Are you a blogger? Have you ever wondered if there’s something you’re just not doing right?
Do you wish there was a simple checklist to follow to make sure you’re taking care of the basics?
In today’s episode, I share 11 basic things every blogger needs to do.
Listen to This Episode
Inside this episode
One of the things that gets me really excited is seeing people start blogs. The joy I get from that is probably a little weird. But hey – can you blame me? My blog is Become A Blogger.
On the same note, I see so many people start blogging and don’t cover some of the basic things that will help them over the long run.
So I decided to record an episode that I can send bloggers to, especially when they are just starting out, to make sure they have all of the basics taken care of.
Here goes . . .
1. Optimize Their Blog For SEO
I’m not a big SEO guy. I never try to manipulate the search engines to see if I can get higher rankings. However, I do want to make sure my blog is optimized for the Search Engines to be able to get as much information as they need to rank my blog accordingly.
There are many premium themes that have built-in SEO features that do a good enough job. However, I choose to use the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast, because it is an awesome plugin, but also because it remains consistent regardless of whether I decide to change my theme in the future.
2. Change Your Permalink Settings
When you install WordPress, the default permalink settings are set so that the URL of each post has the post ID in it, not the title of the post. For example, your first post will be www.yourblog.com/?p=1 instead of www.yourblog.com/your-first-post/.
You want to make sure you’re giving the search engines as much information as possible so that they can tell what your site is about, and the URL does matter at some level.
To change this, go into your WordPress admin area, click on Settings and then Permalinks. Then you can select the page title option instead of the page ID.
Please note: If you already have an established blog, don’t change your permalink setting because that can cause a lot of problems if your site may already be indexed by the search engines as it is. Changing can cause you to lose a significant amount of traffic.
3. Install Google Analytics
Google has built a powerful analytics platform that rivals the very expensive business intelligence tools out there. The big difference is that Google Analytics is FREE, and in many cases, more accurate.
If you’re blogging and are listening to this episode, you most likely care about growth. You want to build a business. And if you’re building a business, you need to manage that business.
“What gets measured gets managed.” – William Thomson
While Google Analytics doesn’t make your business more successful, it gives you data that can help you make smart business decisions in the future. Install it on day one and thank me later.
4. Create An XML Sitemap And Submit It To Google Webmaster Tools
A sitemap is a page on your site that lists and links to all of the pages and posts on your blog. An XML sitemap is a sitemap that automatically updates itself whenever new content is added to your blog.
Google Webmaster tools is a service provided by Google to allow you to check how your site is indexed, and to optimize your site’s visibility.
By submitting your sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools, you are basically telling Google what pages and posts are on your site and updating them whenever there’s new content. While this doesn’t guarantee success, it does give you more control over how your site is indexed.
It’s a bit technical to set up and if you aren’t very techy, I would try to get someone else to do it. However, if you are more of a DIY kinda person, here’s a good guide on how to do it.
5. Optimize Blog For Social Sharing
If you haven’t noticed as yet, we are living in a world that’s dominated by social media, and while your blog shouldn’t necessarily revolve around social media or be fully dependent on it, it’s a great way to help to get your content out there.
In order to take advantage of social sharing, you want to make sure that your blog is optimized for sharing. How do you do this?
- Use a social sharing plugin so that people can easily share your content.
- Make sure that when your blog is shared, there’s a nice image that goes along with the post that gets automatically populated.
6. Use A Responsive Blog Theme
In the last 30 days, 22% of the visitors to this blog came here on a mobile device and 30% of the visitors to my Biology Blog did the same.
The world is becoming more mobile and we need to start catering to a mobile world. When choosing a WordPress theme, make sure to choose one that is responsive, meaning that it adapts to whatever device you are viewing it on.
If you already have a design that you love and don’t want to change, you can also use the WP Touch Mobile plugin, which creates a mobile version of your site so that it’s still optimized on mobile devices.
7. Pay Attention To Formatting and Layout
If you’re trying to get your blog out there to as many people as possible, you want to make sure that you pay attention to the way your content is formatted and laid out.
The key is this – you want to make it as easy as possible for your audience to consume your content and get the message you’re trying to convey.
This can be accomplished by:
- Keeping your paragraphs relatively short
- Using formatting elements like bold, italics and underline sparingly and strategically to emphasize key points.
- Use images to help bring across your points
8. Grow An Email List
Your email list is one of your most valuable assets in building your online business. It’s how you’re able to nurture relationships with your subscribers, engage them and turn them into loyal fans. Oh, and it helps you to make money, too.
It’s so important that I decided to do a 3-part series on how to build your list. Some people think that they shouldn’t focus on that in the beginning because they don’t have an audience yet. However, every active subscriber counts, whether your email list has 10 or 10,000 subscribers.
When I was getting started I asked a number of successful bloggers what they would’ve done different if they were just starting out. The #1 thing I heard was that they would’ve started their email list from the very beginning.
9. Have A Lead Magnet
Yes, it’s important to build your email list. However, if you want people to subscribe, you have to give them a reason to do so.
Having a lead magnet (free gift) that helps them solve a specific problem is a great way to do this. It can be something as simple as a one page PDF with some of your best tips/resources.
10. Create Awesome Consistent Content
This is more important than every other point I’m mentioning in this podcast episode. The fact is this – if you are creating awesome, consistent content, this can overshadow any failures in other areas.
There are massively successful bloggers out there (i.e. Leo Babauta) who ignore almost all of the other things I’ve mentioned so far. However, their content is AWESOME and CONSISTENT, and as a result – they’ve achieved tremendous success.
People come to your blog because you did something right to get them there. However, they will stay, come back and share it because of your content.
11. Market Your Content
It’s not enough to create awesome content. You want to also let people know that the content is there. If you build it, that doesn’t mean that they’ll come. You’ve got to get the word out there using whatever strategies you can.
The question is how do you get the word out there? The answer? Much more than I can say in one paragraph. Fortunately, I’ve created a few resources to help you out:
- How To Get Traffic To Your Website Or Blog
- 099 How I Get Over 50,000 Monthly Visitors To My Blog Using Free Traffic Sources
What did I miss? Are there other things you think every blogger should be doing? If so, let me know in the comments below.
- WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast – optimizes your blog for the Search Engines to be able to get as much information as they need to rank your blog accordingly.
- Google Analytics – a free service offered by Google that gives you data that can help you make smart business decisions in the future.
- Google Webmaster Tools – a service provided by Google to allow you to check how your site is indexed, and to optimize your site’s visibility.
- WP Touch Mobile plugin – creates a mobile version of your site so that it’s still optimized on mobile devices.
- Recommended social sharing plugins:
- Become a Blogger posts mentioned in this episode:
- 176 How To Build Your Email List – Part 1 – The Setup – Part one of three series of blog posts that talk about building your email list.
- Posts that talk about marketing your blog
Some people prefer to read along with the podcast episode. Others actually prefer to read than listen. If you are one of those people, not to worry. I've got a transcript right here for you 🙂
Next week – New media expo, national association of broadcasters in Las Vegas. If you’re there, lets connect.