Today’s equivalent of keeping a journal, blogging seems to be a rite of passage for new and aspiring website owners. Most people enter the blogging fray with lofty aspirations, whether they aim to share entertaining musings with the world or build a global audience that enables them to leave their day job.
Fortunately, services like WordPress make it incredibly easy for bloggers to publish their ideas online. The content management system is among the most popular open-source platforms online, with more than 409 million people viewing more than 22 billion pages each month.
With an estimated 152 million blogs currently online and more being created by the second, however, the challenge to stand out might seem insurmountable. The fierce competition leads to upward of 95% of blogs being cast aside and abandoned—many after just a handful of posts.
For those who want to keep grinding and want to be where the people are, we’ve compiled a list of six common pitfalls—along with the tips to solve them.
1. Ineffective SEO Practices: Research Keywords and Topics
With search engines driving more than half of web traffic, optimizing your content is obviously a key first step. SEO rookies are quick to aim for generic, popular keywords that are extremely competitive. Naturally, the newcomer will have a tough time breaking through the glut of experienced, high-powered content generators.
Instead of jumping straight into the deep end with high-competition keywords, wade into researching specific keyword combinations that will resonate with your readers. In addition, WordPress plugins—including our favorite, Yoast SEO—will easily walk bloggers through the process of attracting more visitors from the likes of Google and Bing.
2. Confusing or Unappealing Design: Boost User Experience
Several SEO factors are reliant on measurable metrics, such as page load speed or the presence of a sitemap. Although less measurable, a strong, user-friendly design can pay dividends when it comes to traffic and search rankings.
Happy, engaged users will spend more time on your blog, and fewer readers will bounce back to the Google results. Here are several critical elements to a strong blog design:
- Responsive or optimized for mobile devices
- Plenty of images
- Simple color scheme and layout
- Sidebar with links to more posts
- Widgets for most popular or latest posts
- Email subscription options
- Author bio
- Readable font sizes
- Social media sharing buttons
- Reader comments
For WordPress users, an SEO-friendly design means finding a visually appealing theme with cross-browser support, lots of documentation, and customizable options. Given you’ve already come to TemplateMonster, you’re on the right track.
3. Frustratingly Slow Performance: Find a High-Powered Host
As I wrote in the last section, site speed is a key contributor to how well your blog will rank in search results. An average user will wait just three seconds for a site to load before going elsewhere. A poorly performing blog is a double whammy: Not only are you missing out on readers, but Google will rank you lower.
The search engine makes a page-speed tool freely available to give you a basic analysis of your site’s performance and suggestions on how to improve.
One of the easiest ways to quickly boost page load speed is to house your blog with a well-respected hosting provider. When looking for fast WordPress hosting, zero in on solid-state drives, caching features, the availability of a content delivery network, and servers with scaling potential.
4. Wonky WordPress Settings: Know How to Optimize Your Site
Out of the box, WordPress themes are SEO friendly. The CMS generates clean, efficient code and comes with a variety of settings that can be configured to maximize your blog’s impact.
First off, make sure your site is visible to search engines. WordPress gives bloggers the option to keep search engines from indexing their site, which is especially useful while you’re still getting set up. If you forgot to uncheck the option, however, no one will be able to find you.
Another quick fix is to set up SEO-friendly URLs. WordPress allows for several different link structures, called permalinks. Pick the option that includes the title of your blog post, rather than undecipherable numbers.
5. Not Visible Enough on Social Media: Promote and Share Your Site
“If you write it, they will come.”
Sorry, the Field of Dreams mantra doesn’t hold up in the world of blogging. According to some, writing is only half of the process. Successful bloggers will spend a significant amount of time promoting posts on social media. Some useful tips to get the most effective social media attention:
- Post on multiple social platforms
- Share content when your audience is most likely to be online
- Include images with your posts
- Use a plugin that lets readers share content to their profiles
- Respond to questions and comments
In addition to social media, bloggers can easily promote their work by using the advertising credits many hosting providers give new customers when they sign up. Depending on the host, bloggers sometimes receive up to $300 of Google advertising credits—another reason the WordPress hosting service you choose can make or break your site’s performance in search results.
6. Content Doesn’t Resonate: Pump Up Your Passions
- Go in-depth: Shoot to write more than 1,000 words per post.
- Be specific: Just as with keywords, concentrate on a specific topic.
- Write strong titles: Use keywords—but don’t overuse them.
- Add images and interactivity: Give your readers something to look at.
Although you don’t need to be contributing to the annals of literature with your blog, your content should still connect with readers on a personal level. Whether you’re aiming to be useful or entertaining, allow your personality to shine through—no one wants to read the musings of a robot.
Be Patient: Gaining Traffic is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
As with a child, a successful blog requires constant attention, encouragement, and discipline. Your newborn won’t start running until you’ve spent a lot of time fostering the proper behavior and responses. In the fast-paced online world of instant satisfaction, patience can be the hardest facet to uphold.
Just remember: Good things come to those who wait.