For the past 3 years, I was already used to the term blogging and in fact, I came into contact with one tip or another other about “how to start a successful blog” without giving a single thought to common SEO errors – or even SEO in general.
Convinced that knew enough to start my own blog, I took a bold step and purchased a domain after picking the niche my blog is going to focus on.
Picking a niche wasn’t actually a problem, because I settled for what I naturally had interest in for a very long time now.
Also, my knowledge on this subject matter was enough to establish me as a thought leader to the audience in this niche.
A popular saying goes like this, “If you are doing what you like doing, then it will be fun to you, and not like some other work” [Paraphrased].
Picking a niche is very important and this article on micro-niche websites explains why.
After choosing my niche, getting a domain name, finding top WordPress web hosting for bloggers, I thought my worries were gone.
I thought what I needed to just worry about was how to be consistent with the post I make available to my audience. That shouldn’t be a problem, because I love writing (wink wink).
Every blogger knows about SEO and the usual jargon hovering the cyber-space about it.
We all know performing SEO on a blog will increase search engine visibility, consequently influencing the amount of organic traffic your blog will get.
In addition, I also knew of simple tasks like image optimization, writing anchor text for outbound and inbound links, making sure the blog is mobile-friendly and responsive, etc.
However, understanding the technical part of SEO was unknown to me, and then I needed to solve it.
This was the problem I faced: SEO issues always popped up at different times and it was as though it was all planned in a bid to frustrate my blogging effort!
I rarely throw in the towel, in fact, let me say it in simple terms: I DON”T GIVE UP.
I needed to solve these issues because of the benefit attached to them if I can solve them. But, the ‘how’ was the problem. How to detect these issues.
“The day you stop learning is the day you stop living”.
This phrase is absolutely correct.
I got to know about these issues while I was reading several blog posts on SEO authority websites like this one.
I also got to know about some through my Google Search Console account.
Let’s dive into the SEO river!
Now, I felt keywords weren’t necessary because of the conflicting information that I got online about keywords. Once, I read a blog post where it was suggested that Google no longer checks keywords before your blog can get ranked.
Besides, alongside keywords optimization, experts keep clamoring on writing naturally and let everything flow without any distraction. As a result of this, whenever I finish writing my post, it is ‘naturally optimized for the wrong keywords.
For instance, if my post is on digital marketing and maybe how it is essential for businesses. Best believe that the phrase “digital marketing” will be mentioned a lot in this post, hence acting as the keyword. However, if you input this keyword as a search query into Google and scrutinize the result, what did you see? Yea, you saw those big blogs? They have taken it all. Well, technically, not all.
Now, don’t get this wrong- while writing naturally, I tend to use short-tail keywords that are very competitive and which a lot of big guns are already ranking for. To be sincere, I have no chance against these folks at all. They have been around for a long time and deserve whatever position they are occupying on SERP.
Hence, since my blog posts are already ranking for competitive keywords, a competition I can’t envisage winning at all, as a result, I hardly get any traffic from search engines.
I learned the hard way because I have wasted a good amount of my time writing articles that people hardly get to read. As a matter of urgency, I had to do something about this issue. Off I went to Ubersuggest and Keyword tool, combining these tools, I was able to get some keywords suggestion based on that initial keyword I used. These keywords are called ‘Long-tail keywords’, and they are often less competitive. What did I do?
I picked these suggestions with enough search volume and sprinkled it all over that particular blog post. The logic behind this is, getting ranked for many less competitive keywords. For example, if the competitive keyword has about 300,000 searches per month, and I have 15 long-tail keywords that have about 3,000 searches in a month. I think what I will get is fair. Also, with time, I will start ranking for the competitive keywords too, as that post becomes more popular.
A Win-Win situation for me.
Google Chrome specifically, now marks site without an SSL certificate as unsecure. Aside from that, there are speculations flying about that these also have an effect on site rankings. In fact, Google stated it directly to webmasters that HTTPS is now used as a ranking factor.
I followed these instructions and purchased an SSL certificate through my hosting company (which later gave me another set of problems). After purchasing this SSL certificate I was happy, but this happiness was short-lived when I discovered that users can access my blog using: “https://www.”, “https://”, “http://www.”, “http://”. If you don’t know the implication of this, I will tell you. It simply means that Google will distribute my site authority among these domains, thereby reducing my growth rate to a great extent.
Besides, my content may be seen as duplicate content by search engines, which is true. The sad news is, I will get punished for this too. How worse can it be? Losing out on equities and getting punished again? Hell No! I didn’t want that, so I went in search of a solution. On this quest, I learned the simple thing to do is just to put a 301 redirect on all other versions to one particular one. This guide showed me how to do it, including screenshots and a short video.
Afterward, I was able to redirect the other versions to the “https://” version which was what I needed anyway. Then, I headed to my Search Console account and requested the pages to be re-crawled and indexed again.
AMP are cached pages Google shows to users who got your site as one of the results for their search queries. Is AMP really worth it? These versions are usually very fast and responsive too, hence, it is advisable everyone implements these for their blogs.
Luckily, I use WordPress and there are tons and tons of plugins that can successfully pull this off for me. Personally, I use AMP for WP – Accelerated Mobile Pages and it has been working fine for me. You don’t necessarily have to use this, there are other good ones you can pick from as well.
Now, I am rest assured the version mobile search users are seeing is well optimized and safe for my SEO.
It was a new blog with very little content ready to be published, so I opted for shared hosting (the lowest plan actually). Normally, this shouldn’t be an issue since I didn’t even have any traffic on the blog yet.
Understandably, I knew the only way around this was to upgrade my plan and create a free CloudFlare account to host my blog across different strategic locations. Fortunately, when I did this, I noticed significant changes in the site speed (it was still a shared hosting account, but a much higher plan with more allocation- according to them). Testing it with Google PageSpeed Insight showed the speed lag as a result of host response has reduced.
Moreover, out of insincerity on the part of my host provider, they secretly shut down the server whenever I am presumably asleep creating a high downtime rate. I tried changing host but I couldn’t because I purchased the SSL certificate through them, and they are not ready to issue any refund.
Actually, I got a new host, transferred my domain to them, but the SSL certificate wasn’t there. The implication is that everywhere I have posted my links as “https://” will start showing error since it no longer exists. Hence, I had to move back to my former host and upgraded the plan.
Sitemaps, once placed on a website, make it easy for search engines to crawl your pages faster. In essence, the risk of the bots not crawling some of your pages is reduced unless you specifically gave the instruction in the robot.txt file.
I used this tool to generate a XML sitemap for free and thereafter, uploaded it to my Google search console immediately. Pretty easy!
Although, this list is not exhaustive enough to cover all SEO errors you might encounter as a blogger. These few ones were peculiar to me and I was able to solve them by myself, even though I was a newbie. Though technical, still easy to maneuver.
I hope this article prepares you for the kinds of SEO problems you should expect and how you can solve them without any external help.