I think in the last three months, I’ve put in at least 60-70 hours a week messing with WordPress. Between my own blogs and my clients, I eat, drink, and sleep blogging. In the last couple of months, I’ve noticed some recurring questions. True to “Fabulous Blogging” form, I am going to share them here!
I don’t understand SEO. What can I do to help my Google search engine traffic?
SEO is a big umbrella of practices that change frequently. Every time Google does an update, people learn new tricks and ways to rank on search engines. The number one principle of good SEO – is to have a focused long tail keyword before you begin your post. In plain English, this means– have a target topic.
One of the best ways to research a topic is to google it yourself. Think like the audience you are targeting and see what comes up in search results. If the first page is full of content mills like ehow and about.com (and forum answers), you have a shot at ranking on the first page. If on the other hand, the first page is full of big website articles, you may want to change your search query. When you have one that looks good, that becomes your keyword for the article you are writing.
Let’s say you want to put up a recipe for tacos. Think about what you would would type into Google if you were looking for a taco recipe. You might type out, “Best ground beef taco recipe” or something similar. Write your title in plain (and grammatically correct) English but use all those words. Make your title no more than 60 characters.
Now you want to be sure that those keywords appear in the URL, in your excerpt and/or meta description, and once in the content. After that, you don’t need to do any sort of keyword stuffing.
Overall, your content has to be good. Epic. At least 1000 words. Have images. Caption those images with specific words like (ground beef, tacos, recipe, Mexican, etc.). Engage your post on social media. Google watches for that as well. This is very basic advice. Start with that on every post and you’ll see an improvement. Plugins like All in One SEO or SEO by Yoast will help you too!
Why are people not commenting? How do I get more engagement?
There could be several reasons why people aren’t commenting. Sometimes we have blind spots with our own blogs because we are so comfortable and familiar with the layout, topics, and our own voice. Here are a couple easy things to look at:
- Log out and try to comment on your own blog. Is it easy? Hard? Do they have to fill out a bunch of information? Comment systems that allow people to login various ways (Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, etc.) are more user friendly.
- Do you have captcha on? If you can avoid it, do so. There is nothing worse than having captcha spit you out because you can’t see the fuzzy numbers. The same goes for pop-up windows for comments. Don’t do it.
- Do you have Facebook integration? This can help encourage more comments because your blog displays both the regular comments and the remarks on your FB page.
- Does your content provoke a response? It doesn’t always have to be positive, but try reading your post as if you were a stranger. Do you care? Do you want to get involved in the conversation?
- Do you ask a question at the end? It’s easier for people who have no idea what to say– to simply answer a question.
- Do you promote your content? That’s a biggie. There’s a fine line between over and under promotion. If you are the kind who shares your stuff up the wazoo and still aren’t getting a ton of comments, then maybe try sharing other peoples’ stuff. Comment on other blogs. Give back.
Can I make money on my blog?
I like this answer because I realize that most people are asking, “Can I make money through advertising and affiliates?” The answer is– it depends. Have you done research on your market? Your demographic? Have you studied the competition? Have you invested in your blog in ways that are smart? If not, chances are– no, you will not. Hobby bloggers don’t typically make money. Business bloggers who start with some patience and a long-term plan? Yes they can.
However! If you have a blog that offers something else- perhaps you are an avid painter and you sell your paintings online, well then, your blog becomes a marketing tool. It can make you money that way, though it is an indirect effect.
The hard truth is that most bloggers do not make money directly through advertising.
Why should I spend money on my blog when it doesn’t make me any?
Think about other hobbies people enjoy– painting, golf, photography, sewing, gardening, cooking, jewelry-making, scrapbooking, etc. The list can go on and on.
Tell me, what hobbies listed above can be done for free? None. And in most cases, these hobbies don’t turn into sources of income (though they can). A blog for most people is a hobby, and requires money to do it well and move forward in technical know-how and opportunity to try new things.
So the idea that you can’t spend money on a blog until it makes you money is short-sighted. And if you’re blogging for a business, other businesses go into debt by the thousands before they make a profit. By comparison, blogging is a rather inexpensive endeavor!
What’s the one thing I should change about my blog?
I get this question a lot. People want to know that “one” thing that needs work or improvement, above all else. In most cases, people need a mission and a vision. Have you written one out for your blog? It’s okay if it’s changed 500 times, but you need a bullseye. Most blogs struggle to define their purpose (even me– my personal blog was a missionless trainwreck forever). I found a great infographic that helps you zero in on what your goal is as a blogger.
In terms of design and style, the most common problem is navigation– either because the categories and tags aren’t being used properly, the menu bar isn’t used effectively, or there are too many advertisements and other things going on. Font size and style also affects readability.
What is considered good traffic?
Sigh. If only it were so easy. The problem is that…it depends on who you are comparing yourself to, and who you are in competition with.
If you are trying to compete with the big boys, you need to be pulling in hundreds of thousands of hits a month– even millions. Most of us don’t do that unless we’re a celebrity, running a blog network, or writing a niche blog in high demand.
If you are running a small niche site, getting 30,000 hits a month is decent. That’s about 1000 hits a day. These are sites that have one narrow goal (like fresh water fishing equipment or something like that). But you’ll want to check other things like bounce rate (how long people stay once they land), how many unique visitors are you getting (and are they clicking through lots of pages or just reading one and leaving), plus how much engagement you’re getting on social media.
If you are just starting out, make it a goal to reach 50 hits a day, even on days you don’t post. Then go up to 100, 200, 500, and then 1000.
But in the end– I hate the question. The better thing to ask yourself is, “Are you enjoying your blog? Are you engaging with readers? Are you getting new readers every month?” Focus on those principles first.
Here are the top problems I see with beginner bloggers on WordPress…
1. No backup plugin.
2. Slow loading time.
3. Poor navigation.
4. Lots of deactivated and unused plugins in their dashboard.
5. Weak passwords.
6. No excerpts or post summaries.
7. Forgetting to use categories and tags.
Notice I didn’t say anything about design? The truth is that most blogs aren’t completely horrible and garish. They need sprucing up maybe– some more streamlined and matching styles, custom fonts, etc. but as a general rule, people spend far more time looking and fussing with style, than paying attention to functionality. I was in for a shock when I visited one of the MOST famous and well-known blogging gurus and found his site stupidly simple. It wasn’t crowded. Just content and navigation with a personal touch.
It’s hard to act like a stranger to a blog you know so well. But if you can, log out and attempt to visit your website as a newbie. How easy is it to figure out who you are? How interesting is the writing? If you can’t be objective, find a friend (or me!) to look at your site and get some fresh ideas for what you really should be focusing on.