Learning how to blog is just like learning how to do anything new. You’ll likely make plenty of mistakes along the way but you’ll definitely get there in the end if you put the work in.
A little over a decade ago, when I was doing my degree in Graphic Design at Saint Martin’s College in the UK, I was making websites on the side for some extra money to keep myself afloat.
But something BIG was missing in my service to my clientele and that was getting their websites visitors! You can have the most gorgeous website on Earth yet what’s the point unless it actually gets seen?
So I started learning about SEO (search engine optimization) to get their sites ranking high up in the search results pages of Google. I read all the articles online I could find that seemed legit enough.
A couple months after I started learning about how to effectively rank websites, I thought I knew pretty much everything there was to know about SEO.
I mean, surely, it couldn’t be that complicated, could it? So I started ranking websites for friends and family members.
I knew and learning first started learning about SEO and ranking websites for friends and family, I made some major mistakes; mistakes that meant that some sites would never rank or always rank poorly in the future because of them. I felt so awful.
Obviously, this was REALLY bad but back then, there wasn’t that much information online on how to rank well, the few good books that existed on SEO quickly become obsolete with constant algorithm changes AND the SEO game back then was completely, totally and utterly different. You could rank a website pretty well using what’s known now as ‘black hat’ techniques (spammy techniques, essentially) yet when Google would roll out a major algorithm update, site rankings would often nose dive.
I really want you to create a winning blog so I’m sharing some of the BIGGEST mistakes new bloggers can make – so you can avoid them from the outset.
Using a Blacklisted Domain Name
This is super-duper important. Important enough to warrant the whole sentence being bolded!
Imagine pouring hundreds of hours worth of planning and hard work into a website and then finding out that it’s not ranking for anything much at all, even after months and months…
Wow, that would be really disappointing…!
If your domain name has been registered and connected to a host before, it could have been used to sell counterfeit goods, like some other kind of web spam or been banned from the Google index for a plethora of other reasons.
Or it may have been a website filled with innovative sugar cookie recipes.
You’ll never really know what a domain name was used for before for all its years of service but you can gauge it.
You also wouldn’t be able to just copy and paste your old content into a new domain name either as Google would view that as a duplicate content.
Awful, right? Yep.
So how can you avoid this happening to you like the plague?
Well, don’t worry because that’s actually super simple. You just need to investigate the history of the domain you’d like to buy. Head on over to DomainTools.com to view the history.
Using Long Domain Names
When choosing your domain name, go for something that’s short, easy to read in the browser address bar, that’s also relatively memorable, and is easy and quick to type into the browser search bar.
- Two-word domains work really well as do short three word domains. Avoid hyphens and numbers if possible.
- Go for the .com version.
- Also, avoid adding ‘the’ to the beginning of a domain name if the one you want isn’t available as this might constitute trademark infringement.
Anything that looks more like this: www.my-cakes-taste-fantabulous.com is hard to remember, takes ages to type out and definitely isn’t very easy to recall.
Using a Bad Hosting Company
Not all hosting companies are created equally. I’ve hosted literally hundreds of websites with various hosts around the world over the past decade and some are downright appalling.
I suggest using Bluehost because I’ve used them before and have found them to be very professional and their prices are very fair.
Not Having Much Content After Launching
If you have around 30-50 posts done and dusted before you launch your blog, you’ll be miles ahead of all the other newbie bloggers.
I recently wrote an article here about some of the surprising pros of being a full-time blogger.
By putting the effort into your blog, especially in the beginning, will mean that you’ll feel SO proud of yourself for doing the work needed to get your blog actually up — and running.
Getting closer to becoming a full-time blogger by continuing to create great content for your blog feels great and just imagine living your life as a full-time blogger and how awesome that’ll be! The effort is worth it!
Ignoring Website Loading Speed
Once you have some articles up and the site’s looking good, it’s time to head on over to Google’s Page Speed Insights and test your loading speed.
It’ll never be a perfect 100 but if it’s a 2, it’s bad.
Ask your host to move your site to Cloudflare and add Gzip to your .htaccess file to make your site load faster. Both of these services may be provided for free by your host.
You might have heard that ads can slow down a website. If you plan on adding ads to your website in the future as a way to monetize it, know that ads absolutely won’t slow your site down. Most if not all ad companies now use something called ‘asynchronous’ ad-loading technology so there’s no need to worry about that.
Doing Waaaaay Too Much SEO
This is so dangerous, I can’t stress this enough. This is what landed me in hot water with my clients over a decade ago.
Doing things like repeating the keyword you want to rank for too many times in a post won’t help to get you ranked; honestly, it’ll do the opposite and not only will those posts not rank, they may never as a result. Keep your SEO strategy, (if you choose to rank your posts on Google) super simple and natural.
There are tonnes of excellent courses and books out there today teaching totally legit and effective SEO strategies that will ensure your site will remain healthy and ranking well for years, if not decades, to come.
Using Huge Image Files
Keep your image files as small as possible without interfering too much with your design. Do this by making sure they’re less than 1000 px x 1000 px each and opt for a low resolution.
You might also want to host them elsewhere which will help your site to load faster. You can also use a plugin to resize any images you upload to your blog. Imagify is great for this.
Accidentally Using Copyrighted Images
You’ll absolutely need to use images from other bloggers if you’re creating a round-up or curated content post but you can’t just copy their images and use them of course.
Always get written permission in an email from them for using their images. It should go without saying that if you don’t get their permission, then don’t use their images. Most bloggers will be happy for you to use one or more images as long as you credit them.
Although, here’s the thing you need to look out for…
Even if a blogger gives you permission to use an image of theirs, you still have to check that the image isn’t violating copyright. They may have bought it from a premium stock photography website which gives them the right to use it on their blog but doesn’t give you the right to use it on yours.
People have sadly been sued for doing this so make sure to either use images that you know are original to the blogger or are free to use.
Hopefully you found some of these tips helpful! Remember that every single blogger started out without a blog and probably also without any know-how AT ALL on how to get traffic! Stick with this blogging thing and honestly, you’ll very likely see some brilliant results if you put the work in and dedicate your energy, focus and time to it!