I have a list of blog post ideas for my series here at Yoast.com. I have them written down in my bullet journal and refer to them whenever we’re discussing what my next blog post will be. Usually, when I’m inspired, I can finish such a blog post in about an hour. This time was different: I couldn’t get it done. I guess this happens to every blogger every now and then. So I asked myself: If I’m not up to writing new content, what can I do? So here’s my blog post idea: Focus on the improvement of your blog instead! How? Read on!

Although I still have around six ideas waiting to happen (and more to come, of course), none of them worked this time. After spending over an hour on 100 words for a future blog post, I told my colleagues I was temporarily blocked, swamped with other work and without inspiration. I voted to drop my blog post for this week and just focus on the next one due in two weeks. You can call it procrastination, and I think you’d be absolutely right. Luckily the blog team told me ‘nope’ – just kidding, they’re really understanding. So this made me think about what to do when you have a writers’ block: You can use the time you would normally reserve for a blog post, on the foundation of your blog. When your foundation is solid, you will take your blog more seriously. You can strengthen your foundation in several ways.

Write a media kit

If you wish to collaborate with companies or have the ambition to be taken more seriously to earn an income out of your blog, it’s a wise idea to have a media kit. A media kit is, usually, a PDF file that holds information about you, your blog, your statistics and possibilities to collaborate with companies. It should reflect who you are and what your blog stands for. On Pinterest, you can find a ton of Mediakit inspiration, or you can try Canva.com.

Look into your site structure

To increase the findability of your blog and to help your visitors understand your website, you should regularly review your site structure. Your site structure isn’t just about your menu, it’s about internal linking, removing duplicate content and fixing possible errors in your Google Search Console as well. You could also check, for instance, if you have orphaned content on your site and add some links to it. If you want to learn more about this, please see our ultimate guide for site structure!

Optimize for SEO

Chances are when you first started blogging; you didn’t look into SEO at all. You might get visitors now through Google, but could it be more if you optimize your blog posts properly? Do keyword research and optimize those blog posts that are important to you, for instance, your cornerstone content.

Work on your social media exposure

Your blog is more than just a place where you write; it’s your brand. This means that you need to reach people on social media as well. Creating a social media planning isn’t a bad idea at all. Every platform has its own unique power: use it to your advantage. You might want to share behind the scene photos on Facebook, a gorgeously styled feed on Instagram with relevant hashtags and witty comments on Twitter. Use it to your advantage to engage with your readers and potential readers. Often there are places where you can self-promote. Think of the numerous Facebook groups about blogging: there are often threads where you can drop your link.

Talk to and help other bloggers

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Networking is important as a blogger. It helps you to learn more about your niche, blogging, blogging culture, possible PR events and more. You have a reputation to uphold towards your readers, of course, you already knew that. But other bloggers are in a way your competition and your colleagues. You might see them during press events or blog events. Help fellow bloggers out by answering their questions on social media. If you do this often enough and consistent enough, people will know where to find you and you will become an expert on a certain subject within your network. As I answer a lot of questions about WordPress, technical issues, SEO and of course Yoast SEO, I now get tagged in questions in various groups. Annoying? Not at all. Helpful? Definitely. I’ll write about why networking is important next time, why you should do more of it and what it brought me so far.

Other ideas

Still looking for ideas what to do when you’re out of inspiration or want to quit your blog? Why not try one of our courses? Yoast offers a Free SEO training and several other trainings that will definitely help you get a better understanding of SEO, keyword research and content writing.

And if you really do not want to do any of the above things, then maybe it’s time to sit back, relax and leave your blog until the next day. Being creative is a process and today might not be your day.

Read more: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

The post Caroline’s Corner: No inspiration to blog? Work on your blog’s foundation appeared first on Yoast.

There have been moments in the past year that I wanted to quit my blog. My inner critic would tell me I wasn’t good enough to play with the big bloggers out there and I would tell myself over and over again the blogging world is oversaturated and in particular the mom blog niche. Instead of quitting, I took breaks, started blogging for Yoast and found my love for my blog and my writing style again. And it’s safe to say: people start to recognize my personal brand. How I did this and how you can achieve this too, is something I want to explain today. And the good news is: you do not need 10,000 followers on Instagram and 100,000 visitors on your blog!

Background and statistics

Before we dive into the world of personal branding, let’s go back to the article I wrote a few months ago about my goals and statistics. Maybe you remember me saying I wanted to reach 100K of unique visitors a month at the end of 2018. Although I still want to grow to these numbers, I am not working on growing that rapidly anymore. As a blogger, you do not (yet) need an audience that’s in the very high numbers. You need to make sure your base is strong and your engagement is high. How I came to this conclusion? Last week I was at a blogging event where I spoke to Cassandra, a blogger in my niche. She talked about micro influencing and about the importance of becoming a brand, instead of focussing on reaching the mighty and powerful 10K on Instagram ‘just’ for the swipe up function. And my head started spinning.

Personal brand – what is it?

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One of the most hyped, but also important, expressions currently is ‘personal brand’. In short, it means presenting yourself as a brand to the world. It’s what people see when they look at you, read something about you or hear from you. You want this image to be positive and true to who you are. I know that I’m seen as someone who works at Yoast, knows a lot about the plugin and SEO. But there’s more to that. As I give talks and workshops about SEO to bloggers, I’ve received comments about how people see me. And most of the time people know me for my love for Disney, my advocacy for self-care for mothers, Yoast, SEO, my sense of humor and the ability to explain things.

My personal brand is more than just my blog or my Instagram, it’s everything. On my blog, you won’t find many hints to Yoast, but on Instagram, you will. On my blog, you will find a lot of hints towards Disney, less so on my Instagram. Yet either platform is completely true to who I am. I mock motherhood and being an ‘influencer’ both on Instagram and on my blog and I definitely portray the importance of self-care on both platforms.

You should ask the same feedback from the people around you. Someone might say something you don’t particularly agree with, but it’s how they see you. Be sure to know what you want to be known for. If you do not receive that from anyone or not from everyone, then that means you’ve got work cut out for you!

Your personal brand helps you stay focused and unique

You might wonder where I’m going with my explanation about personal brand. There’s an important reason for it: knowing how the world sees you and how you want to be seen, will make sure your blog will stay or become more focused. If you know what you and your blog stand for, you know what your audience expects from you. If you, for example, wish to do a collaboration with a company, you should make sure it is in line with your brand’s values and reputation. For example, if you usually only share vegetarian dishes, it would be a bit strange to suddenly do a collaboration with a company that’s not vegetarian. Although you might still eat non-vegetarian products in your daily life, if your audience is not aware of this fact, your followers will be confused. Do this too often and you might lose your credibility.

The importance of micro influencing

I currently have a little over 700 followers on my personal Instagram. Although I too wish to grow my following, I’d find it more important to interact with my followers. My average engagement rate is 12.45%. According to Influencermarketinghub, the average engagement rate for accounts with less than 1000 followers, is 8%. I’m well above that and I take pride in this. It means my Instagram followers represent the people I wish to reach. Less is more and this is definitely the case in the world of online influencing. Although it might look awesome to have thousands upon thousands of followers, if your engagement rate is low and your following does not represent your blog’s audience, it might be even harder to be considered an influencer than someone with fewer followers, but a higher engagement rate. Because it means that the latter knows where his or her audience is ‘hiding’ and knows how to reach them.

So how would you grow?

Does it mean I don’t want to grow my blog anymore? No, not at all. I still want to reach a big audience. But I realize now that won’t last if I don’t take the route of commitment. If I don’t want to be forgotten in a few months, it means people should really feel connected to my brand: to me. By knowing what I stand for, I know how I should grow, not how I can grow. If this is a little too vague, let me make it a more clear with an explanation.

The kind of blog posts I write, are:

  • Blog posts about self-care, in particular, self-care for mothers;
  • Blog posts about motherhood with a personal twist, think of: things I can say at home, but not at work, the laws of motherhood outdoors and a tutorial on how to avoid changing diapers at all cost.
  • Blog posts about Disneyland Paris;
  • Inspiration interior blog posts, for example: Halloween decorations or an Ikea Hack;
  • Vegan recipes that are easy to make, because I hate to cook;
  • DIYs that are easy and fast done and still steal the show, in case it’s your mother in law’s birthday and you haven’t made a gift with your toddler yet.

I know I could reach a lot more visitors by competing with the bigger bloggers out there. I could write ‘how to’s’ and informational articles that have been written over and over again. This could be a business model or a part of your brand, that’s totally fine. But it’s not mine. I would lose my current following and would gain a new following. My current blog posts wouldn’t fit into that strategy and people will become confused about my personal brand.

By staying true to your brand with your articles and on social media, people will eventually recognize you and your brand. Although your biggest source of traffic might not come from Google for a very long time, your brand will be strong and depends on people rather than on algorithms.

I’m curious how you are maintaining your brand. Are you already working on your personal brand and if so, how?

Read more: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

The post Caroline’s Corner: How to stay unique despite being one of many bloggers in your niche appeared first on Yoast.

I’ve always felt lucky blogging for Yoast.com. As I wrote before, I have an entire blog team that makes sure my post gets scheduled, is free of grammar or spelling errors and they publish it on social media. So I ‘only’ had to come up with an idea, which the team often helped me with, and type the post. I decided that if I ever were to outsource things on my own blog, it would be things like promotion and social media.

My struggle with social media

And then the inevitable happened. After I finished my previous post, I got a message: “Caroline, from now on, please write your own introduction for Facebook, Twitter, and the newsletter. Here’s some information for you. If you have any questions, let us know!” Hold on! Yes, I have questions! Starting with: “How do I do this?” and: “Do you have any idea how difficult it is to write short messages? There’s a reason I’m not active on Twitter!” And, so began my struggle, and search, for the ultimate social media messages.

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Because truthfully, I’d rather type a 2000 word essay than one sentence for Facebook. When you’re reading this, I’ve already grabbed your attention. You’ve already made it down to this point in my post, which means that you want to read my message. On social media, I can’t spend over a hundred words to make my point. If I do, you might not click, you might scroll past my message and you’ll never see my post at all.

And that’s how I started my two-day research. Two days? Yes. I, of course, started rather late with this blog post and had almost no time to conduct proper research. So, all the information in this post is based on my common sense – and I’ll teach you how to use your common sense too! Oh, how amazing my job is. Truly. Well, apart from having to write my own social media messages now.

To click or not to click

When do you click on a Facebook message? When do you hit the like button? When do you leave a reply? And when do you take the effort to go to someone’s profile and visit their domain through Instagram if there’s a ‘link in bio’ message underneath a photo? Those questions were the most important for me the last few days, to figure out what the perfect message entails. To find the answer to these questions, you need to know who your audience is.

For my blog, that’s a rather easy answer: the goal audience for my blog is me! And people like me, of course. But, I started my blog because I love writing. I’m right in the middle of my audience: young mothers (and fathers, of course) who are struggling with parenthood and want reassurance that others are struggling too. I want people to laugh at my stories, but also to take their struggles and life a little less serious, in order to enjoy life more.

Experimenting on different platforms

While people who visit my blog always tell me I have a great sense of humor – except for my husband, he still claims I have no humor at all – my Facebook page didn’t reflect my blog at all and come to think of it, I didn’t even like Facebook.

I started experimenting on Instagram: my photos were more blunt, I used a lot of hashtags (thirty hashtags seems to be the maximum) and I treated Instagram as if I was talking to my best friend. Immediately, my engagement went up. People responded to my photos with more than just a heart, they actually left messages! I started to get to know my audience more and more, and then a few days ago I decided I’d use the same strategy on Facebook.

I took a notebook and wrote down when I was interested in a Facebook post from another company, and when I scrolled past. And, although this is personal (and not perfect) research, this works for me, since I am a reflection of my own audience. I made notes on the posts I clicked on: what was the message they wrote? What was the title of the post? Did the image appeal to me? And when did I decide not to click on a post?

I found out that I click the link if these three aspects: text, title, and photo of the post, appeal to me. There are messages I saw multiple times but I didn’t click them, because the Facebook image wasn’t appealing enough, or the leading text was too vague or didn’t catch my attention.

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How to find your voice on social media

It’s important your social media reflects your website. If you write for solo travelers who are 20 years old, it’d be strange if your social media posts are more appealing to people who’d rather stay in and haven’t taken a vacation in the last 20 years. Just like you once found your voice for your blog, you need to find your voice on social media too. And you’ll have to experiment before you find it. Here’s how to experiment:

Realize that your social media are part of your brand

Facebook, Instagram, and other social media are extensions of your blog. Try to find the reason why you follow someone on Instagram, hit the like button on Facebook or retweet a message on Twitter. It’s probably because you feel connected to someone or to the brand. Those social media accounts should reflect the blog, in this case.

Write different introductions

By writing and rewriting your Facebook messages a few times, you will eventually find the voice that fits your brand. You can’t be as elaborate on Facebook or Instagram as you are on your blog. You need to catch people’s attention and get them to click that link to your website.

With Facebook, you can easily re-post a post that’s a couple of months old. Check which posts performed less: you can look that up on your Facebook page under ‘Statistics’. Check the accompanying message you wrote, try to rewrite them and see if you can gain more clicks.

It’s all about strategy

As much as you need a blog planning, you also need a social media planning and a strategy. If you post on Facebook only once a week, you probably won’t reach a lot of people. However, if you post once or twice a day, you’ll see your reach going up. Those posts don’t always have to be a link to your blog, especially not when you only blog every other day or once a week. Share images, ask questions, share links to other blogs in your niche or share quotes. Look at your competition and try to find a new angle to implement on your social media profiles.

Read more: How to use social media »

And now it’s time for me to write a nice introduction for social media so you’ll actually end up clicking and reading this message. Wish me luck. Oh and please drop your tips on me as well! You have no idea how much I learn from the comments you leave on my blog posts!

Keep reading: Social media strategy: where to begin? »

 

The post Writing great social media content for your blog appeared first on Yoast.

“I’ve decided I wanted to start a travel blog”. I received this text from a friend who was in Croatia and wanted to just inform me about this. What I heard: “Caroline, spring into action. Throw ALL your tips at her. Buy your favorite blog book and get it delivered to her through same day shipping. And ask her if her blog is live every day. And make sure she installs the right plugins and did she know how important page speed is?” I get carried away sometimes. Especially when people talk to me about blogging.

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Getting excited about blogging

I spoke to her again today and asked her how her blog was coming along. It’s been two weeks since she notified me of the idea and I thought I’d been fairly good about it. Turned out she’s still at the same spot as she was two weeks ago. The only progress she’s made, is that she made a list of some ideas, that she decided she wanted to have some blog posts in advance and she’s done research.

If she continues like that, she hasn’t even gone live by the time I reach 100k visitors a month.

I’m known to get enthusiastic way too fast, jump into things without thinking through all the possibilities, and just go with it. Some call it impulsive. I call it excitement. The blogging world excites me, and when people show interest in it, I always think they are as eager as I am to jump in. I definitely do not understand why my friend is chilling at the beach right now instead of writing some articles, but that’s because I am not at that point where she is anymore.

Yes, I said ‘not anymore’. Because there was a time, I would tell my spouse that I’d just ‘work on my blog later’ and later never happened. There were moments when I dreamed of my goals but did nothing to achieve them. When I let fear get the best of me, and I used the ‘no time’ excuse to no end.

You have time – it’s your priorities that you need to set straight

It’s a bold statement, I know. But you do have time for your blog. You choose to use your time differently. I sincerely hope you do not take this the wrong way and will flood me with comments about how I don’t know how it is to live your life, that you have a 40 hour or maybe even 60 hour work week, that you have a household to run, you have a toddler, or maybe multiple toddlers that never sleep, a spouse that demands attention and you also have that gym membership that you already never use. Oh, and you want to prep healthy meals, too. So, who am I to tell you you do have time?

I’m the same as you. If I want to, I never have time for anything. Because I’m so busy worrying about life, busy with my family, with my job here at Yoast, with my commute and the horrible traffic jams, the laundry that just stacks up, et cetera. To conclude: I’m very busy being busy.

But I want to fit my blog in my schedule as well. Because it’s important to me. I love to write and I love the blogging atmosphere. This means that, just as any other task I have to do in life, this needs to become a priority too. So, if you’re struggling with the ‘I have no time’ excuse, read up to see my answers to all of your excuses for not making time for your blog.

Excuse 1: It’s easy for you to say, you just write opinions, I write fact stated articles

You need to do research for each and every article you write. Whether it’s focus keyword research, audience research or a full on article research, because you happen to write about a very specific location in the middle of the Atlantic ocean that no one has ever visited yet, except for that one person you hate very much. Odds are, that if you want to write about it, you already know something. Write that article as if you know everything already, type it all out, and revise and do your research afterwards. If I want to make sure I don’t publish half-finished articles, I put my notes between brackets and in capitals. That means that when an article is in draft and I need to revisit something, I’ll write: [CHECK IF SMALL DESERTED ISLAND IN ATLANTIC OCEAN EXISTS]. I’ll leave this note here, because I didn’t check.

Excuse 2: I literally do not have time

You might say that, but if you text me about how busy you are and you continue to text for over an hour, that’s one or two articles you could’ve written. Two articles? That many? Yes. That many. If you have an idea for the blog post, set a timer for 25 minutes, also known as the Pomodoro technique, remove all distractions, tell everyone in your household to shut up for 25 minutes, and just type away. And if you don’t have 25 minutes, then take 15 minutes. And if you don’t have 15 minutes, tell your spouse you’re going to do the laundry. With your laptop and your research books and claim the load was just really heavy.
Dear husband, if you read this, this is not what I do. I might check my blog statistics during this time, though.

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Excuse 3: But I’m not good enough

See article: Why you should quit your blog now and also read up on How to kill that inner critic.

Excuse 4: My family doesn’t understand me

They might not. And they may think it’s strange that you have the ambition to reach thousands of people. And you might tell them that it’s their fault that you couldn’t write that article you wanted to write. But the moment you start to take your blog more seriously, your family will do too. After dinner, my husband will ask me: “So, what’s your planning tonight? Blogging?” And that stems from the fact that I spent a lot of weeks working on my blog every night after our toddler went to bed. When I used my spare time for my blog, other people started to realize I was serious about it. And of course, you may need to discuss this with your family if this means you need time on, for example, Saturday mornings to work on your blog without being disturbed.

Remember: no one will take you seriously if you don’t take it seriously yourself first.

Any other excuse

If you have any other excuse other than the three I mentioned above, then you might want to reconsider if you even want to blog. I don’t want you to quit, absolutely not. I’ll be your cheerleader if you need one. But if your blog is giving you this much stress and you keep finding excuses not to do it, then maybe it’s time to look at why you started at first.

My friend just proofread this blog post, and she wanted me to let you know that she did way more than I claimed. She also found a theme for her website. The next time we meet, she’ll probably hurl the book I gave her at my head.

Read more: Blogging: The ultimate guide »

The post Caroline’s Corner: How to make time for your blog when you have no time appeared first on Yoast.

I don’t know what the weather is like where you’re from, but we’re currently in the middle of a so-called heat wave. With temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius (or 86 degrees Fahrenheit), more people are found in pools and at their summer destinations. You might have the feeling that no one is online to read your blog post. Or perhaps you’re rather hanging out at the pool yourself. So why would you spend your summer blogging? And should you even be spending your time typing away? I don’t have the definite answer for you, but there are various things you could do this summer to still maintain a growing blog!

Keep posting as if the entire country isn’t at the beach

This is my plan for the summer: just keep posting as if it’s winter when everyone’s inside with their laptop or tablet surfing around. If your biggest competitors are currently on a summer blogging break, that means it’s easier for you to get the public’s attention. And if they do not read it now, they might read it later. So you can focus on writing evergreen posts, so you will rank higher in Google.

I’ll give you a quick peek into my planning. I’ve looked at my Google Search Console and found that a blog post I’ve written in March is getting a lot of clicks through Google since the summer began. How come? The blog post is about precision waxing. The blog post focuses on waxing your eyebrows, and I guess a lot of people apparently need this for summer. What does this mean? I’m going to write more summer related blog posts.

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Optimize old posts

If you don’t want to spend your time writing blog posts, might not have the inspiration, or don’t want to market everything like crazy during the summer, you might want to spend time optimizing your older blog posts. Revisit them, look at your orphaned blog posts, or try to see what your competitors rank for. Create small challenges in your mind and decide what you want to focus on. Do you want to have a more solid website? Perhaps a structured navigation or a faster website? Or do you want your posts to rank on the first page of Google? Whatever your goal is, you can spend time on it now! You can do it much more in chunks than you can do blog writing.

Write in advance

You might not want to publish this summer, or perhaps you just want to publish less. This doesn’t mean you should stop writing altogether. Now might be the best time to work on your Halloween or Christmas DIYs, so you don’t feel the pressure of competing at the beginning of the season. Just don’t expect to find any Halloween decorations or pumpkins in store just yet. Meal prepping might be a task you can acquire, but the same goes for blog prepping. Nothing is better than to enjoy the nice weather knowing you’ve written (and planned) enough blogs in advance.

Take a break

I’m in a few blogger groups on Facebook and I’ve seen the discussion multiple times: a summer break. Bloggers ask each other whether they should take a break or post less and how they should address that. Because let’s face it: keeping up a blog is hard work. It might be your full-time job, or it might be a project that you take on next to your paid job. You might need a break from it. But preferably without losing all your followers and visitors.

If you want to take a (partial) break, you do want to keep your social media profiles active. You could schedule older posts, funny quotes or questions to your audience. But if you want to republish old content, how do you go about that? First, make sure that the content you share, is still relevant. Next, write a compelling text to go on social media and then schedule your post.

Should you write that it’s a repost? I would advise against it. Would you click on a link if the company or blogger wrote that it’s an old post? Probably not. Your best bet is to just post it. Unless you’re reposting blog posts you’ve just put up last week.

Communicate about you summer schedule?

Do you communicate about your summer schedule? I’ve seen bloggers ask this question as well. The real question is: ‘Do my followers want to know that I’m not posting as frequently as before?’ and to answer this, you have to know your audience. Perhaps your audience is very loyal and might think something terrible has happened to you if you’re offline for a bit and will start an online – or worse: an offline – search for you. Before you know it, there’ll be tweets claiming they found you with an adjoining picture of you running screaming after your toddler, or downing three ice creams and some french fries while you have the perfect image online of a healthy calm mom blogger. There goes your reputation.

I know my following doesn’t care if I blog daily, blog once a month, or blog twice a year. Why? Because I am nowhere big enough for them to even notice. The only people who might notice, are my close friends.

Know your audience

I’m just a small fish in a big pond. They’ll just go to another blogger. So I could write a lengthy blog post about how I’m going to enjoy my summer, because I deserve it, because I work hard, because yadda yadda ya, but the truth is: my audience doesn’t care. Neither does your audience, most likely. Your audience wants a laugh, perhaps a DIY, or information about a certain lipstick, or a Lego project. No one will look on Google for: ‘Will [blog name] be blogging less this summer?’ And if you, for any reason, do decide that your followers need to know that you won’t be blogging today, but will send out an update on Saturday instead and you need to write a blog post for it, then please set it to noindex. Unless you can explain the value of letting this get indexed by Google to me. I, for one, do not want anyone to Google my blog name and have the first result be one where I’m announcing a temporary hiatus.

Whatever your plan is, keep yourself – and your audience – in mind. I’m hoping to jump in on the fact that my biggest competitors will have a summer schedule, perhaps that’ll bring me more visitors. And if not, I might just write a post next year about my summer plans and then close off my blog for an entire month ;)

I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are on this matter and if you’ve noticed a certain trend on blogs? Let me know how you combine the summer heat and blogging!

Read more: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

The post Blogging during summer appeared first on Yoast.

My very first blog post here on Yoast.com was about why you should focus on SEO as a blogger. That post was one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written, as I was not focussing on SEO at all back then. I honestly didn’t want to spend time doing keyword research and research my audience. Now, almost four months later, I’m having fun with optimizing my blog posts and am creating a routine in this. And with success, my average position in Google is rising, along with the total impressions and total clicks. Today, I will share why and how I’m optimizing my blog posts. 

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SEO for bloggers

In the beginning of June I was at a conference for Dutch speaking bloggers. I gave a talk about SEO for bloggers and attended several talks myself. One of the talks I saw was by the owner of a big mom blog in the Netherlands. When the audience asked her how she managed to grow, she explained it was a combination of writing a lot, using Google Search Console and using Yoast SEO Premium.

“Anyone could do it,” she told the audience.

Challenge accepted.

The day after the conference, I started optimizing my blog posts. And with success. Where my average organic growth was around 10 percent per month from the start of this year, it was a whopping 86% in June compared to May. Turns out that the SEO tips we give at Yoast, even work for bloggers! Who knew?

Well, probably everyone knew. At least at Yoast. But I’m stubborn and always used the ‘that won’t work for me’ card. But really, as I wrote before, I didn’t want to focus on SEO. I’m a blogger. Who needs SEO?

How to rise in Google

The process of rising to the first page or even the top three result is a long one. You need the right tools and you need the right plan. You need patience and you need to be able to analyze your current data.

To rise in Google, I use two tools:
Google Search Console and Yoast SEO Premium.

Google Search Console is a great tool to see what keywords people use, what the click through rate to your website is and what position you are. You can compare your data as well. The newest data unfortunately is 3 days old, so you need patience with growing.

While you can do this all without our SEO plugin, I can’t live without our premium plugin anymore. I use the premium plugin to check my internal linking structure and use the link suggestions to make sure I am linking to all relevant posts on my website.

It’s hard to decide which blog posts to optimize. I found out my blog post about a lipstick review I did last year, still generates a lot of traffic. I’m not a beauty blogger, but apparently the post hit home. But posts I wanted to rank, weren’t ranking at all. I picked one of those blog posts and started to optimize it. You can do this by completely rereading the text, checking the bullets of our content analysis and adding relevant links to other blog posts – the internal linking tool helps with that, and to link from other relevant posts to this post. Orphaned content – content that’s not linked to – is horrible and it’s something you need to fix as soon as possible if you want to rank. 

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How to optimize without spending all day optimizing

I want to write. I want to blog. The last thing I want to do, is work on optimizing my blog posts for Google, Pinterest  or Facebook.

As I won’t go viral after I hit that publish button and I won’t get millions of hits after I shouted out that I blogged, I need to optimize the posts. I do this right after I finished a blog post. I reread it, go through all the bullets of the plugin and determine if I want to change its suggestions, or just ignore those stupid red and orange bullets that are out there to make my life miserable. The one thing I do check for every time, are internal links and a proper meta description. While writing meta descriptions are my nightmare, they are important in getting people to actually click that link.

Checklist

I’ve created my own checklist before I publish a post. While I sometimes go back to a blog post to create new links if I published new blogs, I make sure all my new posts at least check off the following:

  • There are at least 3 links to other blog posts I’ve written that are relevant to the topic. If there are no relevant links, I need to either create more content or perhaps remove the blog post altogether.
  • There is at least one relevant high quality image and it has the focus keyword in its alt description.
  • I’ve written a compelling meta description.
  • My readability is green. And if it’s not, the feedback it gave me was something I chose to deliberately ignore.
  • My SEO analysis is green. And if it’s not, the feedback it gave me was something I chose to deliberately ignore.
  • I’ve checked old blog posts to see if I can link to this new blog post.

Routine

It’s important to create your own routine in this. While in the beginning it might feel as if you’re messing around and it won’t have any use, if you continue to do the steps above, you will see improved results in Google and Google Search Console.

I’m curious how and if you are incorporating SEO tactics in your blogging. Please let me know, because I’m eager to learn from you too!

Read on: Site structure: the ultimate guide »

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If there’s one thing I’m known for among my colleagues, it’s for my obsession with notebooks and planners. I have not one, but a total of three planners in my bag. Three, ladies and gentlemen. Is this insane? Yes, it is. Is it too much? No, you can never have too many planners. And oh my gosh, did they launch new bullet journals? Because I swear, I need a new one, even though my old one isn’t half filled yet. Today, I’ll fill you in on my blog planning habits.

My struggles and habits

I love planners. So it’s only natural I get asked a lot what my blog planning looks like. There are weeks that I answer: ‘I post daily in this exact order’ and there are weeks that my answer is: ‘Planning? Pff, who needs planners!’ while looking at the stack of papers on my desk. Today, it’s time to say: I’m still figuring it out. I want to share my struggles and my habits that come with growing your blog and this little thing they named ‘blog planning.’ Quick fun fact: I wrote this post exactly an hour before it was due. Another quick fun fact: this probably isn’t as fun for my colleagues from the blog team. I’m sorry.

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Update whenever I want or plan my posts?

For a long time, I’ve been blogging whenever I wanted to. I had weeks where I posted daily, and months where I published only one or two posts. You can imagine that it shows in my statistics. As you get more serious about blogging, you might want to become more serious about upping your frequency as well. I’m always an all or nothing kind of person. So when I decided I wanted to grow big, I decided I wanted to post daily. Seven times a week. It went well for two weeks. And then I didn’t blog for a few days, because my toddler decided that he only wanted to nap for 20 minutes and I decided I’d rather watch Pitch Perfect than work on my blog in the evenings.

Priorities: check.

As I’m in a competitive niche, apparently everyone owns a mommy blog nowadays (just kidding) and have insane goals to reach; I want to update frequently. I decided I wanted to publish a post every weekday, so that’s Monday through Friday. During the weekends, I usually write my posts for Monday and Tuesday. My Wednesday post is written during the toddler’s nap, as I’m not in the office on Wednesdays. On Wednesday night I write and schedule my post for Thursday. Usually, I get cranky doing so, as the lighting is never right for photos. And on Thursday I either finish my post for Friday or manage to squeeze one out right after dinner time. Did you get dizzy following my sort of schedule? I got a headache too. It’s driving me insane. I need planning. And more hours in a day, please!

Planning a blog

I’m currently struggling to find the perfect post schedule. As many of my fellow bloggers out there probably already know, there are days where you can write five perfectly good posts. But there are also days where you cannot get even one remotely good post. You don’t want your readers to know your struggle, so ideally you might even want to have around ten posts that are ready to be scheduled for those off days.

And then there’s a thing called balance. I might have seven posts ready about Disneyland Paris, but my readers who don’t like Disney (the horror) might not visit my blog for a week or decide to ditch visiting altogether. So I made Mondays my Disneyland Paris and travel related posts. On Fridays, I post recipes and the other days I go by YOLO! Or is there another new buzzword, because YOLO is already outdated again?

Balance is key. Structure as well. But you might not get happy doing a travel post every Monday, a DIY post on Tuesdays, a personal post on Wednesdays, a shoplog on Thursdays and recipes on Fridays. If that’s your thing: go for it, but I know for one I don’t thrive on strict rules I’ve set myself.

My conclusion? Every blog planning is personal. You need to figure out for yourself what you and your visitors expect from you. You might be one of the few that gets tons of hits because you write an epic, 5000-word post every month. Or you might be the one that updates twice or even three times a day.

I know what I’m missing right now. I need a proper editorial calendar. I’ve tried Trello, and I’ve tried various editorial plugins, but none worked for me. So I’ll be signing off now to go to the nearest stationery store.

I need a new paper planner for my blog.

Read on: ‘Blogging: the ultimate guide’ »

The post Caroline’s Corner: My blog planning habits appeared first on Yoast.

I love to look at my statistics in Google Analytics. I like to watch the numbers creep up slowly towards the goal I’ve set for this month, and I love to see my hard work paysoff. But there’s one thing I like even more than looking at my numbers: looking at the stats of the competitors in my niche. Today, however, instead of lurking on other people’s blogs, looking for their numbers, I’ll share my goals and statistics.

Pinterest must know my behavior, as my feed is filled with bloggers who show off their numbers and how they did it, claiming overnight success and going viral with easy steps. I’ve not been able to implement their tips for overnight success. This might have to do with certain circumstances or niches, but something tells me I’m spending too much time on reading how others do it than focusing on my growth.

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Setting goals

In March, I started to get more serious about my blog. This is, quite coincidentally, the same time I started blogging for Yoast.com. I wanted to blog more and grow as well — both as a human as well as a blogger. I’ll be honest: I want to be the best. I’m competitive like that. But I know that won’t happen. Or at least, I won’t become big with just waiting; I have to work for it.

You’ve heard me say it in my previous blogs: I’m a small blogger. But how small is small? There are bloggers out there who claim they are small when they have 5000 visitors a month. There are also bloggers out there who feel like they own the world with 1000 pageviews in half a year. Your definition can differ from someone else’s — and that’s okay.

Without further ado, I present to you, my monthly users in March 2018 on my blog about motherhood:

257.

No. You’re not missing a ‘K’ or a few zeroes after that number. It’s 257. That’s not whopping. And you’re getting blogging advice from me. Hah, got you there! Don’t worry though; I’ve been lazy up until then. And I’ve learned that when you go for it, you can see tremendous growth.

I decided that I wanted to double my users in April. I tried to reach 500 users and 1000 page views.

On May 1st, I checked my analytics to see if I made my goal. Just kidding, I already knew I made it. I’m addicted to Google Analytics. I have the app installed on my phone. And whenever I have my phone in my hand, my husband doesn’t ask me if I’m reading the news or received a message. He asks me if I’m rechecking my stats. I spam my blogger friends with my stats as well. Yep, guilty of obsessing over my goals and statistics. But hey, it works for me because I reached my goals in April! I had 505 users and 1088 page views. Nailed it, I’d say!

I set new goals on May 1st for my blog. I wanted to reach 1000 users and 1500 pageviews. Again, this is doubling my goal of last month. I can say that I’ve achieved both my goals this month.

As I’ve reached both goals the past months, you’re probably wondering what my new goal will be. But I have to admit: I’m not sure. The increasing numbers feel amazing, but aiming for something high, makes my inner critic take over again.

One of my colleagues pointed out that if my growth continued like this, I would break the 100k mark in December. I scoffed and said: ‘yes, well, that would be highly unlikely.’ He shrugged, asked me: ‘why?’ and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Because why would it be highly unlikely? It’s an insane number, that’s why. But I can try. Dream big. Aim high, shoot low. Aim for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. And whatever motivational words there are out there.

So my new goal will be 2000 users in June and 3000 pageviews, doubling last month’s goal. And I’ll continue like that. In December, I’ll write an update to let you know if I reached the 100k.

How to reach these goals

You’re probably wondering how I nearly doubled my traffic two months in a row. As I explained in my Pinterest post, most of my traffic comes from Facebook. This hasn’t changed yet.

My top three sources of traffic are Facebook, Google, and Pinterest. I’ve been focusing a lot on Facebook and Pinterest lately, though I am not a fan of the new Facebook algorithm either. I reached most of my visitors through Facebook advertising.

My biggest advice for reaching these goals is not Facebook advertising. It’s not focusing on organic growth, and it’s not concentrating on Pinterest either. It’s writing your goals down in a notebook. Look at it often and think of a strategy how to reach this. For me, it’s a combination of a daily blog post, one or two sponsored posts on Facebook and heavily obsessing over my stats.

As I’m writing this, I’ve got my analytics open and am refreshing it every once in a while. This is an obsession, I know, and it’s not something I would recommend. I might need to write a blog post on how to stop checking my stats every second of every day. Whatever you do and whatever your goals are: set them, create a plan and work for it.

Overnight success hardly ever happens.

Read more: ‘SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide’ »

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I bet you’ve reread the title at least several times. Did I really just announce a blog post on why you should quit your blog? Yes. Yes, I did. Who am I to tell you to quit blogging? And before you tell me that I should be the one to quit my blog, let me tell you: no, I’m not. In this post, I will share five reasons why you should quit blogging.

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Reason number 1: You can’t write

You think that you are a terrible writer. No one wants to read your blogs, and if you look at the blog posts you wrote a few months ago, you cringe. You have convinced yourself you absolutely cannot write. So put yourself (and all your readers, they’ll thank you) out of their misery. Just quit.

Unless…

… you love to write. Unless it’s just your inner critic talking. In most cases, it’s just not true. And even if it’s true, how can you grow to be a great writer if you don’t try? We somehow have forgotten that to learn, we have to try. We have to fall and stand up again. No child ever just stopped trying to get up after it fell again and again. It just got back up to try again. The first baby steps couldn’t have been successful if the child thought it couldn’t do it after failing the first time. So grab your notebook or your laptop and get to it. Make mistakes. And then find a way to do it right and improve.

Reason number 2: You don’t have an audience

Who are you writing for if you don’t have any visitors? Honestly, what a waste of time. You could spend your time doing something useful, such as making money by getting a real job. Maybe you should do chores around the house, get the groceries or do some cleaning.

I hope you’re writing for yourself. I hope you’re writing to ease the writer inside of you. And I hope you write because you have a story to get out of there. Above all, I hope you realize that if you keep your writings to yourself, no one will ever read it. And if you don’t have an audience yet, you could try and work on your SEO. Whatever the reason is you do not have many visitors just yet, find out what it is and get that audience.

Even more important: cherish the small audience you might have right now. If it’s your spouse, your mother, your best friend or someone you don’t know: if they take the time to tell you they like it, you’ve got an audience. It starts with just one reader.

Reason 3: There are a lot of blogs already, yours is nothing new

My younger sister told me this when I started my blog about life as a mother. She said: ‘Aren’t there already a lot of blogs like yours out there? Why do you think you’re so special?’ She hadn’t even seen my blog yet, hadn’t even read my articles. And I doubt she even remembers she told me this because last week she told me: ‘Oh, I read this and that on your blog. That’s insane!’

I remember feeling insecure when she told me I wasn’t unique, but I continued to blog anyway. I told her she knew nothing. And no, I’m not the biggest blogger out there (if only), I’m not even mildly average. My blog isn’t even big enough to be considered for so-called ‘influencer programs.’ And although I have goals to become big, my goal to be authentic is bigger. So my blog is something new because it’s mine. Your blog is just as special and authentic.

Reason 4: It’s lonely

You’re just sitting there, behind your computer, writing stuff no one reads for a blog that makes no money. You must be so incredibly lonely.

I’ve met a lot of bloggers the past year. On blogger conferences, through Twitter, through Facebook groups, through Pinterest and blogs of bloggers I admire. If you feel alone as a blogger, find a local (WordPress) meetup, join Facebook groups, Twitter discussions or just send an email to a blogger you admire. Writing can be a lonely hobby, but it’s not necessary.

Reason 5: You’re giving away your information. For free

Are you out of your mind, or what? Are you just giving all your information away, for free? How will you make money? I mean, why would you give stuff away for free?

I don’t know why we do this either. It must be in our nature to help people.

And if you didn’t already know, bloggers can surely monetize their blog.

I love to write. I write a lot. Therefore I am a writer. I’m not making money with my blog. I’m losing money on advertising, hosting, a theme and premium plugins, but I don’t care for now. It’s my hobby. It’s almost volunteering, but on my terms.

Honestly, did you think I was serious about quitting blogging? I’ve started this series to encourage you to pick up blogging too. I’m encouraging friends to start blogs and we have written guides how to start or continue blogging. So, if anyone ever tells you again you should quit blogging, tell them: Nope. And throw this page in their face.

Read more: ‘Caroline’s Corner: Finding inspiration for your next blog post’ »

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A little over a month ago I started looking at my Pinterest profile more seriously in regards to my blog. I didn’t use Pinterest for my blog yet and never even thought of pinning my blog posts to Pinterest. I used the website to keep my wishlist up to date and had tons of hidden boards full of inspiration for future projects that I would probably never do.

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Facebook is my biggest source of traffic currently, but with Facebook’s announcement on the new algorithm, I want to rely less on Facebook. Or spread my traffic source at least. At the end of March, I received a newsletter from a blogger I follow. She claimed she receives over 15,000 visitors from Pinterest every month. She started blogging last year and hasn’t written a new blog post since January. Yet her blog is ever growing, and so is her bank account. 15k for a website that’s not regularly updated raised one main question with me: HOW?

We emailed for a while and she explained she started to treat Pinterest as a search engine instead of a social medium. People are not on Pinterest to see what their friends like, they are looking for a solution for a problem they have. The difference with Google? You have a personal feed when you open Pinterest. And it is visual.

Skepticism

I was skeptical. I don’t like promoting my website, due to my inner critic who thinks it’s necessary to tell me no one wants to read my blog posts and I should not be bothering them on Facebook or anywhere else. Also, I dislike scheduling my social media to promote my blog and I definitely do not like to make the graphics for my blog. I am a writer, but as a blogger you have to be all-round, unless you’re as lucky as me and you can blog for Yoast where there’s an entire team who will create graphics and do the promotion for you. Unfortunately, they won’t do promotion for my personal blog. I should’ve negotiated that at the beginning of my contract.

Still skeptical about Pinterest, I walked into Joost’s office last month and asked him what he knew about Pinterest. He explained to me that there are mom blogs, especially in the US, that get ten thousands of visitors through Pinterest. The statistics can get bizarre. He told me I was definitely in the right niche to grow through Pinterest and should give it a go.

That night I sat down and started creating graphics for my blog. Pinterest suggests vertical pins instead of the horizontal scaled images for Facebook.

What Pinterest did to my statistics

I would love to say that I woke up the next morning, opened Pinterest and saw that my pins went viral. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Your exposure will slowly climb and the more active you are on Pinterest, the faster you will get rewarded.

If you have a business account with Pinterest, you can look at your statistics. I saw that one of my pins had been shown over 400 times in just a few days. So I squealed and told everyone how amazing Pinterest was. I then showed my statistics to everyone who wanted to see, and even those who didn’t know they wanted to see.

But out of those 400 impressions on Pinterest, not one person had repinned my pin. And no one had clicked the link. Facebook advertising sounded a lot more appealing right now. And less work. And easier to understand.

It took me a week to understand and find the mix that started getting me visitors. I can now say that after one month, 10% of my traffic to my blog is Pinterest. 10% in just one month! My stats are surprising me each and every day and I actually love looking at Google Analytics and my Pinterest statistics. I’ve created a board for my blog and created boards that are close to my niche. I’ve repinned pins from others and pinned my own blog posts.

How you can start to grow

To start growing, the first important step is that your image should be appealing and of high quality. Pins with the message in bold letters across the image, work wonders. People want to know what your post is about in one glance. Writing compelling titles is already important for SEO, so dust up those skills and get them to use for Pinterest!

Another important factor of getting seen is collaborating with others in group boards. By pinning your content to group boards, your content will be seen by the others who contribute to the board.

But balance is key: don’t just pin from your own website. Repin as well. Don’t be afraid to repin a blog post from a competitor if it fits one of your boards. For example: one of my best performing boards is about self-care. I have only written two blog posts on this subject yet, but funny enough, these two blog posts generate the most traffic to my blog.

There’s no easy fix to gain visitors fast. It’s much like Google, Facebook or your other sources of traffic: you need to solve a problem for you visitor by creating content your visitors are looking for.

Read more: ‘Blogging: the ultimate guide’ »

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