We all know that we need to pay attention to SEO (search engine optimization) whether we are experts or not (or whether we want to be experts or not!). So, how do we start a new blog, equipped with the needed SEO foundations, without losing our head or losing our enjoyment of creating the blog?
Let’s discuss that!
A blog is one of the most powerful digital marketing tools you have at your disposal, but only if you know how to reach your target audience. Blogging is one of the quickest ways to increase your following and build your brand.
Even though there are millions of blogs online, it’s easy to make yours stand out even in the midst of the competition. In fact, even if you are like me and already have quite a few blogs online, that doesn’t mean that you cannot venture out and create yet another unique and brilliant blog!
We could probably sit down and list all of the fun aspects of the creation of that new blog, especially if it is one for which we feel passion. However, if no one is listening, it can get a bit lonely, eh? That is why it is so important to ensure that we are getting the word out, or more accurately, that we are drawing traffic to our blog, so that we have that audience.
By having that audience, it can help us to grow our passion even more and that will come out in the quality of the content that we produce on our blog. What is one of the most foundational aspects to growing that audience? It is ensuring that our blog is SEO optimized, right out of the starting gate.
Ok, have I really told you something that you don’t already know? After all, that is likely one of the reasons that you visit seochat.com, eh?
Ok, back to our topic… we can always “get the word out” at intermittent, strategic, and/or consistent intervals (preferably), but if we don’t start with a blog that has the basics, when it comes to SEO, we have a lot more work ahead of us. And, who wants to work when we can be producing content with all that brilliant passion, instead?
So, let’s get it started correctly, eh? In other words, it is easier to work “smart” than to work “hard,” right?
Getting Started… First Steps
Getting your blog up and running is much easier than one may think. In less than 30 minutes, you can have your blog up and running. So, without further adieu, let’s have a look and see how we can set up a blog in a few quick steps. Then, we will come back and talk a bit more about that SEO.
Choosing a Platform or Approach
Deciding where you want to create your blog is step one. If you are looking to save money, WordPress.com is an option. By far, it’s the largest blogging platform in the world, with an endless array of plugins and add-ons. You pretty much have an infinite amount of choices when it comes to designing your blog. There is also an option to host a WordPress installation in a self-hosted environment.
To Host or Not to Host (Also, To Register or Not to Register… a Domain)
Before we go any further, you need to decide whether you want to self-host or go with a free alternative. While there are pros and cons of both options, take note that with a free service, you won’t be able to have your own domain name.
If you are just blogging for fun, that’s okay, but for businesses trying to make a name for themselves, it is much better to go with a paid service where you can “own” your domain. (Technically, you are registering a domain name and leasing it, but many times people confuse that with ownership and it is called “owning” a domain, in slang terms.)
Along with SEO, this (“owning of the domain”) can increase website traffic by leaps and bounds. You see, having your own domain establishes your brand and your credibility. It helps to build trust in your business.
Design Your Blog
Designing the blog is where you get to choose your theme. Before jumping in with both feet, think about your business and what type of vibe you want people to get when visiting your blog. While creativity is key, you want to make sure whichever theme you choose goes hand in hand with your product and/or the service you will provide.
Even if the service is “only” the delivery of content (no shame in that!), it is still a service and the delivery of the product of your digital content. So, keep that in mind when deciding what you want your site to look like.
For an excellent in-depth discussion of these topics, visit this article on setting up your blog: “How to Start a Blog.” Then, come back here and we will continue our discussion on getting those SEO foundational blocks in place.
SEO is King
After you have set up your blog and brainstormed some ideas of what you want to blog about, it’s time to hone in on SEO. Remember, we are still putting together the framework for our search engine optimization foundation even as we build our blog (site), so this is just the right time to do it, remember?
Like we said earlier, SEO is what brings visitors to your blog. It is what keeps the conversation going. It is essential to your success as a blogger, as a publisher of digital content.
Due to the fact that every blog post you write actually becomes a web page, you need to make the most of the SEO opportunity. Write about keyword-rich topics that you would search for online if you were a consumer. SEO is far more than a few strategically placed words throughout your blog.
It is a matter of knowing which words to use, and when. It is also a case of knowing why these keywords and keyword phrases work so well (in drawing traffic). Now, use that knowledge!
The Successful Strategy and Use of Keywords
When used properly, keywords (and keyword phrases) should have the following characteristics:
- They are only used a handful of times in your post. Overkill of keywords will only have your post flagged as spam by Google.
- They flow naturally throughout the conversation of the blog post.
- They are a combination of several words or a single word that directly relates to what you are blogging about in that post (or series of posts).
Continuing Your Success
In the world of online marketing, your focus needs to be on developing a relationship with your visitors. Proper and strategic use of SEO can get the traffic to the site, but you also need to ensure that you keep your audience combing back to the blog/site for more brilliant and entertaining digital content.
This is done through your effective relationship-building process and keeping the conversation going. That is why a well-written blog combined with strategically placed keywords, combined with that personality of YOU, will help build your online reputation and over time, increase traffic to your website. It is like a well-oiled circle. Then again, who oils circles?
Did you know that the majority of blogs become inactive within 100 days after creation?
I believe this is because the owners don’t realize what makes a blog successful. In fact, I had a client who believed it would be easy to make money on the Internet, and all she needed to do, was to quickly whip up a website. After four years of throwing money to freelancers to help her, she finally admitted defeat.
I’m not sure what happened to her, but I know of many people like her. I’ve also analyzed the content of a stack of small business websites, and the following fatal blogging tips are rampant.
Blogging is not easy, contrary to a common misconception.
Here you can see what most bloggers struggle with.
Image Credit: SocialMediaB2B
Don’t be amongst those blogs who close shop 100 days after starting because they didn’t know what blogging entailed. And please never listen to the "experts" who advise you to do these four things to get more blog traffic:
#1: Just add lots of content, often
When I first started dabbling in online marketing several years ago, I was told that in order to get traffic to my website, I would need to add content. Often.
Which is what I did.
But to my shame, the content was of no real value. I don’t know what I was thinking! Somehow, whoever it was who dispensed the "just add content" recipe to me, neglected to mention that it needed to add some kind of value for my readers.
It’s no wonder it never got shared or commented on, and my website’s bounce rate was high.
I see the same trend today, specifically with small businesses who go online. They add content – any content – to try get more traffic, not realizing that not only is their brand at stake, but so are their search rankings, because search engines look for quality, value-add content to match to user’s searches.
And trust me, search engines have algorithms in place to determine whether content is crap or not.
Brian Dean from Backlinko, expert blogger, says that, "Blogging today is 110% about quality…not quantity."
Just adding content – any content – will not get your blog more traffic, or result in more business.
#2: Stuff in keywords wherever you can
In days gone by, when search engines were still collecting themselves, website owners cottoned on to stuffing keywords in wherever they could. And then search engines got clever and wiped those websites far into the abyss of no return.
Yes, your blog needs keywords to rank higher in search engines and therefore get more traffic, but keywords need to be included in content in a natural way, making it easy for people to read.
My suggestion would be to use SEOChat’s free related keywords tool and then go on over to Google Keyword Planner to find the best keywords that have low competition, but high search volume.
Add a keyword naturally into:
- The title of your post
- The URL of the post
- H1 header tags
- In the first 100 words of your content
- Sprinkled throughout your content, every 150 or so words
- In the category of the post
- In links to other authority sites
- In image descriptions
When you stuff keywords in content, search engines will not promote your blog. And visitors will click away pronto.
#3: Hire cheap writers to churn out more content, fast
There is great demand on freelance writing websites like Upwork, but you get what you pay for, and since getting more blog traffic is not about churning out content just for the sake of content, when you hire cheap writers for your blog, you’re going to get not only badly written content, but it won’t be SEO optimized, or provide value to your readers.
All the top websites understand this, and pay about $266 or more for one blog post. When you consider that writers on sites like Upwork, charge from about $10 for a blog post, you can start to understand why the quality would be so poor.
So. Perhaps you pay $10 for someone to write you a blog post. But that post can actually damage your search engine ranking because of bounce rate (people come to your site, see crap content, and immediately leave). It will also damage your reputation, and most users will not convert. And so I ask you: why are you wasting money on bad writing? What is it benefiting you?
If you’re not a good writer, for goodness sake, hire a decent one who understands your target audience and optimizes the content, or just stop blogging.
And read Neil Patel’s step by step guide to creating a money-making blog. His advice is sound, and since he is the master of online marketing, he knows a thing or two on this subject.
By the way, while we’re on the subject of Neil Patel, when you check out his post, have a look at the quality of it, and how it’s all laid out. It’s popular because he only writes content that is helpful to his audience. Do your best to emulate the style he uses, but adapt it for your niche.
#4: Add stock photos to attract attention
Somewhere, you heard that images in blog posts attract attention. That would be right.
But. And it’s a very big "but": stock photos just don’t cut it anymore. They’re boring, fake and your readers can’t relate to them. It’s a psychological thing.
A cheesy, fake and ineffective stock image…what business people do you know who do this?!
Image Credit: WebMeUp
To do justice to your blog by attracting attention and leading to higher conversions, images need to:
- Be of high quality.
- If your blog centers around an online store, make sure your product images are clear and show enough detail and offer as many views as possible.
- Images must be relevant to the content. They should support the text and not simply be added for the sake of adding an image.
- Add image descriptions that titillate, because people’s eyes draw to images first. If the description creates curiosity, they are more likely to keep reading, and this is good for SEO, and conversions.
- Be sure to compress images so that they don’t slow down your site.
Fatal advice summed up
If you’re going to blog, you may as well do it right. Unfortunately, doing it right means it’s going to take time.
But if you don’t do it right, you’ll lose business and opportunities.
To sum up, let’s reverse the four most common and destructive blogging tips:
- Add blogging content that rocks. Help people want to share it because it resonates with them.
- Use keywords naturally, and strategically.
- Hire writers who may charge more, but will get your blog better results.
- Add images that are relevant and support the point you’re trying to get across in your content.
The three most popular online marketing tools generate a whopping 433, 500 searches every month.
There’s a reason for that.
These three particular tools also generate confusion as to what they are used for, the differences between them, and pricing. The three tools we’ll compare are MailChimp, which is mainly for email marketing, and all-in-one online marketing tools like GetResponse and HubSpot, which are used for many other functions, email marketing only being one of them.
What are all-in-one online marketing tools?
Let’s think about all the elements involved in online marketing. I like the way Curata depicts the areas:
Now, you could use tools for each element, or you could use one tool to do everything from one dashboard.
Perhaps you’re even nodding your head as you think of the stack of Excel spreadsheets you’ve been using to try and keep tabs on all your initiatives. Tracking is a nightmare, and trying to keep up with your email plan is just about hopeless.
And then…how do you get a collective picture of how it all ties together, and whether it’s working or not? And the bigger your business gets, the harder it becomes to manage all your online marketing workflows…
Online marketing tools streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows so that businesses can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.
The most common functions of all-in-one marketing solutions include:
- Email marketing
- Lead management
- Web forms
- Website management
- Drag and drop landing page builder
- Content management and marketing
- A/B Testing
- Search engine optimization guidance
- Workflow automation
Marketing automation, which is what all-in-one online marketing software does, connects all the touchpoints of various activities.
With marketing automation, you can personalize the customer’s journey and segment behaviors, interests, and demographic details.
It ties all workflows together, to give you one complete picture.
The difference between Mailchimp, GetResponse and HubSpot
Now, all three platforms – GetResponse, HubSpot and MailChimp – offer a complete email marketing and autoresponder platform, but only GetResponse and HubSpot offer not only email marketing, but also other marketing automation for small businesses.
MailChimp can by no means be called an “all-in-one” online marketing tool, but I’ve included the service in this post for the sake of clarity; mainly to show the difference between an email marketing software platform and an all-in-one online marketing tool which includes email marketing as one element in the overall bundle.
This post details the differences between all three platforms, and you’ll be able to see how they compare in terms of pricing and offering.
Why online marketing tools?
Why is there so much interest in these tools, and what makes them so powerful for small businesses?
Well, there are four aspects to this:
- Marketing may not be your core service or product offering, so you wouldn’t want to spend enormous amounts of time on it. These tools help streamline your processes to give you more time.
- The tools act as somewhat of an online marketing guide, which makes learning about this business area a lot easier.
- They help make you more productive and effective because you can manage all, or most of your activities from the same platform.
- They help you target prospects better and improve your customer’s journey.
- Paying for one tool instead of many to do different tasks, can end up saving you a substantial amount of money.
Image Credit: EmailMonday
GetResponse first started out as an email marketing software provider, and today, they offer an all-in-one online marketing tool that features just about everything a small business needs for marketing in the virtual sphere. It can no longer be viewed as just email marketing software, because it offers a complete solution.
GetResponse offers a comprehensive email marketing campaign platform that you can use to plan workflow automation and email campaigns. On top of that, you can create landing pages and call-to-action forms with ease. The new features include tracking visitors in real-time to maximize profit and traffic, as well as cart abandonment recovery features.
GetResponse is the only all-in-one online marketing tool that includes webinars in their offerings, and it’s also known as the world’s easiest email marketing platform.
With a starting price of $49 per month for the marketing automation service, which also includes an email marketing platform, it’s the ideal place for small businesses who plan to grow. If you want all the features, the most popular plan is only $49 per month, compared to HubSpot’s which starts at $200 per month.
Automation packages offered by GetResponse
HubSpot is a sophisticated all-in-one online marketing tool that features inbound marketing benefits.
HubSpot allows you to create your own landing pages and call-to-action forms, and it guides you with on-page SEO. HubSpot is also a content management system so it’s easy to update your website content and optimize it for search engines.
At an extra cost, you can even add the CRM and Sales functions.
HubSpot is mostly used by small to medium businesses.
HubSpot’s plans start at $200 per month, and their most expensive option will set you back $2400 per month.
MailChimp is only an email marketing platform, not an all-in-one tool. Depending on the package you choose, it allows you to create, automate, manage and measure email campaigns.
It doesn’t boast the features that GetResponse or HubSpot has of course, but it is an excellent option for entrepreneurs just venturing out into online marketing, or who have a very tight budget.
MailChimp is one of the biggest players in the realm of email marketing with a huge database of active users. While it incorporates some automation elements, these are mostly for email marketing campaigns that do not extend beyond or apply to other verticals.
Marketing campaign workflows
Build landing pages
Social media management
Call to action forms
Shopping carts integration
Email marketing & automation
All three online marketing tools have the same email marketing and automation capabilities. Mailchimp only offers this service, whereas GetResponse and HubSpot offer additional features.
Both HubSpot and GetResponse offer landing page builders. MailChimp does not have this feature.
Analytics & website tracking
All three platforms offer analytics according to their service offerings, but only HubSpot and GetResponse offer website tracking.
Shopping cart integration
Only GetResponse and MailChimp offer shopping cart integration.
Webinars are offered exclusively on the GetResponse platform.
When you first either take your business online, or you’re venturing into online marketing, Mailchimp is the most affordable entry-level email marketing tool. GetResponse’s email marketing plans are cheaper than MailChimp if you have decent amount of subscribers. Also, MailChimp only centers around email marketing and is not an all-in-one online marketing tool like GetResponse and HubSpot.
If your business is at a place where you can afford it, it’s obvious that Hubspot offers more all-in-one online marketing tools and automation, but also comes at a hefty price that not all smaller business can afford.
For almost all the same functionality as HubSpot offers, GetResponse gives you at a fraction of the cost, which makes GetResponse my choice of all-in-one online marketing tools for small businesses.