Anyone can start a WordPress blog. Easy peasy. But almost no-one can start a site that gets oodles of readers. Because it’s hard work. And it’s complex.
But throw in a little bit of determination, and it’s totally do-able. If you know how. This post consists of five parts that are essential to building a website that works for you:
The first part is about groundwork planning before you even fiddle with the WordPress settings, moving on to what your site needs from a technical search engine perspective, and what kind of content to write about.
Part four focuses on how to get traffic via search engines, and then how to get traffic by self-promotion.
Hold onto your hats, you all, here we go:
Part 1: Build a Solid Foundation
Before you even start messing with your WordPress blog settings, you need to do some groundwork first.
Planning your website is really important, and it will determine your success or failure. It’s that serious.
# Motivation for Blogging
So why do you want to start a blog? If you can’t answer that right off the bat, you need to do some introspection.
There are way too many people who get a blogging bee in their proverbial bonnet, but then within something like 100 days, the bee flies off, and the blog is abandoned. Making it just another inactive website.
Neil Patel, one of the super bloggers of the world, says, “Blogging is how I market my businesses, build my brand, sell products, and help others thrive. It’s all about the blog.” In his How to make a blog tutorial, Neil explains that “A blog can serve as the foundation of just about anything you want — a personal brand, an enterprise level business, a multi-million dollar content provider, a startup.”
When you understand your motivation, you’ll have a goal, and when you have a goal, you’ll be more inclined to keep working at it to fulfill your vision.
# Know Thine Reader
If you’ve already established your motivation for starting a blog, chances are you know what you’ll be using your blog for. And this will determine your target audience.
But if you’ve not yet decided on what you want to blog about, it’s better first to choose who you want your audience to be, and then work it from there.
Knowing your reader intimately is what’s going to separate your blog from others, so it’s a good idea if you choose an audience you already know well.
Either way, use a tool like UpCloseAndPersona to create a persona that will be your typical reader.
# Plan WordPress Blog Site Architecture
Once you begin setting up your WordPress blog, the choices you have for the way it’s going to look and act, are endless. While this is a great thing, it could end up taking you a lot more time to get going if you’re not sufficiently prepared.
And that’s why you should have a clear idea of how you want to plan your site. For instance, if your target audience is people between the ages of 55 and 70, the font on your website will need to be large enough for them to read comfortably. Without having to mess around with code, you’d need a WordPress theme that allows you to change the font size effortlessly.
Then there’s navigation – what pages should you publish on your site, and what categories should you include?
Use this guide from ConversionXL to guide you when planning how you want your WordPress blog to look and behave.
Part 2: Get the Technical SEO Right
There are two parts to search engine optimization, and both are equally essential. In this part, the focus is to get the technical part of SEO right.
If you’re doing a DIY job of setting up your WordPress blog, concentrate on installing a theme that is SEO friendly, and then you should be okay. Be wary of both free and premium themes, because not all developers are SEO conscious.
Find SEO friendly themes here.
What to look for?
- It should be responsive (displays nicely on all devices, not just desktop).
- Avoid glitz and glamor like homepage sliders.
- You can’t go wrong by choosing a developer who has SEO knowledge.
Be warned: a theme which states that it’s “mobile responsive,” may not be good enough. It needs to say it’s SEO friendly, which will include being mobile responsive.
Part 3: Write Epic Content
A successful blog is all about the content.
You can get the technical aspect of SEO down pat, but if you don’t upload awesome, actually value-add content to your WordPress blog, your SEO ranking is not going to be magnificent, because search engines have algorithms which uncover which sites are crap or not.
For instance, if you get people coming to your site, but they don’t stay long, this tells the search engine that your visitors are not finding what they’re looking for on your site, or your site takes too long to load – either way it’s not a good sign – so they come, and then bounce right off again.
The number one problem with small businesses specifically is that they make the mistake of thinking they need to add content – any content – to their website so they’ll get more traffic. Baaaad idea.
If you’re not a writer, do yourself a favor and hunt for a good one (I say “hunt” because a good writer is not easy to find, despite the fact that there are so many freelance sites available).
Then add awesome content to your WordPress blog at least once a week, but more is better, and longer content is best. Sit tight. And don’t give up.
Part 4: Build To Attract Readers via Search Engines
There are three ways of getting readers to your WordPress blog:
- By giving people the URL of your site, so they type it in to visit you. This method is not likely to bring loads of traffic.
- By paying for traffic through ads like Google Adwords.
- By search engines sending traffic to your site via user searches. This is the one you want to focus on because you don’t need to pay for it. But it does take work.
In this section, we’ll cover the methods used to rank well on search engines, so that when your target audience conducts a search for the kind of solutions you offer, it will be your website that search engines display on the first page of search results.
# On-page SEO
a). Find out What Search Terms Your Persona Uses
Using the right words on your WordPress blog is non-negotiable. The tricky part about keywords, though, is this:
- Keywords need to be the words your target audience persona uses to find what you offer.
- Keywords need to be relevant.
- The words you choose must be searched often enough, but also not have a lot of competition (other sites using the same words).
You can see there’re quite some factors to be considered, and often you’ll need to do your research, add the words to content and then see what happens.
Getting this section right (even if it takes some time) will give you tremendous breakthrough.
b). Add Header Tags
Header tags help search engines determine what content is about, as well as the relevancy of the content so that the search engine can match the content to the user search.
The header tag is just a bit of HTML used in the title of the blog post. Keywords should be included in the header tag.
It’s a good idea to add sub-headings to your content so that readers who “skim” can make sense of the content without having actually to read through it all.
c). Optimize Images To Speak To Search Engines
Search engines use the images on your site to determine what your content’s about, again to be able to match your content to user’s searches.
Optimizing images for SEO starts with the filename of the image. Check out Image optimization plugins to optimize your WordPress images.
End the whole process by compressing images so that they don’t slow down your WordPress blog.
d). Install an SEO Plugin
Installing an SEO plugin will help guide you with on-page SEO for your content. It cuts out the need to learn HTML to do it yourself.
All you have to know if you install an SEO plugin, are the keywords you want to use for each page and post. The plugin will do the rest.
Part 5: Get Traffic By Promoting Your Blog
When you first set up a website, it can take a while for search engines to “find” it. Now, the thing about this is that the longer it takes them to find it, the longer it will take to start getting traffic. Because search engines can only start matching your content to searches when your site, and after that every blog post you upload, is added to their index.
To speed up the process, you can do some things, and we’ll go through those methods in a moment.
By promoting your WordPress blog, you’ll:
- Start creating a “web” by linking from other bigger, better sites than yours, to your website. Popular, big websites get the attention of search engines all the time, so by adding links from those sites to yours, you help search engines find your site faster.
- Have the opportunity to drive traffic yourself to your new content.
Let’s start with promotional methods, shall we?
# Add Share Buttons To Posts
Social media buttons make it easy for your readers to share stuff, which is what you want. All it takes is installing a social sharing plugin on your WordPress blog.
Add normal share buttons, like these:
There is other great ways to encourage your readers to share content, like the “Tweet This” plugin:
# Direct Traffic From Social Media To Your Blog
Once you upload a new blog post, add it to your social media accounts to let people know about it. Social media is big on images, videos, and headings, so focus on these elements before you link from social media to your blog.
Check out these social media plugins to drive social traffic to your blogs.
# Leave Comments On Other Blogs
As with all online marketing, even when leaving comments on other blogs, to have the greatest impact, what you say needs to add value to others.
When you leave a comment that adds value, you:
- Assist search engines to locate your content faster because they first pay attention to the big, popular websites, and if a link to your content is found there, they’ll pick up your WordPress blog faster.
- May get more business if a reader thinks your comment was interesting enough and clicks through to your website.
# Answer Questions on Q & A Sites
You can leave links to your WordPress blog on Question and Answer sites, but…
It has to be done naturally (no blatant promotion), and your answer has to be relevant to the question, and helpful.
Providing value as you go along is an essential element in self-promotion.
# Pay attention
There are many ways you can pay for attention, but many of those methods are also dubious in nature, so let’s focus on two of the most popular methods:
- Search engine advertising, like Google Adwords.
- Social media advertising (Facebook and Twitter).
Both require technique, so do your homework first or you may waste money on initial experimentation.
Paying to get traffic to your website is an excellent way to get people to your WordPress blog fast, as long as the money keeps coming. Since it takes some time for search engines to find your content, paying is great while you wait.
Over to You
Most bloggers won’t succeed, but if you have a good understanding of what successful blogging entails, you’ll know what to do from the word “go.”
To summarize, this is what you need to do to start a blog and to get traffic to it so that you achieve your goals:
- Part 1: First plan your WordPress blog by having a clear motivation for why you want to start blogging, gaining an intimate understanding of your target audience, and planning the architecture of your site.
- Part 2: Lay the foundation of good technical SEO principles.
- Part 3: Add brilliant content that adds value.
- Part 4: Methods to get traffic via search engines.
- Part 5: Ways to promote your blog to get more traffic.
Content written by Daniel Katz