It can be difficult to get started with your new blog. Even a bit daunting when you read so much about SEO, to the extent that all it does is confuse you. But there are a few basic things that you can do to give yourself a head start and bring in your first readers, and even clients.
1. Create Great Content
This is probably the one thing you have heard time and again. “Content is King”. But in fact it is still very much true, that the search engines like to provide their users with great content. Content that is fresh, unique and interesting.
When you write articles or blog posts on your website, it is a good idea to plan it out a little first. Think of a catchy heading for the post that will get found easily in the search engines. This is basically keyword research. Discover what your potential audience is wanting to know, and then write the best content out there.
You can get ideas for articles by visiting places like Quora, and searching for your niche or keyphrase. Look at the new questions that people are posting and see what interests you to write about. This can then be your next blog post.
Write a minimum of 500 words, but try to make your blog post around 1000 to 2000 words if you can, as it will have a much better chance of ranking well in the search engines. Create 2 or more unique and interesting graphics to accompany your article, and always add unique ALT text with your blog post’s keywords to each image. The top results of any web search will typically contain a webpage with over 1000 words of text and usually up to 2000 words of text. There is however, no point in just producing text for the sake of it. Your text has to be of good quality and interesting for your users.
Make sure your images are optimized for speed! When you upload and insert an image into a blog post, WordPress will by default use the original image, so if you can compress this image before you upload it, then your webpage will load quicker.
The URL of your page is important for SEO and click through rate from the search engines. Place your keywords in the URL, separating words with a dash, but do not make the URL too long.
2. Install only the plugins that you need
WordPress is a great CMS and blogging platform, but it can get a little bloated in the themes code if you have too many plugins installed. Check the plugins that you actually need and uninstall everything else.
Some great plugins I tend to use are;
- Yoast SEO: This is a must have for any WordPress site. Even if you just use the basics to create great TITLE and meta description tags for your pages and posts, I find it essential.
- A Caching plugin: An uncached WordPress page is quite slow to load, so by having a good cache plugin installed, your website is going to run much quicker, getting your content to your users faster. This is becoming essential for SEO purposes as well, especially for mobile users.
- JetPack: One of the benefits of JetPack, is that it adds support for having social media buttons on your pages and posts. Making it easy for your users to share your content. If you do not use Google Analytics, then JetPack also gives you some basic analytics for your website.
- AMP: AMP pages are becoming more and more popular, and there are now lots of news feeds which will prefer an AMP page over a website that does not have one.
3. Images and infographics
Your images can be the one thing that grabs the readers attention and stops them from bouncing from the page straight away. A good image can be an added bonus in terms of SEO as bounce rates can hurt your rankings.
A good descriptive image can help the reader understand the intent of the written content, making your article easier for them to take in and understand. So creating the right images for your post is just as important as the written article itself.
To help the search engines properly index your images you should make the filename describe what the image represents. So if you're image is of your new Samsung smartphone s7 then you would want to name your image something like samsung-s7.jpg for example. The next thing you would want to do is to add an ALT tag to the image that describes the image. Try to include your blog post main keyword in here as well. The image should be place in between text that is also describing or representing the image. This all helps the search engines index your image in their image search and also helps with the ranking of your website for the targeted key phrase.
If your blog post has share icons, in particular Pinterest, then it is easy for the user to share your images and graphics and the meta data will already be there. Good infographics can easily go viral in this way, bringing tons of new traffic to your website which inturn will boost your rankings.
As mentioned above, WordPress will insert into your post the original image without any compression. So check the weight of your images before you upload them and if they are too large then make sure you compress them yourself first. If you do not have any software to compress images then you can easily find a website online that will do this for you for free.
A fast loading page will help stop users from immediately bouncing from your site.
4. Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) & Analytics
Registering your website with Google Webmaster Tools is beneficial for many reasons. You can check here if there are any problems with your website, both technical on-site issues and potential issues with indexing. Here you can test for mobile compatibility and if you have added any schema micro data, then it will be displayed here for you to check.
GWT also shows you stats on how your website is doing and what keywords it is showing for in Google searches. You can check the average position your site is appearing in the SERPS.
GWT is also the place to register your website sitemap. If you have installed the Toast SEO plugin, then this will automatically create an XML sitemap for you, just enable the advanced features and there it will show you a link to your sitemap file. You can copy this URL to submit it to GWT.
When your website starts to get some traction in the search engines and users are visiting your site from other places that you have promoted yourself. Then it is time to start analysing what is working and what is not.
Whether you use Google Analytics or another 3rd Party Analytics, there is more than likely a WordPress plugin to help you install the tracking code in your website. Failing that, you can just go ahead and edit your theme's footer and insert the code yourself.
Personally I prefer Clicky for stats, or sometimes I just use the Wordpress stats themselves. JetPack, as mentioned above, is a WordPress plugin that lets you add all your blogs to the same stats page, and gives you basic Analysis on how people are finding your site and what pages they access.
Whatever choice you have for Analysis, it is an important part of SEO and marketing in general. Knowing what strategies are working for you can save you lots of time and money and help you focus on the things that work best.
5. Choose a Good Theme
The theme you choose for your WordPress website, not only has to look good and have all the right functionality for you. It also has to be responsive and mobile friendly, load fast for your users and be not too bloated with unneeded code.
Premium themes are cheap when you consider the amount of work someone has put into it, but they are generally much better than the free themes and quite often updated regularly. I would always recommend spending some time to consider all these facts when choosing your theme. But there again, one of the benefits of WordPress is that you can change your theme at any time.
6. Promote your Blog
When you first start a blog, it can be a bit daunting trying to get visitors, and it can actually take some time before you start to get interest in what you are blogging about. But there are quite a few ways that you can start to promote your blog, many of which are free.
StumbleUpon - http://www.stumbleupon.com is a great way to bring in a ton of traffic. You can submit your blog post to your StumbleUpon account. Make sure you select the correct category, and add as many relevant tags as you can think of. The secret to StumbleUpon though, is to share interesting content. So create your blog post with an eye catching graphic at the top to grab the users attention.
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/pinterest/ . After all you have probably gone to a lot of trouble creating the graphics for your blog post, so why not share them. Pinterest is a great resource for backlinks to your website, and can also bring you traffic if your images are interesting enough.
Blogarama - http://www.blogarama.com is a blog directory. You can list your blog here for free which will bring you some traffic and also gives you a nofollow link back to your site. You have the option to upgrade, and your blog posts will then be published on the home page of Blogarama and the link back to your site will be a followed link. Being on the home page of Blogarama is going to bring you lots of traffic, so for 5 dollars a month this could be a great advertising tool for you.
Bloglovin – https://www.bloglovin.com is another free blog listing directory that can bring you traffic.
Social Media – Apart from the above, there is obviously all the social media sites that you probably have already registered accounts with. Facebook, Twitter & Google+ are all places that you can be active and share your content with your followers.
Once your blog starts expanding with great posts and content, you may want to consider paid advertising. Facebook and Twitter are both great places to quickly boost your traffic. A sponsored Facebook post that links back to your blog can bring you a massive amount of traffic quickly.
7. Get Backlinks to your blog posts.
After creating killer content in your blog posts, then next biggest thing that will bring you more traffic and boost your rankings in the search engines are backlinks. There are a few options above for creating a certain amount of links, but initially it is a good idea to go about getting some links yourself. You can do this in a number of ways, from outreach to other bloggers in your niche, to buying some prominent backlinks from a professional service. Guest posting about something you have written about on your own website, can give you a huge boost in the search rankings too.