When launching new blog, you can easily get overwhelmed by all the SEO practices you suddenly discover and ultimately can’t wait to implement in the hope that you’ll rank high in search from day one. However, working smart is always better than working hard.
Here you’ll learn what makes SEO for new blogs special and what to use your energy on in order to get the best possible SEO results.
Why is New Blogs’ SEO Special?
Search engines are nowadays all about serving reliable and relevant, quality results to users. While this is a great thing for such users, it almost dooms every new blog or website out there. This happens because some of the criteria, used to define reliability, quality, and relevance simply don’t apply to new blogs.
Such criteria are:
- Backlinks. New blogs have no or very few, usually low-quality links. It takes time and a level of recognition within your field to generate many quality backlinks. This makes is very difficult to rank high in search, as quality backlinks are still one of the three most important ranking factors.
- Site age. Site age is a more powerful ranking factor than many SEOs dare to admit. The reason for this is though very simple: 95% of new blogs out there don’t live to see their second year. They are usually launched with a lot of ambition and very little strategic/logical thinking that can serve as a backbone of a dream. As long as your blog is very young, search engines can’t determine, whether you are serious and professional about what you do. Thus, they don’t dare serve your content to users. When, on the other hand, your blog has been around for 3+ years and is still regularly updated, search engines begin to trust that this isn’t a fruit-fly or scam website.
- Engagement. User engagement says a lot about the quality and relevance of your content. However, new blogs have no track record of user engagement, making it difficult to evaluate their content. Thus, they’ll always have a disadvantage when they are up against established blogs, no matter the actual quality of the requested page.
- Traffic. Blogs with lots of visitors, especially engaged ones, automatically get even more traffic. Both because search engines interpret busy traffic as a sign that it is an established quality blog and because happy followers turn into brand ambassadors, recommending your blog to their friends and acquaintances. New blogs’ SEO is made difficult by the fact that there is no shortcut to getting followers.
- Content. We all know that content quality is important. It turns out, however, that quality content’s quantity is just as important. Search engines like big sites with a lot of pages, because the presence of lots of content helps them determine the field of specalization, or topical authority, as well as weather the blog is consistent in delivering quality. Lots of pages means in the same time lots of chances to generate backlinks and create an impressive user engagement track record. New blogs have the SEO disadvantage of being just launched, with very few pages. Accumulating content takes time and normally finds place after the launch phase.
- Trust level. Search engines are all about pleasing users, which makes it a must to develop and maintain trusting relationship with your blog visitors. The major problem here is that blog visitors, as all other humans, are herd animals: they tend to behave like others, have the same opinion as others, and like what others like. New blogs stand before the biggest challenge: to make somebody be their first follower and brand ambassador. As very few of us dare to be the first at anything, this isn’t an easy task.
Even though all this makes SEO for new blogs a difficult task, there are still a lot of things you can do here and now to boost your blog’s SEO score.
SEO Checklist for New Blogs
When you are about to launch a blog, you have to implement SEO on all levels, from the very beginning. Only this way, you won’t end up with a large, impossible to optimize site at some point. There are, however, some tasks that will deliver more noticeable results in the short run than others, giving you a jump start. Here’s where to start (order not provided by importance):
Design is important both for new and established sites. A new blog’s SEO is, however, more vulnerable to design related issues, as there are no other signals that could counteract poor layout.
Design is directly related to the way your site is perceived by search engines and site visitors. In the same time, you can either guide site visitors to conversion via design or leave them confused and unsure, what step to take next.
If your blog features poor or spam-like design, it’s likely that it’ll be completely cut off the SERP. Examples of design sins are:
- Too many ads or affiliate links
- Strong, flashy colors
- Too many fonts and font sizes or colors mixed on your pages
- Mismatch of images, texts, and links
- Ads hidden in popups or appearing when clicking on a button or link
- Disorderly pages, where it’s impossible to follow the logic of content
- Too many popups or signups in general
- Deceiving links, hidden behind link-like anchor text or not leading to what the anchor text refers to
Even though it is understandable that any new blogger wants to make a living, stuffing your blog with ads will pretty much have the opposite effect. Google began penalizing publishers showing ads above the fold already in 2012 and has since also started penalizing popup and auto-play ads, as well as publishers focusing on advertising instead of on delivering value to users.
This makes it very important for any new blog to implement a careful SEO strategy, including thorough testing of the effects of adding ads to different spots of the blog’s pages. An easy way to do that is to add one ad at a time and track your stats in Google Analytics or similar software, allowing you to measure, precisely how ads affect your pages’ performance in search. An analysis by WPBN shows that AdSense, one of the first monetizing options chosen by new bloggers, affects page speed strongly, turning it into a serious SEO issue.
Try therefore to create a layout that looks presentable and helps develop trust. Let yourself inspire by some of the biggest blogs or sites within your field. Don’t copy their design but notice, how they blend colors or how they structure their navigation and pages – there is a good reason for that – and try to translate their logic into your blog’s language.
Speed isn’t only an important ranking factor. It’s also a very important bounce rate factor. If your pages load for more than 4 sec., you lose 25% of the total traffic on average on the 4th second already. As if this isn’t bad enough, the resulting high bounce rate is yet another very important negative ranking factor. So, speed can hit you twice: first because your pages load slowly and then because users bounce too much.
Speed is also known to be a typical issue new blogs struggle with due to the fact that many new bloggers can’t find the balance between functionality and simplicity. It’s actually easy to understand that many new WordPress users have difficulties, when choosing which plugins to install – there are too many of them and there aren’t any real guides helping them choose the right ones and only them. There are not so many guides telling the truth about plugins either but their use isn’t problem-free. They slow websites down considerably, some more than others.
As WordPress is offering you lean code to build your new blog upon, do yourself a favor and only install plugins you absolutely need. Here’s a list of the plugins that you might believe you need but you don’t:
- AdSense plugin – use the HTML widget instead (part of WordPress)
- Google Analytics plugin – use All in One SEO or Yoast SEO to insert the code and check your stats on the Google Analytics’ site instead.
- Antispam plugin – use manual comment moderation instead. As a new blogger you don’t need automation. Manual moderation is also the only 100% sure way to avoid spam.
- Antivirus plugin – such plugins offer only a false sense of security, as they aren’t kept up to date as the antivirus software on your computer for example. There are other ways to protect your site, running regular backups being one of them.
Even though the massive switch to HTTPS that we’ve seen in the past couple of years is something Google is pushing for in order to make the web more secure and it’s pointed out as a ranking factor, today we still don’t see the great SEO effects of installing SSL. This, however, does not mean that you shouldn’t encrypt your blog.
The reason is that, while installing SSL doesn’t seem to give noticeable SEO boost, it’s rumored that Google will soon start punishing sites without encryption.
Therefore, it would be wise to future-proof yourself and your work by installing a SSL certificate. It isn’t as expensive or difficult as you think (check out the two links above for more information).
As an author of a new blog you can every now and then find yourself wondering, what you should write about next. It’s just as common to write just about anything, even though you don’t have anything to say – simply because you have heard that it’s good to publish new posts often or according to a schedule.
If you, however, want to become a successful blogger, it is crucially important that you understand from the very beginning that quantity or schedules don’t make success. Search engines have developed a lot since the time, when they were dependent on knowing your schedule. Nowadays, they base their crawling activity on many different factors, including site activity, traffic to site, etc.
This means that quantity shouldn’t be a goal in itself, as it doesn’t do any good to your SEO score.
In the same time, serving low quality content to site visitors is the worst of all blogging sins. As a rule, any given site visitor will only allow you to waste their time once. Focus therefore on delivering quality and value every time, even if that means that you’ll post more rarely.
With the advance of AI, search engines become better and better at understanding quality – more or less in the same way as humans. This means that quality should be your priority number one. Even though we are very far from the point, where search engines will trust their quality evaluation enough to evaluate content based on quality alone, we have already seen both algorithmic updates and the appearance of manual quality checkers (special freelance employees checking the relevance and value of web pages) making it clear that Google doesn’t joke about quality.
Topical optimization is an important point on the SEO agenda, also for new blogs. The reason is that topical optimization gives your blog certain reputation of an expert within a given field. This applies to how both search engines and site visitors perceive your blog.
While earning the status of an expert is always great, topical optimization is especially good SEO tactic for new blogs because:
- New blogs are an empty sheet of paper. When you are just starting out, you can truly implement topical optimization by weaving it directly into the blog’s core: from topics and categories to navigation and links to relevant sites.
- New blogs lack a track record that is usually used to retrieve most ranking signals. It is therefore important to focus on all areas, where your SEO score depends on your work, such as topical optimization and quality.
- Topical optimization is great for follower retention. Most people follow your blog because they want to read about something, usually something very specific. It can be nutrition, health, training, recipes, whatever. As long as you write on the same topic, you stay relevant to these followers – and they continue following you. New blogs need that kind of loyalty boosters, as they can’t rely on reputation and word of mouth to attract new followers or get current ones engaged, without making a real effort.
Even though you might be enticed to attract as many followers as possible, writing about many different topics isn’t the way to go, especially in the beginning. Keep focused and work on what you really specialize on. You might not get that many followers to begin with but you’ll at least get a steady fan base to build your dream upon.
You are starting a new blog in an era, where video and interactive content is totally taking over. However, as long as you aren’t a full-blown youtuber or similar, you should really keep it down, when it comes to video.
Search engines are still far from being able to understand or interpret videos in order to serve them as a relevant search result. They depend on text to understand, what a page or video is about.
It is therefore important to follow these guidelines in order to avoid content-type failure:
- Every image or video you add should have meta title and description, as well as ALT tag. They are used by search engines to classify media.
- Every video post should be accompanied by a transcript. This is useful not only as a way to engage site visitors, who don’t like videos or can’t watch them due to connection restrictions or limitations, but also as a way to feed search engines with all the necessary information about what is on your pages.
Text is still search engines’ favorite, even though the presence of media (as an addition to text) can boost the SEO performance of a page. Text should count 1000+ words, optimally 2000+.
Please note that 2000+ words should be a result of in-depth research and not of using 1000+ unnecessary words. Neither search engines, nor site visitors like wasting time reading long texts delivering no value.
Meta titles and descriptions are one of these things you really can’t skip. A meta title is the title of a post as shown in search. This means that you can use one title for the post itself and a modified one, more suited for search results, for search.
The same applies to meta descriptions. Even though Google often extracts some text pieces, containing a keyword from the search query and shows it instead of your meta description, meta descriptions are still one of the pillars of SEO. The reason is that you use this short text, 230-320 characters as of December 2017 (160 characters before that) to present your content and really give potential site visitors a reason to click on your link.
A new blog will most likely not rank particularly high. This means that you simply need any clicks that you can get. You get these clicks by describing in a truthful and intriguing way, what internet users can expect to get of reading your posts/watching your videos.
Social media isn’t a real part of SEO. It can, however, make a big difference for new blogs’ SEO and success in general.
Creating social media profiles, representing your blog or brand, can help you get in touch with your target group and get steady traffic to your site in the launch period, where organic-search traffic is almost nonexistent.
Besides the obvious benefits of getting some visitors on your pages, your blog will benefit of the generation of site usage metrics, such as engagement, bounce rate, pages per session, shares, referral traffic, etc. These metrics, if positive, will send a strong signal to search engines that your blog, even though new, offers value and can therefore safely be served in search.
To benefit from social media, you have to create dedicated pages, representing your blog, and post regularly in an engaging manner. Be aware that this isn’t an easy task – it is actually the kind of business strategy, one studies at a university. Be therefore prepared to use some extra resources on developing and implementing a proper social media strategy.
Doing SEO for a new blog isn’t an easy task. Sometimes everything seems so hopeless – and for so long – that one starts understanding why 95% of bloggers quit less than a year into their journey.
What’s important to remember is that SEO doesn’t work instantly. It takes time for search engines to start trust you and start taking your work seriously enough to actually serve it to internet users.
There are, likewise, no guarantees that your blog at some point will become successful – simply because it often is impossible to predict how things will turn out, even when you believe you are doing everything right.
If you, however, are good at delivering value and implementing thorough SEO and you don’t give up during the launch period, you will at some point – nobody can predict when, as it depends on many external factors – get your breakthrough.