Everyone has a website these days especially in first world countries. For most people it’s in the form of a blog. A few years back people would start blogs just to document their hobbies and then hobby blogs and mommy blogs started getting a huge following and companies started paying these bloggers to promote their products via sponsored posts or they would give the blogger their product and in return the blogger would write about it. This has made the blogging space very competitive especially in the US and UK. Here in South Africa fashion and lifestyle blogs are the craze, 9/10 bloggers I come across are in those niches I just mentioned. It’s because of all this influencer craze that has been going on over-seas. People have now realised they can use the popularity of their social media profiles and blogs to make serious cash and work with big brands. Here in South Africa some of the top lifestyle bloggers charge up to and even more than R8000 per sponsored feature because their sites drive over 100 000 page views of targeted traffic per month.
How do you get in on the action and build a successful blog?
1. Keyword research to choose a niche (target market)
e.g you want to blog about something you are interested in so you don’t get bored and quit updating your blog but you also want to blog about something that is popular and gets a high volume of searches on search engines such as google each month. The trick is in finding a balance between your interests/expertise and what’s popular.
2. Choosing a domain name
So now that you have decided on the topic that interests you, it’s time to choose a catchy and short domain name that has something to do with your niche, e.g if my interest is sa house music and I found that sa house music has high search volumes after doing my keyword research. My first step would be to try and buy the domain sahousemusic.com or sahousemusic.co.za as it’s an exact match to the keyword people are most likely typing when they are searching for South African house music. If I only want to target sa people I would buy the .co.za as its cheaper but if I want to target everyone around the world searching for sa house music I would buy the .com (but again that would depend on the search volumes of those terms). The aim is to get a domain as closely related to your chosen target market. Short and easy to remember and as clean as possible without any breaks e.g sa-housemusic.com doesn’t look as good as sahousemusic.com (if you were using google which link would you click on?)
3. You must choose the right blogging platform to host your blog on
There are free platforms such as blogger, wordpress.com but if you want to run a serious site to make money you will not use the free hosted sites that have a name like sahousemusic.wordpress.com (that does not look professional and people will not take you serious.) If you don’t have any money you can host your blog at blogger.com or weebly.com or other sites that allow you to use your own domain name that you purchased so that you would host for free but have the ability to make your blog look professional by designing a logo for it and choosing the right template for it. If you have R19/month to start off with you can have a wordpress site that is hosted by companies like webafrica.co.za or R40/month for the standard hosting. All so that you can use wordpress which has a lot of tutorials and 60% of sites on the net are on the wordpress CMS (content management system). WordPress is easy to use and has a lot of plugins which help you rank easier on search engines without having any coding knowledge. There are other cms’s that are easy to use but wordpress is rated number one by most people especially if you are only using it for blogging or a simple business site.
4. Keyword research to find long tail keywords
You have to do keyword research to find long tail key words and popular phrases that people use to find articles on your topic so that you can plan your first few posts. An easy way to find long tail keywords is to type your keywords in the search engine and see what are the search terms google automatically suggests. The other way is to go to the bottom of the google search results and see what the related terms google is showing. Finally also in the search results, google usually gives you related questions people usually search for related to your search term along with links and snippets of the post that they think answers that question best. Try and choose your first few posts to answer all those questions in detail. That is just one step of doing keyword research, the other step is using keyword tools to see what are the popular terms related to your niche. Additionally you can also search for sites currently talking about your topic and ranking on the first page of google results, to analyse them so you can see what keywords they are ranking for.
5. Write detailed articles
Start writing detailed articles on the topics that you have identified to have high search volumes, but it’s good to check if those keywords are highly competitive or not e.g. if a forum and some shady looking sites with poor quality content and a poor design are ranking on the first page, chances are that keyword is not that competitive. But if big brands and big sites who post regularly are on the first page and you can’t find a weak site there, then it is going to be difficult to rank for that keyword. Another way to check if it’s difficult or not to rank for a keyword is to type it on google and analyse the first page of google to see how many links from other sites those pages ranking on google have, if they have many links then it is going to be hard to rank as it means you will have to build links to your pages as well to match or better the links of the competing pages via guest blogging, directory submissions etc. If you find long tail keywords with weak sites in the top 10 google results (low links, site not regularly updated and looks terrible), then analyse the top ranking sites to see the page article structure, article length, number of images and videos. After analyzing think of how you can match and improve upon that content to best answer the query of the searcher. Write an article that fits that and do that for several other keywords and you are ready to launch a blog with a purpose!
This takes a lot of time and effort but its pays off in the end rather than just starting a blog and writing regularly while hoping for the best. Next time I will cover what to do after your blog is live with your first few well researched detailed articles (I may write something about the free tools one can use to conduct all this research I talk about in this article).
My Name is Eugene Madondo, I am no writer but I am a blogger and I work in SEO (search engine optimization) so I know what works and what doesn’t. In 2017 we are not lucky enough to start a hobby blog without a plan and have it go viral just because we post often, the competition is stiffer than it was 10 years ago. These days I spend more time working on other peoples sites rather than my own sites, which helps me learn a lot about different niches and regions. Back when I started blogging 5 years ago I grew my fitness blog www.zulumuscle.com to reach about 2000 unique visitors a day and I was making regular money (from clickbank and google adsense) which is what introduced me to the online world and its potential to generate income. This influencer thing is not a scam some people actually live off their blog earnings even in South Africa. Some are hired by companies to run their company blogs and social media profiles. So my point is if you start a blog do it right with a purpose, if you are lucky your blog goes viral and you get to make a good income from it, if you are not so lucky like most people you can use your blog in your CV to land a good job especially in the marketing field.