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Around 33% of the entire internet runs on WordPress, and thousands of new WordPress blogs are launched every day. Whether you’re using a slow shared hosting plan or a blazingly fast managed WordPress host, it’s never been harder to compete.
And if you want maximum performance with minimal hassle, we really do recommend using a managed WordPress host. Our recommendation is WP Engine, which we use ourselves to run our sister sites.
But starting a blog is easy. Keeping it going and getting it popular is the real challenge. The problem is that even with great blog content, your blog doesn’t automatically become popular. The adage “build it and they will come” doesn’t apply to blogs. But we can help!
Let’s take a look at several strategies you can adopt today to make your blog more popular.
1. Focus on a Specific Topic
Many people start writing a blog with the glorious plan of writing about their life, the universe, and everything. The sad truth is that while one or two of your posts may appeal to some, the broad range of content will prevent many visitors from coming back for more. But if you insist on talking about anything and everything, vlogging might be a more appropriate format.
If you want to write a popular blog, you need to focus on one or two topics and write about them often. If you don’t feel like you can write about a single topic that much, then try gradually broadening your topic as your traffic grows. For instance, your real passion is strawberry plants, but that’s hardly going to fuel a blog for more than a few weeks, so perhaps pivot to advice on growing fruit trees, then move on to gardening in general, etc.
I’ve often found blogging to be a great driver for personal growth: writing reinforces the learning process. So as you explore your topic and broaden your knowledge, write about it.
2. Be an Expert and Be Trustworthy
Who would you trust more for information on cancer therapies: Marie Curie Cancer Research or Joe Blog’s Healing Crystals? The answer is obvious, and Google knows that too, which is why Joe Blog’s Healing Crystals was probably nowhere to be found in the search results.
Trustworthiness is an important factor that Google looks for, whether that’s by the automated ranking algorithm or the human quality checkers that review websites. This is particularly important for posts that talk about health or money issues, but applies to all topics to a lesser degree.
So even with a blog focused on one particular topic, you’ll need to ensure you have sufficient expertise to be writing about that topic in the first place before you can stand any chance of becoming popular.
5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Google E-A-T Rating https://t.co/lY8Wr3IUeZ – Google takes into account expertise, authority, trust (EAT) when ranking pages. Without these important factors, you will lose clients and visibility in the search results. pic.twitter.com/vdGMb3FUfT
— Debra Murphy (@MasterfulMktg) October 23, 2018
So how do you show your expertise? The precise ranking mechanism is not known, but we can assume it relies heavily on links from existing trusted websites. Link building is a vast topic and not something you should seek to do unnaturally.
But there are also things you can do on your blog to demonstrate expertise, like displaying any qualifications or experience you have in your author biography. If you’re CCNA certified and have 10 years experience building corporate network infrastructure, writing a blog where you review network routers, then proudly say so!
There’s nothing wrong with telling people why you know what you’re talking about. Brag about your achievements. Show you’re an expert. Tell people why they should trust you.
3. Use Google’s Search Console
Previously known as Webmaster’s Tools, the Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google to give you direct feedback on things like:
- How your site is performing in the search results (the number of times it’s shown to a search user vs how times it’s clicked on etc).
- Indexability, such as inaccessible pages or broken sitemaps. and any technical issues that Google is experiencing.
- 404 or other servers errors are appearing.
- Mobile compatibility.
This is a separate service to Google Analytics, which gives statistics about traffic and visitors). It’s easy to set up and completely free.
4. Optimize Your Blog for Mobile
Around half of all web searches are now done from mobile devices, and that’s on the increase. If your website doesn’t work as well on mobile, scales badly, or takes too long to load over a limited speed 3G connection, you’re losing out on potential visitors.
I hate to keep banging on about Google, but that’s where most of your traffic will come from, at least until you’ve built a loyal audience. Mobile-first indexing means that sites with mobile issues will be shown lower down in the search results to mobile visitors.
So how do you make your site mobile-friendly? Picking a design that scales well is critical. Look for themes tagged as being “responsive”. Many theme stores also offer a preview feature that allows you to switch between desktop or mobile emulation, but if not, you can use the Chrome desktop browser to emulate a mobile device.
5. Promote on Social Networks
The best source of social traffic, without having to build up a huge following first, is Reddit. While Reddit works best if someone else posts your content, self-promotion isn’t banned.
However, you should keep within a sensible ratio. You shouldn’t exclusively use your Reddit account for self-promotion. Be an active member of the community, comment, and post others content too. Also, be prepared for brutally honest feedback. Redditors aren’t nice if they detect you’re abusing the system.
In my experience, Twitter is the least effective at generating traffic, though there are other reasons to maintain a Twitter account than purely blog promotion. Facebook is less effective at driving traffic (unless you pay), but is still great for creating communities. If your content is quite visual in nature, Pinterest can be an effective source of traffic, but again, is likely to be more effective if it’s not you doing the posting.
6. Keep Visitors on Your Blog
If you’ve got lots of related content, it’s safe to assume any visitors will be interested in that too. Various plugins are available to do this, but Related Posts for WordPress is the easiest way to get started. If looking for alternatives, be aware that some are very server intensive, and may even be banned by your hosting provider. If your blog is already slow or contains thousands of posts, installing any related posts plugin will inevitably slow it down further.
7. Engage Your Readers, Encourage Comments
If a reader comments on your post, they obviously have something to say. By replying to your readers and keeping them engaged, you foster a relationship that keeps readers coming back, as well as making them more inclined to post your story to their friends.
The native WordPress commenting system isn’t great though, so consider installing Jetpack to supercharge them. Jetpack is made by the creators of WordPress, and includes a host of other features too (some paid).
8. Keep at It, Don’t Give Up
Blogging is not a short-term thing; you really need to be in it for the long haul if you want to build a large base of readers. Keep publishing fresh, expertly written, shareable content, and you’ll get there eventually. It takes time to get noticed, establish authority, and build a readership.
And for the best crack at it, ensure you’re using a reputable managed WordPress host like WP Engine that takes away the hassle of server maintenance, letting you focus on the content and the success of your site.