Blogging is often thought of as an outdated form of marketing. However, those who think so tend to be those who never understood the purpose of a blog in the first place.
A correctly planned and created blog is crucial for a good Search Engine Optimisation strategy, as well as for creating income. But how do you create a successful blog? In our guide for blogging for beginners in 2020, we’re going to show you:
- How a blog works.
- How to start blogging.
- Top blogging best practices.
- The most common blogging mistakes to avoid.
- How to make money blogging.
If you do need more help with your blogging, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more tips and advice.
Feature image: NeONBRAND on Unsplash.
Blogging Basics You Need to Know in 2020
What is blogging and how does it work?
Blog is actually the shortened word for weblog (that’s web-log, not we-blog). It refers to a regularly updated page on your website that acts as a sort of journal. Think of blogging like a news site with articles, but the topics are whatever is relevant to your website.
Blogs have many purposes and can be used to:
- Increase traffic to your website.
- Generate social media content.
- Create leads or sales.
- Flow people into a sales funnel.
- Have people subscribe to a newsletter.
- Educate the community.
- Assert authority in your field.
- Spread awareness of your business.
- Direct website traffic to another page on your website.
And more. It’s for this reason the type of blog you have and the way you format it will depend on its purpose. For example, the blog you’re reading right now serves a very different purpose to our blogs over on blog.localsearch.com.au and have very different formats to suit.
8 Steps for Starting a Blog
Download our Quick Guide to Starting a Blog.
1. Create a blog.
First, you will need to build a website with a blog page. WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms as it’s easy to use and integrate with your website.
Try and avoid using a free blogging platform. The paid platforms, in addition to your web hosting, will be more secure and allow you more freedom with what you do. They also look more professional.
2. Organise a blog schedule.
Before you start writing, you need to create a backlog of blogs and a blog schedule. Plan to push a bulk load of blogs at once to give your users a reason to stay on your blog page and website for longer.
You’ll also want to plan for what blogs you’re going to write and release when. Aim for at least one to two blogs a week, as this keeps Google checking into your website and gives you more visibility in search results.
To create a plan, take examples from your personal experiences; what questions do your customers ask? Then, take specific topics and write an article on each.
3. Learn blog best practices.
Again, before you start writing, you’ll want to learn how to write blogs. While it may seem as simple as tapping out some words, there is a very specific way you want to format blogs, including how you use headings, how often you use your keyword and more.
We’ve provided some top tips for blogging and mistakes to avoid below to help you, whatever writing skills you have.
4. Write your blogs.
Now you know what you’re writing and how to write it, it’s time to get started. So you develop a habit of writing blogs, block out a morning or afternoon each week, like it’s a meeting. If you find you’re not getting time to write, Localsearch offers blog writing services included in certain SEO packages.
5. Proof your blog.
Spelling does impact sales and SEO, so proofing is an important step of your blogging process. However, proofing your own work is tricky. Your brain tends to glaze over mistakes you’ve made (even professional writers can do this), so you’ll need to either have someone else proof your work, or try some of these techniques:
- Waiting 24 hours after writing to proof.
- Change the font of your piece to trick your brain.
- Read your writing backwards, from bottom to top, to find spelling errors.
- Print out your writing.
- Put your work into Google translate to read out in English.
6. Find and optimise images for your blog.
Best practice says you need an image or video for at least every scroll of a page. This is a good rule to stick to while you’re starting out, but it does mean finding copyright-free images.
The easiest way to find images is to take them yourself, but this isn’t always easy or possible to do. If you do, you’ll need to ensure your photos are high quality.
One way is to embed images and videos from Instagram, YouTube and other social platforms using widgets. Some platforms, like WordPress, will include embedding widgets, while some may not.
Otherwise, you may need to use a free-to-use image platform, like Pixabay or Unsplash. You’ll still want to give credit to the photographer, however, you can use their images for free, providing there are no notes otherwise attached. There are also paid stock image sites, like Shutterstock, but they tend to be very obviously stock.
We have some tips for optimising your blog images below.
7. Upload your content.
Once you have your proofed blog and images, it’s time to upload. How you upload your blog will depend on the platform, but it’s normally pretty straightforward. Ensure you’re using a metadata plug-in to help tell Google what your article is about.
8. Market your blogs.
SEO means your blogs can take time to be found organically, if at all. So, to help people find your writing, ensure you’re marketing them on social media and through other digital marketing, like email marketing.
Do people still read blogs in 2020?
Look, there won’t be a lot of people looking specifically for blogs, but there are millions of people every second looking for information found in blogs. For example, our blog produces roughly 11% of our organic traffic. Even more of this comes from referral traffic from when we post our blogs on social media.
Blogs can even generate leads, if set up correctly with a lead funnel. So, for the hour or so it takes to write a blog (depending on length), it’s well worth it.
Top 5 Blogging for SEO Best Practices
Download our Quick Guide to SEO Blogging.
1. Do your keyword research.
While blogs should be written for the intended reader, knowing your keywords will help you know exactly how to target people with your title and content. For example, you may get asked frequently how long a bouquet of roses lasts. You do keyword research and discover people are asking specifically about how long cut roses last, as well as how long they last in water, versus out of water. Your blog can now contain the answers to all of these queries and more.
The more specific you can tailor your blog to your users, the more likely you are to have the most relevant answer. As we know, the more thorough and accurate your answer, the more likely Google will be to boost your results on their searches.
Keyword research can also help you plan your blogging calendar. For example, if you take a general word like plumbing and do your keyword research, you can write a blog per question or sub-keyword displayed.
3 Ways to Do Keyword Research
1. Google your topic.
Since one of the purposes of blogging is to get into the first page of Google search results, Googling the term you’re targeting should be your first step. Pay special attention to the ‘People Also Ask’ and ‘Searches Related to’ sections, as these give you insight into what people are searching for related to the topic.
2. Use Google tools.
Google provides many free tools useful for creating blogs and tracking their results, like the Google Ads Keyword Planner, Google Search Console and more. The analytics provided in the Google My Business Dashboard can also show you what people are searching for when they find your business.
Remember, your blogs are a useful way to reach additional topics related to your business, even if it’s not directly linked to your services. For example, a florist may do articles on seasonal flowers as well as wedding trends outside of flowers.
3. Check out AHREFS, SEMrush, etc.
Paid SEO tools, like AHREFS and SEMrush, can provide you with keyword research, as well as reports on potential issues with your website. They are not essential, but can make your life easier when you start to scale up your blog as they can track keywords and provide more insight into the ones you’re considering using.
SEMrush also has a blog-writing tool, which plugs into Google Docs and can help guide you on potential keywords you may want to include in your writing related to your target keyword. This can be very helpful as it can help you flesh out your writing more, ensuring you’re covering everything about a topic.
2. Analyse your competition.
For your blog to climb the already-existing search results, your article needs to be more thorough than what’s already there. Google will also consider other SEO best practices, like site speed, security and more, but the content in the article will be one of the most important aspects.
An easy way to do this is look at the existing results on the first page of Google for your target key term and find the similarities. Then, make note of what they’re missing. This is your sweet spot — mention the basics they have, and then add the information they’ve neglected to include.
For example, if you run a travel blog and you’re writing about flying with babies, you’ll run a search on this. You notice all the results speak about tips for keeping the baby busy and staying organised, but how about for your own comfort of juggling a baby and baggage? Maybe you have a tip for this.
3. Format your headings.
Formatting headings when blogging depends on the type of blog you’re writing. However, for most, the reader should be able to find a very basic answer to their query from your headings alone. Luckily, this is easy to do if you write your headings first, read them and ensure they make sense, then continue with the rest of your article.
Heading structure is also very important. They guide both your user and Google through your article and let them know where important information is within your blog. So, do use the heading option when adding your blog to the backend of your website.
But how do you choose headings? Your blog title will generally be allocated as a Heading 1 (H1) automatically. This allows you to use Heading 2 (H2) as your main headings in the article, Heading 3s (H3s) as your subheadings and Heading 4s (H4s) if you need any sub-sub headings.
Something to note is, the lower your heading number (H1/H2), the more powerful it is to Google. You want to ensure you’re using your keyword in your H1 and H2, and use them as minimally as possible. For a H1, you only want to have 1, which is handy if it’s your title. It’s recommended you have as few H2s as possible, using a maximum of 4.
4. Optimise your images.
Google looks at everything on your website to ensure anything that can impact a user, they know about. This includes images.
There are many different things you need to do to optimise your images, so we’ve made a quick list of these to help you:
- Ensure the file size is as small as possible, without losing quality.
- Excessively large images can slow down your website, impacting your SEO.
- Add Alternate Text (Alt Text) to every image when uploading them to your website. Alternate text is read out by voice assistants (like Siri) when certain settings are turned on, commonly used by people with visual impairments.
- Name your images what they are, separating words with hyphens, before you upload them to your website.
- Use original images related to your keyword, where you can. This will help you potentially get into Google image search results too.
- Only use free-to-use images if you need to rely on stock images.
- Unsplash and Pixabay are two good sites to use, but Canva also has stock images integrated into their graphic design tool.
5. Be a thorough expert.
As mentioned above, part of writing blogs for SEO and gaining a good position in search engine results is being more thorough than those already online. However, you also need to show you have authority to be advising people on the topic, especially for life-altering topics, like finance and health.
Whether you run a business or personal blog, you want to ensure you have an author bio with your photo, bio and links to your professional social media accounts, like LinkedIn. This helps people get to know you, as well as Google.
Top 5 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid in 2020
1. Writing for search engines, not people.
In 2019, Google launched software known as BERT, which allowed their search engine to better understand the intent of the searcher. This helps them produce more accurate search results.
Unfortunately to some, this meant websites and blogs needed to be written in language easy to digest for their users. Some dodgy SEO agencies out there, who use computer-generators for content or strategies like keyword stuffing (AKA overusing keyword) saw their results plummet. For those of us writing content for their users, we saw no difference, or increase in results.
Long story short, if you write content your audience is interested in and write it in language they’ll understand, you’ll be fine.
2. Duplicating content.
It may be tempting to grab content you’ve written elsewhere and upload it as a blog, or even using something someone else has written. Please never do this, unless you know what you’re doing with it.
When Google finds a piece of content that already exists online, they’ll essentially leave the page and not show it in their search results, or show it very low down. So, there was no point in you even posting it.
However, I mentioned not duplicating content unless you know what you’re doing. There is an SEO practice where you take an existing piece of content and add valuable, unique content to it. If done correctly, Google will see the duplicated content, but notice the additional content, and potentially rank it higher. Unless you are experienced with content and SEO, I don’t recommend doing this as it can be tricky to do correctly.
3. Not repurposing your content.
Blogs are an amazing way to build your other content calendars, like social media. Not only does this give you more content to share, it gets more people to see your blog!
Every blog you post, you want to immediately share it on your Google My Business. In the coming days, you’ll also want to share it on your appropriately suited social media platforms, like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You may even use the content in an EDM to those email list subscribers you’ve been building.
When you first start your blog, even first starting your socials, repurposing your content can help you get more from every topic.
4. Not looking at your analytics.
When you first start your blog, you want to ensure you’ve connected it to Google Analytics, Google Search Console and any other SEO tools you’re using. Then, you want to check in on these at least once a week.
To start, Google changes their algorithm regularly, and they rarely give any warning or notice of this being done. The only way you’re going to know if they have done so and it’s impacted you is by your blog’s traffic. Noticed a sudden dip in visitors to your website? Looks like something has happened and you need to research — or leave it up to the SEO experts.
Secondly, you can track what digital marketing you’re connecting to your blogs is working. How much traffic is coming through search engines versus social media or emails? Not getting any users to your website? Maybe you need to increase how much you’re sharing your blogs or get in touch with an SEO expert to adjust your strategy.
5. Not publishing frequently enough.
You should be posting a blog or new content on your website at least twice a week, minimum. If you’re in a highly competitive industry in your area, you’re going to want to be posting a little more frequently.
While you can let Google know you’ve posted a new blog, you want them checking back into your website themselves as regularly as possible. A good way to do this is through your blog.
By keeping your website fresh, Google knows you’re active and still available for their users, so you’re that little bit more likely to climb up search results.
Top 3 Easy Ways to Make Money from Blogging
Making money from a blog is possible. It’s suggested earning anywhere from 1 cent to 10 cents per page view is a realistic goal if you’re publishing valuable content a few times a week. However, it will depend on the type of monetisation, the number of users you receive to your blog and the type of content you publish.
1. Lead funnels.
A lead funnel is the journey someone takes from learning about your business, product or service, and contacting you for more information. It’s similar to a sales funnel, but instead of an outright sale, it’s a potential to sell. Lead funnels are common for B2B markets, over B2C markets, where you’re speaking to businesses over consumers. But how can a blog be a lead funnel?
There are a few ways you can add a lead funnel to any blog. The two main ways are through an:
1. Email subscription lead funnel.
Building a newsletter subscriber list serves three purposes:
- You can continue to send blogs to subscribers.
- You can send offers and product information to them.
- You can sell ad space in emails with a big enough subscriber list.
Option 1: Use a call to action throughout your blog encouraging people to subscribe to stay up-to-date with the latest industry news. Add a link to send them to a simple sign-up form.
Option 2: Install gated content, where to receive a downloadable checklist, cheat sheet or valuable insight, they need to provide their email address.
Option 3: Add a banner to the side of your blog encouraging subscribers.
Option 4: When you post a blog on your socials, add a link to subscribe to receive news and tips as they’re published.
These are all easy, quick ways to build a subscriber list fast. However, once you have collected people’s data, ensure you’re regularly checking in with them using a variety of content. For example, you wouldn’t only want to contact them with offers or new products. Remember, they subscribed for the free tips too.
2. Remarketing funnels.
Remarketing is a type of ad (generally Google Ads or Facebook Ads) which targets people who have already shown interest in your website. An easy way to do this is to set up your ad campaigns to target people who visit a particular blog.
For example, imagine you’re a plumber and you post a blog about how handheld bidets legally need to be installed by a licensed plumber. You then target people who visited this blog with ads about your discounted bidet installation offer. If they click on the ad, they go through to your landing page and hopefully contact you.
Of course, your blog should also link straight to that landing page too, but this is an additional way to reach these people.
AdSense is a form of Google Ads where someone can post their ads on your blog, YouTube videos, etc. You get paid for displaying these ads.
To qualify for Adsense:
- Your content must be unique and have a decent audience.
- Your website must be high quality.
- You mustn’t be posting illegal topics.
- You mustn’t be endangering or threatening a species.
- Your content can’t be deemed as dangerous or violent.
- You must not be promoting or encouraging dishonest behaviour.
- You must be 18 years of age or older.
And more, but most of it is common sense.
3. Sponsored posts.
Sponsored blogs are where you receive payment in return for mentioning a brand or topic. Normally you will need to link to a product. It’s similar to AdSense, but it’s done independently on a contract-to-contract basis.
Business blogs can be harder to find sponsored content for, but it’s not impossible. For example, a florist may received sponsorship for mentioning a wedding venue in a blog, or a restaurant may partner up with a drinks business.
However, before you start mentioning brands left-right-and-center and asking for payment, you do need a contract in place first. If you want to be noticed, you can mention brands you’d like to work with in your blogs, share them on social media and tag these brands. You never know; they may get in touch.
How to Pay Someone to Write Blogs for You
Blogging isn’t easy. This is a guide on blogging basics, so definitely doesn’t dive as deep as it needs to for you to have a full picture of how to do so successfully straight off the bat. Even professional bloggers learn daily and have to adjust their strategies.
At the end of the day, there is a reason people write blogs for a living. It’s a great marketing tool, but you have a business and life to focus on too. If you want to make use of blogging, get in touch with our team at Localsearch. We have great success from them and want to help you too.
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