So you are an aspiring author and keep hearing that you need a “platform” if you want to publish, which usually means a web presence. But you are new to the world of blogging, or maybe you already have a site but are not getting very many visitors in spite of cranking out a few blogs? Want some help that is free and clearly explained? Here are the 3 best, easy to use, and free guides that can help you.
I want to share three great sites that can help you figure out what “SEO” is and how to optimize for it. I do not have any monetary or quid pro quo connection to any of these sites or organizations. No affiliate relationships. I just wanted to pass on what I’ve learned along the way that might be helpful to you.
When I started out nine months ago I realized I knew almost nothing about what I was doing and how to ramp my traffic. As you probably have, I went searching across the net trying to find helpful guides and simple explanations. There are two challenges: First, to be honest, ramping traffic to your site is not easy. It takes time and know how, so you need help from people that really know how to do this. Second, there are lots – tens of thousands – of sites out there that are loudly screeching that they know exactly what you need to do. And they have enticing headlines:
7 Ways to increase your traffic by 131% in four days!
Cut your bounce rate in half with this one simple trick!
Climb at least 20 spots in the SERPS by Monday!
11 secrets every SEO consultant knows that you don’t!
Most of it is junk by hacks that are doing some kind of bait and switch or are scamming for your money.
No doubt every company that has an online presence is out to sell something. The smart ones and the ones with integrity know that they will make more money by offering you benefits while maintaining their brand equity.
So after sampling many, I have found three that I’m recommending.
Run by Neil Patel, QuickSprout, is a great site that publishes very clear and simple-to-follow blogs about three times a week. The blogs are concise, generally about 1,000 words, but sometimes double that. And sometimes they are rich infographics. Neil focuses on things you can do to increase your traffic, and does so in a very conversational and engaging tone. He also shares his personal experience on occasion, to include mistakes he has made. Lastly, he has a very rich set of free guides that are very detailed and specific to how to ramp your traffic and engagement across a multitude of venues. If I was only to subscribe to one site to help me ramp by success as a blogger, this would be it.
In many ways comparable to QuickSprout, SME also focus on things you can do to ramp your traffic and effectiveness. They also drill into a single thing with each post that is narrowly defined and easy to take on yourself. SME is a bit more diversified with their authors, so you see a wider range of topics and tone, and there is a greater variety of how information is presented.
This crowd is also a sophisticated “SEO” shop. They are a bit more technical than the first two, but also provide some very compelling, easy to action ideas that will help you ramp your presence. MOZ has a distinct sense of humor. They can also get too technical for me on occasion.
All three are free, so you can sign up to get their emails, which come about three or four times a week. So in total you’ll get about two emails a day from the three of them. I quickly scan them and delete them if not relevant (for instance, if I don’t have a Pinterest account and it is about Pinterest, I delete it). Other times I’ll be excited to find a ‘how to’ in my inbox to help me address something I’ve been struggling with (and sometimes they are things I did not even know I was struggling with).
QuickSprout and Moz also offer some free tools that can be helpful to you. And, yes, they are in business to make money, so at some point you will see pop ups offering their consulting services, or other advertisements. But they are usually not too obtrusive.
Don’t use “Black Hat” SEO tactics!
Another aspect all three share is that they do not promote “black hat” SEO tactics, so don’t worry about being duped into doing something for which you’ll get penalized. If you are not familiar with the term “Black Hat” it is a reference to ways to “cheat” and to trick search engines into ranking a site higher. Some such tactics work, though generally for only a short time, and once Google figures it out, they will “penalize” the site, in effect dropping it even further down in the SERPs. Additionally, if your visitors figure out that you are operating that way, don’t expect them to come back. You don’t want to be scammed or tricked, and neither does anyone else. So don’t do it.
My recommendation is that you subscribe to one or two, starting in the order I presented them. Don’t action the first two or three emails you get. Rather, read them and think through how they present info and what they focus on. After you get used to that, then start picking a few of their blogs or guides that speak to things that might be helpful to you.
Do not get overwhelmed, and don’t try to talk yourself into doing something that is more complex than what you can do. There have been a few suggestions that looked like they could be helpful to me, but once I began reading I realized I would be trying to do something I don’t understand. I don’t want to take down my blog because I started mucking around with the code and fouled up something. In this case, better safe than sorry.
But do be sure that it is a war out there on the net every day, and the optimized sites will get more traffic. Content matters a lot, but so does optimizing your site and your visitor’s experience. Doing both things will get you more notice, which should help your book get more looks. And that in turn should help you ramp sales.
As to book references… There are a lot, but I’m not going to provide a list here. There are two challenges with books on this topic. First, there are dozens of social media sites, and I don’t know enough about all of them to make any recommendations. Second, they quickly become out of date. So I’m back to were I started: Check out these three sites for concise, timely and up to date help on sites that matter to you. That will be your best bet to get your blog more traffic.
Thanks, and please use the buttons below or to the side to share with other bloggers and aspiring authors!