:: By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO ::
Whether you are looking to start a blog for affiliate marketing, to sell an info-product, or you just want to set one up to breathe some new life into your stale company website, there are a few steps you should take before launching your blog to ensure it performs as well as possible. Here are some often overlooked but very important blog launch steps.
Selecting a Great Hosting Service
It all starts with fast and secure hosting. If you are going to use WordPress, dedicated hosting solutions like WP Engine offer a good combination of security and speed. If you are going to using another CMS like Joomla, Bluehost offers several solid hosting options. If you are just setting up a small hobby blog, you can elect a cheaper hosting services like GoDaddy Managed WP hosting. It is simple to set up and manage but it is lacking in the speed department out of the box. Regardless of your hosting choice, making sure your blog is fast is key.
Optimizing for Time to First Byte Speed
The hosting service you pick will determine how much upfront working is needed to get your site running fast. Aside from hosting, several elements can impact your page speed. Some of these include:
• Number & size of images
• Use of hosted videos
• The theme or coding of the site
• Use of plugins or add-on modules
As many of you know, GtMetrix is a great tool that will allow you to get a snapshot of how fast your website is and which issues are causing it to load slowly. When optimizing for speed in an effort to boost rankings, time to first byte is the measurement you should be evaluating. This put simply, is the length of time needed for a server request to be sent, processed, and to send a response. This is illustrated in the “waterfall” section of tools like GtMetrix.
If you find that your site is exceptionally slow, even with a good host, you may need to revisit your theme/template selection. If you are using WordPress, this blog startup guide has some good tips for choosing a theme, if you are using another platform, just do a search for “fast xxx themes”, “seo optimized templates for xxx” and you will find several good choices for most content management systems. Once you have a good theme installed, now you need people to find your blog.
P.S. Don’t forget to create content readers and Google will love! Here are a few resources to get you started:
• 8 Ways to Improve Your Content Strategy
• 4 Ways to Create High Ranking Content in Competitive Industries
• A Quick SEO Guide to Great Content
• The Keyword Density Myth
• Content Marketing for the SMB Owner
3 Quick Ways to Open Your Blog for Business
Having a blog is great, but having a blog that people don't read, can be expensive and frustrating. Let's look at how to draw people to your content and how that will impact your ability to rank.
1. Email Marketing
If you are adding your blog to an existing website, there is a good possibility that you may already have site visitors or an email list. Creating an email campaign to promote your blog is pretty straightforward and there are a ton of options. Mailchimp is a good email tool and they offer a free account for a limited number of contacts. If you are looking for more features, a system like Infusionsoft will allow you to setup automated funnels. This is helpful if progressing someone from a blog reader to a sales prospect. If you are starting a new blog or your current site doesn’t have an email list, most programs include forms that will allow you to start collecting subscribers.
Reddit is nothing new but it is not talked about or used nearly enough. Most of you already know that ranking for keywords will drive traffic to your blog over the long-term but, what about right now? That is where sites like Reddit come in handy. Depending on your niche, there are likely several popular subreddits relating to your topic. Here is a guide for using Reddit to drive quick traffic to your blog. Once you are able to tap Reddit as a traffic source, you can look to other social sites to continue the growth of your referral traffic.
3. Niche & GEO-Relevant Guest Posting
Guest posting is great for SEO purposes but, used properly, it can benefit your website immediately. If you are running an informational blog, what better way to establish credibility in your niche? In addition to the SEO and credibility benefits, you are also going to gain instant exposure to a targeted audience. If I had to use only one strategy to promote my own business, it would be guest posting. While many of you think about searching for sites covering your niche, not as many remember to look for local blogs. These can be a goldmine, especially if you have a blog that is location focused. Guest posting on geo-relevant blogs is also great for improving local SEO.
While starting, a new blog can be rewarding, it can also be a challenge. Following the basic steps and resources above will smooth your path to a successful blog in 2017.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced when setting up or promoting a blog?
About the Author
Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a Web design and marketing firm located in Franklin, TN. Travis and his team are equipped to handle any size SEO project and have helped numerous businesses to date build a rock solid online presence. When you are ready for more leads and sales, it is time to get #stellarized. Connect on Facebook or Twitter @theseoproz