The beauty of the internet is that anyone, anywhere, can create a web page about anything. If you like cats and live in New York City, you can create a blog about the day-to-day activities of cats in the streets of New York City. Will anyone other than your mother read your blog? Probably not – but nobody’s going to tell you that you can’t publish the blog.
While this is a very capitalistic system, it’s also a double-edged sword. Just because you can create a blog and publish whatever you want, doesn’t mean you should. In the grand scheme of things, very few bloggers are successful. This has to do with the fact that the average blogger focuses more on the freedom of being able to post whatever they want than they do on the practices that search engines like Google have put in place to control the discoverability of information.
6 Mistakes Rookie Bloggers Need to Stop Making
As a blogger, you probably want people to visit and read the content you’re creating. After all, that’s why you’ve chosen to launch a blog, as opposed to relegating your thoughts to a personal journal or diary. If that’s the case, you need to understand the importance of SEO and how it impacts your readership. Namely, you need to stop making the major mistakes that so many amateur bloggers are making.
- Writing Self-Centered Content
Amateur bloggers are inclined to write about themselves. They wrongly assume that whatever issues they find compelling will also be interesting to their readers. While there may be some overlap, you shouldn’t assume this is true.
A blog is not a diary; it’s a place for engaging with other individuals on topics that are of interest to a wide variety of people. Readers want professional insights on relevant topics, not a glimpse into your beliefs and feelings. While well-known bloggers with large readerships can get away with expressing their opinions, you aren’t given that much freedom. You’re goal should be to spark good conversation, entertain, and inform. Very rarely does self-centered content do any of these three things.
From an SEO perspective, self-centered content is useless. If nobody’s interested in reading what you write, how are they going to search for it? On the other hand, entertaining and informative content is naturally sought after. Writing on relevant topics enhances your searchability right out of the gates.
- Never Performing Keyword Research
If you’re supposed to expand beyond topics that only interest you, how do you find topics that appeal to the masses? The answer is keyword research. Using a tool like Google AdWord’s Keyword Planner, you can discover what people in your geographical area, industry, or network are searching for. Using the information you find, you can build relevant content around high-returning search terms.
When performing keyword research, pay attention to the competition. Hone in on keywords that fall between 100 and 1000 monthly searches. This ensures you’re writing about topics that plenty of people are searching for, but aren’t too competitive to rank well for.
When you finally write your blog, include at least one of the keywords you identified during the research process in your title. For example, if your keyword is “used cars in Boston,” a good title would be “9 Places to Find Used Cars in Boston.”
- Keyword Stuffing
Whereas some bloggers don’t use keywords at all, other bloggers become overzealous and start stuffing random search phrases into their content. This is not the answer. Google and other major search engines have cracked down on keyword stuffing over the past few years and now look down upon pages that appear to use too many.
It’s okay to repeat a search phrase in a post two or three times, but any more and you’re asking for unwanted attention from the search bots. As a rule of thumb, use keywords in meta title tags, H1 and H2 tags, image alt tags, and a couple of times throughout the body of your post. Of course, it all depends on the length of your post, too. Some say you should aim for two to five percent keyword density. This is enough to tell the search engines what your post is about without crossing the line.
- Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is a major no-no in the eyes of the search engines. Regardless of whether you’re trying to repost something you personally wrote and previously published or want to use a good article from an external source, it’s a bad idea. Google frowns upon duplicate content and has really cracked down on it.
If you’re going to use someone else’s content or allow another blogger to repost one of your blogs, do it the right way. First, make sure everyone understands what’s happening and that the original writer has given total permission for the content to be republished. Then, it’s important to tell the search engines that permission has been granted by setting up canonical tags that correctly identify where the original post is located.
- Not Having a Social Sharing Strategy
While it may have worked for Kevin Costner’s character in the film Field of Dreams, following the mantra of “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work in the blogosphere. In fact, it’s probably more appropriate to ask, “If you write a blog post and never share it, does anybody read it?” The answer is no.
If you want people to read your blog, you need a sound social sharing strategy. There are dozens of different opinions on the issue, but everyone agrees on the basics. You need a catchy title, attractive images, and convenient social sharing buttons. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to share your posts.
You should also focus on posting and sharing your blog posts at the right time. There are a number of different variables involved in the decision regarding when and how frequently to post, so you’ll have to experiment and find out what works for you. Generally speaking, posts are more likely to be read and shared in the morning, at lunchtime, and in the early evening.
- Not Guest Blogging
If you look into the topic of guest blogging, you’ll find a lot of differing opinions on the subject. Some are firm believers in it, others think it’s a waste of time. Because of this controversy, many rookie bloggers avoid guest blogging and instead focus all of their energy on their own blog. Don’t be so quick to come to the conclusion that guest blogging is ineffective. If there’s one thing everyone agrees on it’s that guest blogging enhances visibility. (Just make sure the blog you’re guest posting on allows you to include a link back to your blog in your author profile).
Start Building an SEO-Friendly Blog
Sometimes SEO is less about what you do and more about the mistakes you avoid. That’s certainly the case when you’re launching a blog. If you can avoid these common traffic-killing mistakes, you’ll be way ahead of your peers. From here, you can begin to make small adjustments and establish a stronger SEO foundation that actively targets and pursues internet users.
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