Tips For New Bloggers & Online Writers. Get Traffic, Improve SEO and Avoid Newbie Mistakes!
If you've just begun your online writing career on Hubpages, another revenue sharing site or your own blog, chances are you nurture the secret hope of getting as much traffic and money as many top online writers do.
Whether you realise it or not though, writing online isn't as simple as sitting down and typing out a few hundred words (no matter how fantastic those words are) then waiting for traffic and money to come in. It takes some serious learning about how to drive traffic, what the right type of traffic is, and learning from the numerous mistakes you'll likely make in the first year or two.
In this guide I've pulled together many of the common mistakes I've seen made by new hubbers and bloggers [most information gathered from this forum thread] and given some brief information on how they can correct these issues without long term negative impact on their writing.
I'm hoping that it may save many new writers some of the first few months of confusion and mistakes.
This hub was also featured in the official Hubpages Blog.
I bet you don't know what demiurgic means, do you? I hope not - I had to dig it up in a thesaurus! Chances are that if the word isn't well known, people aren't going to be searching for it.
"People Don't Search For Titles in Google, they search for Answers," -Cardisa
Titles are one of THE most important parts of internet content. Not only do they get noticed by Google as the primary brief summary of what your article is about, but they are shown in Google results. So what does a good title need?
- Needs to be readable and clickable. Think about what attracts your attention on Google - Don't just throw a bunch of randomly related words in your title. Example: "Dough, Yeast, Bread, Information, History etc" won't work as well as "Who Invented Yeast and Why Is It Used in Dough?"
- Don't Use Big Words - Although Google is getting good at picking up some synonyms, it's still more likely to send you traffic if your titles and content matches what people are typing into Google. So avoid "crimson" and go with "red." Google recommends writing for a ~12 year old reader.
- Describe Exactly What Your Article is About - Don't hint or use a pretty or double meaning title. You can use a teaser (see further on for more info on these) but don't use a title like "My Wild Whirlwind Friend" instead of "How I House Trained My Cranky Cat".
It's Normal For Your Traffic To Go Down
Most people are pleasantly surprised to see a nice hit of traffic when they first publish a post or article. Then they see the traffic take a huge dive.
New content gets a lot of hits for a variety of reasons. On your own site, it's probably due to you sharing it on your own social networks, any automatic content feeds and the fact it appears at the top of the front page. On sites like Hubpages or Squidoo, it's also likely related to being emailed out to all your followers and appearing in the "new hubs" section in your chosen topic. Google can also play a part, sending a burst of traffic to "fresh content".
It's completely normal for traffic to drop after all those reasons are no longer applicable. But don't worry - if your content is in a low competition niche and high quality, Google traffic will slowly return. And after it returns, social traffic often comes with it as search engine visitors like, tweet and pin your content.
Until you have experience with "what works" for getting search engine traffic, it can take 6-9 months for the average post to start seeing serious traffic. In the meantime, get writing more content!
Beware Time Decay: Go Evergreen
One major mistake new online writers make is writing about what's in the news. Forget what's in the news for two reasons:
- Major news sites have dozens of writers ready to throw an article online as soon as they've got all the information and sources they need. Your lowly little article probably isn't going to outrank those news sites on the first day you publish it.
- Unless you have hundreds of subscribers hanging off your every word, your article is unlikely to see serious Google or social traffic for at least 6-9 months after being published. That means, by the time your content starts being at the prime age for getting views, no one will be interested in that topic anymore.
So what should you write about, if not news and current affairs?
Easy - write about things that'll never go out of date, such as how to guides, reviews, recipes, dealing with particular emotional or social issues - anything that will be as relevant in a decade as it is now.
Avoid mentioning specific time based events unless you plan to remove that section later. And don't mention the year (best dog breeds 2013)!
Prime Real Estate - Top Right!
The top right space on any article is the place that visitors see first. So you need to make it attention grabbing and something you really want them to see. The best things to put there include:
- Advertising - Let your first Adsense box display there.
- Affiliates - Put Amazon, eBay or other affiliate boxes there.
- Made For Pinterest Images - Create images that people will pin to Pinterest and drive more traffic to your content.
Wasted White Space
Big white spaces in your content are ugly and make your content look low quality. The most common cause of white spaces:
- Adverts inserted after publication push content down. Always check how things look AFTER you publish them, too.
- At the end of a capsule or post, you've pushed the 'enter' key too many times, leaving a big empty area. Delete it!
- Too much content, too few capsules. Each capsule should just contain one image, or one paragraph of text or one video so you can easily move them around.
Over Formatting - Dump Those Lists, Bolds and Italics!
You should save special formatting for VERY IMPORTANT things that you want to emphasise.
grabbing styles confuses your reader and quickly makes them immune to it. Unless you have a good reason (like writing an article on newbie writers!) try to stick with one main list, and only format your text for important links or one off quotes.
Convoluted Not Concise
Although anecdotal stories can add to a good article, the reader really doesn't want to know that you learned about the topic from an aunty's friend who helped you change a tyre on the afternoon before your wedding because you ran out of gas.
Tell the reader what you promised to tell them in the title and the introduction. Don't go off on tangents - if you find yourself writing more than a paragraph not closely related to the original topic, create a spin off article and link it for those who DO want to read that information.
Ranking #1 In Google Is Pointless
Yes, you heard that right! Many people are proud of the fact that they rank first in Google for their exact title. You know, the title like "My cat miffy and why she scratched me".
That's good for them. Except no one is actually typing "My cat miffy and why she scratched me" into Google.
I rank #1 for my name (Susannah Birch) and it doesn't do a lot of good - because only 10-20 people search for it a month.
It's ONLY good to rank high in Google if you're ranking for something that people are searching.
Losing Viewer Attention
Getting people to your page is only half the problem - you need to stop them hitting the back button straight away, too. Why? Because Google monitors time on page, social sharing and if a person bounces (goes back), and it can lead to your page being ranked lower in Google.
- Avoid long and boring unbroken text - cut your article into bite size paragraph by subtopics and topics and subtitle each one with a relevant description so people can easily skim and decide which part of your article is most relevant. Subtitles also help with search engine visits.
- Use a hook sentence and hook paragraph - Give them a teaser in the first sentence that summarises why they're visiting your hub. Expand a little on the topic and why you think they'll want to read about it in the first paragraph.
Poems And Stories Will Make You Rich
If you're writing stories and poetry, I hate to break it to you, but you're likely never going to be earning thousands of dollars a month writing hubs, wizzes, lenses or blog posts.
Although there is a market for creative writing, most people use Google to find answers to their questions - how to do something, grow something, find something, make something or buy something. If you're not writing for what people are Googling, chances are you won't be drawing serious traffic - ever.
But if you just love your creative writing, I'd highly recommend Cardisa's article on how to set up your creative writing for Google.
Writing online is about what YOU want people to know and making YOU money, not about promoting other people's sites and sending people off to other people's content - that's a great way to leak valuable traffic! If people want further information on something, most of them know how to Google - when they are reading your content, they want to know what YOU have to say.
- Create a web of links between your own related articles to keep traffic on your content.
- Channel traffic from highly viewed articles to lower traffic content.
- If you must link out to other people's content or websites, put the links at the end of the article so people are exposed to all your information and links to your other content first.
- Don't randomly link words in your content to more of your content. Use bold or italicised text, or better yet, create a separate box with a blurb about the information you're linking to. See example on the right.
Check out my hub on Amazon selling to learn more on utilising images to make sales.
Images are one of the most important parts of an article. A great image can catch the reader's attention and encourage them to read enough of your article to keep going.
- Full Width Images & Videos - Splitting your content up with big full width content is a great way to lose reader attention. If you have to do it, save it for the bottom of the article or for a piece that is really high quality and a very important feature of your article. Preferably, right align images and videos so you have a continual line of text down the left hand side.
- Horizontal Images - Avoid these as they'll usually take up more space and push your text further to the side. Try and stick with vertical images if possible.
- Small Images - Big images can usually be shrunk and still look great. Small images stretch badly and can end up pixelated and low quality. So stick with bigger images!
- Copyright - Every image on the internet (even in Google image search) is copyright unless stated otherwise. Even those that you can use freely often require a link back to the place you found it. Make sure you read the copyright specifications so you don't risk having a DMCA filed or worse!
If there's too much competition for your topic, you'll never get traffic. Here's how to check competition on the topic you're writing about: Check Your Competition in Google.
Promote What Works, Forget What Doesn't
A big mistake new online writers make is to worry too much about their content that isn't getting traffic. Meanwhile, they ignore the content that IS.
You can invest hundreds of hours into trying to make something work, when really it's never going to. It can take just a few hours of work to turn a successful article into a very successful or even viral article.
Don't concentrate on your failures - concentrate on the content that is doing well and promote it, leave the content that isn't working alone, or save it for last. Sometimes content that isn't getting traffic will pickup when a related story is getting media attention - other times it will just die a slow death.
The Art Of The Teaser
The teaser is arguably the most important skill of online writing. Learning how to make the reader want to read more is a skill that takes some time to learn, but it can be an invaluable way of driving traffic. Some tips on using teasers:
- A teaser is not a caption. A caption tells you what you're getting an answer to, or what you're looking at, a teaser hints that you may get even more than what you asked for.
- A teaser is great when used with Made For Pinterest images, especially in relatively saturated topics.
- Use teasers or hook lines at the start of each new subtopic to keep your reader wanting to know more.
- If your article title promises an answer to a question, you can make your whole first paragraph into a teaser - keep the reader hanging with details on the background of what they're asking about, and wait till the second paragraph before offering an answer.
Want more info on using teasers in titles, social media and more? Read my Ultimate Teaser Guide.
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And Some Final Tips
Many of these tips are tried and proven by thousands of hubbers, bloggers and online content writers. Ignore at your own risk.
- Don't expect more than $5 per 1,000 external views at the start - That's an average, but it's a good one. Internal views (from other hubbers) don't make you money. Friends visiting your hubs don't make you money. Learning how to get regular views from Google CAN make you money.
- Don't write in saturated topics (unless you REALLY know what you're doing) - no matter how high quality your article is, if there are thousands of other articles online about it, chances are your content will never see the light of day in Google. Examples of saturated topics include weight loss, how to earn money online and acai berries.
- Don't stress if your content stops getting traffic - during the first week or two after publishing an article, you'll likely get internal traffic.
- Encourage your visitors to work for you - Use made for Pinterest images to encourage pins, write interesting content that people will want to like or share on Facebook, leave a note at the bottom of your article asking a direct question to encourage comments.
- Don't Spam Your Friends - If you're continually posting links to your content on your social media accounts, chances are that firstly, your friends will get very sick of you and secondly, that friends may try and "help" by clicking adverts for you - which can get your Adsense account banned.
- You can rank #1 on Google for "Purple Pigeon Poop" but if no one is Googling it, it's worthless!
- You can break a lot of the rules in this article - yes, really! But before you do that, you need to learn to work with them, so you also know when breaking them will help instead of hurt your content.
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