“If you build it, they will come,” is a famous line from the classic movie, Field of Dreams.
It worked for Walt Disney amusement parks. Unfortunately, blogs are not amusement parks. When you build a blog with the intention of making it generate enough profit to quit your 9-5, you have much work to do.
Bloggers who make great incomes do so by monetizing them. They become so popular that advertisers are flocking to their doors. They are masters of affiliate marketing too, and many offer consulting services to other would-be bloggers. The often develop products for sale and write books.
And many bloggers who have their own sites, also submit posts to other sites that pay for those submissions. This, too, can generate a healthy income.
But this is getting way ahead of where you are. You have to begin with being “discovered” and then becoming popular. A lot of this will involve really understanding SEO and then developing strategies to get top page rankings.
What Search Engines are Trying to Do for Searchers
If you want to know how to stain a deck, you might search via Google. If it brought up sellers of deck stain, builders of decks, and big box home improvement stores that sell deck wood, you would be pretty disappointed. And if this was repeated with several searches you do, you’ll probably find another search engine to use.
And that’s the whole point of these bot web crawlers. They go out, about once a week, and look at every page – websites, blogs, articles, etc. They are looking for new content, for keywords/keyword phrases, etc. and index these all by categories and rank them according to popular searches humans conduct. And their goal is to keep humans happy when they do search for stuff.
Your job as a blogger is to keep Google and other search engines happy with your content so you get indexed and ranked well. It’s sort of a “mutual admiration society”. When you rank well, you show up on that first page, people click over, and you become popular. Of course, there are other things you have to do as well.
Here is a list of 10 things you need to do well. They take time, commitment, and evenings and weekends. If you are up for that and truly serious about earning a living through blogging, read on.
- It’s All About the Content
You have to know the pain points of your target audience, and you have to address them. You can do it seriously, with humor, or even with inspiration. But through it all, you have to be a creative enough writer to engage – from the title, the first sentence, and down to the very last word.
Your content has to be unique, compelling, and interesting enough that readers will want to share it with their communities. And when they do, others link to your blog or post, and search engines take notice.
A couple more notes about content:
-While a few typos may be acceptable, a post that is filled with grammatical errors will not “fly.” Proof each post before you publish or submit.
- Keep your tone natural, casual, and simple. Aim for a 7th – 8th-grade reading level, and use a tool to check that reading level.
Show your personality – we’re all humans and like to get to know other people, especially people whose stuff we are reading.
- Use Multi-Media
You already know that visuals – photos, infographics, drawing videos, etc. – capture attention more than words. Consumers of content are impatient people. If you can show them with a visual rather than text, they will like you more.
If you can explain something by making a video, do it. It doesn’t have to be professionally produced. A good smartphone will do the job. The casual nature of the thing will capture interest, and if you can throw in a bit of humor, all the better. Use a cool image at the top of each post, and place others along the way.
- Identify and Use Keywords that Make Sense
There are a lot of tools that can generate solid keyword suggestions, based upon popularity. This is a good strategy because they are based on solid research data. On the other hand, you probably know your target audience best. In addition to the “science,” consider the search words and phrases that your audience might use when searching for the type of content on your blog. Be sure those keywords are in the right spots – your title, headings, and a few times in the content itself. And if you have several options, spread them around.
- Consider Getting a Larger Audience
Given our shrinking globe, lots of e-commerce businesses are spreading their reach all over the place and picking up lots of additional customers. Consider doing this with your blog as well. Or you may have multi-lingual communities within your own country that you are missing. Consider expanding your blog into other languages and give those options to visitors. This increases traffic, and search engines like to see that. Of course, get a good translation firm to help – you want translations to be accurate and inoffensive to other cultures.
- Getting Those Back-Links
Search engines do notice when there are links back to your blog found all around. But here’s the thing. If you have a blog about real estate, getting a link from a pet supply site or blog, it does not look logical to Google. Not only will it be discounted, but, in some instances, your SEO ranking will be penalized – especially if this happens a lot.
The same goes for disreputable or questionable sites. If a porn site links back to your real estate blog, not only is it illogical, but that porn sit may not have a great “rep” with search engines – not necessarily because it is a porn site, but perhaps because of other online practices.
The goal is to get lots of backlinks but only from related and reputable sources. These actually count with search engines. So, if your blog is all about things of real estate, there are a number of related sectors that will look logical – home improvement, landscaping/gardening, lending sites, etc. Getting the link from these sources, as long as they are reputable, is what you want.
So, how do you get them?
-You guest blog;
-you reach out to blog owners and set up reciprocal arrangements to promote each other
-You find influencers in your sector and begin to woo them – follow their blogs and comment; follow them on social media. Keep it up until they know who you are and think you are pretty knowledgeable. At that point, you can send them an amazing post you have written. Or ask if you can re-post one of their posts on your blog.
- Get on LinkedIn and make contacts within your niche- they may give you shout-outs from their web presences.
Yes, this all takes time. But remember your goal. You want to become so popular that you can begin to do all of those things that will generate income – lots of it.
- Titles Matter
What makes you want to click on an article or post you find? Here’s the story of Upworthy. In 2012, two young men decided to launch a news site with a different mission – to bring up social issues that younger demographics care about. To generate enough interest, they knew they had to come up with titles that intrigued so much, readers could not resist clicking through. And, as they themselves state, the staff spends as much time on a title as it does on the story, sometimes more.
The result? In 2013, the most popular posts were viewed/shared 380 million times, and they are generating about 100 million views a month.
Your titles should also make sense, with the best keyword you can find. But in making sense, you must be creative. When people’s curiosity is piqued, they click through. And the more click-throughs, the more those bots notice. (Of course, you also have to have the great content to keep them there).
- Post Often
This habit serves two purposes. When you gain a following, they expect to hear from you often. They look for your posts. You may want to publicize how often you will be posting so that followers know when to “tune in.” When bloggers take time off, they lose readership.
The second purpose is that bots want to see new fresh content popping up on a regular basis. They will index all new content, and that gets you noticed by search engines.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
You are blogging for one reason and for one reason only – you want to build a following large enough to that you can monetize it, make great money, and quit your job. A huge part of getting that huge following is SEO. If you keep showing up on the first page of search engine results, you are on your way. Use these SEO tips to get yourself there.
8. Content That’s Long Enough to Really Address a Need
Remember that one time you Googled “SEO for Bloggers” and landed on a post that was only 10 words long? No. You don’t. Because it probably never happened. Since you as a human want enough information to actually accomplish your goals (ex: become awesome at blogging, learn how to change your car’s oil, create tasty gluten-free desserts, etc.), you probably prefer content that gives you a full picture. This usually requires more than 200 words.
Search engines realize that 2,000 words will give users/searchers a complete picture of how to do something epic than 500 words. It’s based on a human need, and it’s translated to how their search engine software treats all the posts in Internet land.
Translation: Use headings, and images, and bullet points to keep your text interesting, but then make sure there are enough text and content to really help and engage people.
9. High-Frequency Content (Also, a Lot of Content)
A friend recently explained to me how he used to start every morning of his life . . . he woke up and grabbed his phone to check the blog of one of his favorite music artists. The days that the music artist posted something were the best days ever. The days the artist hadn’t said anything new, were days where he probably searched the web for other interesting content. He was devoted. But, that music artist eventually stopped adding new stuff, and my friend eventually stopped visiting that website.
Frequent posts, and a lot of past posts to browse through give people the confidence to fall in love. They feel the blogger is around to stay. They feel the blogger is in it for them as the readers.
Search engines know that consistency and options (multiple past posts to choose from) really influence our enjoyment of a site. Therefore, search engines are more inclined to load their top search results with blogs that honor the frequency concept (and also blogs that have a large library of posts).
Translation: Publish new stuff consistently. Search engines love it because people love it. Build trust. Build up your library/archive of past posts that are epic.
10. Blog Post Headings That Make Sense and Organize Your Information
Imagine this post without any of these numbered headings. How would you keep track of what point you were on? Would you finish the article and go back and count to make sure there were actually 10 points as promised? Do the headings also help you know what I’m about to say? Do they help you get mentally prepared?
Your blog’s search engine optimization is affected by the headings you choose to include. Do they make sense? Do they have keywords in them? If so, that means your reader will be happier. And as we’ve said through this post a bazillion times, happy readers is what search engines want to create. You’ll never have a reason to use anything but the search engine that consistently delivers useful results.
Translation: Use headings. Organize your content. Do you remember those keywords and phrases you thought of that people might enter into a search engine to find content like yours? Make those words part of your headings.
11. Content That’s Popular (on Social Media Platforms)
‘Member that corduroy pants example from #5 above? Well, it applies here too. If you see friends, and perhaps even tons of strangers, talking about this one thing/store/blog/item, you’ll want to know what it’s all about. The term “social proof” means that something has enough attention from Internet land/people to get new people to notice it. When you see that 1,000 people like/share something, you take that more seriously than if 0 or 10 people like it.
Search engines can read the links and content from most social media platforms. They’re able to tune in to conversations and see what/who is hot right now. They may return some of those social media posts or Pinterest pins in search results, but they also use the mere existence of all the shares and links to figure out which blogs are the best to return in search results.
Translation: Don’t ignore social channels. First, make content and images that are simple to share on social media sites. Provide people with clear buttons and sharing options (ex: the buttons at the bottom of this post before the comments area . . . you can just click on your favorite platform and share). Join social media sites where your readers spend their time and become active. Start conversations about anything interesting. Promote your stuff, promote other stuff you like, socialize with others . . . people will notice that you are there and helpful.
So, how do you feel about SEO for your blog as it relates to human interaction? Are there any areas in which you might incorporate new tactics? I gotta say, it was a bit hard to not use words like “algorithm” and “sitemap” in this post, but my intent was to communicate the foundations of SEO for bloggers in a non-techie way. These are the core concepts you can follow to help your blog get noticed by search engines.
Sure, there are definitely other factors like site speed, clean website code, a mobile-friendly site, and perhaps using a great plugin like the one I use, SEO by Yoast (if you’re on WordPress), but the 10 items above are the real places to begin your search engine optimization strategy. Everything stems from how people use/like your site. Speed is important because people are impatient, pictures are important because of people like visuals, etc. With every decision you make for your blog, ask not what search engines would like, but what actual humans would like.
Hi human. Thanks for reading. Any questions or epic thoughts? Would love to hear them below, because I too am human.