Starting a blog can be an incredibly rewarding experience. As individuals we all have something to offer, and blogging is not only a great way to share our experiences with the world, but also an excellent way to earn an income online. Writing a blog is easy, but getting traffic is the hard part. In this article I will be sharing various useful blogging tips for beginners to use and implement in order to achieve success.
I started my first blog at the end of 2018, and by the summer of 2019 my blog was earning me $3500 per month in passive income. In that short time I have gained a lot of knowledge, but the learning process never stops. The advice I will be giving you in this article, is based on my own personal experiences. What worked for me, may well work for you!
Think of this as your bio. It is a chance to introduce yourself and share with your audience the knowledge and experience you have in your particular niche. Typically when people visit a blog, they are looking for answers to questions or solutions to problems. Just writing content without providing any background information on who is writing it is not recommended.
By telling people a little about yourself and your experiences, you will engender a certain degree of trust. If your audience trusts you, then they are more likely to make a purchase through one of your affiliate links. Make sure you include a photo of yourself, that way people can put a face to the name.
It is important to have an affiliate disclosure on your blog (assuming you will be promoting products by Affiliate Marketing).
For starters it is good to be transparent with your audience, they will trust you more. But more importantly you are legally required to comply with the Federal Trade Commission endorsement guidelines. Not only that but most affiliate networks will insist on you having an affiliate disclosure on your blog if you are to promote their products.
You can find out more, and download a free affiliate disclosure template here.
#1: Blogging Checklist
Assuming you have chosen a niche, writing your first blog post is an important step in the right direction. You’re not going to necessarily get it right the first time round. It is quite normal to go back and tweak things and make revisions.
I would say in the beginning to just focus on writing some quality content and don’t worry too much about the monetization side of things. At the start it is unlikely you will have any traffic, unless you already have a substantial social media following.
Here is a checklist for you first blog post:
- What is the purpose of the article – e.g. product review or comparison.
- Who is your target audience? Use Google trends to analyze the location and demographics of your target audience.
- Provide value in what you write.
- If you do want to monetize the article from the start, you will need to join the relevant affiliate programs.
- Choose a primary keyword and several secondary keywords – make use of keyword research tools.
- Analyze your competition – look at similar articles that are ranking on the first page of Google’s search results. Use free tools like Ubersuggest to see what keywords they are ranking for.
- How will your article be structured? See my tips on basic SEO for beginners .
- Make sure your article content is original and contains at least 1500 words minimum (preferably more).
- Add your own images or relevant stock images. Contextual Images are important, they will help to improve your rankings, and user experience.
- Make sure the images are web optimized, have a relevant description and alt tag.
- Use a Plugin like Yeost SEO or All-in-One-SEO. These plugins can really help with your search engine optimization.
#2: Essential WordPress Plugins for Bloggers
Think of WordPress plugins as your little helpers. Each one is design specifically to make your life a little easier. Gone are the days when you needed to be a coding wizard, now there are over 50,000 plugins available that do everything from SEO through to email integration.
So what are the 10 best WordPress plugins for beginner bloggers?
Everyone has their own opinion on what the best WordPress plugins are. I have my personal favourites. But ultimately no two blogs are the same, so what works for me may not necessarily work for you. The plugins I have listed below are all very popular amongst bloggers the world over.
- Yoast SEO or All in One SEO
- EWWW Image Optimizer
- GDPR cookie consent
- FTC Affiliate Disclosure
- Social Media Share Buttons and Social Sharing Icons
- Popup maker – Popup and opt-in forms
- WP Product review
- AMP for WP Accelerated Mobile Pages
- GTranslate for multilingual sites
All of the following plugins can be downloaded from WordPress.com or uploaded direct from your WordPress dashboard under the ‘plugins > add new’ option.
1. Yoast SEO or All in One SEO
One of the most helpful plugins you can have as a beginner is an SEO plugin like Yoast or All in One SEO. I won’t be going into too much detail here, but basically these plugins take a lot of the guesswork out of search engine optimization.
As a beginner to blogging and WordPress, it is crucial that you do everything you can to improve your chances of getting a good page rank in Google.
Of course this isn’t going to happen overnight. But having a good SEO plugin will certainly make life a lot easier.
I have used both plugins and they both have their good and bad points. Personally, I prefer All in One, but a lot of people prefer Yoast. Either way both plugins have free and paid versions. The free versions are more than adequate for beginners.
2. EWWW Image Optimizer
EWWW image optimizer is just one example of many image optimization plugins available. Images will take up a large chunk of memory on any article or post you create, and it is very important that these images are served in the most memory efficient format available.
If you are using your own images, the last thing you want are 2-3MB photos slowing down your blog, when they can be compressed down to 200k or smaller
Page speed is an important ranking factor, so you will need to make sure all the images you use, whether they are your own or stock photos are suitable compressed. Ideally you should serve your images in a next generation format like WebP.
TablePress isn’t an essential plugin, but if you want to create product comparison tables or any table for that matter. TablePress is one of the best plugins available for the job.
TablePress allows you to create feature rich, responsive tables with product photos, and affiliate links. You can customize each table to suit the article. The process is simple you create your table, insert the shortcode and your good to go.
This great plugin is free to download and use, so if you think having tables may benefit your blog, I can highly recommend this plugin.
4. GDPR cookie consent
5. FTC Affiliate Disclosure
The Federal Trade Commission affiliate disclosure plugin simply displays a short message at the beginning or each of your posts, telling the reader that you may receive commission for any product links clicked on. It will also include a link to your affiliate disclosure.
This plugin isn’t essential, as you can add an affiliate disclosure manually on each post, this plugin just simplifies things a little.
Simply having an affiliate disclosure on your menu won’t be enough. It needs to be clearly visible to the reader on every page. This will not only show transparency to the reader but will also satisfy any third-party affiliate programs you have joined (particularly Amazon Associates).
6. Social Media Share Buttons and Social Sharing Icons
When starting a new blog, particularly one where you hope to generate an income, social media is incredibly important. I would certainly at the very least recommend a Facebook page, Pinterest and YouTube account. You may also want to open up an Instagram and Twitter account.
Having a good social media presence will increase your brands visibility. Most WordPress themes will already have the provision for social media icons, but this plugin takes things a step further.
The Social Share button plugin will place the relevant social media icons where ever you want them on your post. If you are growing a YouTube channel it can also help turn your blog visitors into subscribers.
7. Popup maker – Popup and opt-in forms
As the name suggests, this plugin lets you create really impressive popups and opt-in forms. These are very useful tools for building your email list. Ideally you do not want the popup to appear the second a visitor comes onto your page, but maybe activates after 30 seconds or so, or just before the person leaves the page.
You can offer lead magnets in the form of downloadable ebooks or videos related to your niche. Good lead magnets can be found for free on sites like IDPLR. PLR mean ‘Private Label Rights’ and these free resources can be offered to visitors as an incentive to sign up to your email list.
8. WP Product Review
One of the great things about the WordPress platform is not only its versatility, but also the immense range of plugins available.
A plugin is a piece of software designed to serve a particular purpose on your website. This may be to enhance user experience, or maybe help with search engine optimisation. In the past, you would have needed to have experience with html or Java script, but nowadays building a professional looking site is easy.
A product review plugin is always a good idea, if you are planning on doing lots of product reviews and comparisons, It will give your blog a more professional, authoritative look, and will enhance user experience.
WP Review Pro, is a fantastic tool that adds very smart looking review widgets and comparison charts to your blog. This not only improves user experience, but enhances the visual side of things as well.
9. AMP for WP Accelerated Mobile Pages
What is AMP? AMP stands for accelerated mobile pages, and is an open source project created by Google to make browsing using mobile devices smoother, faster, and less data intensive.
The reason AMP is so important, is that websites that are optimised for mobile devices will stand a better chance of ranking higher in Google and other search engines. Especially when speed and user experience are such important metrics that are taken into account when ranking a website.
More and more people are browsing the internet using smartphones and in fact the most recent data I can find suggests that 51.65% use mobile phones, 44.6% desktop computers and 3.75% tablets – source: Statcounter Global Stats.
If I check my Google analytics data, I can see that nearly 50% of all my traffic comes from smartphone users. Having AMP installed on your website or blog will help you with your Google rankings, as your site will load much faster and be more responsive on mobile devices.
I can see, by browsing certain keywords on my mobile phone, my AMP pages will often rank slightly higher, than non-AMP pages when I search on my Laptop. So in my experience it is definitely worth having.
10. GTranslate Multilingual Plugin
At the end of May 2019, I started researching multilingual plugins for my blog. At this stage my blog traffic was increasing at a steady rate, but in some countries I just wasn’t getting a lot (if any traffic).
I decided on a plugin call GTranslate – this plug-in didn’t just translate automatically based on the IP address location of the visitor, it did so much more. It translated my URL’s into native languages and even added a geographical extension to my URL’s, for example: /fr /de /ru and so on.
Not only did this plug in do all the above, but all the keywords my site was ranking for were also being translated, so if someone search for a particular keyword related to my blog, in their native language, my site was coming up 1st page!
Below is a screenshot of my Google analytics, and you can clearly see the jump in traffic, shortly after installing this plug-in.
This plug-in may not be for everyone, particularly if your blog is new or aimed at English speaking countries, but for me it not only increased my traffic, but had a positive effect on my affiliate earnings. GTranslate is available as a free WordPress plug-in – I use the paid version which at $25 a month is well worth the money. The free version is useful, but it doesn’t have all the features of the paid version, like URL and keyword translation.
#3: Basic SEO for Beginners
For beginners, learning basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is essential for future success. This field is often considered a ‘dark art’ by those who don’t understand it. Even seasoned veterans are constantly having to up their game in order to keep up with Google’s constant algorithm updates .
Common SEO practices of only a few years ago are not necessarily going to be relevant today, indeed a lot of the older SEO tactics like keyword stuffing, will actually severely harm your Google rankings.
What Google wants to see is unique, relevant and well written articles that provide the user with the best experience possible. They also favour websites that have backlinks from sites of authority, and also outbound links to sites of authority.
Nowadays you may only need to use your primary keyword two to three times in your entire article to rank well on Google.
Google is also looking at the way your article is structured – are the internal links helpful and contextual? Is the content easily navigable. Do the images tie in with the flow of the content. The list goes on and on. There are so many things to consider.
I’m no SEO expert, and even though I’ve only been blogging for just one year. My primary blog is now ranking on the first page for practically all of my posts. I have built a couple of business websites in the past and successfully ranked them 1st page for all the relevant keywords, so I must be doing something right!
So here are the 5 basic tenets of SEO that beginners should follow.
- Keyword Research
1. Keyword Research
Most articles don’t focus on a single Keyword like ‘diet’, when we talk about keywords we are actually talking about key phrases. When somebody is performing a search they don’t usually type in a single word, but a phrase, like ‘how can I make money online’.
Keyword research should be your starting point. Any good blog post needs to be thoroughly researched. What is the purpose of your article? Are you just writing a general post about your particular niche, are you writing about yourself or are you writing an article with a view to monetizing it through Affiliate Marketing?
Either way, if you want to reach an audience through organic searches on Google, you will need to choose some targeted keywords that are relevant to your niche. Most blog posts will focus on a primary keyword and maybe 10 or so satellite keywords.
Not all keywords or keyword combinations will yield any significant search volume, so you need a keyword that is getting a reasonable monthly search volume at the same time, you don’t want to be using a keyword that has high competition.
What make a good Keyword?
Most good keywords (or key phrases) are in the form of a question, for example ‘what is the best diet in 2019’. Most searches on Google are people looking for answers to questions relating to a particular niche, whether that is diet and fitness or fishing.
If you’re struggling for good keyword ideas relating to your niche, I would recommend a website called Answer the Public. It is free to use, and all you do is type in a question relating to your niche and you will get a chart (below) that will give you loads of keywords. These are keywords that people actually use, so they all have relevance.
You can export the list in a CSV file to a spreadsheet, then you can draw up a shortlist of maybe 20 or so. The next step is to check the popularity of these keywords using Google Trends.
How to use Google Trends (for keyword research)
I will use the dieting niche as an example. Lets say you want to write an article based on fast effective ways to lose body fat. The first port of call would be Google Trends. Here you can analyze keyword popularity over a period of time and also ascertain what countries are getting the highest search volume. See the example below.
The above analysis shows a comparison between 3 popular keywords. This is actual data from a 12 month period for the search terms ‘best diet to lose fat fast’, ‘best diet to lose weight fast’ and ‘best fat loss diet’.
As you can see from the results ‘best fat loss diet’ is yielding the highest search volumes – notice the spike around January, a time of year when people are making New Year resolutions to lose weight.
The next metric available is the top 5 countries these search terms are popular, as shown below.
As you can see from the above screenshot, the top 5 countries are shown, along with the popularity of each keyword in each country. Now you know where you target audience is likely to be.
If you haven’t used Google Trends before, you can try it out here.
How to use Ubersuggest for Keyword Analytics
The next thing you want to do is go and use a keyword analytics tool like Ubersuggest – type in each keyword to run an analysis. In this case the most popular keyword also happens to have a fairly low competition score (SD).
- Volume indicate the approximate number of monthly searches for that keyword.
- CPC means approximate cost per click (if you were to run a Google Adwords campaign targeting that keyword).
- PD means paid difficulty – 70 means it is a competitive keyword for paid search campaigns.
- SD means search difficulty. This is a rough indication of how difficult it would be to rank 1st page Google for that particular keyword.
In this instance, 27 out of 100 for search difficulty does seem low enough, but as a beginner I would personally aim for 15 or below. Nonetheless, lets say we decide to use ‘best fat loss diet’ as our primary keyword. The next step would be to analyze the competition by typing the search term into Google.
As you can see one of the top ranking sites for this keyword is the National Health Service in the UK. This makes perfect sense, as the NHS would be seen by Google as an authoritative website, which would highly influence its 1st page ranking. You can see ‘best’, ‘diet’, ‘fat’ and ‘loss’ highlighted in bold in the meta description.
What you need to do next is copy the URL of the page and paste it into Ubersuggest. You will then be shown all the keywords that this particular post is ranking for. You can then download this data in CSV format to Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet.
Once you have exported the data to a spreadsheet, you can set about searching for low competition keywords. This can be easily done by using the filter in the spreadsheet field. Ideally you want to draw up a list on maybe 7-10 keywords, one of which will be your primary keyword.
What is a primary keyword?
This is the keyword you use in your post title, and meta description. You will also want to use it somewhere in the first couple of paragraphs of your content, and maybe a couple of times elsewhere in your article. It would also be helpful to have a variation of that keyword in your H1 tag title (the title at the beginning of your post). It is important that your title is grammatically correct.
Here is a sample below using the keyword ‘vegetables that are good for weight loss’ – this snippet is a feature of All in One SEO and Yoast Plugins.
Your secondary keywords can be used in sub-headings (H2 tags) and elsewhere in the article. Make sure these are always grammatically correct and in the general context of the article. As with your primary keyword, there’s no need to go placing these keywords all over your article, just a couple of times here and there will suffice.
One important thing to remember is do not ‘stuff’ your article full of keywords, try and uses them sensibly and contextually. If you practice ‘keyword stuffing’ this can be severely detrimental to your Google rankings.
What your audience and Google are looking for is good, well written and authoritative content. Make sure your article is well researched beforehand. Always aim for at least 1500 words, although I would personally go for 2000-3000 words.
Make use of H1, H2 and H3 tags. You should only use the H1 tag once in your article, preferably at the beginning. This should contain your primary keyword or a variation thereof. The H2 tags should be used as sub-headings, and may contain your secondary keywords if you so wish. H3 tags are used for sections within sub headings. Look at this article and you will get the idea.
The whole point of this is Google is looking for a clearly laid out post, that is going to be easy to understand and navigate for the reader.
If you article is quite long you can use anchor links – An anchor link is a link on a page that brings you to a specific place on that page. You can see examples of anchor links on this page.
You can use them in a contents area at the beginning of a post, so if a visitor wants to jump straight to a certain point in your article, they can do.
How to create an Anchor link in WordPress
First highlight the text you want to create the link using the hyperlink function. This is the same as inserting a link to another page or external website. But instead of inserting the URL you just insert (for example) ‘#best-weight-loss-ideas’. Then you go down to the relevant section in the article and switch from visual to text editor and above the point where you want the anchor to take the visitor, you insert the code: <a id=”best-weight-loss-ideas></a>. When you switch back to visual editor you will see a small arrow where you have inserted the code. Below is a screenshot of an anchor link on this article.
The good thing about anchor links is they are SEO-friendly. They will add a URL for each different link. For example the URL for the link above would be https://wiseearnings.com/blogging-tips-for-beginners/#seo-for-beginners.
Always keep your content unique
Do not under any circumstances copy content from other websites. If you need to do this to fill in the blanks, make sure you rewrite it in your own style. Google’s algorithm can spot duplicate content and you will be penalised by not getting your post indexed.
If you are running short of ideas or you are having writers bock, there are lots of resources available. You can hire a blog writer from somewhere like Fiverr.com or use can use one of the many PLR (private label rights) websites available. PLR content is an article or blog post that has been pre-written, you usually have to pay a small fee to download an article, and then you would need to re-write it to make it unique to you. You would also need to optimize the article for search engines. This can save a lot of time.
I would still recommend you try and write as much unique content yourself. But not all of us have the free time on our hands, so this can be a good tactic to get started.
3. Images and Video
Google likes images, and people like images. We are very visual creatures and having images strategically placed throughout a blog post will help keep your reader interested and also improve your Google rankings. Video is also an important factor and if you can include a video, that would also be a great help. You can create a video relating to your article and upload it to YouTube, and then embed the link in your post. You can also use Vimeo.
If you don’t have any images to use yourself, there are several places you can download free stock photos. These are incredibly good resources as you can download high quality images in a blog-friendly format.
Once you have downloaded an image, there is more SEO work to do. First of all you will want to rename the image in file explorer so it relates to the section of your article. Then, when you upload it to your WordPress blog you will need to add an ‘Alt tag’ or Alternative text. This is important for SEO as it describes the purpose of the image. This is used to help people who are blind or partially sighted, and is an important factor that should not be overlooked. The screenshot below shows ‘Alternative text’ for an image on a diet blog.
There is another way you can add unique images to your blog, and that is by using the free design software Canva.com with Canva you can create interesting and quirky content related images that will not only make you blog look better, but help keep your visitors engaged. Some of the images on this post have been created using Canva.
The great thing about Canva is it uses a simple drag and drop editor and you can create blog-specific designs using template, graphics, text and stock images. Any relevant text within an image will also contribute towards your SEO score.
4. Website Speed
Website speed is also an important ranking factor, not just from Google’s perspective but for general user experience. It is a widely accepted fact that if a site takes too long to load up the user will just leave the site and go elsewhere.
There are a lot of factors that can determine website speed:
- Server location – This will impact your speed slightly. If your blog is hosted in the US, but most of your traffic comes from Europe, think about having it hosted in the EU.
- Blog theme – Use a lightweight, minimal theme if possible, you don’t want something too complex that is going to slow things down.
- Images – Have your images served in a next generation format like WebP. You can also use a ‘Lazy load’ plugin, which will defer off-screen images loading.
- Plugins – Like any add-on to your blog, plugins can and will slow things down a tad. Have too many and it can seriously impact your sites speed.
- Mobile compatibility – Very important these day. More than 50% of all browsing is done on mobile devices, make sure you either have an AMP version of your blog, or use a lightweight mobile-friendly theme.
I cannot overstate the importance of having your blog optimized for mobile use. Beyond 2021 more and more web browsing will be done via mobile devices.
Backlinks are basically links that point back to your website from other sites. There are two different types of backlinks: ‘nofollow’ and ‘dofollow’. Unfortunately all Social Media links are ‘nofollow’ so they do not count in the eyes of Google. Having said that, having a good strong Social Media presence will help contribute to your blogs ranking factor.
What Google are really looking for is ‘dofollow’ backlinks to your blog that are coming from other sites of authority. As a beginner this can be difficult to achieve. After a few months, when my primary blog became established, I started to get organic backlinks to my blog without me even doing anything.
There are a few tricks you can do to increase your backlink profiles:
- Guest post on other blogs
- Be active on forums – some forums still use ‘dofollow’ backlinks whereas others (like Reddit) use ‘nofollow’ links.
- Write some unique articles on medium.com, this can be a great way to increase your backlink profile. Medium is regarded as a site of authority and any links you place on there are ‘dofollow’. Write original content on medium that is related to your niche, and place your blog link at the end of the article. You will need to write good quality content though. Medium do not have a problem with you linking back to your website, as long as the content you write provides value to the reader.
- Reach out to other bloggers in your niche, and offer to place links on your site in return for them placing links to yours.
So, there you have it, the very basics of SEO for beginners. If you can implement all of the above, and do your research properly, then there is no reason why you won’t be able to start getting 1st page rankings a few months down the line.
As with everything in life, trust has to be earned. Google are just not going to put a brand new blog on the first page (unless you pay them) until they have established that you are a source of authority within a particular niche.
One key thing to remember is, do not bother with high competition keywords to start with. It will be incredibly difficult to get anywhere near the 1st page, especially with a new blog. Focus more on the obscure keywords, that are still getting a reasonable monthly search volume, but without the strong competition.
#4: How to Promote your Blog on Social Media
One of the first things I do, when starting a new blog is to set up a relevant Facebook page, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube account. Every self-respecting blogger should have a significant Social Media presence. Not only is it a ranking factor (for Google), but it can help to increase your brand awareness and exposure. Another great thing about Social Media, is it is a very effective way to drive traffic to your new blog, long before you start ranking on Google.
The snippet above shows some of the traffic I get from Social Media channels to my blog – keep in mind, that I have never really pushed the Social Media thing, I have about 120 Instagram followers, a handful on Pinterest, around 200 on Facebook and 150 YouTube subscribers.
Imagine the potential for traffic if you can really grow your Social Media following. It takes time and patience, but it is an aspect of blogging that cannot be overlooked.
You may also notice I have a visit from a single post I did on Quora. I have posted lots on Quora in a different niche, and I get quite a lot of traffic from that source (to a different website).
For more information on how to effectively promote your blog on Social Media, Click Here.
#5: Blog Engagement
Engagement is an important aspect of being a successful blogger. Engaging with your audience is a proven way to gain trust and authority within a niche.
So what is engagement?
Blog engagement, means several things – you can write engaging articles that communicate directly to your target audience. The other form of engagement is actually interacting with your blog visitors through the comments section. Most blog themes will have a comments section, and it is important that this feature is enabled, as it gives your audience a means of expressing their opinions or asking a question relating to a particular subject.
Comments are usually held in moderation, so you can filter out spam or inappropriate content. Most of your blog visitors who leave a comment will be looking for an answer to a question, or they may be looking for a solution to a problem related to a product you have reviewed.
Either way, it is not only polite to reply, but highly beneficial for your blog. Comments are a ranking factor and are usually assigned their own URL. The content of the question and reply will also add to the keyword count of your website.
#6: Hire a Blog Writer
When starting your first blog, it is always important you add good quality content as regularly as possible.
If you lead a busy life, trying to juggle work and family commitments as well as starting a new blog. It can be very difficult to be consistent in adding content. Sure, you can sacrifice sleep, and spare time as I did in the beginning, but if you can hire a good blog writer to write at least one post a week for you, then that will help you speed things up a little.
What if I told you, that you could get a decent 2000 word article written for around $40. One of the great things about the internet in today’s day and age, is the fact that it is so easy to outsource work. There are a whole host of websites available, the most popular of which is Fiverr. Here is an online marketplace of experienced freelancers from all over the globe who are able to help you with a multitude of tasks.
Fiverr is a great place to find content writers. Some of them are incredibly cheap. I have seen some members offer their services for as little as $25 for a 1500 word article. The process is very simple, you give the freelancer a description of what the article is about, and maybe throw in a small list of search relevant keywords and away you go!
You may have to wait 2-5 days for the article and you may not always be entirely happy with the original draught, but most freelancers are incredibly helpful and will do their best to get the job done properly.
Even if there aren’t any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes in the finished article, you may want to tweak it a little to put in the finish touches. But the point is the bulk of the work has been done for you. All you need to do is spend maybe an hour or so polishing the article up a little.
I hope that you have found this article helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to use the comments section below. Remember to stay on the path. Blogging is a great way to earn a living, plus it can give you more free time to do the things you enjoy.
Things are looking promising for Blogging and Affiliate Marketing. The time is upon us when more people are now buying online than in shops. If you can act as a bridge between web traffic and a merchants website, there’s a lot of money to be made!