Before you continue this part 2 in the series of 30 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My First Blog, you may want to go through part1 first
6. Get Grips with On-Page SEO
You might be thinking of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in terms of getting links to your site from other sites – and while that’s important, it’s definitely not the complete story. Your on-page SEO matters a lot and it’s fully within your control. It means using:
- Keywords – thinking about what someone might type into a search engine in order to find a post on your topic. You can research the keywords that people are actually using with the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, and you may want to adjust title of your posts or content a little to be a good fit for reasonably popular keywords. (A “keyword” can be a whole phrase, not necessarily just one word.)
- Interlinking bothers on adding links to older posts or going back and updating old ones to link to newer ones too. This isn’t just good for your SEO – it helps readers to engage more deeply with your blog. Each time you write a blog post, make sure you include a link to at least one other post or page on your blog.
- Meta tags – if you have an SEO plugin like All in One SEO Pack installed, you can easily set the title and meta description for your post. This title shows up in search engine results and in the browser tab for the post. The meta description normally appears in search engine results too. Both should contain your target keywords; they should also be enticing to users.
- Sitemaps – An XML sitemap is for search engines, telling them all the pages that exist on your site. It won’t directly boost your search engine ranking, but it will help the search engines to crawl your site more easily. You can find out more, and learn how to create one.
- Google Search Console – This free service, previously called Google Webmaster Tools, lets you perform various useful functions – like submitting and checking your sitemap, checking and setting the crawl rate for the site, viewing lists of URLs that Google was unable to crawl, and much more. You can access it Google Search Console here.
Should you find implementing this on your blog difficult, try taking action one after the other. Look online for a tutorial or step-by-step instructions, or ask other blogger friends how they are going about their on-page SEO.
7. Do keyword research for each and every new post you publish
We’ve mentioned keyword research here already, but I wanted go into more details make sure that you have an in-depth knowledge of keyword research. There’s one main thing that I wanted to point out here:
The key to real, proper keyword research is doing it over and over again for every new post you publish.
Sounds like a lot of work, I know, sorry about that, but there’s just no other way to do content publishing in the web landscape of today when starting a blog. There are so many great content out there already. Too much content that’s already quite optimized. In an environment like that, you can’t just rely on your main keyword for the entire site and then keep creating your content around “whatever” loosely connected topic.
This also goes back to doing content audits. When going through your past content and auditing it, ask yourself, “What keyword is this post even targeting? Is it optimized enough?”
8. Stick to a theme for better SEO and a stronger follower base
One of the biggest mistakes I made early on, and see other bloggers making, is not sticking to a theme for your posts.
I get it – people are diverse. We all have multiple interests. You might be a photographer who also loves travel and marketing. But your blog won’t benefit from talking about all three things. Here’s why:
- Finding the right readership will be difficult. How many people do you know that are travelers, photographers, and marketers? (OK maybe that’s a decent-sized niche, but you get the point.)
- SEO will be more difficult. Google likes sites that are solely dedicated to a single topic because it knows exactly what that site is about.
- It will be harder to monetize your blog. Money comes from direct, targeted traffic. If you’re spreading yourself too thin, you won’t get the quality traffic you need.
If you really must talk about different things, I recommend starting a blog that’s totally separate. Unless you can really find a niche audience and still have very strong posts around each topic, it’s just not worth it.
9. Steal your competitors’ keywords
We’ve already talked about primary keyword research. But sometimes I’m feeling lazy and would rather have someone do the work for me.
That’s when I go to my competitors and…steal the keywords they’re ranking for.
There’s nothing malicious about it – just good old fashioned research and “doing it better”. All I do is go to my SEO tool, plug in my competitor’s URL, and see what they’re ranking for:
If I find a juicy keyword that I’m interested in, I check out their post and write one that’s better.
This is one of my favorite strategies because it helps you both come up with topics and keywords in one fell swoop.
Additionally, because you already know that your competitor is ranking, you also know that Google is willing to rank blogs highly for that keyword (which is especially important if you’re blogging in a niche with lots of e-commerce sites).
Every blogger needs to be social
When I started blogging, I hoped that I would get a ton of traffic through search engines because all of the other popular blogs got a lot of Google love. The reality is you won’t get too much traffic from Google because your blog is new…it takes years before your search engine traffic kicks in.
If you are willing to spend money, you can buy traffic from StumbleUpon ads or Facebook ads, but if you aren’t, you’ll have to focus on building your social media profiles. This means you’ll have to spend time participating in the community, befriending other people, sharing stories and even messaging other users.
As you go through this process, don’t put all of your time and energy into one social media site because sometimes even the popular sites die down. Many bloggers made their blogs popular by consistently getting on the front page of Digg. Today, however, Digg isn’t popular. You have to diversify your social media traffic.
Once you build up your social media profiles, you can make almost any blog popular. For example, Neil Patel and his business partner were able to get the Crazy Egg blog to over 100,000 visitors a month in less than one year. They did this by promoting the blog content on social profiles.
Hopefully, you can avoid the mistakes I made when I first started blogging. I would hate for you to repeat my mistakes as they hindered my growth.
So, what other blogging mistakes should you avoid? Watch out for part 3 of this series.