This is part two of our how to start a blog series – making a living from a small homestead is difficult, however, if you have information to share (see this article for ideas on picking a niche topic) and an internet connection then blogging might be perfect for you.
And it’s possible to make A LOT OF MONEY! My best month I made over $17,000 and you can too – but you have to start!
A painfully obvious point that far too many website owners overlook until it’s too late: web traffic is the foundation of your success in the online world. In the broadest sense, there are two ways that traffic will come to your site: organic and ad-driven.
There is little doubt that ads can be quite effective. (Google makes its money through ads, and the company isn’t worth half a trillion dollars for nothing!) However, if you want to build sustainable success for your site, it is important to build a foundation for organic traffic, as well. And that’s why search engine optimization (SEO) matters.
Let’s discuss the strategies you can utilize to start showing up on organic searches:
How do Search Engines Work?
The goal of every major search engine is to provide its users with the most relevant answers to their questions or queries. They accomplish this by sending bots to “crawl” websites, index them, and make note of their content. This content is then classified based upon the topics it covers, the user experience it offers, its connections with other sites on the web and the way users interact with the site. Upon receiving a query, the search engine then uses its proprietary algorithm to provide what it assumes to be the best results.
If your website can make clear what topics it covers and provide a high-quality experience to users, then you are far more likely to appear near the top of a search. Here are the most important ways of accomplishing that:
Use Relevant Keywords.
There was once a time when all website owners had to do in order to “hack” search engine results in their favor was to write important keywords over and over throughout their site. Nowadays, search engines are a lot smarter and can recognize these so-called “black hat” SEO tricks. However, it is important to note that keywords do still matter — they simply have to be used in moderation. For every web page, you create, make sure that the vocabulary and phrases you use make the overall concept that the page is expressing clear to humans and crawler bots alike!
Create a Positive User Experience
Websites that load slowly almost never rank well on major search engines — nor do websites featuring difficult-to-read color schemes or an overwhelming quantity of spammy ads. If you really want to take your SEO strategy to the next level, be sure to include clear headers, alternate image texts, and a mobile-friendly layout to help everyone who visits your site find exactly what they’re looking for.
Build a Strong Network of Links
Hyperlinks help bots crawl from page to page, which will ensure that your page is properly indexed. Even more importantly, however, links help establish authority. If your site frequently links to reputable websites, for example, search engines will understand that you do your research, and they will reward you for it. And if reputable websites frequently link to you, search engines will begin to see you as an authority in your own right.
Provide Users with Fresh, High-Quality Content.
One last metric that search engines use to gauge which sites are worth prioritizing is time spent on page. This is because people who come across sites that are not relevant or that do not provide high-quality content tend to leave those sites very quickly. By giving your visitors something that is truly worth reading, watching, or looking at, you are much more likely to keep them on your page for an extended period of time, which will, in turn, boost your search engine rankings. Bonus points if you continuously add new content to your site — this shows search engines that you are actively engaged in the online community and constantly working to improve your site.
Implementing Your SEO Knowledge
Now that you understand the basics of search engine optimization strategy, you’re finally ready to begin creating content for your website.
At this point, you should have your website domain name, your hosting service, and your WordPress theme. And you should also understand the basics of search engine optimization. But of course, if your site doesn’t have any content worth consuming, then you are unlikely to retain any visitors.
You don’t need to be a New York Times bestselling author to write something that people want to read! All you need to do is share your thoughts, opinions, and knowledge in an appeal and strategic way. Here are a few tips that can help you do just that:
Focus On Topics You Are Passionate About
If you have signed up for these lessons on starting a profitable website, then the odds are good that you are hoping to leave behind an occupation that you were never truly passionate about in order to build a better, simpler, and more enjoyable life for yourself and your family. If that’s the case, then why would you ever consider creating content that does not express your interests and beliefs? Newsflash: if you do, your audience will end up feeling just as bored as you. The best content is created by people who care deeply about their topics, so choose your site’s focus carefully.
Consider your Audience
What are the people who visit your site looking for? What kind of topics do they care about, what kind of writing do they want to read, and how long are they willing to read for? A blog post about your favorite fast food restaurants isn’t likely to gain much traction on a website targeted to healthy eaters, for example — and a satirical joke-filled article about money-saving hacks probably won’t appeal to a target audience of high-end investment bankers. This isn’t to say that all your content needs to be completely centered on your “standard” visitor; just be conscientious of what your general public is hoping to read.
Use References and Provide Resources
Backing up your claims — whether by citing sources, hyperlinking to the websites you quote, or providing your readers with resources for further learning — will help make your site much more authoritative in the eyes of your readers. It will also help them to have a truly positive experience interacting with your site, which increases their odds of coming back next time you publish something new.
Ask for Reader’s Opinions
Creating a sense of community engagement around your website is a surefire way of retaining your audience, and even growing your following. (It’s no coincidence that social media is one of the most popular uses of the internet, after all.) Including a comments section, asking your readers to email you with their opinions, and even sharing your site on social media are all great ways of getting your readers involved. Not only will this help build a better connection, but it could also even lead to your audience contributing truly valuable insights that increase the quality of your site further.
Create A Variety of Content Types
Even if you target a very narrowly defined audience, there is still bound to be a bit of diversity within that group. For example, some people are visual learners who prefer lots of images and graphs; whereas others are more bookish and tend to devour paragraph after paragraph of text without distraction. Similarly, some visitors might want to consume light-hearted, fun content; whereas others are searching for something more in-depth and serious.
Outsource Talent Carefully
Growing a content-based website efficiently will eventually require you to outsource talent — i.e. hiring writers, graphic designers, or even video production agencies to make original contributions to your website. This can potentially provide a huge boost for your website; allowing you to pump out new content much faster while also diversifying the styles and perspectives that you offer. However, if your new content creators are not able to match you in terms of quality and understanding of your user base, then you could risk damaging your growing popularity. Hiring carefully — i.e. asking for a custom work sample and ensuring that you make decisions based on talent and not price — is essential.
If all of the points above had to be summarized together in one concise phrase, then “provide value” would be a pretty good candidate. Whether this value lies in helping your audience learn a new skill, helping them connect with a community of like-minded individuals, or even simply making them laugh — your website should always ensure that your visitors leave feeling enriched in one way or another.
Remember, Good Content Does Not Mean Automatic Traffic
Even the search engine optimization techniques we discussed aren’t enough to earn you traffic immediately. Getting your website off the ground is going to require a bit of legwork and networking. Here’s the good news: you can accomplish this even if you’re living on a remote homestead. Find out how in tomorrow’s article.