What is SEO? I feel like I’m not getting views because I don’t understand how to do it (and also because I suck at writing regularly)
SEO is Search Engine Optimization. It’s basically letting google (and other search engines) what your page is about so that people who are looking for that information can find you.
I’m no SEO expert, and I don’t do a whole lot of work on SEO for my site, so what I do is pretty simple.
Download and install the Yoast SEO plugin. This gives you additional fields on your wordpress backend where you write your posts and pages. You can type in the keyword you want to “aim” for, then make sure it’s included in your post title, URL, google “snippet” (the little excerpt thingy that shows up when people search), and other places.
You can also include the keywords in image titles, alt image tags, and headers in your post.
You don’t want to do ANY of this in a spammy or inauthentic way, but you do want to make sure to include the actual words you think people would be searching for.
Imagine your potential reader is sitting down to her computer, typing a query into google. What is she typing? She’s probably not typing “What I should have done the day I started my blog.” Even though I’ve put that on my image for a page, because I think it will spark curiosity on Pinterest, it’s not something I’d aim for in google.
Instead, I’ve focused on the “email list” phrase also making sure to include the word “blog” quite a bit. Maybe that’s not the best keyword to try for, but it at least makes sense.
If I’m spending more time on the SEO side of things for a more important or in-depth article or post, or tweaking things later on, I’ll play around in google’s Keyword Planner tool to see if any phrases pop up that I might not have thought of right away, then incorporate those into the post, title, image tags, and so on.
How do you get so many pageviews?
Honestly, a lot of it is luck. I never know which blog posts of mine are going to take off and be locked in google’s good graces forever (or for years, if not forever).
But at any given time, my top 10 posts probably account for around half of my total traffic. Many years ago, it was a recipe for roast beef that topped the charts. Then, for a while, it was my granola bar recipe. Right now it’s a post about corn on the cob that isn’t even a real recipe. Who knows why these things took off? But they did.
Other than luck, one thing you can do is start an email list. When people sign up, they give you permission to contact them about new blog posts, or other news related to your blog, business, website, or yourself. They can unsubscribe at any time, so don’t worry about annoying them too much… just be yourself, and the people who “get you” will stay. The people who leave weren’t your people anyway.
So, when you publish a new blog post or two, you can send an email to your subscribers and let them know about it. They’ll click through to the site, and give you some traffic that way. If they’re really into what you wrote, they might also pin/share/tweet it, which will bring new visitors to your page as well.
Of course, you can also share on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on, but in those places, you’re mainly HOPING that people will see your updates. With email, you have an “in” so I always recommend that as your main strategy for letting your fans know about new stuff.
How do I go about getting ads in my blog?
The easiest DIY way to get ads on your blog is to sign up for google adsense, then post the code they give you wherever you’d like an ad unit to show up. Simple! (I think your website must be at least 6 months old to qualify for google AdSense though.)
But there are also lots of ad networks you can apply to join. Some require certain amounts of traffic before they’ll allow you to join though. And other times, even if you meet the requirements, they may not have the space for you. But it’s always worth a shot.
I was with BlogHer (now SheKnows) until recently when I switched to TheBloggerNetwork. TheBloggerNetwork requires at least 100,000 pageviews per month, unless you pay them a fee to join their “starter” group, Propel. That sounds kind of fishy to some people, but the fee includes their blogging course, Build Your Blog Academy. The course has tons of resources and videos designed to help you raise your traffic, so it makes sense that both you and the network would benefit from your going through (and taking action on) the course materials.
I’ve heard that people are even more satisfied with the AdThrive network though, and I’ve put in my application. Fingers crossed they find a spot for me!
How do ad networks work?
Basically, they offer the advertisers a rate per thousand views, but those views might be spread over multiple blogs and audiences. Advertisers like networks, because it gives them a chance to reach eyes all over the internet, not just on one site. Bloggers like them because they get a chance to work with bigger companies than they’d be able to land on their own.
The network takes a percentage of the ad revenue, and you get the rest. Different networks take different amounts, but unless you want to hustle to find your own private advertisers, it’s generally worth it to share the income with a network!
What about affiliate links? If I am talking about a product I really like (for example my daughters dress she has on that day) is it ok to put a link to where someone might be able to buy it?
Yes, absolutely tell people where to buy things! If you love it, chances are someone else will love it too and they’ll want to know. You can earn affiliate commissions by recommending products, if you’re signed up with the different retailers. Amazon associates is a great program to enroll in, though it’s banned in a few states due to tax issues, so double check that it’s available in your state.
As far as other affiliate programs go, I’m not an expert on allllll the different options out there, but if there’s an online product I use, or a service I like, or a shop I use a lot, I will search for it in google by typing “______ affiliate program” or “______ referral.” Sometimes, even if an affiliate program doesn’t officially exist, you can email the company directly and work something out together.
Say I find a cool tutorial, can I put a link to it in my blog? Or are there specific rules for doing these kinds of things?
Yes, you can definitely put a link to a cool tutorial in your blog! But if you want to use one of the pictures, it’s best practice to ask the blogger for permission first. How would you feel if you found one of your photos (especially one with your kids in it) on another website without your permission?
In general, people will say yes, unless there’s a really specific reason they don’t want to. Sometimes bloggers have a policy on their website so you don’t have to ask them each time.
I have to be honest… sometimes I don’t ask. I’ll use a picture and link to the post, and describe what the post is about in my own words. And if they ever complained or asked me to take it down, I wouldn’t argue. I’d do it in a heart beat. And mostly I don’t mind when people do the same for me.
It’s when people copy entire recipes, copy tutorials, share more than one picture, that kind of thing… that the line feels like it’s been crossed. I don’t like when people do that to me, and I won’t do it to others.
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