When it comes to New Year resolutions, many of us aim to do so much.
For some, it could be giving up smoking, for others, it could be making more of an effort when it comes to friends and family. However, many are slowly seeing the benefits of blogging, and wish to have a slice of the turkey before it’s gone completely. So, it could be that your New Year resolution is to create a blog or develop an existing one.
The actual process is quite straightforward, but it’s important that we look at blogging in the right context.
While the setting up of the blog is a simple and straightforward process, we also have to build on the foundations. Otherwise, our blog could be simply floating around in cyberspace for some time.
As such, if you’re looking to make an impact in the online world in 2017, it can be worthwhile carrying out some research, and developing a plan to help you reach your online goals.
As an online and search spheres continue to evolve, so do the methods and strategies instilled into blogging. With the recent introduction of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), mobile-first indexing, voice search and Google’s Penguin 4.0 algorithm update, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to keep up with the latest trends and best practices, especially for those who are just starting out.
Although some of the terms I’ve used may sound horrifying, as a 2017 blogger, you should be at the top of your game. That being said, don’t get overwhelmed just yet, it will all make sense by the time you finish reading this post.
But first, let’s start with the least mind-blowing step.
Choose your foundation
When deciding to start a blog, you will probably be advised of a thousand different platforms, usually backed up with objective reasons for every suggestion. However, the secret to finding the right kind of platform is simply finding one that suits your needs.
For example, if you’re something of a social network enthusiast, then you may find Tumblr to be an ideal platform, as it acts as a social network while instilling blog elements, meaning that it will be easy to pick up and start blogging.
If you wish to take your blogging a step further and potentially build a brand around your website, you should be looking for a platform that enables advanced functionality and plugin integration. In this case, WordPress could be a steady contender. What’s more, WordPress has a plethora of options, including as to whether you self-host your blog, or run it through the dedicated servers.
Don’t compromise on quality
When it comes to content, you need to apply the same strategy you would to any other product or service, and that’s creating content that is engaging, relevant, comprehensive and carries value to the consumer, whether it is podcasts, articles, visuals or explanatory videos. At the end of the day, content is exactly the primary determinant of your blogging success.
You can find out what content is being searched for by carrying out an extensive keyword research, but you still need to ensure that your content is engaging when posted. To identify hot and trending topics, check out a tool called BuzzSumo.
For your content strategy to be effective, you can either offer the reader a series of tips, or simply provide them with impressive and informative content. Those who read and follow your work will often want to share it with others, which means you should make the sharing process a seamless experience.
Many blog themes may already come with sharing options instilled, whereas others may have to find additional plugins to allow this. In either event, making the sharing of content easier means that you can get more readers and subscribers as a result, which can only have a positive impact on your blogging efforts.
Fight for better User Experience
You may have heard of the term ‘user-experience’ or ‘UX’ and dismissed it as something of an online buzzword. However, the term ‘user-experience’ means exactly that, and can make all the difference as to whether your blog is a success or failure.
As such, it can be worthwhile carrying out some research and making notes of features that you enjoy on other websites, and ensure such functionalities are employed on your blog. Other factors to consider include navigation and the aesthetics of the blog overall.
Communicate with your readers
As the likes of Facebook and Twitter become a more immersive experience, it should come as no surprise that blog owners who communicate with their audience fare better than those who don’t. This isn’t to say that you should join every social network and forum known to man, but adopting channels you know your readers use means that you’re keeping the online relationship strong.
Keep up with the latest trends and changes
The world of blogging and content is an ever-changing environment, where new practices and strategies pop-up on a daily basis.
The vast majority of blogs and publications get their main chunk of traffic from search engines, where Google has monopolised the search market in almost every country. For instance, according to SimilarWeb, TNW’s traffic from search accounts for almost 40 percent of all traffic to the website. Hence, it should come as no surprise that organic traffic is a vital mechanism of a successful blog.
Consequently, being on top of the latest trends and practices would only maximise the chances of your blog becoming a success.
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): Introduced by Google and a couple of its partners like Twitter, the primary intent of AMP is to create a lightening-fast mobile search environment, where articles load within milliseconds. Webmasters and Search Marketers of high traffic publications and blogs were encouraged to integrate AMP as a way to earn extra exposure in Google’s “Top Stories” carousel, as well as providing a fast experience for their readers.
- Mobile-first indexing: About two months ago, Google announced the official roll-out of its new indexing and ranking system. Prior to the mobile-first indexing, Google used the desktop version of the site to evaluate the content and its relevance to the user, and then ranked those pages accordingly. This has now been changed. Google will now be looking at the mobile version of the site first, and then adjust the rankings.
- Voice search: According to Search Engine Land, voice search account for 20% of all mobile queries. Moreover, with the recent introduction of Google Home and Amazon Echo, this percentage is only projected to rise. Therefore, bloggers, webmasters and search marketers have to think about the strategies for optimising their content for voice queries.
- Google’s Penguin 4.0 update: This one might be quite challenging to digest, especially for those who are just starting out. That said, if you have been tightly bound with search marketing, you are probably aware of Google’s complicated algorithms and how they evaluate which pages to rank and which not to rank. In few words, a cute name “Penguin 4.0” is not as cute in reality. It’s an update to one of their core algorithm that fights spam on the web.
Being at least aware of these trends and changes would help you thrive as a successful blogger.
Don’t underestimate the value of a subscriber list
With social networking slowly cementing itself into everyday life, it would be easy to assume that the days of subscriber lists are gone. However, they remain as strong as ever, simply because people enjoy receiving updates from the brands they trust and follow, rather than having to go and look for it.
In this regard, it’s important that you have a clear call-to-action when it comes to a reader entering their details. You could even consider a reward, such as a free e-book, for those who enter their details.
While there is no secret formula to make millions from your blog, strong content and online presence means that it won’t be long before your blog starts receiving traffic, and after so long, you will find that such views can be monetized. As such, it can be worthwhile considering how you will be making money from these visitors.
There is a ton of advertising options available at your fingertips, anything from the standard Google Adsense Ads, content discovery networks like Outbrain and Taboola to affiliate marketing and book sales. The way you choose to monetize your website depends on your traffic volume, type of content and user engagement.
- Third party ads: Allow ads from third party advertising networks, such as Google Adsense, Outbrain and Taboola. Your blog should be receiving a decent amount of traffic in order to make some good revenue with this approach.
- Affiliate marketing: Advertise third-party’s products or services for a commission.
- Direct ads: If your site is generating a decent amount of traffic, no doubt you will get into position when people and businesses would be willing to advertise their services/products on your website.
- Sell products and services: A number of bloggers have confessed that direct sale of goods and services is one of the main income streams. Ebooks, whitepapers, guides, consultancy, web design, online marketing, you name it! All can be used to make a penny.
Of course, the world of blogging has been an ever-changing one, so it can also be worthwhile ensuring that you’re up-to-date in relation to developments. You may also find that there are some aspects you’re not able to deal with yourself. For example, you may be able to get your blog looking just the way you want it but struggle with content. In this regard, it could be worthwhile to start thinking about building a team of dedicated bloggers and professionals.
Overall, if you run your blog in the right way and ensure that both, your blog and the content within is appealing, then the rewards can be plentiful.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
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