Becoming a new blogger can be difficult, time-consuming, disappointing, and stressful. Are you one of these bloggers who is seeing little to no traffic, despite all of the time and effort you are putting into your blog posts? Maybe you are wondering, “What’s the point of this?” or “Am I doing something wrong?”
Don’t fear, my friend. Blogging, when you first start out, can be very difficult. There is an abundance of information out there and so much to learn. I was once a beginner less than 2 years ago, and I can say that I am still continuing to push to get the traffic, but I am light years ahead of where I was when I first started.
When you check your blog stats and you see zeros or single digits, you begin to wonder, “Is anyone even reading my content?” The answer to this question is a resounding ‘no.’ Your readers only want to read what matters to them. If you are writing only about yourself and providing no real value to your other readers, then the problem is simply a matter of switching up what you write about.
Still, though, there are ways that you can drive traffic to your site. Let’s think about the ways that you and I stumble upon a blog. We perform searches on sites like Google, look for pins that cater to what we are looking for, etc, etc etc. The magic in driving traffic to your site starts with making your site easy to find. The second part of this equation is making the content worth a reader’s time. Provide them with valuable information, or offer them up a freebie. Give them a reason to visit more than once.
So, to you, the new blogger, whenever you decide to publish a new blog post, you need to make sure that what you are writing is immediately valuable, well-crafted, and provides a purpose. Test new keywords and don’t be afraid to try new things on your quest to boosting traffic.
As a blogger for nearly 2 years, I would like to give my fellow newbies a mega blogging checklist with highly detailed information you need to succeed early on as a blogger.
1. Pay attention to SEO
If you are blogging with WordPress, which is considered the best blogging platform out there, you are hopefully aware of all the plugin and add-on capabilities that it has to offer. Once such plugin is called Yoast SEO. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will help the content that you are spending hours upon hours writing and perfecting jump up in the search results of every search engine imaginable.
My process of writing a new blog post includes configuring the Yoast settings at the very end of my process. Wordpress adds a few fields and tabs to the bottom of the new post screen. You need to tell Yoast what your main focus keyword should be and then utilize that keyword in headings, titles, and images.
2. Be smart about your post’s title
When you have determined what your focus keyword is going to be, the next step is to work with your title. Your title should contain the focus keyword, and it should be as close as to the beginning of your title as possible. Of course, there are going to be times when you may need to vary this, but for the most part, keep it at the front.
Another thing about your blog post’s title – make it stand out! You are essentially creating a newspaper headline. Your goal here is to get the reader wanting to read more. Without a creative, catchy title, you are not getting off to a very good start. For example, if I am creating a blog post about how to play blackjack, which title looks better? (1) How to play blackjack or (2) How to Get Rich Playing Blackjack? I want to be rich, don’t you? Make your title snazzy and stand out.
3. Always use tags and categories
WordPress gives you the option to add categories and tags. There are differences between these two features, and you need to use them correctly for them to provide you any benefit.
Categories are essentially simple descriptors that help organize your blog content. For example, if I write a post about ways to handle a toddler, I’d probably categorize it in my “Parenting” category. That way, when a reader clicks on my Parenting category on the site, the post above would be indexed in that list of posts. I try to limit my categories to one or two per post. Don’t overdo this!
Tags are meant to provide your reader with similar descriptions. If I’m searching the web for gluten-free pizza, I may want to see other recipes that are gluten-free so I might use a tag to help sub-categorize it. I would not use more than 3-5 tags per blog post.
4. Spend time creating quality graphics
I consider graphics to be a major part of my brand. This is why I put extra effort into ensuring I use only the best images on my site. I create featured headers through Adobe Photoshop and I ensure my blog’s URL is on the bottom of every image. Images also need to be optimized for Pinterest, because you are going to share every post on Pinterest, right? I really hope so! Pinterest images are best at 700 x 700 pixels.
Inside WordPress, when you click on an image, you have the ability to edit the “alt description” by typing in your keywords. Images are searchable too, and can lead readers right to your blog!
5. Link back to older posts
One of our main goals as bloggers is that we want our readers to stay on our site for a while and check out all we have worked so hard to create. One great way of doing that is by linking back to some of your older posts. If you have a post that’s related to your new post, naturally linking to it is a fantastic way of not only creating value and keeping your bounce rate low. Read my older post about 8 things you must do to every blog post – see? Easy! And it keeps your reader interested! Win-win situation!
6. Don’t rush to hit Publish just yet
It feels sooooo good to finish a post and publish it for all to see – but wait – there’s more! You want to make sure the content you have written is formatted properly – including spelling and grammar. Use headers and bulleting consistently as to create a positive viewing experience for all of your readers! Use your blogging tool’s preview function to read and re-read everything, and to make sure everything is formatted to your liking. Anything that’s a mistake in your blogging tool will carry over to any social media accounts where you are automatically sharing to, and this is not easy to correct. Sometimes I like to save it, come back later, and do one more glance over before I hit publish.
7. Now, hit Publish!
After you’ve done all of your work, and quality-checked your work, hit the publish button and share your work across social media. With the Jetpack plugin, you can do this automatically.
After I hit publish, I use the Shareaholic plugin to share across sites like Pinterest, Flipboard, Stumbleupon, and Google+. I then go to my group boards on Facebook and share them in the appropriate threads. By the way, Facebook group boards are HUGE traffic generators for me. I can also get to know new bloggers and push advice back and forth. Did you know I have a Facebook group? Come join Blogging Share and Promo Group – I’d be glad to add you!
8. About old content…
Yeah, we all have content we wrote a month, or even a year ago, that probably wasn’t the best. Look for these posts and find opportunities to improve them. Reword the images, update focus keywords, add in links, etc. Old content is old – update it if there is new information, and then share again as an updated post. Old content can be a steady traffic source if done correctly.
9. Monetize your blog!
I recommend learning how to monetize your blog from the beginning. The last thing you want to happen is for a post to go viral and you weren’t prepared! A good way to monetize your blog is through affiliate marketing. In its simplest terms, you are promoting a merchant’s content and collecting a cool commission for doing so. I am a member of several affiliate marketing networks including ShareASale, AvantLink, and ClickBank. See my previous post reviewing ShareASale.
I hope this post provided you with all of the necessary tools to make your next post fantastic! Subscribe to my blog in the right sidebar today so that you don’t miss any future updates from my site. Good luck and happy blogging!