Whether you are solely a blogger or someone who does occasional blogging to promote a service or product based business – these tips apply!
So last week I attended the annual BlogPaws conference and had an amazing time! I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak on SEO in 2 sessions – one for beginners and one for advanced bloggers. I also had the chance to meet with 9 bloggers in one-on-one sessions to help them improve their blogs – and all 3 of these opportunities offered me some great insight into some of the biggest issues facing bloggers.
9 times out of 10 I start my responses when people ask specific questions related to their websites with “I am known for my honesty and this may hurt so stop me now if you don’t want to hear it…..” – MOST people do actually want me to go on…..and sometimes they really listen and take my advice.
Others listen – but then tell me why I am wrong or do not want to take my suggested actions…..and you know what, that is OK too!
My goal is ALWAYS just to help people – I have built websites and sold them, I have websites that make money and generate traffic, I have clients that grow by triple digit percentages year over year. I kind of know what I am doing.
There are some things I just know – really really well and those things would be Organic SEO and WordPress – and I like to think if you take my advice – you WILL see value in the future.
Now don’t dare ask me about Facebook or Twitter — or how to cook or paint a room – because I just suck at all of those things!
Why does all this matter? Because I want you to understand that I know how to increase traffic and improve conversions – it is what I do, who I am and what I love. I do not give advice on a lot of things – so I hope you will take my advice outline below….or at least give a lot of thought to what I am writing!
YOU GOTTA HAVE A PLAN!
There were quite a few people I spoke to who were super excited about their blogs – and that is awesome, you should be excited!
But when I asked what their website goals were – they blanked! They had no clue what their goals were – no purpose, no benchmarks – nada, nothing.
Before you even start blogging – you should absolutely positively know WHAT you want to achieve with your blog.
- Do you want to generate income?
- Do you want to create your blog with a long term goal of selling it? (yes, people do this!)
- Do you want to partner with brands?
- Do you want to be an “expert” in your field?
- Do you want to be a resource for news and media outlets?
- Is your blog just an asset to help promote another business?
- Do you want to increase your speaking engagements?
Think about where you would like to be in 3 years. I understand not everyone wants to make money – everyone has their “purpose” and you really need to define that purpose.
YOU GOTTA HAVE AUTHORITY!
“With age comes wisdom” – that is a very true statement – I am old so I know!
But this also holds true with Google as well. A domains age IS a part of the algorithm and will have some affect on how you rank.
If you are a newer blog it will take you a while to convince Google that you have the age and the wisdom to be a valuable result for searchers.
If you are already several years old — you should be ranking pretty well for your content if it is well optimized!
WHAT ABOUT US YOUNGSTERS?
If your blog is relatively new — and we are talking probably 2 – 3 years or younger – then the next section is important!
Yes, 2-3 years may seem old but because a lot of websites you are competing with are much older – you would be considered a youngster and that can be hurting your ability to rank well .
In your pet blogging blogosphere there is one website that launched in 2011 – it is a very broadly focused blog, but currently ranks for over 29K keywords….yes that is 29 THOUSAND! They are authoritative – well optimized and the website is very well coded – these are all factors in why the rank so well!
This is just one example of many well aged websites in the pet world — so competing with these websites can be a challenge for newbies and younger websites.
Which brings us to an important topic – FOCUS!
SO WHAT DO YOU DO TO COMPETE – YOU GOTTA HAVE FOCUS!
This was by far to me the biggest thing at BlogPaws that I tried to drive home to bloggers!
If you started your blog many years ago – it was easier then to rank – there was less competition and it was easier to stand out in a crowd. So you could write about 20 different topics and do well…
…sadly, that is not the case anymore – so having a clear focus for your blog is critical to growing quickly and being identified as an expert!
If you are a “pet blogger” writing about health, wellness, training, product reviews etc. – you are competing with hundreds of other bloggers doing the same thing.
Think about it this way:
- How are you going to stand out from the others who are writing about the same things you are?
- How do you compete against well established blogs that have authority and reach in those topics?
- How can anyone 1 person be an expert in all those things?
Then you have to think about your users – you want to be clear about what you offer for them.
Then you have think about Google – how will Google best understand what your primary focus is?
Hopefully you can step outside your comfort zone to really analyze your website as it stands today. Look at it as a USER would and ask yourself this question:
OK Gotcha, So How Can I Fix My Too Broad Blog?
When people think of your blog what do you want them to think of?
If you blog about everything under the sun for dogs or cats – is there a focus you can narrow down to?
Here are some ideas for a more focused blog:
- Breed specific
- Senior Cats/Dogs
- Health & Wellness for “this breed” of Cats
- Toys & Activities for “small/big” Dog Breeds
- Positive inspirational dog or cat/human bond stories
- Aggression training
- Dog/Cat food review and research
What your “focus” should be is what you are known for – how you are identified and the things that readers could come to your for when they have questions!
The other writings you may do do not need to be a part of your focus topic, but should be “related”. For example if you write about Labrador Retrievers it would be best if you kept topics related to animals – not cars or houses or home decorating. It should be relational.
We HIGHLY suggest you focus on ranking organically for your core focus topics before writing other articles. By ranking for your core focus first – that will make you an authority on that topic and then your other writings will also eventually rank well also.
By writing too many posts about too many things – you are diluting your focus and in the eyes of the search engines they will become confused!
SO CAN I RANK POSTS THAT ARE NOT ON MY CORE FOCUS TOPIC?
Absolutely! We have seen many blogs that rank for random posts pretty well, but as a whole their website does not rank well for any specific niche or topic – this is what prompted this post.
Without the clarity of a focus topic or niche you will never gain the “authoritative level that most bloggers want to have!
OK GREAT I GOT IT – I KNOW WHAT I WILL FOCUS ON!
This is awesome news!
But now the work is really just beginning…..once you have a clear focus it is time to review your existing website for the following – and this is only a limited list to get you started:
1) Branding – does your logo and tagline tie in to your new focus?
2) Main Menu – is it uncluttered and offer clear direction to the pages you want visitors to go to?
3) Do you have CLEAR call to actions to most topical posts and sections?
4) Are your categories well organized and make sense?
5) Are your social media channels updated to promote your new focus in the descriptions?
BUT I LOVE MY SITE THE WAY IT IS!
Then leave it alone – but understand that if you stay too attached to your website and are hesitant to make changes you may never get to the level of success you would like.
We get it – it is comfortable, your followers are raving about your website and what you do — but what about the other several BILLION animal lovers in the world.
Are you thinking of them?
What about the new user who may come to your website but cannot figure out what you do – who you are or find the content they want?
TRUE STORY: I recently spoke with someone who had a logo in their left sidebar. No logo in the header – actually nothing in the header at all. When I jumped on the website I had no clue who they were or what they did. She loved her site and did not want to change it – I could not change her mind. There is not a conversion expert out there who would not tell her to move her logo and put a description of her business in the header — no one should have to LOOK to see what you do or offer.
Actually let me rephrase that – No one WILL Look to see what you do or offer, they will go to the next website.
If you are a SERIOUS BLOGGER – whether for income, a business or exposure – you HAVE to treat it like a business and not get “emotionally” attached. You have to do uncomfortable things and take criticism. You have to be willing to be flexible and test test test – until you are sick of testing…..
If you can do those things — then the blogging world can be a fun and successful journey!
TIME FOR ME TO GET SOME CRITICISM!
If you attended a session or met with me for a one-on-one – let me have it! Tell me what you loved – what you hated or that I was wrong!
Let me know how I can be better in the future and what I can do for YOU to help you even more!
Jill Caren brings over 12 years of WordPress and SEO experience to help you improve and grow your website. She has spoken at several events on SEO and has been published in several top SEO publications. You can contact Jill here.