By the time we're done with the comprehensive guide to starting a blog -you'll have the tutorial to make it happen! Let's do this!

How To Start A Blog: A Comprehensive Guide

If you are learning how to start a blog, you are in the right place. Here, you'll learn how to start a blog, how to grow the blog, and how to build a tribe that follows your blog and supports your brand and business. We will cover platforms, SEO, promotion and so much more. Be sure to grab your FREE EBOOK here as well.

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Lori Ballen is a member of the Amazon Associates Program and earns money from qualifying purchases. Posts contain affiliate links that benefit Lori as well.

If you are learning how to start a blog, you are in the right place. Here, you’ll learn how to start a blog, how to grow the blog, and how to build a tribe that follows your blog and supports your brand and business.

You will learn everything from what tools I use for my own blogging business (including free ones), all of my best tips & tricks on growing an audience for your new website or social media account, as well as some of my most effective strategies for building relationships with influencers who can help promote your content.

By the time we’re done with the comprehensive guide to starting a blog – not only will you have learned everything there is about starting a successful blogging business but also be able to take action towards making it happen! It’s time for YOU to finally create something amazing online! Let’s do this!

Choose Your Niche

Before you start a blog, it’s important to decide the niche you want your blog to focus on. Let me guess – you have been blogging since 2010 and still haven’t determined niches for each of your blogs yet? Yeah, I know the feeling.

While you can create a passion project, which is a blog based on your personal hobbies, you can also choose a profitable niche based on research.

Finding a profitable niche for your new blog can be difficult but, in my experience, it’s worth the time researching. Just don’t get so caught up in research, that you don’t ever start the blog.

The key to success here is to find a niche that is profitable, expandable, but that isn’t overly saturated.

So, for example, if I wanted to start a blog about blogging, there would definitely be some fierce competition.

In other words, there are already a number of well-established blogs about those topics so it might not be as profitable as other niches.

However, if you wanted to start a travel blog or even a cooking blog because you love to cook and can’t wait to share recipes with others? These are both excellent choices! Particularly if you have access to insider information on your chosen market through your existing network – this can really help give you an edge when starting a new business.

And while cooking blogs can still be competitive, you can drill down even further and build an entire recipe blog on keto recipes, or gluten free recipes, or instant pot recipes.

The Spaghetti Approach

While the ‘throw it all at the wall and see what sticks approach to blogging might mean you have a mess on your hands for a while, it can also be a great discovery project.

Let’s say that you want to create a lifestyle blog. You love makeup, fashion, travel, cooking, decorating, crafts, and all things related to being a new mom.

A blog with all of those topics will have a hard time scoring topical relevancy with Google. But you can gain traffic from Pinterest, Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, etc.

Topical Relevancy

Topical Relevancy is extremely important if you are trying to rank high in Google with your blog. The more focused on a particular topic you are on your website, the more Google will begin to see you as an authority on that topic.

So while pets is a popular topic, small pets would be more “topical”. Furthermore “small exotic pets” would be even more focused. Don’t be worried about being boxed in. If you pick a domain name that can grow with your website (more on domain names in a bit), then you can start with small focused topic clusters, and work your way up to broader, more competitive topics.

Google Will Guide You

Over time, Google will start favoring certain topics on your blog, bringing these to the top of your most visited pages from the search engine.

Once you have this data, you can spin off a topical blog, or focus more on creating the content that Google loves.

For example, my digital marketing blog is my passion project. Because I love building content websites, and teaching, it’s the ideal playground. It’s overwhelmingly competitive, and I won’t’ be able to rank for all things related to digital marketing, especially in the first few years while I’m working to build topical authority.

What I noticed after the first year of blogging on this new website, is that my articles related to affiliate marketing quickly began rising to the top of my key traffic pages.

What’s more, is that when I use my favorite SEO tool called SEMrush, I can see that based on the competition listed on my dashboard, Google believes my website is mostly about affiliate marketing.

That means, my focus should be on making sure I cover every topic related to Affiliate marketing, completing that topic cluster, or spin-off another website that is only focused on affiliate marketing.

Google will guide you on which content to create, once you have enough of it to evaluate.

Google Trends shows how often a topic has been searched for over time, and what the most popular related searches are.

While it doesn’t give you an idea of how competitive a market is, it can be useful in identifying what topics are trending. If you see that your chosen niche’s search volume is on the decline, consider choosing another market to focus on instead.

Don’t chase trends that aren’t here to stay. Instead, think about the next trend that might come along so you can take advantage before everyone else jumps on board.

For example, if I wanted to start a blog today, I wouldn’t jump onto Influencer Marketing because I already see this industry becoming saturated with brands looking for bloggers or social media influencers who have thousands of followers across their social media channels.

While I could start an influencer marketing blog today (and there are definitely opportunities in this space if you count yourself among the thousands of aspiring Instagram Influencers), I would rather focus on something like podcasting because it’s a relatively new industry that is still growing.

In fact, on my digital marketing blog, my podcast blogs are rising the ranks on Google rather quickly, now that I have a decent-sized topic cluster. (We’ll cover topic clusters in a bit).

Make a List

Start by making a list of topics you might be interested in. Let your creative juices flow, and just pile them all on there. Once you have a list, ask yourself these questions about each topic.

1.) Can I see myself writing about this topic weekly, even daily?

2.) Can I see myself as an authoritative voice in this topic?

3.) Will I really put the time and effort into becoming a true expert of this topic, and will it be worth my time and energy. If your answer is no to any of these questions, then that’s a good indicator that you’ll eventually lose interest and give up.

The point here is not to drill yourself down into a topic that will only cause stress and frustration. If you’re not excited about the topic you’ve chosen, don’t expect your readers to feel enthusiastic either.

Once you have an idea of what topics interest you, take a look at Google trends to see how popular this particular niche is right now. If you choose something that isn’t growing or doesn’t really exist yet, then by all means go for it! Just make sure you are truly passionate about the subject before investing years into making it work.

Now, pick one, and let’s move on to registering a domain name.

Choosing a Domain Name

Congratulations! You have chosen your niche and are ready to register a domain name for your blog.

Your name is unique, you’ll be the only place on the entire web where people can find your blog online.

This is an important step in building your digital ecosystem.

You’ll need to choose a short, memorable domain name that matches up with your niche. If this doesn’t come easily to you, don’t stress out too much about picking something perfect right now.

If possible, try to keep it around 2-3 words. Your domain name should be easy for people to remember, and easy for others to spell correctly when they are looking for advice or information related to your niche topic(s).

Picture your domain name overlayed on your Instagram post, youtube video, or Pinterest Pin. You’ll see then why it needs to be short.

If you’re struggling with what your domain name should be, try taking a peek at some of the most popular bloggers in your niche and see what they are using as their web addresses. You can also check out top-performing blogs on platforms like Pinterest to see what domain names others have chosen that seem to draw the most traffic.

I did a quick search on Google for Keto Recipes and here are a few of the names that popped up:

  1. Delish.com
  2. DietDoctor.com
  3. SkinnyTaste.com

I did another search for blogs related to travel and got these results:

  1. TravelandLeisure.com
  2. VacationIdea.com
  3. KidsAreATrip.com

When searching for small pet-related information, I found:

  1. PetFinder.com
  2. BunnyLady.com
  3. TheSprucePets.com

It’s worth noting that most of these domains only have 2-3 words and all end in the .com extension.

Now that you have your short, memorable, cleverly named domain name for your blog, it’s time to actually register your web address. If this seems like too much work or too technical, you can always enlist the help of a web developer or service that will register your domain name and set up hosting for you.

My brothers Jeff and Paul do this for you at Ballen Brands.

Once you’ve decided on a short, memorable domain name that describes your niche or topic(s), go ahead and purchase it from GoDaddy, Bluehost, or Namecheap.

It’s also worth researching your website host before registering the domain, as you may be able to do that in one stop.

If you plan on maintaining your blog for several years into the future, then do yourself a favor and buy at least 10 years worth of digital security for your address so that you don’t have to worry about losing it out from under you and having to spend extra money buying it back.

It’s worth noting that you can transfer domain names from one web hosting provider to another if for any reason you choose not to stay with your initial choice of hosting companies. However, this will cost extra money and involve a few more technicalities that are well beyond the scope of this article.

Add the SSL Certificate if your Web Hosting Provider isn’t issuing one automatically.

Choosing A Web Hosting Provider

This is where things start getting a little more complicated than usual because there are many different factors involved in choosing the best web hosting company for your blog.

Start by asking yourself, how much disk space and bandwidth do I need? Am I planning on podcasting or videocasting? Do I know exactly what types of social media integrations I will use right from the start, or am I open to trying new things down the road? Do I want an easy installation process or am I comfortable enough with HTML code to download something like WordPress and manually install it myself?

If you’re unsure about which host is right for you, ask friends who own blogs what companies they use and why. Check out online reviews before making a final decision as well.

I use Flywheel (Ballen Brands offers this service) and WP Engine for DIY Websites.

Here are some top web hosting providers that others recommend:

Bluehost – one of the most popular web hosting companies in the world, Bluehost has a stellar reputation. Also, they’re owned by EIG (one of the top 10 hosting providers worldwide) and have a small business plan that’s perfect for starting a blog or website on a budget.

Bluehost is one of the few hosts recommended by WordPress to register your domain name through them too because it will make transferring your site much easier should you choose to switch hosts later down the line.

WP EngineWP Engine makes it easy for you to have your blog up and running in minutes. They offer a unique hosting system that is set up with WordPress-friendly configurations, making it easy for you to install the plugins and themes you need.

FlywheelFlywheel offers state-of-the-art hosting with custom options tailored to your specific needs. This company believes in “keeping it simple” by offering an easy installation process so that you can avoid having to spend hours learning how to properly use HTML code when launching your new website.

GoDaddy – Love them or hate them, Go Daddy has over 17 million customers which speaks volumes about their service quality and customer satisfaction.

SitegroundSiteground is a user-friendly web hosting company that offers a unique speed optimization technology to help you load your blog faster.

They also have a WordPress-specific hosting plan, which makes the installation process even easier when compared with other companies.

WordPress Alternatives

WordPress hosting isn’t your only option either. Bloggers also frequently choose to use Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix to build their blogs.

Squarespace: this is a great option if you want to include e-commerce features on your blog to sell your products, manage your blog’s email list, or send out newsletters to keep people updated about what you’re working on.

Weebly: Weebly is popular because it’s super easy to use. They make it quick and simple for anyone, even beginners, to build their own blog or website without having any previous knowledge or experience about blogging or coding.

Wix: Wix is another free option that gives you the ability to customize your blog exactly how you want. This allows you more creative control over the look and feel of your site because there are no preset templates like on Squarespace (which can save you time but also limit your options).

Deciding whether to go with WordPress, SquareSpace, Weebly, or Wix mainly depends on what features matter most to you right now . For example, if all you care about is creating a nice-looking blog where readers can subscribe to your email list and you want to sell products later down the line, Weebly may be the best fit for you.

On the other hand, if you want more flexibility and don’t mind spending a little bit of time customizing your blog’s design, then WordPress or Wix would give you that option.

If your priority is having an easy-to-use system where all of these features will come already installed (for example, Squarespace), then go with that one instead.

It’s also important to note that there are some potential disadvantages to using a hosted platform like WordPress, SquareSpace, Weebly, or Wix vs a self-hosted solution like WordPress.com or even another host besides WP Engine, Flywheel, etc.

The main disadvantage is that your blog will be hosted on someone else’s domain rather than your own. If you’re looking to grow a huge audience and eventually monetize your blog, this might not be the best option for you because it doesn’t give you full control over where people are directed once they click on a link from one of your posts to another website.

This matters because every time someone clicks on an affiliate link or purchases something you’ve referred them to after reading an article on your blog, you’d have no way of earning money unless that purchase took place directly on their computer through your Squarespace account or Weebly dashboard.

You could include adsense code in each post to start generating income, but this would require more initial work on your part because you’d have to write each post with the intention of including adsense within it.

With a self-hosted platform like WordPress, you can install any plugin you want and monetize your site through platforms like Clickbank or Amazon without having to change your theme or include adsense code inside each article.

Hiring a Web Developer

If you are not a DIY type of person where it comes to technology, you may just want to hire a web designer to put your blog together for you. They can take care of everything from creating your blog’s look and feel to hosting it on their own server.

WordPress Designer and Devloper

Ballen Brands is a popular WordPress website builder. With multiple design ready themes, Ballen Brands can bring your vision to life. Don’t have a vision? That’s OK too. Tell them your niche, and favorite colors, and they will go to work.

Ballen Brands also has WordPress websites that are built with Elementor, a popular WordPress page builder. With Elementor, you can add pop up offers and build your subscriber list. Ballen Brands can help integrate your 3rd party email autoresponder, or set one up for you with their preferred email software, KEAP.

Wix Designer

One of the most popular web designers today is Wix-based company called Design Pickle, who has built websites for businesses like Whole Foods, Starbucks, Google, and Coca Cola. They also create sites for entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss (4 Hour Work Week), Marie Forleo (B-School), Andrea Beltrami (AndreaBelle.com), and other big-name bloggers like Yanik Silver (Yaniksilver.com) and John Chow (Johnchow.com).

Design Pickle offers a service called “Website In A Box” where they can take care of everything from finding a domain name that matches your brand, to building your site and hosting it for you on their server – all within 48 hours.

They also offer one-on-one coaching with a member of their team who will advise you on how to begin growing your blog as soon as possible after launch, as well as help you come up with a list of products to sell or promote from your blog later down the line.

Squarespace Designer

One popular Squarespace designer is designer and developer is Christy Price, an Austin, Texas, based Squarespace web designer with over 15 years of experience crafting beautiful, engaging websites.​

If you aren’t familiar, Squarespace is a website building platform that offers templates to anyone who wants to build their own professional-looking website in minutes using features like drag & drop, editing from any device via the web browser, and no coding experience required.

If you aren’t familiar, Squarespace is a website building platform that offers templates to anyone who wants to build their own professional-looking website in minutes using features like drag & drop, editing from any device via the web browser, and no coding experience required.

Upwork

Upwork is home to many designers who specialize in Squarespace Websites. Here you can find a great designer who will build your Squarespace blog and migrate all your content so that everything is properly synced to the new platform.

WordPress Plugins

Now that you have set up your blog, you can begin to add the basic WordPress plugins that add additional functionality to your website. Be careful about adding too many plugins as they can slow down your website. I always suggest that you run your website through a page speed test first, then add the plugin, and test the page load time again.

For bloggers, these are popular WP Plugins.

Page Builders

WPBakery Page Builder

This plugin is one of the most popular WordPress plugins with several million downloads. This plugin allows you to build professional looking pages for your blog or website like slideshows, product displays, pricing tables, and more with drag-and-drop functionality.

Elementor

Another great page builder plugin that has over 5 million installs with fresh updates every week is called Elementor. This plugin also allows you to create professional looking pages without any coding experience needed. Elementor offers many additional features like pop up offer boxes, contact forms, lead generation tools, and more right out of the box .

Site Optimization

WPOptimize: If you want to ensure that your website or blog is optimized for speed and performance, WP Optimize is a plugin you will want to add to your site. It can remove old post revisions, clean up your database, and more. Many of the most popular blogs in the world use this plugin on their sites.

WPFusion: This plugin will help you take your WordPress website to the next level by allowing you to add additional functionality like retina compatibility, SEO optimizing shortcodes, social sharing buttons, video tools in posts and pages, an easy way to import / export posts, and much more.

SmushPro: If you are using images in your blog posts or pages, Smush Pro will help optimize all your images to make them smaller in size without losing quality. This plugin can offer up to 30% savings on image sizes through compression.

SEO Plugins

YOAST: A great SEO plugin to use for your blog is called Yoast . This plugin helps you do keyword research when writing articles on your site so that when search engine robots scan through your content they can find what you are targeting in each post.

You also get insights into how well optimized each of your articles are after hitting publish (along with color-coded readability meters), helping you tweak things like page titles and meta descriptions until they’re perfect.

AOSP: Another SEO Plugin that you can use for WordPress is called All-in-One SEO Pack . This plugin will allow you to quickly and easily edit your open graph properties, custom titles and meta descriptions, create XML sitemaps, social sharing options, and more.

Social Media Plugins

WPSocialNinja: This plugin will help you take your social media marketing to the next level by allowing you to automatically share all of your content on top social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. You can write a blog post or create a video for YouTube and automatically have it shared out across all your favorite social networks with just one click from anywhere in WordPress.

SmashBalloon: This plugin will help you add a floating social share bar for new posts on your WordPress blog. Visitors to your site can then automatically share this new post out across all of their favorite networks with just one click from the floating bar without ever leaving the page they are currently reading.

Missinglettr: This plugin is called Missinglettr . It will allow you to create tweetable links for your blog posts by creating a link that someone can click and share out on Twitter. When the person clicks this link, their followers will see it as a shortened tweet (with your custom message included).

Community Building

SumoMe: One of the best tool sets for building an email list and community on WordPress is SumoMe . This plugin offers tons of tools like pop-ups, welcome matts, scroll boxes, etc. that will help you get more email subscribers and meet your community building goals.

Pricing Tables

SumoMe Pricing Grids: If you need pricing tables on your website this is a great option to have. SumoMe Pricing Grids is a plugin that offers tons of features and functionality with a drag-and-drop interface so you can create the perfect looking pricing table with just a few clicks.

Ninja Tables: If you need a free option for professional-looking tables on your site, check out Ninja Tables . You can add in your own custom CSS with this plugin so the tables look just the way you want them to.

Analytics Plugins

Google Analytics: One of the best analytics plugins available for WordPress is Google Analytics . This plugin will help you track your website activity from visitors, sources, campaigns, demographics, etc. right inside your WordPress dashboard without having to leave the site!

Clicky Analytics: Another plugin that you should consider adding to your site is Clicky Analytics . This analytics tool provides a ton of useful information about what’s going on with your blog, including where visitors are coming from, their location, the devices they’re using, and much more.

Monetization:

Ezoic: If you are trying to monetize your blog with ads, Ezoic might be a great option for you. This plugin helps you create highly engaging ad units in just minutes, allowing advertisers to bid on your inventory so you can generate revenue.

Advanced Ads: Another good plugin to have on your WordPress site is called Advanced Ads . With this plugin, you can quickly create ad units that are highly engaging for your users while also ensuring that advertisers get the highest quality inventory available.

Ad Sanity: If you want to test out different ad sizes and positions, Ad Sanity will be an invaluable tool inside of WordPress. With this plugin, you can easily experiment with different types of ads until you find ones that work well for your blog without impacting your users experience in any negative way.

Internal Linking

Link Whisper: Link Whisper is a must-have plugin for anyone who wants to optimize the links on their WordPress site. With this tool, you can quickly see how many links are already pointing to a page or post that you’re linking to and determine which ones give you the best value when driving that targeted traffic back to your site.

Thirsty Affiliates: Another internal linking related plugin that you should consider using is Thirsty Affiliates . This plugin allows you to easily link out to products, services, and other affiliate opportunities that will help you generate revenue for your blog without having to go anywhere else.

Content Strategy For A Blog

The first step toward a successful blog is publishing great content that will attract an audience. To achieve that goal, you need to ensure that you aren’t just creating content for the sake of having something new to say or publish.

Instead, you should start by setting up a strategy for how you plan on approaching content marketing as a whole. This will allow you to approach writing from a position of strength rather than a weakness as well as ensure that your efforts are being used in the best way possible.

Types of Content

The following are some of the most popular content strategies being used right now. You might also want to take a look at this article that details everything you need to know about content buckets.

Long-Form Content : Long-form content is one of the most effective ways to improve your organic reach, especially if you can find a way to do it for free (or close to it). Why? Well, think about it: people love reading long-form pieces and authors or experts usually like sharing them as well because it makes them look good.

As a result, these types of articles tend to get shared all over social media and across industry sites as well. Since Google has been steadily increasing its focus on longer piece as well, this means that there is tremendous opportunity available when publishing this type of material.

Link Resource Page Strategy: A link resource page is a type of content that usually consists of several resources for certain topics, industries, or niches. For example, if you have a blog that tends to focus on SEO strategies then you might want to create a link resource page that lists tools, tips, tricks and other types of information related to increasing search engine rankings .

Micro-Blog Strategy : A micro-blog strategy is one where your blog posts are very short – usually no more than a few sentences or paragraphs – but you publish a lot of them every day. This content strategy is popular among some of the big sites on the web today because it gives them a chance to publish good quality content frequently while also giving their users something they can come back to for reference later.

Integrative Content Strategy: An integrative content strategy involves publishing posts that combine several different types of materials into one post. This could include images, links, quotes from influencers or experts , and even videos – just about anything that will help you become more visible within your industry and build up a following.

Informational Content: Informational content offers your readers some sort of benefit without any particular purpose other than teaching them something they didn’t previously know. This type of piece is great for building trust with your readers while also positioning you as an expert in your industry.

Many bloggers use frequently asked questions to create their informational content. You can find frequently asked questions using Google Search (for free), as well as paid tools like SEMrush, and AnswerThePublic.com

Thought Leadership Content: In addition to informational content, you might want to consider publishing thought leadership pieces from time-to-time as well. These types of blog posts are often similar to informational material but have a much more personal touch and approach.

The best way to think about this type of content is that it’s the place where you share a lot of information about a certain topic , but at the same time look outside yourself and offer a unique perspective on the subject matter.

Product Reviews: A product review blog post is exactly what it sounds like: a review of some sort that focuses on how the product you are reviewing will benefit your readers.

The best way to think about this type of content is that’s it’s more “actionable” than something pure informational. Rather than simply giving your reader an idea of what they can learn from reading you, with a product review you give them ideas for spending their money wisely

There are lots of different ways to approach content creation so the important thing isn’t necessarily finding one single strategy but rather understanding all the types of material available and making sure that your efforts are being used in the most effective manner possible.

Topic Clusters

The most purposeful way to start creating content on a blog is with topic clusters. Topic Clusters, also referred to as silos, hub and spoke, or posts by angle, are blog posts that all tie back together around a central theme.

The Hub & Spoke Model: As zach mentions in his post on the hub and spoke model (https://www.searchenginejournal.com/hub-spoke-content-marketing/), the hub and spoke model is the most purposeful way to start creating content on your blog because it’s designed to help you build an audience right away .

Once you’ve created your first cluster of posts around a certain topic (the center piece), you can then branch out into any other related topics (spokes). Those related posts will also attract more targeted traffic from other sites that link to them over time.

SEO Silo: Building an SEO Silo is much like creating a hub and spoke model, but it happens over time instead. The idea is to build out your content network over time so that each piece works towards the larger goal of ranking for certain keywords or topics.

Here’s how an SEO Silo works (hub/spoke model):

  1. You start by creating a post related to a broad topic (hub)
  2. Take one or two of the biggest keywords you discovered while doing your keyword research and write blog posts around them (spokes)
  3. Create another hub with related keywords, but this time go even more in depth than the last time. This is your second level hub.
  4. Keep on adding new hubs and spokes until you’ve covered all of the bases that relate to your central topic.

If done correctly, this will allow you to build up an SEO silo that’s stronger than if you had just created content around one main topic only.

Example of a Pet Website Topic Cluster :

A pet-themed website might start out by creating a cluster of content that revolves around the theme of dogs and pets, such as:

How to Feed a Dog. Feeding a dog is the hub.

The spokes become:

  • what to feed a dog,
  • how often to feed a dog
  • best treats for dog
  • how to feed multiple dogs at the same time

Another hub is how to train a new puppy. The spokes include:

  • why you should crate train your pup,
  • what treats to use for puppy training
  • 10 Things that could go wrong while puppy training
  • potty training a new puppy
  • puppy behavior classes

and so forth.

In a physical SEO Silo, you might see parent pages as a hub, and child pages as the spokes. You might see category pages, and posts within a topic cluster.

The goal is that each related post links back to the main focus page, the comprehensive guide, etc.

Many bloggers like to apply an internal linking strategy that involves linking to related posts. (More on that later)

Content Calendar

As you create content, it will help your blog tremendously if you have a content calendar in place. A content calendar is a spreadsheet or document where you write down all of the ideas and topics that come to mind when approaching a new theme or topic for your blog.

In that spreadsheet, there should be columns that show each day of the month along with what types of posts you want to publish on those days. One column might indicate guest posts, another might show original posts from your blog’s team writers, etc.

The most important thing about making a content calendar is allowing yourself time to think through each post idea so that when it comes time to actually sit down and start writing , you know exactly what direction to go in.

In addition to a content calendar, setting up an editorial process is also important.  

Choosing Content That Ranks on Google

One of the most common mistakes that bloggers make is choosing content based on what they like to read instead of taking into account how well it will rank for certain keywords.

Before creating a blog post, I use Google Autosuggest to see what types of phrases people are typing into the search box. I then choose the most popular phrases, whether they’re questions or topics that will be the focus of my post.

For example, if I was writing a blog post on how to use Instagram hashtags , I’d use Google Autosuggest to see which are the most popular hashtags being used in real time.

I’d scan those hashtags so that I know exactly what tags people are using when uploading photos onto their Instagram accounts. Then, instead of just writing about ‘what’ they are and ‘why,’ I’d also include information on ‘how’ you can find out which hashtags have the highest engagement rates.

Once I had the budget for it, I invested in a Keyword research and SEO tool called SEMrush. Once I have the topic in mind, and have found subtopics using Google Autosuggest, I look up the keyword difficulty score in SEMrush. I

I want to create posts around keywords that have low competition while I work on building my Domain Authority.

Tips: Choose Long-tail Keywords: You’ll want to aim for keywords that have lower competition and a higher search volume. I try to find long-tail keywords (usually 3 or more keywords in a phrase) as those are much easier to rank for than broad, general keywords.

Optimizing your Content For Google

Optimizing your content for Google is what SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is all about.

SEO isn’t about creating search engine spam. It’s not about keyword stuffing or copying and pasting the same exact phrase over and over again in hopes that it will rank on Google search results.  

Keywords are important, but only if you’re using the right ones at the right times.

Here’s how to optimize your blog posts:

While old-school keyword stuffing is dead, there are still a few places where we want to use your focus keyword phrase.

Keyword in the Title

First, when writing the actual blog post title, you want to include your focus keyword in the title .  (Example: How To Run A Half Marathon) Then, when you’re creating page titles for each individual page (not page sections), you’ll use the same keywords that are in your blog post title.

For example, if I was writing a post about how to run a half marathon , my page title would be ‘How to Run A Half Marathon’ because it’s helping readers understand exactly what it is they should expect from the rest of my content on this particular topic.

Keyword in the first paragraph

Just as you want your blog post title to lead readers directly into the content itself, so should the initial paragraph .  The first paragraph does not need a heading or subheading before it.

Keyword in the URL of Your blog

When you’re writing a blog post, try to include your focus keyword in the URL of that specific blog. While we want to keep the URL short, a 2-3 keyword phrase at the end would be appropriate.

Example: fitmom.com/run-marathon

Keyword in the Metadescription

A metadescription is the text that displays beneath your blog post title when users hover their mouse over it.

This is an area where we can use the focus keyword, but more importantly is to write a short blurb which describes what your content is about and why readers should click through or read this particular blog post you’ve created.

Use Headings For Your Keyword Phrase

You should use your focus keyword phrase within H1, H2, and H3 headings.  The first heading should be an H1, the second should be an H2, and the third should be an H3.

Within those 3 headings you can include variations of your focus keyword phrase, or related topics as it helps Google to understand what your content is all about.   For example: How To Run A Half Marathon (H1) Preparing for a half marathon H2) The best running shoes

Tip: Keep your headings short

Optmize your Images

If you’re including images inside of your blog posts (which I highly recommend doing), be sure to include keywords in the filename .  This will help with both SEO and traffic to your blog as Google’s image search shows up high on organic search results pages. For example: How-To-Run-A-Half-Marathon

Google and other search engines use alt text (the caption that appears when an image is hovered over with your cursor) to determine what each image is about.  Alt text should be written as if you were speaking directly to the reader; it should be descriptive of what they will find on your page, and include your focus keyword phrase where appropriate. Don’t stuff keywords into the alt text section though.

Internal Linking Strategy:

Your internal linking strategy is the way that you link to all of your other blog posts from within each individual post.

Internal links are important for both on-site SEO and user experience purposes. They help users navigate through your site, and they help search engine bots crawl your site more easily.

The three main things to keep in mind about internal linking are:

  1. Use anchor text that matches the words people would use if they were searching for it (see On Site Seo.)
  2. Make sure all of your links work properly (see Broken Links)
  3. Create a balanced network of internal links where no one page or blog post is getting too many or too few internal links pointing towards it.  

It’s important to keep in mind that you want all of your blog posts and pages to live together as part of a larger whole. When it comes to using your internal linking strategy to build out your network, it’s helpful if:

Each blog post has at least 2-3 other relevant blog posts linked directly within the article.

Every page or category page links back to all of the parent pages or category pages from which they were created from.

You make sure there are no orphaned pages (pages with no connections).

Lori Ballen is an entrepreneur who makes money online through blogging, video, social media, and other content marketing strategies. She's a 6-figure affiliate marketer and coaches others on how to make money online. SEO, Search Engine Optimized Content is her specialty. Lori is the creator of Ballen Academy and owns a real estate business in Las Vegas, NV.

Lori Ballen

I teach bloggers how to grow their blog, and make money through multiple streams of income. From affiliate marketing, to building courses, I share 7 income stream strategies through blogging.

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I regularly publish guides, articles, videos, and live events for digital marketers. As a 6-figure affiliate marketer, and blogger, I enjoy sharing my strategies. 

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