In Week 5 of the So You Want To Blog series, we are talking about how to get your blog out there. Last week, we talked about Creating Great Images For Your Blog. To catch up on everything you missed, you can read the whole thing here.
So. Your blog is new, right? You may want it to be private- for just you, or just to share with your family and friends. Lovely. If you’d like to go a step further and share your blog with the world, don’t hold back. It’s really nice how the internet has made the world much smaller. I think it’s amazing. I love, love, love it. This blog has been read by people from about 200 countries. I also read blogs from very very far and wide.
As a newbie blogger, how can you be found?
Two things: Blogger Engagement and Search Engine Optimization.
What is Search Engine Optimization? How Does It Work?
Google is your friend. Have you met my friend, Google? Pretty sure you have. Have you ever thought about how exactly Google saves lives?
It’s kind of simple. Eh, I’m not talking about the coding or whatever happens behind the screen but, in very simple terms, what Google does is this:
It has devised a system of arranging information in order of relevance. This they do not by any form of sorcery, but by an algorithm (algorithms?) that takes really good guesses at determining what is relevant. HOW? It’s a combination of two things- the content, and the popularity of the source.
Content first. If you write a post about say, Beyonce’s formation? The whole world has already written that article, so even Linda Ikeji is unlikely to pop up on Google Page 1. You are there though, somewhere.
So, you want to increase your chances of being found. You want your blog optimised for search engines! What’s the formula?
1. Tag Your Posts Well.
I like to organize stuff on my computer. Folders pon folders pon folders. So, very early on in the blog, I would tag all my posts extensively. This is a habit I have really come to appreciate for very good reasons. One, it keeps you organized. Two, it helps with your archiving- people can easily find stuff or click through by category, and Three, (I picked up on this late) it helps put you out there, helps you get found.
What to tag? If I were to review the Bible in one post, I would start by tagging every single book. Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, Mark, Revelations… all the way. That’s how serious I am. If you’re talking about a book, or an idea, or a TV show, make sure you tag all the major themes you discuss. Writing about celebrities? Tag the celebrity, tag the topic.
Your tags do not have to be visible under your post- not all themes have such room, but tag still. When people Google a related topic, you will come up. This is also affected by how widely read your blog is, but don’t fret. If you write about something that nobody has written about before, those searches will come and you’d be on Google Page 1.
For your sake and for others’, tag your posts. In addition to Google, Bing and the other search engines, if you are on WordPress, people can search for a particular topic, and if your posts are tagged or categorized by that search word, you will be found. The longer you blog, the more your readership will grow and the more views you get, the more likely your posts are adjudged relevant.
2. Tag Your Photos Too
This is also another simple but helpful tip. When you include a photo in your post, also tag it with the relevant key words. If you put up a post about your Washday, you could tag the photo “Washday+Natural-hair.”
The dashes between words make them easier for search engines to read.
How do you tag the photo? After uploading, go through the options to edit your photo. You should see an option that says “Alternative Text”. There, you should put in your photo tags. We haven’t always done this, we only recently started and we have noticed a difference in our searchability. Important posts that would be helpful to people searching had been hidden because of this little thing of not tagging the relevant key word(s).
P.S. There is no point saturating a post with tags that are not relevant to the post, just for views. I don’t know how they do it, but Google like Santa Claus can see you and will eventually be on to you. You can’t artificially make yourself relevant if you actually aren’t contributing helpful content.
3. Keep Your Site Simple
When your blog is simple, with not too many add-ons or extras, it loads faster, and this also contributes to your SEO.
Heavy high resolution images are great for print purposes, but you don’t need to burn time or internet uploading 7MB images to your blog posts. A reduced version is fine. When your photos are lighter, your blog loads faster. I mentioned this in last week’s post.
How Do You Engage With Other Bloggers?
To our silent readers, we see you, we love you, but if you’re going to start a blog and grow your readership, you want to leave your mark. You want to make blog-friends. You want people to visit your blog. Making blog-friends is a good thing in itself, it’s not about blog traffic- but you do need this for traffic too.
1. What Are You Thinking? Say It
What are your thoughts after reading someone’s post? You just read it, so you must be thinking something. Articulate that. No matter how short, and I don’t think any one would be upset about long epistle comments either. It makes the person happy to hear from you. This is how blogging relationships are built. It could be the smallest compliment. Back when I spent every day on Lookbook.nu (Lookbook was like the web Instagram of Fashion & Style wayyy before Insta), I used to joke about how everyone was so nice and encouraging. Even if a style post wasn’t exactly heart-eyes inducing, people would find something nice to say- Cute buttons! Cute laces!
You need that. But please remember, to properly engage, leave meaningful comments. “Nice!” is not enough. If you don’t want to share your thoughts in the public comments space, you can send the writer a message. If you find someone’s blog inspiring, if it made you take positive steps in your life, email them. Say so. If you read something and the person seems a little down, leave an encouraging comment or email them.
When you do leave comments, linking to your blog site is only the bonus. People may see your comment and decide to click to your own site, but the motive should not be to just advertise your link, but to communicate, engage.
2. Don’t Wait To Be Asked
If there’s a blog tag or a vlog tag you read or watch and you like, hop on it. Don’t wait for anyone to tag you. Do it, and link back to the person you saw doing it. Tag bloggers you like. If there’s a Challenge you’d like to go on, or a thread of posts, email others, ask them to join you. A giveaway on your blog? Email, leave comments about it. Just don’t wait to be asked.
3. It’s Not Easy To Keep Up, But Don’t Stop Trying
We know, it’s not easy to keep up with everyone (we too are guilty) but it’s a habit we are always working on. Bloglovin’ helps. When you follow your favourite blogs on Bloglovin’, you don’t have to click 100 links or receive 100 emails about new posts. Bloglovin’ keeps you updated by collating updates. It’s really helpful. Are you following us on Bloglovin’?
4. Toot Your Own Horn
If you’re anything like me, this is hard. Sharing with your family and friends could be something you are very reluctant to do. I know, I’ve been there. But please don’t be like- “Who am I to write something that people should read?” Actually, who are you not to?
Talk about your blog. I have a second blog only a few people know about because it’s not ready yet. Nothing classified lol I’m a lawyer, and I’d like to dedicate that blog to legal writing, on learning the law my way. It’s very different from what I do here, so I don’t talk about it, but when I do get started, I will talk about it. Talk about your blog. You are adding value, adding little drops of knowledge to the universe. YOU HAVE TO DO IT.
Hey, I wrote this and it’s worth reading. I did this and it’s worth you looking at. It could help you! Or be relevant to someone you know.
Put it out there. Facebook, Twitter, BBM, Whatsapp, Whatever networks you are on. Tell people when they ask you what you do, or what you like to do.
Not that this blog is racking hefty numbers every day. But I remember the days when it seemed like I was doing too much, like I was updating every status in vain. Like this girl, WYD? I don’t regret putting my blog out there. I’ve met pretty cool people here, like you, yes you 🙂 I’ve had some pretty nice opportunities. I’ve been personally impacted positively by this habit I have built. None of this would have happened if I did not start from somewhere, by tooting my own horn. I learn as I go, I’m not saying I’m an expert at this. I just want you to get comfortable with talking about your thing, it’s the least you can do.
Just a reminder that the So You Want To Blog series is primarily for the newbie blogger, and for that person that has been wanting to blog but hasn’t been able to get themselves to do it because it seems like such a huge deal. It’s not. The advice in these posts may seem basic- if it does, you’re a G because you’ve figured this out already, keep at it! If these A, B, Cs are helpful to you, please let me know. Share them with someone you think needs this. If you’ve been blogging and you have more letters to add to these- helpful tips from your experience, please share in the comments!
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