This post is based on episode 161 of the ProBlogger podcast.
Are you limiting the potential of your blog by ‘forgetting’ a few things?
There’s a lot to think about when you’re blogging, and so it’s easy to forget (or know you should be doing them but never quite working out how).
But while not doing these three things won’t kill your blog (you can still carry on without them), it could seriously limit your blog’s potential.
And what are these three things?
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- The “big picture” of content
Let’s look at each one, and why bloggers often don’t pay enough attention to them.
#1: Search Engine Optimisation
At the ProBlogger event a couple of years ago, I asked a group of seven or eight bloggers two questions.
My first was, “Where do you put most of your attention in terms of building traffic?”
Their responses included Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, guest posting, writing for Medium, paid advertising, and networking with influencers.
I loved the variety of answers. But I found it fascinating that not a single blogger (myself included) said their main focus for building traffic was search engine optimization.
My second question was, “Where do you get most of your traffic?”
This time, most of them said their number one traffic source was Google. (For most of them, number two was whatever they were putting most of their attention into.)
It’s great to focus on more than just SEO when building traffic. But what would happen if we put more attention into driving traffic from Google? Most of the full-time bloggers I’ve met say Google brings between 40% and 60% of their traffic.
Right now there’s a lot of attention on driving traffic with social media. But maybe we need to start focusing on search again.
So why do bloggers ignore SEO? I think many see it as being too hard or too technical. But even I’ve reaped the rewards of spending a bit of time on SEO every day. And I’m the most non-technical person I know.
And you don’t need to get obsessive about it either. Here are a few simple things you can do to increase your Google traffic.
- Set up your blog the right way. At a minimum, use an SEO plugin. You might also want to check out episode 94 of the podcast: 5 Mistakes Bloggers Make with SEO and What to Do About Them.
- Learn how to optimize your content. Learn how to use headings (and keywords within them).
- Think about the keywords people would search for to find your content. What would someone type into Google if they wanted to read a post like yours?
- Try to get extra links to your site from other sites. For one great way to do that, check out How to Build Hundreds of Links to Your Blog in 5 Minutes a Day.
A couple of years ago I realized I was spending several hours a day on social media and no time on SEO.
So I flipped it around and focused more on SEO. I spent five or ten minutes a day building links to my blog, and learned how to optimize my content to appear in Google’s featured snippets. The result? A big increase in my search engine traffic.
A lot of bloggers feel some sort of guilt around email. They know it’s important because everyone keeps telling them how powerful it is. Unfortunately, a lot of them get stuck in one of four places.
But before I talk about those four places, I want to make it clear how important email really is.
Email doesn’t drive as much traffic as search or social. But what it does do is drive traffic with intent. People click through on emails to read content, buy a product, or engage in a community discussion.
On ProBlogger and Digital Photography School (DPS) we use email to drive people to our Facebook group, our blog posts, our Facebook pages, and so on. It’s vital for building engagement on our sites.
And email is the ultimate sales source for our own products and affiliate promotions. If you want to monetize what you’re doing, it’s crucial.
It’s also great for building a brand. For readers who aren’t on Facebook every day (or who aren’t on Twitter or Pinterest or Instagram at all), email is the number one touch point they have with us.
But bloggers often don’t use email effectively (if at all) because they get stuck in one of four places:
- Getting started. At first, building an email list can seem like a waste of time. When I started the DPS photography list I managed to collect 17 email addresses in the first week. (Well, 14 along with my own, my dad’s and my wife’s.) I remember thinking, “Is it really worth spending an hour putting together a newsletter for 14 people?” But I still did it, and the next week it was 30 people, and 45 the week after that. Now we have more than 700,000 subscribers. So choose an email service provider and make a start.
- Collecting email addresses. Many bloggers just have a widget in the sidebar. But there’s a lot more you can do to get people to subscribe. You can have calls to action in your content, you can use a tool such as SumoMe or OptinMonster (which I covered in episode 68 of the podcast), or you could create a free opt-in to give away to people who sign up.
- Sending emails. Some bloggers collect email addresses but never send emails. Even if you’re waiting to have something to sell, you should still get into the rhythm of sending emails. Create and send useful content to your subscribers at least once a month – more if you can. On ProBlogger and Digital Photography School we send a weekly newsletter that lists the content published on the blog in that week, and sometimes a bit of bonus content as well.
- Automation. Many bloggers manually put together every email they send out. That’s fine, but you can achieve so much more with a little automation. Set up a sequence of emails to get your readers on board and introduce them to your site. If that’s something you’re interested in learning more about, listen to episode 70 of the podcast: How to Drive Traffic and Profit in Your Blogging with Autoresponders.
If you’re stuck in one of those four areas, I encourage you to push through it during the next week. Start that list, collect email addresses more effectively, send emails regularly, or build some automation into your list. It can really lift your blog.
#3: The Big Picture of Content
A lot of bloggers are really good at creating daily or weekly content. But their system of creating content is often very much in the moment. They sit down, think about what to write about, write it, and then publish it.
One way to bring life to your blog is to create a content calendar, or at least a list of content you want to produce over the upcoming weeks and months. This helps you to become more thoughtful with your content, and create content that takes readers on a journey.
I like to think of it as creating a pathway for your readers. What’s the path you want to take your readers on over the next few months?
In episode 11 of the podcast I ran through a simple exercise that can help with this: creating a “before” and “after” profile for readers of your blog.
When readers come to you they’re in a particular situation, and you want to help them change. What do they need to know? What changes do they need to make? How could you inspire them? How can you help them gain the skills or the confidence they need?
By mapping out the change you want to see in your readers, you can plan and create content that takes them on that journey. Rather than just creating content that helps readers in the moment, you can give them the sense that you’ll be creating content that builds on this. That’s the type of content people will want to get more of, and that will drive them to subscribe and to become a regular reader of your blog.
So most bloggers could put more time into:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Creating a “big picture” for their content
I’d love to hear what you’ll be focusing on over the coming weeks. Let us know in the comments. And let us know what you think other bloggers should spend more time doing?
Image credit: Brooke Cagle