Everyone has advice.
I believe most people dishing out blogging information mean well. If their info is bad, often it’s worked for them at a particular time but may not work for everyone. I’m sure stuff that I write about on this blog that works for me doesn’t work for everyone.
On the balance, I’ve benefitted plenty from information revealed by other people.
That said, I’ve followed some bad information too. I should say information that didn’t work for me (or worse, hindered my progress).
Today I wallow in the positive, setting out the best advice I’ve read and followed when it comes to blogging.
Table of Contents
- 1. Target long tail keywords
- 2. Image SEO
- 3. Update/improve old content
- 4. Outsource as much as possible
- 5. Switch to Kinsta hosting
- 6. Get a second monitor
- 7. Switch to MyThemeShop themes
- 8. Diversify revenue streams
- 9. Write good article intros
- 10. Go deep into topics (when it the topic works)
- 11. Publish a lot of content
- 12. Avoid gray hat SEO (on sites that matter)
- 13. Use Ahrefs
- 14. Focus on important tasks first
- 15. Don’t jump around from idea to idea
1. Target long tail keywords
I know guys who go after big keywords only. They hope to hit a few and get piles of traffic. It works for them.
Me, I take the opposite approach. I look for low competition, long tail keywords and craft content around them. It’s worked really well for me for years. That’s not to say I won’t swing for the fences once in a while going after big, competitive keywords. I do that, but my focus with most content is long tail.
I’d rather a sure thing of 150 visits per month than a slim chance at 20,000 monthly visits.
If I were a link builder, I’d swing for the fences, but I’m not. I publish, blast to social media and move on. If Google ranks it, great. While I don’t rank #1 for everything (that would be sweet), I do get traffic to a lot of my content from search engines. The traffic distribution across my content is pretty good. In other words, I don’t have 20 articles pulling in 80% of my traffic. Instead, I have hundreds of articles all pulling in some traffic. There are hundreds more pulling in very little, but that’s not uncommon. The point is a lot of articles pull in okay traffic.
My course deep-dives into several long tail keyword research methods.
2. Image SEO
Image SEO sucks. It’s tedious and boring. It’s tempting to skip it. I used to skip it. That was a rookie mistake.
I get a lot of traffic to my sites via image searches and that’s because I take time to write detailed alternative text write-ups as well as optimize file sizes. I also often add image captions.
Have you ever described 50 images? It’s BOOOOOOORING. It’s easily outsourced, but I’ve done my share over the years.
In the long run, image SEO for visual niche sites has served me well. I recommend it.
3. Update/improve old content
About a year ago when I read about updating old content, I thought it a waste of time. I was maniacal about publishing as much new content as possible. I definitely missed the forest from the trees.
The more I read about, discussed it with colleagues and thought about it, the more the practice made sense to me. Now I put almost as much time and resources into updating old content as I do publishing new content.
Here’s what sold me on the benefit of updating/improving old content, particularly content that is getting some search traffic. If a piece of content is getting some search traffic, it’s aged, has a few links maybe and has some authority. It’s theoretically faster to leverage that URL up to rank for more keywords than ranking for keywords in a brand new article.
Once that concept sank in, I was off to the races updating and improving older content. Moreover, usually, it’s less work and cost to update than to publish something entirely new.
There are other benefits
4. Outsource as much as possible
On the flip side, doing everything yourself is tough. Yes, when you start it’s all you. However, when you can hire someone or a writing agency, do so. Even if it’s for part of the work. As your business grows, outsource more.
For example, today I published 14 articles across all my niche sites in 4 hours. In total, that’s about 20,000 words of content. It works out to 3.5 articles per hour or 1 article ever 17 minutes. I could never do that if I didn’t have the articles written, formatted and uploaded into my sites with the help of this agency. Actually, once I publish this article, it makes 15 for the day.
If I wrote and formatted everything, I’d be lucky to get one to two published today.
Now I understand when starting out you don’t have the budget. I get that. I didn’t for years. But as soon as I did have extra money, it all went into hiring people to write content for my niche sites.
5. Switch to Kinsta hosting
I’ve had quite the website hosting journey over the years. I started with Bluehost, which served me well for several years. Once I hit 500K monthly page views I switched to Synthesis, which has since been acquired by WPEngine. Speaking of WPEngine, I went there next followed by Siteground and finally to Kinsta. I’ve been with Kinsta since moving to them 1.5 years ago and couldn’t be happier.
My sites have never loaded so fast. I’ve had no security issues. Their 24/7 live chat support has saved my bacon many times and has solved all kinds of website technical issues.
FYI, Gael at AuthorityHacker.com told me about Kinsta. I’m glad he did.
6. Get a second monitor
I got a second monitor back in my lawyering days. I found it so helpful that I bought second monitors for every person in the office. If ever I hire employees in a physical office, they will have 2 to 3 monitors. You can get so much more done with multiple monitors. Some estimate a second monitor increases productivity 35%. I think it’s more than that. I suspect there are diminishing returns with a third monitor.
My current set up is a MacBook Pro laptop (I discuss Mac vs PC for blogging here) that connects to a 32″ inch monitor. I love the big monitor because I can sit back comfortably and not strain to read it. I used to have 3 monitors which was fantastic. I moved offices and switched to Mac and hence haven’t bothered to get the other monitor connected.
7. Switch to MyThemeShop themes
Most bloggers who have been around the block a few times have tried umpteen themes. I used to swap out themes like I do t-shirts. It was a huge waste of time. Some new theme would come out and I’d spend a day changing my sites to it just because it was a bright, new shiny theme.
These days I stick with MyThemeShop themes exclusively. Every site I operate uses MyThemeShop. They load fast, are simple to use and look good. I don’t mind that they don’t have all the bells and whistles. Usually, a plugin can provide any extra functionality I want (even then, I minimize plugins as well).
There are big benefits to having all your sites on the same theme. Once I get all the custom CSS and plugins set up the way I want on one site, making those tweaks on additional sites takes just a few minutes. I don’t have to learn multiple themes. Overall, it’s far more efficient to run all sites on the same theme.
8. Diversify revenue streams
I’m not as diversified as I should be. It’s hard because my main business is publishing niche sites which are monetized mostly with display ads. The display ad industry is largely controlled by Google. Therefore, even though I use this premium ad network, much of their ad inventory is via Google.
That said, I do earn an okay amount from a variety of affiliate programs and course sales on this site. That’s kinda diversified… but if ever I lose my AdSense account, it’ll hurt.
The perfect balance for me would be 50/50 between display ads and affiliate commissions. As you can see in my income reports, I’m nowhere near that.
9. Write good article intros
It’s rare a hired writer pens a great intro. Usually, it’s fluff. It drives me nuts.
I think intros are important. I like personalizing them and/or putting in some interesting facts or stats to get the reader’s attention.
My most successful articles have great intros. I put time into them, more often than not personalizing them with anecdotes or personal experiences.
It’s easy to do and usually worthwhile.
10. Go deep into topics (when it the topic works)
The more I build out my niche sites, the more convinced I am that going after long tail keyword topics and writing in-depth on those topics is the way to go. As Google search continues to serve up content to meet search intent, the better the long tail performs.
What do I mean by that?
Here’s an example. Suppose I write an in-depth article on the history of the Nike Air Jordan sneaker. In the past, that article could rank for “Nike Air Jordan sneaker” but it is likely not what most searchers want. When people search a product, they are looking to buy the product, not learn about its history.
These days, Google search is pretty sophisticated and likely wouldn’t rank the history of the Nike Air Jordan sneaker no matter how good it is and how many inbound links it has.
Long tail keywords solve that because the content aligns with the targeted keyword which aligns with search intent.
11. Publish a lot of content
Because I target long tail keywords that don’t have all that much search volume, I must publish a lot of content in order to get a lot of traffic. I’m fine with that. It’s just a numbers game which fortunately works out economically in the long run.
If I published just one article per site per month, growth would be very slow.
If I publish 75 articles per month across my niche sites, growth is fast.
I typically publish more content on higher earning sites because those sites can finance the content. As newer sites’ revenue grows, I can reinvest in more content.
In fact, getting a site to be self-financing is a huge step.
What do I mean by self-financing?
Suppose a good budget for content for a site is $1,000 per month. That’s 10+ decent articles. The self-financing point is when the site earns $1,000 per month. At that point I’m no longer out of pocket and now have an asset worth $30,000+. With luck over time, the revenue will out-earn the content budget which then becomes a nice cash cow (as well as a valuable asset).
12. Avoid gray hat SEO (on sites that matter)
What is gray hat SEO?
It’s link building. It’s often confused with blackhat. I consider blackhat SEO to be on the illegal side involving hacking sites.
Gray hat is not illegal but plays fast and loose with Google TOS.
The problem with link building via guest posts is Google isn’t clear as to whether it’s forbidden or okay or what. Generally, most site publishers don’t suffer any penalties from guest posting and other outreach type link building so I suppose it’s okay. I don’t bother because there is a risk and it takes up a lot of resources.
13. Use Ahrefs
Looking back, I didn’t use any keyword research tool for years. It cost me dearly. I just made up topics in my head. Many blog posts were very similar to one another.
Signing up and using Ahrefs was a game-changer my niche site’s search traffic. I’ve uncovered thousands of amazing keywords that aren’t terribly competitive.
Ahrefs has helped me find excellent article topics that turned into huge series of articles. I’ve been able to deep-dive into many topics across my niche sites.
All-in-all, Ahrefs is a terrific resource that I use daily.
14. Focus on important tasks first
What’s an important task?
For me, it’s work that generates the most money. For my sites it’s content. For my business, it’s content on my most profitable site.
This means I spend the first two to three hours of every day on my biggest site – most of that time spent adding and updating content.
After that, I attend to my lower-earning websites.
At least 80% of my week is spent on getting content published. It includes editing, writing, keyword research and issuing instructions to writers. The goal is to get as much excellent content published as possible each and every day. Content brings home the bacon so it’s what I focus on.
15. Don’t jump around from idea to idea
If you’ve chosen your online business model and it’s one that is proven to work and you like it, don’t jump around because you don’t have results inside 3 months.
I knew niche site publishing was for me when I learned about it. While I’ve strayed from it here and there, in recent years it’s been my focus through plateaus, challenging times and good times.
It’s probably not the most lucrative online business model. E-commerce probably is. However, I like publishing info-based sites and I’m not bad at it, so I stick with it.
If you like blogging and see the potential, stick with it. Don’t jump to something else after 3 months. However, be honest. If you don’t like it, you won’t stick with it. You need to like this stuff.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.