This week’s Build Your Blog Vlog is all about the ten things all bloggers must know (and do) to be successful. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
10 Things All Bloggers Must Know: Video Transcript
I’m Kim Herrington of Bear & Beagle Creative. Every week I answer blogging questions sent in from the Build Your Blog Google Plus group, from readers, or sent in via email. You can join the Google Plus group or send in your questions via email to info at bearandbeaglecreative.com.
We have discussions in the group every week about blogging problems and ideas as well as get to know one another. This week I’ll be doing a special Google Plus HangOut presentation about Relationship Marketing so be sure to join! You don’t want to miss out on this one.
This week’s question comes from the Google Plus group:
Cathleen S. asked:
What would you say are the 10 major things for all bloggers to know? To be more specific like the basics of SEO and marketing your blog.
That’s a fantastic question, Cathleen. There are lots of articles out there about the things people wish they knew when they started blogging that are geared towards newbie bloggers but not many for all bloggers, regardless of where they are in their blogging journey. So let’s get to it!
Number 1: Take Advantage of Google!
Google is your friend. But it also can be a big enemy if you don’t treat it right! If you’ve been blogging for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard about this thing called SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it’s this mystical world for most bloggers. SEO can get really really technical quickly but as a blogger, you need to take advantage of what Google gives you and follow the rules.
Google wants you to succeed. They want your website and the rest of the internet to be this really valuable place. So they give you the tools to do that. Sign up for Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Webmaster tools is the best beginner tool to use for SEO. But, be careful about doing things that Google doesn’t like. If you decide to use what’s called black hat SEO, you’ll put your website at risk for the long time, although you might get a short term payoff.
Number 2: Numbers do matter.
People who say numbers don’t matter are liars. Let’s get real for a minute here. There’s a really good reason why bloggers like Joy of Oh Joy and Jan and Earl of Poppytalk are in Target. While we can be all bows and glitter about why numbers don’t matter, that’s not really true. Most bloggers in a mission to make money define success as how much money they’re making. Numbers play a huge part in that. If you only have 300 readers a month, you can’t sell as much as 300 readers per hour, even if that 300 per month is a super tight knit group.
Pick your metric goals for your blog and then work on improving them. Without numbers, you have no idea how your blog is performing or if you’re spending your time wisely. It might be number of page views or the number of comments or even the amount of time people spend on your website. Pick what numbers float your boat and work on them.
Number 3: Check your URLs
URLs need to be descriptive and not crazy looking. If you see a bunch of gibberish in your URLs, you’re doing it wrong. WordPress users, you’re probably doing just fine unless you did something strange to your URL parameters. If you’re on a different platform or switched platforms, check to make sure you don’t have broken links.
How can you check that? Webmaster tools! Remember what I said about Google being amazing?
Number 4: Evaluate for Value
If you could put a dollar amount on the content on your blog, what would it be? Do you think people will come back again and again if they don’t see any value in your content? Not a chance.
While this is less of a technical thing, bloggers should take some time to think about how much people might pay for their content before they hit publish. It’s a fantastic way to ensure that your blog is worthwhile for you and your readers. When that happens, you’ll create opportunities for growth.
Number 5: Promotional Links
I have no problem with bloggers making a living by affiliate marketing or sponsored posts. But if you have links that are essentially “paid” on your blog, you absolutely need to make sure they’re what’s called a no-follow link. Basically, it’s in the code behind the website that tells search engines that the link isn’t worth following to take a look at the page. Why do this? It’s best practices and search engines want you to do it. It acknowledges that the link isn’t one you’d recommend otherwise.
Do-follow and no-follow links don’t really matter as much as they used to so if you heard folks in the past getting all up in arms about these kinds of links, don’t worry too much about it now. It was technique abused by those pesky black hat SEO people and search engines have since made changes to prevent black hat folks from succeeding with link games.
Number 6: Understanding Categories Versus Tags
In many content management systems, you have the option of using Categories and Tags to organize your content. Think of it this way: Categories are the table of contents and tags are the index. Tags shouldn’t be abused so don’t do that ironic thing of creating a single tag for a post that you’ll never use again. Instead, use keywords, make them descriptive, and user friendly. You want people to be able to click on the categories and tags listed in your content and get what they’re looking for!
There are lots of different ways to organize content. I use what’s called Content Siloing on bearandbeaglecreative.com which is a really advanced SEO technique. Do what makes sense to you and your users and above all, make it functional!
Number 7: Don’t go crazy with add-ons
Plugins, widgets, sidebars, counters, tracking codes. You get the idea of what I mean by add-ons. Every single time you add something to your website’s functionality, you’re adding load time for your users and search engines. That means they have to wait longer to get to the page and get the meat of what they’re looking for. People don’t go to your website to access to plugin. They go for your content.
Add-ons can be detrimental to your website so find out what people are actually using and engaging with and pair it down if they’re not using features you’ve added. How can you know that? Google Analytics provides this handy in-page analytics tool that allows you to see exactly where people are clicking on your website. If you have a Facebook like button no one in the world is clicking, just trash it. It’s not being useful to your website and is just slowing you down.
Number 8: Optimize your images
Search engines hate when you have gobbledygook on your images and URLs. Why? Because people hate it. Img_2939f doesn’t describe what your photo is to anyone—not even yourself. Instead, name your images something descriptive, add Alt text, and if you’re really feeling SEO optimizing, add a description and a caption if it doesn’t mess up your design.
You should also make your images the proper size file—not just dimensions. If you have Photoshop or a similar Adobe tool, save your images as “Save for web” and use about 60% quality. That’s usually plenty enough for the web! If you’re creating your images in other tools, try to save them in a way that strips out any metadata and try to make your files 70kb or smaller.
Do not change the size of your image by coding or using size constraints! Browsers still have to load the larger file and then resize them. Instead, change the physical dimensions of your photos.
Number 9: Back it up!
There’s nothing worse than losing your website and everything that went with it. The more you start messing with your code and tweaking your website, the more likely you are to break it. And when that happens, everything can disappear in a flash. So back it up!
You’d be surprised how many times I’ve had bloggers ask for help to find they killed their website and didn’t have a backup.
Number 10: Write great titles
If there is one thing you can do for your blog for social media, SEO, and usability, it’s writing better titles for your posts. Titles appear in countless places across the internet, from your blog itself to social media to feed readers to subject lines to search results. Bad titles that don’t attract attention and answer needs won’t do anything to help your blog out. So take some time and craft better titles and do some research to figure out what performs well.
Phew! That’s a lot, isn’t it? The thing about being a blogger is you wear so many hats and have so many jobs to do to make your blog successful. I hope these tips help you on your blogging journey.
Do you have a blogging question? Send it my way and I’ll be happy to answer it!
Till next time, keep blogging.