With the advent of the internet, a vast number of things became possible that were beyond even the realm of imagination before the technology became commonplace. One of these things is the ability of getting one’s thoughts and ideas to millions of people without batting an eyelid and even making money out of it.
Blogging has changed the way people think and receive news or information. People are now using this simple tool for a wide variety of things ranging from gathering more information, driving socially responsible agendas, making profits through affiliate marketing, keeping in touch with a business’s target audience, and even getting to know more people from various walks of life.
The current state of the blogging landscape is such that virtually any individual can one day decide to setup one and have it working within a couple of days. Such speeds of implementation were not possible a few years ago because WordPress was only released just over 10 years ago in 2003. Now, it is the platform of choice amongst bloggers. However, while creating blogs on WordPress is a fairly simple exercise, making that blog successful and popular is not quite as simple.
If you have recently become interested in blogging and created a WordPress based blog then it is likely that you are wondering how you can compete in an increasingly challenging environment.
The following WordPress tips are going help individuals such as you on what they can do to make their blog so good that it starts to inspire others.
The following guide will talk about; from
- establishing the blog in the first place to
- marketing it in a manner that it becomes popular, while also visiting key aspects such as
- securing the blog against external threats.
So let’s do this…
1. Focus On Making Your Blog Professional
There is a huge difference between a popular blog, a mediocre blog, and a blog that never takes off of the ground. The first, as is obvious, is the blog that is visited regularly by the multitudes that inhabit the online biosphere, the second one is available a dime a dozen on the internet and enjoys some following, and the third one exists simply to stoke the pride of one or a few individuals as opposed to cater to its audience.
As you move from the first to last category of these blogs, you will find the number of visitors declining to a point where the third type gets little to no traffic. In the majority of cases, the third type of blog suffers so drastically because it is not created in a professional manner and looks like something out a child’s drawing book.
Creating a professional looking blog is always going to be the first step to successful WordPress blogging.
Here are some things you should keep in mind if you have just started building your blog or are about to begin.
Get a Domain Name and Establish a Hosting Service
No blog is going to be taken seriously if it does not have its own domain name. While saving money is well and good, when your blog’s address is nested within the domain name of WordPress then you can rest assured that people will give it a wide berth and you will never have an audience beyond your best friend, girlfriend, and mother.
Nested domain names are clear signs of lack of professionalism and, hence, lack of any experience in the blogger which means that he has no relevant information to provide. Moreover, you also need to have a devoted hosting service for your blog if you are serious about growing it in the future. Not having a dedicated hosting service would limit you greatly if you ever need to grow your blog.
Make the Theme as Unique and Innovative As Possible
Initially, you will be tempted to use one of the themes that come in the WordPress download package. Even though it is alright to use these themes for experimentation, we recommend that you look deeply into unique alternatives.
Your blog needs to look different from all other nobody blogs on the internet because it will only become popular if it could stand out amongst the competition.
You can find numerous sources of WordPress themes on the internet with some being free and most being paid. The paid ones naturally offer better themes with more options than the free ones and also do not charge much. Thus, research into your options, find a unique theme, and then personalise it to a point where it becomes one of a kind.
Get a Digital Blog Header and Blog Footer
Your blog will not become popular if you do not put some effort, time, and most importantly, money into it. Extremely popular blogs tend to have their own digital blog headers and footers.
Headers and footers can only be described as design elements placed at the top and bottom of your blog pages. They are like your blog’s identity and are, debatably, the most recognisable aspect you can have on your blog because they contain your trademark logo, name of your blog, and possibly your identity as well. Headers and footers cannot be found on the internet although some templates may be available.
As headers and footers would define your blog’s identity, it is better to sanction a designer to design them for you.
Avoid Overusing Widgets and Add-Ons
It is very common for a first time blogger to download WordPress and subsequently proceed to go crazy as soon as he finds out about the whole new world of widgets and add-ons. The natural tendency is to download and install as many widgets as possible because they are free and very ‘cool’.
However, this usually results in two things. The first is that the space required for hosting keeps shrinking with each installation and the second is that the blog pages keep getting more and more cluttered.
When you are creating your own blog, you should make sure that you install only those widgets and add-ons that give you a direct and tangible benefit.
Focus On Fonts and Image Alignments
Before you create your own blog, you should go and look at some other blogs on the internet that are popular and that you think are professional and classy. These blogs’ style is what you should look to emulate with your own blog. For instance, a good blog has certain combination of fonts and image alignments. Most new bloggers tend to not take the font in their blog seriously enough which results in their blog looking amateurish and childish.
Similarly, a common problem that new bloggers face is the alignment of various things such as images. You need to focus on these two things and come up with permutations and combinations that look good.
Creating different pages with different combinations can be a good idea before deciding which one looks the best and should be used in all the pages.
Make Your Blog Friendly for Multiple Platforms (aka responsive design)
This is something that older bloggers never had to worry about because there were not many platforms to worry about in those times. However, you need to make sure that your blog is compatible with multiple platforms because now people browse on the internet through various devices and operating systems.
While it is not easy to make your WordPress blog compatible with multiple operating systems and browsers, you may find making it mobile friendly a little challenging. Even so, there are plugins available such as WPtouch that can make this task incredibly simple.
Study User Experience (UX) Principles and Implement Them
User Experience or UX is a technical field where professionals analyse a combination of psychological and technical aspects of catering to a target audience.
The principle of UX is simply to structure your blog in such a manner that you are catering to the behaviours, emotions, attitudes, and perceptions of your target audience. While it is possible that you have never heard of UX and that you find it daunting, a little research into this subject should see you get a good grasp of the basic tenets. You can employ what you learn on a piecemeal basis as you develop your WordPress blog.
Do Not Ignore the Benefits of Plugins
The main reason why WordPress is so popular for blogs is that it is simple to use. Its simplicity comes from the plugins that can be added to it on a whim. There is now virtually a plugin for any task you need accomplished on your WordPress blog.
Here are five of the most useful and, hence, popular ones in the WordPress plugin directory.
- SEO by Yoast: This plugin is designed to help you handle search engine optimisation or SEO which is a subject we will address later in this guide. The plugin offers its own WordPress tips to to rank better in SERPs.
- Akismet: This is a simple anti-spam plugin that will save you a lot of time and effort that you may otherwise spend sifting through spam comments and trackbacks.
- Broken Link Checker: This plugin is designed to fix the technical problems of broken links which can be detrimental for the blog in various ways.
- Dagon Design Site Map Generator: Site maps are also crucial to SEO and difficult to create unless you have a sitemap generator at your disposal.
Note: The plugin hasn’t been updated for sometime but it makes up for it with its robust functionality.
- Tribulant’s Slideshow Gallery: This plugin is designed for those WordPress blogs that need to put up a collection of images in the form of a scrollable gallery.
2. Implement SEO
SEO, as mentioned earlier, stands for search engine optimisation. It is a method by which a website or a blog can increase the traffic it gets from search engines.
Essentially, SEO is a method by which you can make sure that when people search for certain things on search engines like Google, they get your blog as one of the first results. This way you would increase the number of visitors you get and possibly increase your presence on the internet. There are various things about SEO that you should keep in mind.
Learn About Basic SEO
Before everything else, you need to learn about the basics of SEO. Most people new to WordPress blogging do not really understand what SEO is all about.
Fortunately, SEO is such an important cog of the online marketing machinery these days that there are numerous resources on the internet that you can use to learn about this discipline. Most importantly, you need to learn the basics of SEO because it is entirely possible for you to optimise your blog without help from a trained expert.
SEO is an in-depth discipline but, at the same time, it is also accessible to people without technical knowhow, provided they are willing to put effort into learning about it.
Do Your Keyword Research
Once you have understood the basics, you will know that the success and failure of your SEO strategy will depend upon the kind of keywords you select.
The trick is to do keyword research and find out phrases relevant to your blog that are searched very often on search engines but do not have much competition. This means finding keywords that people look for that other competing blogs have not tried to target as of yet.
Typically, you will also have to create a list of long tail keywords which are nothing but focused keywords. For instance, if HDTV is a keyword then Samsung HDTV is a long tail keyword and cheap Samsung HD TV an even better long tail keyword.
Never target keywords that you have not researched into as that would be like driving to a destination by choosing routes at random.
Emphasize On Keeping the Technical Side of Things Clean
Studying the basics of SEO will also teach you that there are technical sides to SEO as well. Imagine a city where roads lead to dead ends. In such a city, you would not be able to reach your destination, would most likely quit, and go live in another city because of the inconvenience of finding your way.
You should treat your blog like the road network of a city wherein every road connects point A to point B and if some roads or links lead to a dead end then you need to fix it. These links are known as broken links.
Similarly, sitemaps submitted to Google are like roadmaps of your city which you are submitting to your nation so that people coming to your city can travel conveniently. These are just two technical aspects. There are more for which you may require technical help from professionals.
Interlink Your Posts Internally
SEO is done primarily by creating hyperlinks inside and outside the blog with both being equally important.
Internally, you should try to link your different posts to each other as much as possible for maximum connectivity inside your chosen domain name. This is not only beneficial from the SEO standpoint but also for click through traffic i.e. number of people who go from one post on your blog to another by clicking on the links you create between different posts.
There are numerous ways for creating external links and all must be used in combination for best results. Here are three of the most common methods –
- Article Marketing:
Article marketing is a technique where you submit unique articles to article directories carrying links to your blog. More the number of such links pointing at your blog, the better your website will do in search engine results. Submitting such articles is usually free as long as you are willing to write them yourself.
- Blog Directories:
Blog directories also provide you with inbound links or links pointing to your blog. In addition, blog directories market blogs independently to their own target audiences which means more traffic for your blog if you can manage to join such blog directories.
- Guest Posts:
One of the best ways through which you can gain reliable inbound links as well as content for your own blog is guest posting. You can approach other blogs more established than you and request them to allow you to post guest posts with links to your website. Alternatively, when your blog becomes successful, other people will request the same from you.
- Article Marketing:
Hire SEO Professionals
If you have the money and are not able or willing to put in effort into learning SEO, you can hire SEO professionals to do the job for you. However, you must keep in mind that outsourcing SEO efforts can be expensive. You must also keep in mind that because any individual with time and willingness can learn SEO, every individual claiming to be an expert may not be reliable.
Trick for differentiating an expert from a false claimant is to see if they promise number one spot in search engine results. No expert will ever guarantee first spot on search engine result pages because it is impossible to give such guarantees.
3. Practice Good Blog Writing Principles
Your WordPress blog will reach nowhere if you do not have the talent for writing, taking unique pictures (in case of photo blogs), or creating interesting videos (video blogs).
Typically, most WordPress bloggers are writers or people who want to write. If you are an individual who is interested in writing as well then good blog writing principles are going to be the foundation on which your blogging skyscraper is built.
Here is a list of some of these good blog writing principles –
Choose Your Subjects Wisely
Good blog writing is all about catering to an audience. If there are hundred other blogs writing posts similar to what you are writing and you have nothing new to offer then you can expect to be stuck in mediocrity.
This means that you cannot use rehashed or rewritten content to populate your blog unless you have some unique writing skills that can make basic information dance like fireflies in front of the readers’ eyes.
Bringing things to life is one capability that only a few people have but this ability can make a world of difference to a WordPress blog writer. Thus, you must not only choose subjects that you know will interest your audience but also weave the kind of story with your words that readers find irresistible.
Make Simple but Attention Grabbing Headlines
Good blogging begins with good headlines. Regardless of how good a writer you are or how beautifully you have built your WordPress blog, you will never attract enough readers if your headlines plod along instead of jumping out at the reader. It is not that difficult to make alluring headlines.
Consider the following –
- Keep the headlines short,
- Convey what the post is about,
- Use attention grabbing words such as top xx, best, free, how to, what is, define, etc.
- Use font and alignment tricks to make headlines standout, and
- Try to be as imaginative as possible.
Break the Content Down To Small Bits
Have you ever tried reading a page which is full of content from the top to the bottom without there being any break in the middle? In other words, imagine reading a page that is one big paragraph instead of multiple smaller paragraphs.
You would not only be mighty peeved with such content but will also find yourself losing track of where you are time to time. Naturally, you would leave such a page in a hurry. In fact, most people see such content and make a beeline for the ‘Back’ button rather than try deciphering the frustrating format.
On the other hand, if you break your posts down to smaller bits with lots of subheadings, bullets, and lists then you would not see tumbleweeds flitting across the barren landscape that is your WordPress blog.
Make Key Aspects of the Content Stand Out
Every piece of content has some key pieces of content. If you can make such key pieces of content (see what we did there?) stand out in some manner then you would not only make it easier for your readers but also get your message across more succinctly. You can use formatting to do this.
Here are some of the more common ways seasoned bloggers use.
- Make it bold,
- Use italics,
- Underline it,
- Change its colour, and
- Use it all.
Learn To Attribute Quotations and Stats
Nobody likes their hard work to be stolen and reported by someone else as theirs. The same is true in the blog-o-sphere. Bloggers that do this tend to make enemies very quickly on the internet instead of making friends.
More importantly, such bloggers never get many readers because even readers are smart about such things and plagiarism is not something they appreciate.
Even more importantly, search engines have ways and means of sensing plagiarism and stamping it out by preventing blogs that plagiarise from getting enough traffic.
Thus, every time you copy content or even use facts, quotations, and statistics, you must attribute it to the actual source with names or links.
4. Create a Personality for People to Relate To
Blogging is about offering something unique and engaging to the people who inhabit in the digital space that is the internet. It is akin to making friends in the real world by seeming interesting.
On the internet, the trick to making friends or gaining followers is to have a unique personality because most readers relate to personalities rather than some nameless entity sitting behind the curtain.
It takes time to establish a personality as well but it is possible. There are different ways of doing this –
Let Your Personality Shine through Your Content
It is possible to let your personality shine through to the reader through your content itself. A person’s style of writing is unique just like a person’s manner of talking is unique.
When you let loose with your keyboard, you personality will shine through your content and the reader will sense it coming through quite easily.
This is why you should never make your content too robotic and instead let it flow through your fingers.
Become an Expert in the Niche You Operate in
People who read blogs mainly do so for three reasons. The first is entertainment, the second is to gain a new perspective, and the third is to learn new things about a subject.
While the first is served by the previous point, you can only provide the last two to your readers if you have become an expert in your chosen subject or niche. And that comes through hardwork, passion and plain old hustling.
You should also keep in mind that if you are an expert in your field then you need to constantly improve your know-how to keep up with developments in your industry. This means taking refresher courses, reading other sources of knowledge, and even getting more formal education.
Learn To Accept Mistakes and Errors
Nobody is infallible. Everyone makes a mistake sometime. How you react to making mistakes, however, is something that your readers will notice.
If you have built up a following then, sooner or later, some smart aleck will spot something politically incorrect, mistake, or typo from you and point it out to you either in an email or the comments section.
You must deal with such situations graciously and fix the issue without becoming aggressive with the particular reader.
5. Build a Relationship with Readers and Peers
While you must convey your unique personality in your blog and behaviour, you must also look to build a reliable relationship with your readers and your peers. Such relationships will not only allow people to relate to you but also give them a personal connection with you.
Respond To Comments and Emails Regularly
The simplest way to build a relationship with your readers and other bloggers is to respond to comments directed at you and emails sent to you in a fair, just, and friendly manner.
The comments and emails will usually relate to only three things –
- Appreciation for your work,
- A heads-up for some mistake or technical problem, and
- A query or question regarding your blog posts.
You should not have much difficulty responding to any of these three types of emails or comments as they are fairly simple in nature most of the times.
Build an Email Marketing List
One technique that is particularly useful in building a relationship with readers is to send emails to them regularly. This is only possible by building an email marketing list.
The process is simple wherein you create an opt-in form on your blog and invite people to give their emails. You can use an autoresponder to send emails to people who sign up. It is important to note that this method is also useful for SEO, direct marketing, and making the blog seem more professional.
Link to Posts by Other Bloggers
Building relationships with your peers i.e. other bloggers is even easier than building a relationship with your readers. All you have to do is link to their posts on a regular basis with your posts to bring yourself to their attention.
In addition, you should also comment regularly on their blog posts and strike up conversations with their other readers or even with them. Finally, you can ask them to include you in their blog roll if they have one.
Pay Attention to the Feedback You Get
Whether from peers or readers, you will gradually start getting feedback on various things about your blog ranging from formatting to your style of writing.
If you do not get any such feedback, you should look to invite it through surveys, offers, and questionnaires. The important thing, though, is that you should take this feedback seriously and try to incorporate it in how you operate.
6. Leverage Social Media Networking
Just like the internet changed the way people think and the way business was conducted, social media networks have also brought a new perspective to things. Social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are highly useful tools when it comes to marketing blogs and websites.
Bloggers who do not leverage social media networks tend to not be very popular which is why you need to use social media as well.
Create Social Media Pages and Keep Them Current
You cannot leverage social media networks unless you create pages for your blog on them. Alternatively, you can use your own name as a conduit for your blog. The former method is recommended over the latter one because it is considered to be more professional and dignified.
Furthermore, your personal life will not be interrupted if you make a separate page for your blog.
Remember To Share Posts Regularly
The first thing you must do to keep your target audience engaged via social media networks is to keep sharing your blog posts on such networks. When you share your posts, you not only bring new posts to the attention of your blog’s followers but also get a chance to gain new audience.
Integrate Social Media Buttons and Links
You should incorporate social media buttons on your blog.
There are plugins that provide buttons for all social media networks and even methods for each button to be integrated individually. This is useful because it would allow your readers to share your posts easily with their friends.
As friends of your blog’s followers see links to your blog, they may click on them and, hence, you gain a new audience.
Hire a Social Media Marketing Expert
Social media marketing is quickly becoming an independent marketing discipline just SEO and other marketing niches.
Thus, you will find numerous professionals and experts on the internet who offer social media marketing services.
These individual use various techniques such as sharing, liking, commenting, and even internal social media network ads to promote their clients.
7. Make Security One of Your Prime Concerns
You must plan for your blog to become famous. This means that the popularity will draw malicious individuals towards your blog as well. People looking for personal benefit may also try to hack or take over your blog. Which is why you must start preparing for such nefarious activities from the very beginning.
Keep Updating WordPress and Other Plugins
WordPress is considered to be one of the more secure platforms. However, this is only true if you regularly update the version of the WordPress that you are using. WordPress updates and patches contain countermeasures against the types of techniques used by hackers as and when they are discovered, apart from improvements in features.
Make Sure Your Passwords Are Hard To Hack
One of the simplest methods through which a WordPress blog can get compromised is through brute force where the hacker utilises programs for trying multiple phrases as potential passwords repeatedly in the login page.
The only way through which you can prevent this from happening is by using strong passwords.
Use CAPTCHA to Prevent Automated Attacks
Automated attacks and spams alike can be prevented with CAPTCHA codes. It is easy to have CAPTCHA on your blog. All you need to do is install one of the many different types of CAPTCHA plugins available for WordPress online. Such measures can render automated programs completely redundant and toothless.
Get a Security Audit Done and Take Suggestions On-Board
At the end of the day, there is not a lot you can do to make your WordPress blog more secure other than what is mentioned above and installing certain special plugins.
If you find that the security of your blog is especially in danger, then you can also hire experts to do a security audit of your blog. These individuals will study your blog in terms of different ways through which its security can be compromised and then give you a report of such loopholes along with steps that can be taken to plug them.
If you follow the advice given then you can make your WordPress blog secure and hard to crack.
And you’re good to go…
If you follow all the tips mentioned above then there is no reason why you would not succeed in your dream of building a WordPress blog that is not only engaging for readers but also highly profitable because of increased visibility.
Monetizing a WordPress blog is a separate and independent subject by itself.
Therefore, if you want to monetize your blog then you will have to put even more effort into studying different ways through which that can be done.
Read next: How To Monetize Your Blog: A Newbie’s Guide
Header Image Courtesy: AdamHaven.com