Is it still possible to rank websites online? Yes! Is it harder than ever to rank websites online? Also yes! With Google constantly increasing their standard for content, now is probably one of the best times to enter the market and provide your valuable expertise. There's no cheating the system though – if you want to rank your website you have to cut out bad habits and stop trying to game the system. Here's our honest, ultimate guide to building a blog to grow and rank online.
If you've heard buzz about bloggers that make 100k+ a year or more from their site, then you're not alone. The promise of easy money has led a lot of people to start a blog – only to be disappointed when they find out that it takes a whole lot of time, energy, and effort to make it successful. So what's the secret? The answer is simple: Quality, consistent content. Everything a successful blogger has done, whether it's been for a month, year, or decade, has been based on producing quality & consistent content.
You can actually stop reading right now, follow that advice, and within a few years be well on your way to a successful blog that generates real income. But we understand that you might want a little more guidance than that, so we'll break it down for you step by step.
Yeah... I did say a few years (I apologize if that's not what you wanted to hear). It takes time to build an audience and create a following for your blog, so don't give up too easily. If you're in it for the long haul, then we can help you get there. Here's our fool-proof guide to cranking out quality content that will help you rank on Google and make money from your blog.
The Ultimate 10-Step Plan To Build an Online Blog
After spending years trying to figure out the special formula to get websites to rank on Google, I can confidently say that there is no “secret sauce.” Google doesn’t give preferential treatment to any specific website or type of content. However, there are a few simple things you can do (in theory – not in execution) to help your site rank higher in search engine results.
We've used it all. We've read all of the articles and blog posts on how to improve your website's ranking. We've experimented with different types of content, structures, and strategies. And while we can't give away all of our secrets, we can share a few of the methods that have worked well for us in the past.
Before we even get to the first point, we want to emphasize that this is going to take time. Expect a minimum of 3 months before you start seeing any real results, and even then it might only be a small trickle of traffic. The important thing is to keep at it and not give up. If you're writing just to share your thoughts with the world, then that's great – but if your goal is to generate income from your blog then you need to be patient and consistent. Let's dive in.
Master Something Important
Ok, so let's say you want to begin writing about SEO content. You want to be the next Neil Patel or Brian Dean and share your expert knowledge with the world. But before you can do that, you need to master something important: your own skills.
You can't rank a website if you have no authority over the content you're posting. Would you hire a professor that had never actually done the research they were teaching? No – so why would anyone listen to your blog if you're not an expert in the field? Ok ok... you don't need to have a PHD to write a blog, but you should at least be able to show that you know more about the topic than the average person.
I've seen way too many times someone figuring out what they can be good at, then aiming to write about that. It should be the other way around. If you want to be a successful blogger, aim to write about something you're good at. Once you build up a following and an audience, you can start to experiment with other topics. But in the beginning, it's best to focus on a single subject (commonly referred to as a niche) that you're passionate about and know a lot about.
The best type of content comes from a place of authority. It's not just regurgitated information that you found on another blog. It's unique insights and perspectives that can only come from somebody who is an expert in their field. If you want people to take you seriously, you need to prove that you're an expert in your niche. And the best way to do that is by writing quality content that educates, informs, and entertains your readers.
I'm a pretty impatient person. I wanted to just start writing and make a million dollars overnight. But that's not how it works. It was only until I sat down and brainstormed a list of things I'm good at that I was able to find my niche. Once I had a focus, it was much easier to produce quality content on a regular basis. I realized mine after reflecting on my hobbies and passions over the last few years – making websites & building businesses.
If you're unsure what your niche is, sit down and brainstorm a list of things you're good at. It can be anything – cooking, gardening, parenting, fashion, beauty, travel, etc. Once you have a list of potential niches, research each one to see if there's a demand for the type of content you would produce. You can do this as easily as typing a search query directly into Google! If there are other blogs and websites in your niche, then that's a good sign that you can produce content around that topic as well.
Depending on the niche, your level of creativity with how you position yourself as an expert will change. For example, if you want to write about cooking then you need to put your own unique, creative twist on the content you'll be writing about. Do you know how many cooking blogs there are out there? Neither do I – There are just way too many. Let's narrow down niche levels:
Cooking -> Dinner -> Italian -> Pasta Meals
Now, this sounds a bit more unique, doesn't it? With each level down, you're getting more and more specific with the type of content you'll be writing about. This is what you need to aim for if you want to rank your website. Don't narrow down too much, you don't want to be writing about something so specific that there's no demand for the content (i.e: "How to Make Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara Without an Oven & Running Water in Under 10 Minutes").
Ok, so now that we've gone over brainstorming your passion to figure out your niche, let's talk about who will actually be consuming the content that you produce.
Figure Out Your Audience
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people try to write for everyone instead of narrowing their focus to a specific group of people. It's impossible to please everyone, so don't even try – it will only lead to burnout and low-quality content. I remember the first business I tried making was some product that was environmentally friendly, cheap, accessible to all age ranges, and helped with a task that most people do daily.
It was an absolute failure.
The problem was that I was trying to please everyone, which led to my product being watered down and not very effective for anyone. After doing some soul-searching, I realized that the business I really wanted to make was one that focused on helping busy moms save time on dinner. That's a very specific niche, but it's one that I'm passionate about and I know I can provide value to (not really – but we can go with it for this example).
So ask yourself – who is your target audience? What type of people will be reading your content? If you want an easy way to think about it, who would you want to send your blog to after posting it? Your best friend? Your mom? Your boss? That should give you a pretty good idea of who your target audience is.
Now that we've gone over finding your niche and target audience, it's time to start thinking about the type of content you'll be producing.
Figure Out Your Keywords
So now you know what you're going to write about, and you know who you want to read it. The next step is to figure out what keywords you want to rank for in Google. This can be a bit of a tricky process, but there are some tools and methods that can make it easier.
Let's go over the two types of keywords you'll hear a lot about in the SEO world:
Short-tail keywords (also known as head terms): these are general, broad keywords that are usually just one or two words long. For example, "dinner recipes", "how to cook pasta", etc. These types of keywords are harder to rank for because they're so general – there are millions of websites trying to rank for them.
Long-tail keywords (also known as tail terms): these are more specific, niche-oriented keywords that are usually longer than two words. For example, "quick and easy pasta recipes for busy moms", "how to cook pasta without an oven", etc. These types of keywords are easier to rank for because they're more specific – there are less websites trying to rank for them.
For the purposes of this guide, we're going to be focusing on long-tail keywords because they're going to be the easiest for you to rank for (especially if you're just starting out).
Now that we know what types of keywords we're looking for, let's talk about how to find them. The easiest way to do this is by using a keyword research tool like Google Keyword Planner or Moz Keyword Explorer. Both of these tools are free to use, and they'll give you an idea of how difficult it will be to rank for certain keywords. All you need to do is enter in a keyword related to your niche and see what comes up.
Alternatively, you can just type a query into Google and see what autocompletes. For example, if I type in "pasta recipes", Google suggests "pasta recipes easy", "pasta recipes for dinner", etc. These are all potential medium-tail keywords that you could rank for.
Once you've found a few potential keywords, you're almost at the point of writing your first article!
Do Not Compare Yourself
I had to throw this in here because it's genuinely an important piece of advice, especially in the blogging world. It's easy to get caught up in comparing your blog to other people's, but it's important to remember that everyone is at a different stage in their journey.
Some people have been blogging for years and have built up a large following. Some people are just starting out and are still trying to find their voice. And that's okay! You're not going to be where they are overnight, and that's perfectly fine.
The important thing is to focus on your own journey and produce the best content you can. If you do that, everything else will fall into place. Please don't fall into the comparison trap! It's like going to the gym – you're not going to see results overnight, but if you stick with it and keep working hard, eventually you will get there. If you compare yourself to the biggest bodybuilder in the gym, you're just going to get discouraged and quit.
Write Quality Content
Ok, we're at the point where you can begin writing. So what is quality content and how do you write it? Quality content is, simply put, content that is valuable and useful to the reader. It's well-written, informative, and engaging.
The best way to write quality content is to be yourself. Write like you would talk to a friend. Be personal, be funny, be real. People can spot inauthenticity from a mile away, so just be yourself!
Another way to ensure that your content is of quality is to proofread and edit it before hitting publish. Typos and grammar errors will make your article look unprofessional and sloppy, so take the time to fix them before you publish.
And finally, don't forget to add images! People are visual creatures, and articles with images tend to perform better than those without. Just make sure that the images you use are high-quality and relevant to the article.
We could go over the thousands of specific strategies on how to write quality content, but ultimately it comes down to this: be yourself and add value. If you do those two things, you're well on your way to producing quality content. It's really so simple in theory, you just have to actually sit down and do it.
The most important thing to remember is that quality content is what will ultimately help you grow your blog and rank higher in search engines. So don't skimp on it! Invest the time and effort into writing articles that are truly valuable to your readers. When writing, your content should always have a goal in mind – to be informative or to entertain.
When somebody finishes reading one of your articles, they should feel like they've learned something useful, or have been entertained in some capacity. I'm not really sure if there's another outcome that's worth aiming for.
If you want to get really technical, there are certain SEO best practices that you should follow when writing your articles. But at the end of the day, if your content isn't valuable or entertaining, nobody is going to want to read it, no matter how well you optimize it for search engines.
Write Consistent Content
Great! You've written your first article. It could've taken you 3 hours or it could've taken you 3 days, but you did it! And that's amazing.
Now comes the hard part – writing consistently. As I said before, consistency is key when it comes to blogging. You need to be pumping out quality content regularly if you want to see any sort of growth. Depending on your aimed scale of growth, you could post lightly, moderately, or aggressively.
Light posting is an article about once a week. Moderate posting is an article about 2 times a week. Aggressive posting is an article every day, or multiple times a day.
Personally, I think that moderate posting is the sweet spot. It's not too much pressure to maintain, but it's frequent enough that you will see results. But at the end of the day, it's up to you how often you want to post. Just make sure that you can maintain a consistent level of quality!
If you're just starting, I would recommend posting once a week. As you gain more traction and your blog begins to grow, you can start increasing your frequency. A good rule of thumb is to never go more than 2 weeks without publishing a new article. You also don't want to overload yourself with content and end up burning out.
Find a posting schedule that works for you and stick to it. Consistency is key!
Solidify your Tone of Voice
As you continue to write more articles, you will start to develop a tone of voice. This is the overall feeling that your readers get when they read your content.
Your tone of voice should be consistent throughout all of your content. You don't want to be all over the place – it confuses readers and makes your blog seem unprofessional. Remember, this is really up to you. To be fair, you probably shouldn't write medical articles with sarcasm as your tone of voice. But other than that, you have a lot of leeway.
Your tone of voice should be an extension of your personality. Write the way that you speak! If you're funny, make your articles funny. If you're serious, make them serious. You want people to enjoy reading your blog, so give them a reason to.
This tone could shift as you develop your blog further. And that's perfectly fine! As you grow as a writer, your tone of voice will naturally evolve. Just aim to keep it consistent throughout all of your content moving forward.
As you can see, there's a lot that goes into producing quality content. But if you're passionate about what you're writing about, then it shouldn't feel like work. Just remember to be consistent, write for your audience, and find your voice!
Act Like A News Reporter
At this point, you've learned a thing or two about SEO and you've got the hang of writing quality content. But how do you make your content stand out from the rest? How do you make it truly valuable?
A really interesting way of thinking about it is to act like you are reporting on something that will be shared in the news. We write a lot about AI and Machine Learning and have seen some of our articles reposted across platforms like Twitter and Facebook. If you write with an intent to have your articles shared with others (in whatever niche community they may be) you are more likely to write something of value.
When you think about it, a lot of what is being written and shared on social media is just news stories that people have found interesting. But what if you could be the one writing those stories? If you produce quality content with the intention of it being valuable to others, you increase your chances of it being shared and seen by more people. Wouldn't it be cool to see a flood of traffic one day and find out it's because one of your articles was shared by a big name in your industry on social media?
And as we all know, the more eyes on your content, the better!
Focus on People – Not Robots
This isn't really anything special, but as you go down the pigeonhole of SEO it's important to remember that you are trying to rank for people – not robots. Write your content with people in mind, not machines. Google's algorithms are designed to understand and interpret human language, so if you focus on writing for people you will be better off in the long run.
People want interesting, well-written articles that are relevant to their interests. If you can provide that, then you're on the right track! If you catch yourself getting tired of consistently posting after doing so for a few weeks the best thing would be to take a break, rather than to write for the sake of writing. No blog post is worth sacrificing your mental health over. If your quality is slipping, it's better to take a break than to force something out.
Quality over quantity – always.
Analyze What Works & Scale It
Okay, everything is set – you figured out your niche, you're consistently writing quality content, and people are starting to take notice. So what's next?
Now it's time to start thinking about how you can scale your efforts. What worked well for you in the past? Which articles performed the best? What kind of content got the most engagement?
Start by analyzing what has worked well for you in the past and try to replicate that. But don't be afraid to experiment! You never know what might take off. The best way to find out is to just go for it and see what happens.
And as you start to see more success, don't be afraid to scale up your efforts. If you're seeing good results with two blog posts a week, try writing three or four. The sky's the limit!
If possible, at this rate you could even hire someone to help you with the writing – freeing up your time to focus on other aspects of running your blog. After all, if your blog is successful it's only going to get bigger and better from here!
And that's it! These are our tips for building a successful blog that will help you rank higher in SEO. We hope you found them helpful and that you'll be able to put them into practice as you begin your blogging journey. And as always, best of luck! If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or contact us!