SEO Blogging – 30 Days in
The Internet is littered with abandoned blogs containing a few heartfelt posts from people who thought they wanted to write on the web. It’s also littered with WordPress blogs that never made it past the first pre-set post…a plaintive “Hello World.”
Today marks the 30 day anniversary of this blog. We’ve also surpassed the 1000 unique visitor mark. That milestone was reached a few days ago. I’m glad to be back blogging on a regular basis. I procrastinated a return for months after my real estate blog ended because I know from experience how difficult the first 30 days are.
Mark Ijlal recently wrote a post about how hard the first thirty days of any marketing campaign is.
Although you may not say it aloud to anybody (team member, business partner, co-worker, significant other) but a little voice in your head may say “Hey are you sure this is the right thing? Are you not wasting time here? WTF nothing is happening here?”
I know I have said that to myself many times five years ago when I started writing my first business blog (today is its birthday; it turned 5) there were days during the first month where I was the only one writing and reading it. Granted the writing was pretty crappy but still y’know… it broke my heart. I was expecting fireworks and the skies opening up for me.
Mark makes some good points about expectations, but I submit after 30 days of blogging one shouldn’t expect nothing, one should expect to have some good content they can now promote. There’s a few other things to expect as well. Let’s talk about that in a little bit.
I was reviewing the numbers for my real estate blog. In the first month, September 2006, I had 368 unique visitors. Probably half of them were me. I also promoted the heck out of that site. I began with six or seven articles and then found other sites on the same topic, or discussion boards and shared links. Then I’d go back and write another article. As soon as I was done, I’d promote it. After all that work, 368 visitors…maybe. But I kept at it because I knew I would be successful. Here’s how the first 12 months turned out:
For this blog, I adopted a different strategy. Sure the fundamentals remain the same; content is King, links are Queen, but tools exist today that didn’t exist (in a meaningful way) three years ago. I’m talking about Facebook and Twitter.
While traffic is important for a blog, blogging is not about traffic, it’s about building relationships. Mark says don’t expect anything in the first 30 days, I think you should. You should expect to build three important relationships during the first 30 days of blogging.
1. A relationship with the search engines. You can accomplish this by testing your keywords in various titles. You also need to have that initial discussion with the search engines telling them you exist and to come visit your site. There are many ways to do this. I use trackbacks. Within 30 days you will see traffic coming in from search engines. That’s how you know the relationship is working.
2. A relationship with a mentor. If you develop that relationship with the search engines, a person qualified to be your mentor will soon present themselves. Let me define mentor real quickly. I’m not talking about someone who’s out there to hold your hand and give you advice on every move you make. I’m talking about someone who currently is what you’re looking to become. Someone who has the experience you lack for your particular business and is willing to share information. This person also has connections and they will open your mind to new ideas and new technology. When I started real estate blogging, that person for me was Pat Kitano. He was the first person to write a favorable review of my site. He suggested using Facebook when it first opened up to non-college students. He included me in new web ventures. When I joined Twitter, he was the first one I followed and he was the first person to wish me success for this blog.
Mark seems to be my go to guy for this blog. I joined his group on Facebook and commented on an article he wrote. He’s given me a lot of great ideas I’ve been able to implement already and you’ll see me link to him quite a bit. Andy Sernovitz is another person I’m quite impressed with. I’ve read his book and seen him speak in person. With Facebook and Twitter it’s a lot easier to follow him and get good ideas.
If you’ve been blogging for 30 days and a web mentor hasn’t found you, go out and find one yourself.
3. A relationship with your community – When you blog, you insert yourself into the web eco-system. How you participate will determine the type and size of community that grows around you. The building block of the community rests in how often you post. Someone who posts more frequently will develop more return visitors which increases your chances of comments, links and customers. Consistency is key.
The second building block of community is comments. How hard is it to post a comment on your site? Do you delete spam? Are captchas enabled? Do you welcome comments? Do you respond to comments? Do you respond to emails or questions in a timely manner?
Your participation in the community is the third building block. Do you visit your neighbors? Do you comment on their blogs? Do you link to them? Whenever I check a keyword, I look around at the other search engine results. I learn a lot that way. If I like it, I bookmark it for reference or to link back to in a future post. I love looking at the blog search results. These are your web neighbors. Take a look at what they’re offering. They may want to share. Participate in blog carnivals, link to other sites and you’ll establish yourself as a good neighbor in your little niche on the web.
If you don’t see some sort of community developing on your site in the first 30 days, you need to take the right steps to change that vibe.
The first thirty days of blogging are definitely the most difficult. If you’ve reached this milestone and are still writing, congratulations! At this early point traffic shouldn’t be the measure of your success. If you’ve laid the proper framework for your site, you should be seeing search engine referrals, help from outside sources and a growing sense of community.
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