I think the number one place I see new bloggers struggle (aside from site speed) is SEO. SEO is exhausting and the rules change all the time. What used to work yesterday might be different tomorrow.
The first thing to avoid is writing a post and trying to do keyword stuffing. Some people try to get that little Yoast green light thinking it will help them rank when really it might do the opposite where it concerns the suggestion to add the keyword repeatedly.
Google isn’t dumb and Google levels up as bloggers are leveling up. If they catch wind of something being exploited, then “poof” it vanishes. The Google algorithms are always being developed and they are being made smart, like really smart.
The goal here is to get the algorithms so good that they can filter out all the stuff it thinks of as garbage. Google doesn’t want to deal with spam, or straight plagiarized or spun articles.
Now anyone claiming to be an SEO expert is probably pretty knowledgeable, but they won’t know everything.
There are some basic things though you can do to make your site look like less of a car crash to Google. Some of these fixes I will need to go back and work on myself as this is a new site and still sloppy. If you avoid these things your site will look more legitimate and will have more potential to build authority.
You want Google to bless you with rank and traffic.
- Seducing Google
- SEO Fundamentals for Your Blog
- Slow Site Speeds
- Improving Blog Content
- Big SEO Mistakes to Not Do
A lot of people don’t realize how this stuff works. You don’t just build a site and hope it all works. Strategy is one of those things that you have to get good at in other areas of your life. Whoever heard of trying to run a business without a business plan?
So basically, Google owns the internet. It has all these little spider bots that run around and index an sort everything. Every search you put into Google is drawing from their search index.
Google has more than 200 factors that play into how content is ranked.
And here is the rub, you might have great content writing though other weird SEO mistakes are making it so you can’t rank. The good news is most of these problems can be cleaned up and everything will turn around nearly overnight.
SEO Fundamentals for Your Blog
This is my great sin with blogging. Even when I do determine a niche, I end up wanting to write random and often unrelated stuff. Like, I wanted to do a gardening site then I thought wait I need to write about livestock animals, too.
Then it was turning into a whole site about homesteading with 50…yes, 50 different categories because obviously I had to cover stuff like beekeeping and herbalism and all that. I mean if people could not rebuild civilization from my site then obviously it is worthless I thought.
This site is now my passion project so I don’t care about the money part of it that much. I had 2 other sites for the money thing. The nice thing about a “mom blog” is that a mom blog allows for a variety of topics anyway and can be taken in many directions.
Moms care about money. They care about how they look at times in between being busy with kids. They want to know how to improve things with their husband or otherwise get the question answered of why the heck their husband seems to disappear and stay in the bathroom for 2 hour spans.
Anyway, the problem with the homestead site is just that it wasn’t getting any authority or traffic and the growth was so abysmal on that site compared to my more focused ones. I’m talking in terms of time. That site would have eventually evolved somewhere though it might have taken me more years.
The take away here is it is easy to get lost. You can blog about EVERYTHING your mind thinks is neat. Do not do it unless you end up doing content writing for someone else. Keep your blog focused. You can also start your blog broad and try to niche it down if your growth isn’t satisfying you.
To appeal to Google you need to establish yourself as an expert source which means keep yourself to topic specialties or a target. At least at first.
The sad reality here is that people tend to trust people who appear as experts at 1 thing. I don’t agree with this personally because I’ve seen enough examples of people gaining mastery over multiple areas of study.
In the world of marketing and perception though, being known for your 1 thing is what establishes trust, loyalty, and people wanting your opinion. You can refine your audience and hone your offerings.
If you blog about everything and it has no point, sure, you might still get traffic. This traffic will be less efficient as it won’t convert as well into anything useful for you like if you are trying to sell a course or an ebook.
Google is the cool kid you want to notice you. Google will notice you when it thinks you have the potential to be the best source of information about a problem.
Slow Site Speeds
A woman came into one of my groups that is specifically about getting the fastest WordPress speed possible. Somehow she had downloaded so many plugins that her site was taking 44 seconds to load.
Would you wait 44 seconds to view a website? I mean if I wanted to do “internet back in the 90’s AOL simulator” or something I might. These days we are basically like the Jetsons where you click and 1 second later the site pops up.
You need to have your speed up to keep your user experience up and your bounce rate lower. Nobody wants to play around on some slow website.
You always want to work to keep your site lean and fast. You also want to avoid switching to Amp in most cases because Kinsta did a report about earnings loss. You might want to read that page.
Site speed repair is the usual service I got hired for in the past when I had more blogging buddies. It takes an intense amount of experimentation to figure out a good plugin kit and theme.
Improving Blog Content
If your content is poor then your SEO problems won’t matter much anyway. You should probably just drop SEO at first and prioritize content improvement.
There is a magic word in content called “evergreen”. This is the stuff you write once and it doesn’t go out of date very quickly or possibly for life. Your evergreen content should be useful, organized, and detailed. Even better if you slap some infographics on there or other rich content.
Google is always evaluating if your site is delivering what people are searching for. The competition can also be pretty fierce. Google is always tracking traffic patterns and you get rewarded when traffic indicates your site is very value-rich. The better the quality of your post, the better your rank will be.
When you write a post it will probably help you to make a plan for each post. Every post should be very helpful and should be a solid brick to add to your blog house. It also helps to ask if what you are writing about will be something of interest for the next 2-5 years.
You really don’t want to make a bunch of posts about stuff relevant “for the moment”. As soon as public interest drops, there goes your traffic and bye views.
On the contrary, some people like to use fad news to try to get the quick views to their site because depending on topic they might be the only site covering it really well from their angle and it might give them a jolt of initial traffic. Depending on how that goes it might reward subscribers or followers. This strategy is usually not a permanent one however unless the person is into gossip news of some kind.
Your post should ideally be custom tailored to effectively solve an audience problem. If you do this well, you will start to rank very highly. I used to only write 700-1000 word posts. I’ve since found that what really attracts Google is usually very long posts that give back a lot of value.
Writing for online reading needs to be structured a bit differently. You have to keep in mind that chances are good most of your readers will be on mobile devices.
They don’t want to read giant paragraphs on your blog with some odd-looking tiny font. You want your sentences spaced a bit and you want your other design choices to be good for user experience.
A good blog post structure should look like:
- Intro that interests the reader
- Have posts sorted where information is in proper sections
- Proper use of H2 and H3 headers
- Be sure to have some images to add interest
- Create infographics or videos to add value
Work on Backlinks
Link building is part of the secret sauce for higher rank. If your site is linked to high domain authority sites, Google notices. It signals to Google your site has information worth tracking down and tuning into.
Good backlinks will make your search rankings have a boost.
Make Your Content Valuable
If you demonstrate value and impress people, they will link to you. You will rank and get all the stuff started to draw attention to your site.
Offer Guest Posts For Authority Bump
Some bloggers are better with networking so they ask around to make a guest post on a high authority site for their niche hoping it will help their own site get some authority and credibility.
A shortcut way to getting a good high value info source is where you find people of your niche and have them all contribute their words on a topic. If you have a Personal Finance blog you might ask everyone what their best investing tips or frugal savings tips are.
When you have one the article you can inform the people who were part of it they were included in your article. Chances are good you will get a backlink or two and some social sharing on some platform.
Doing this tactic also helps you with networking.
The general idea of this technique is to find a popular post in your niche and then write your own post that is even better. You hunt down sites linking to the popular article you searched up earlier.
You will manually send emails to all the places the old article is linked to and do a pitch where they can replace the outdated article with your new an improved article.
Just make sure you can, without a doubt, determine your content is superior.
Not everyone will answer back and you might only get a couple links out of it. These links are still very precious and will help bump your traffic growth.
Anchor Text Has Lots of Power
I still make this mistake pretty often as I’m still in bad habits. When you are internally linking to another post you need to correctly use your anchor text. You don’t put something like “click here”.
You want to help label what you are directing them to. Text that says “check out this cool thing” turns into, “look at my blogging checklist printables”.
You want to scoop in all those valuable keywords and you want Google to crawl in and determine, “Oh, this site belongs to a <insert random niche> blogger”.
All this linking helps the website get crawled and helps good understand what it is even about. You need internal links on a site anyway as it helps readers explore your site in a way that caters to them as you are always directing them around to exactly what they want. You are also reducing your bounce rate because then they stay longer.
Your Keyword Strategy is Bad
You generally don’t want to go for the high competition keywords. Your stuff will never rank and your content will go unread.
New bloggers want to find those sweet low competition keywords.
For this, you want to use something like KeySearch though other tools exist. You get 5 free searches a day with KeySearch.
You might also use something like Ubersuggest as it is the commonly promoted search tool. People have been debating the accuracy of Ubersuggest though and say that often it will show competition for a word as being easier than it actually is.
The jury is still out on if this is true or not as too many variables play into post ranking.
A popular thing to do is to start with the easier long-tail keywords and keep selecting harder words to rank as you go. Keep working yourself higher.
This strategy is the best tip you can get as a new blogger. It will help your climb be less slow.
Rules for using the long-tail keyword:
- use it in the first 100 words of the post
- use it in headers
- add it to your metadata
- add it to your alt tag in images
- use it excessively in your post via keyword stuffing, it doesn’t work
Big SEO Mistakes to Not Do
Bad Image SEO
Images hurt a lot of bloggers. The thing is Google can’t see your images, it can only guess at what it is from what you add to the alt text. A good habit to get into is writing detailed descriptions in the alt text field. Your image name also being descriptive will go a long way with SEO.
Your Website Theme Isn’t SEO Friendly
Free themes are generally not good for the long game. Though with themes you really have two big names Genesis and Divi.
Genesis is what I usually use and is the overall general recommended theme for SEO, speed, security, looks, and ease. Divi isn’t bad though it is important to note it builds your site in shortcodes so it can be a mess trying to go to a different theme. Divi also has a ton of premade website layouts.
A paid theme should have:
- customer support
- easy to work with
- SEO friendly and lets Search Engines crawl pages and posts easily
- designing flexibility
- Is light and lends towards good load speeds.
If you absolutely must go free some of your best options are Generatepress, Astra, SchemaLite, and if your host is really horrible the fastest theme available used to be Montezuma. With a little CSS magic Montezuma can be made pretty sleek.
A large portion of web traffic is now mobile. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly you will have a bad time. Make sure your theme works well with mobile and be sure your site speed isn’t terrible for mobile.
You want to check that your pages look good on mobile and everything works like it is supposed to. In fact when building your blog your biggest factor should be how it looks and works on mobile
As you blog you will eventually end up with links that are broken. Since broken links are bad for user experience, Google will have less of a preference for your site.
There is a Broken Link Checker plugin that can fix this problem. I usually install it and fix stuff up and then remove it again because it is a resource hog. Run it once in a while and things usually turn out fine
Clean Up and Analytics
Part of growing a site is monitoring what works and what doesn’t work. You will have to keep track of what oss get attention and what don’t. You also might need to prune things down to get your niche more clearly signaled.
If you have some dead content on your site you can try writing it over or just get rid of it. Generally, you should get an idea of what keywords you are ranking for. You can then write closely related posts and increase your traffic and rank more.
Content audits are what help keep a site healthy.
Don’t worry if you started off doing some of these mistakes. In time you can start to correct the course and slowly boost your site.
You won’t know everything there is to know in a day. What I do is try to do one site improvement a day for SEO. Write confidently that your site can become something special.
Good luck on your own site!