Part 1 is all about getting your website and content in tip-top condition to give you the best possible chance of success.
1.1 – Site optimization (Technical SEO)
In this section, you’ll learn about the essential elements you need to have in place to ensure your WordPress site is running smoothly.
Visitors have an enjoyable experience finding their way around your site
Search engines can find and index your site
Selecting a reliable web host should not be taken lightly. If you choose a poor web host (and there are plenty of them around), then you’ll suffer setbacks and frustrations. And, more importantly, if your visitors have a miserable experience, then they’ll move on to another site.
Nobody likes hanging around for a slow loading website. Plus, Google favors fast loading sites. Even if you have good hosting, there are still a few tweaks you can make. For instance, WPX Hosting recommends using the W3 Cache plugin to make your web pages load faster.
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform, and with so many sites to target, it’s highly desirable for hackers. If you don’t put some security measures in place, you will get attacked at some point. Depending on your hosting service, you might already have robust security measures in place. However, if you don’t, then there are a couple of security plugins we recommend.
Indexing and crawling
Don’t be intimidated by the heading. You need to know that for your blog to be successful it needs to be findable. And the way that happens is through Google and other search engines being able to crawl and index your site via a Robots.txt file. You can create your own or, guess what, use a plugin to help you.
Without external links the Internet wouldn’t exist – there’d be no way to get from site to site. Likewise, without internal links, your visitors wouldn’t be able to get from page to page on your site. So here’s what you need to do:
Internal links – When you publish new content on your blog think about existing posts and pages you could link to. And also, think about existing posts and pages that could link to your new content.
External links – Include links to relevant pages on other sites from your content. There’s bound to be some high-quality, authoritative pages you’ve researched when writing your content, so link to them, and let the site owner know, too. (It’s the start of influencer marketing – more later.)
Broken links – Unfortunately, internal and external links don’t last forever – URLs change, content gets moved around, and sites disappear. So you need to make time to find and fix your broken links.
Redirects – Sometimes you need to change the URL of your pages or domain. WordPress sometimes implements redirects but they’re not always reliable. Instead you could use the free Redirection plugin. But, from a performance perspective it is worth adding redirects manually if you’re comfortable doing it.
Analytics Tools are essential for any blog. They’ll help you understand how people are interacting with your website. If you’re going to spend time creating and promoting your content, you’ll want to know which content is most popular and what promotion method drove visitors to your site. Most bloggers use Google Analytics to track their website data, but there are other tools available.
1.2 – Content planning and research
In section two, you’ll learn about researching and planning the content for your audience.
Choose your niche
Before you start producing content for your blog, you need to have a clear idea of your niche, or topic, and the four or five categories that support it. If you choose a topic that nobody is interested in, then you’re going to have a tough time promoting your content.
It’s worth checking Google Trends to see how interest in a topic is increasing or decreasing over time. Here’s an example for the term “content marketing”:
Research keywords and topics
When you’ve finalized your niche, you can start planning what content to produce. Keyword research involves finding the keywords (or search queries) that represent your blog.
Once you’ve researched your keywords, you can sort them into topics aligned with your categories above.
Research your audience
Before you start producing content, you need to consider your audience. Take some time to build a picture (sometimes called an avatar) of who you are writing for and then tailor your content accordingly.
Decide on your brand voice
When you have an idea of your target audience, then think about your tone of voice. How are you going to present your content to your readers? Will you be serious or humorous? Casual or formal? Irreverent or respectful? Find your brand voice with Portent’s Tone Of Voice Generator:
Consider content type
Now you have your niche and keyword topics arranged, you should consider what type of content you’re going to produce.
Research by BuzzSumo – published on Noah Kagan’s OkDork blog – showed that infographics and list posts received more shares than other types of content:
We’ve experienced this with our posts at Blogging Wizard. And for infographics, they perform especially well on Pinterest.
And Top 10 Lists were popular in print publications long before the web existed.
In short, people are fascinated with lists and data-driven graphics.
1.3 – Content optimization (OnPage SEO)
In this section, you’ll discover how to optimize your content on every page before you hit publish.
Add meta tags to your title, URL, and description
If you use the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, you’ll get prompted to complete these three fields:
Title – Try to put your keyword at the beginning of your title, if possible.
URL – Use short URLs that include your keyword
Description – Write curiosity-inducing meta descriptions that suck people in
Include keywords on your page
Try and include your target keywords in some of the following places:
Main Heading (H1)
First paragraph of the page
Page subheadings (H2/H3 etc.)
It’s not necessary to have them in every location, (and you certainly shouldn’t force your keyword into those places just for the sake of it), but it will help to optimize your page.
Optimize your images
There are three things you need to optimize on your images:
Dimensions – Make your images the right size for your blog page. For example, on my blog, I make sure the images are 600px wide, so they fit in with the theme and design.
File size – Make sure you compress your image files with a tool like TinyPNG or Kraken before uploading to WordPress. These programs can reduce file sizes by as much as 65% and help to make your blog load and run faster.
Alt text – Always add a meaningful description to the Alt Text on your images. This helps visually impaired readers understand what the image relates to, and it also helps search engines index your images.
Start building your list
Email marketing, as you’ll discover in Part 2, is one of the best ways to promote your blog as you have a direct connection with your fans. But first, you’ll need to build a list of subscribers. And for that, you’ll need two essential things in place on your blog:
An easy way for people to sign up to your list.
A compelling reason to join your list, often referred to as a ‘lead magnet’.
Encourage social sharing
Getting other people to share your content on social media is a bonus for you. As well as having some awesome content to share, you need to prompt users to share it. You can maximize your promotion efforts by placing visually attractive Social Sharing Buttons and Click To Tweet Widgets on your blog with a social sharing plugin.
Social Sharing Buttons – You don’t have to include every social network, only those appropriate to your blog. Look to your left to see an example of the buttons we use on Blogging Wizard.
Click To Tweet Widgets – You can highlight a quote or phrase so that it stands out and encourages readers to share it. Here’s a live example we added to the post using Social Warfare:
There are lots of social sharing plugins for WordPress, so we narrowed the options for you.
Finally, we need to cover a few points about your content because you’ll need to write quality content so that it’s easier to promote:
The headline is the first thing a reader sees, on social media or search results pages, so it has to make an impact. Start with an attention-grabbing headline and then make sure your content stacks up to what you promised. Take your time to create the best headline possible.
Several studies have concluded that longer blog posts get:
(a) More social shares:
(b) Higher search engine ranking:
However, you need to take into account your niche and the goal of your content. Longer content may appear to perform better but remember, word count only matters when you write quality content – 5,000 words of drivel doesn’t benefit anyone.
You need to make your content easy to consume. Most readers scan web pages, so you need to give them markers to stop them in their tracks and highlight key points using subheadings and bullet points.
Make your content more visual by using relevant images, videos, screenshots, and diagrams.