‘home’ page of a blog is? Most bloggers have a link to their ‘home’ page on the menubar of their blog. Click on mine and, in the comments, tell me what the ‘home’ page of my blog is.

4. Allowing WordPress to close down your blog post when clicking on pingbacks.

Do you get frustrated when you click on a pingback, and the new page opens in the same window as the post you’re reading?

Okay, you could click the back button to go back to the post you were reading, but how many of us do that?

If the pingbacks you have created open in the same window as the blog post they’re on, you could be missing out on people sharing or leaving a comment on your post. And how many of those people will click on any more pingbacks on your posts, knowing they’re going to lose the page they’re reading?

How to fix the problem 

Ensure you tick the ‘open in new tab‘ box when creating pingbacks.

Not sure where to find the ‘open in new tab‘ box? My post ‘How To Create A Pingback On A WordPress Blog‘ gives full details. 

5. Inserting full HTTP addresses in the body of blog posts

We’ve all seen them, haven’t we? And we probably have all inserted them in blog posts or on websites before learning about pingbacks. 

Not only do full HTTP addresses make blog posts look untidy, but they also make blog posts uninviting to read, especially if there are lots of them.

How to fix the problem 

Create a pingback to the page or website you’re linking to instead of inserting the full HTTP address. The pingback can be one word in your post or even a whole sentence and looks much better than seeing the full HTTP address. 

Not sure how to create a pingback? My post ‘How To Create A Pingback On A WordPress Blog‘ gives full details. 

Hugh’s blog post shows how to create pingbacks

6. Not categorising blog posts 

Imagine going into a library and finding none of the books are categorised. Instead of going to the history section to find a book on the six wives of Henry VIII, you have to hunt through all the books in the library to find it. 

Now imagine somebody coming to your blog to find a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, only to find there are no categories. You’ve filed every blog post under ‘uncategorised,’ and there are hundreds of posts to look through. 

A blog with no categorised posts looks messy. It gives the impression that the owner doesn’t care about it or anyone who visits looking for information.

According to Janice Wald of MostlyBlogging.Com, you should always categorise blog posts. Janice says, ‘Too many bloggers overlook this simple tip that can result in benefits for both you and your readers. Picking a category results in more traffic for you and a boost in readability for your blog visitors.’

How to fix the problem 

Categorise all your blog posts to make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for. My blog post ‘How To Make Categorising And Tagging Blog Posts More Powerful‘ gives full details on creating categories and subcategories. 

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Hugh’s blog post shows how to categorise your blog posts

7. Using incorrect colour combinations

I recently came across some blog posts where the owners had made it difficult for visitors to read all or parts of their posts. 

One blogger had a dark green background and was using black font. I could hardly read any of their posts.

Another blogger had coloured the blocks on their post dark blue and changed the colour of the font to dark green. While the rest of the post was easy to read, the colour combination they’d used in the blocks spoilt my enjoyment of the post because I couldn’t read them.

Which one of these is more easy to read?

Can you read this?

Can you read this?

How to fix the problem 

The best colour combination is a white background with black font. 

If you want to change the background and font colour in your blog posts (or in blocks), make sure the colour combinations are suitable for visitors to read. Preview the post first before publishing it. If you can’t read it, then nobody can. 

If you’re unsure which colour combinations to use, stick to using a white background with black font.

What are the most common simple blogging mistakes you keep coming across? Join the discussion and leave details in the comments.

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Looking for more blogging tips from Hugh? Check these out.

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