Web Publishing Notes (February 2019 Roundup)

Can’t believe it’s March already! Throughout February, I’ve been taking notes of interesting posts in industry blogs that I follow. Time to share seven of these posts here today – along with my notes.

1. Here’s What We Learned From 50 of the Most Popular Blogs

The lastest post by CMI is a review of 50 popular blogs, including BusinessInsider.com, TMZ.com and LiveScience.com. They say they were chosen for quality and volume but don’t supply metrics beyond that.

So, what did they learn? Here’s a quick recap –

  • Effective navigation – including on mobile – is important.
  • Sites do well with fresh news content.
  • Taxonomy counts: Posts should be categorized and tagged.
  • It’s good to reuse content and supplement the blog with podcast episodes, Youtube videos or social media posts.
  • You should use clickbait headlines (and then deliver the goods).
  • Interact with your audience and colleagues in the comments section
  • Bring a personal touch (like lifestyle bloggers do).

My take:

This is a nice recap of some good practices. Their mix of blogs includes sites which I would call “news sites” rather than blogs so I think this is a little skewed in that direction. The most important take for niche blogs/sites here is the need for a good taxonomy and well-crafted titles.

2. 7 Easy SEO Hacks that Brought EPIC Results

This is actually a video and not a blog post (embedded further down this post). Jim Harmer from Income School lists seven fairly unique SEO tips. They include –

  1. The title for a guide should describe the post in a positive way (using words such as helpful/illustrated etc.) to increase CTR.
  2. In Google Analytics, check your popular pages and there search for “?s=” to see what people are searching for in your WordPress site.
  3. Stop displaying the year/date on the post by using this plugin.
  4. See what Google serves as results on vague general keywords and lump these together in one post with one comprehensive title.
  5. Break long posts into 2-3 pages.
  6. Use statements instead of questions in the title.
  7. Focus on micro searches first and bigger keywords later, so you can get high ranking (with very small traffic) to gain credibility with Google

My take –

Some very interesting hacks there. I really enjoyed that video, even though it’s a fairly mixed bag in terms of who should be using these techniques. For example, looking for “?s=” in Google Analytics is great for established sites with lots of traffic – but probably not newish ones. On the other hand, the 7th tip is really important when you’re launching a site, but not so much once your site is established and Google trusts it.

My favorite though is tip #4. Definitely going to give that one a whirl.

3. How I write Blog Posts

Darren Rowse from Problogger shared a post detailing his step-by-step method for writing a post. His steps include the following –

  1. Picking a topic
  2. Stopping to consider the reader
  3. Creating the headline
  4. Brainstorming and creating the outline.
  5. Re-assessing the outline
  6. Writing the intro
  7. Expanding the main points
  8. Writing the conclusion and call-to-action
  9. Reviewing the post and adding more depth
  10. Editing and proofreading

My take:

I appreciate the opportunity to peek over the shoulder of a fellow blogger. When creating a post, I have my own set of steps and it’s not very different from Darren’s.

I do a couple of things differently too and that’s ok. I don’t think we should all have the exact same process. Actually, I don’t think every post should be approached with the same process. Variety is not a bad thing.

4. How I SEO “category pages”

Jon from FatStacksBlog published several great posts this month, but I found the one about SEO’ing category pages particularly interesting.

The post describes using customized pages instead of the generic WordPress category pages. Using page builders, you can craft a category page that is better SEO’ed. These pages can be used to target “difficult” yet lucrative keywords. The downside is you’ll need to manually update those pages whenever there’s a new article.

My take:

I have actually done this with one of my blogs, albeit to a more limited extent. I used Elementor to design category pages but I don’t update them manually. Instead, I used an Elementor Pro element to embed the latest articles in a visually appealing way.

This is probably something I’ll try in more blogs as well they grow and have more posts.

5. What a Two-Tiered SERP Means for Content Strategy

An interesting observation by Will Critchlow MOZ in this post (backed up by their research). It’s actually a bit complicated, but I’ll try to sum this up in my own words (or you could go and read the original post, of course).

Essentially, you could divide Google’s first page results into two tiers. Places 1-5 are tier one and 6-10 are tier 2. According to Critchlow, domain authority plays a more important role in tier 2 than it does in tier 1. In other words, Google pays more attention to content and less to links where it comes to the top 5 search results.

My take:

This was interesting to read. Somewhat encouraging for me as I don’t do any active link building. Very advanced stuff though – as you would expect from Moz – and doesn’t make me change anything in my own gameplan.

6. 5 Ways to Fix Your Content, Increase Conversions, and Sell More

In a guest post in AMNavigator, Irina Linnik discusses five ways to increase conversion rates in ecommerce blogs. Her suggestions are –

  1. Use graphic buttons for your calls to action – not just text.
  2. Craft the text around your product, keeping it simple and informative while using the right keywords.
  3. Offer a concise value proposition (the actual value to your reader) in every product page.
  4. Make the offer personal by showing that you know your reader’s needs.
  5. Have a good checkout page that’s easy to follow.

My take:

While I have no e-commerce websites, I do my share of affiliate marketing in blog posts. The last suggestion isn’t really relevant for affiliate sites (other than to make sure you’re promoting a merchant with decent conversion rates). The first four are. I think I’m going to try the buttons – while using caution.

7. If I Had to Start All Over Again, I Would…

Neil Patel shares an interesting and somewhat personal post. He says that if he could go back in time and start over he would get jobs at digital businesses. Starting with small start-ups and moving on to larger and larger companies, for a total of nine years.

According to Patel, it’s best to first find mentors and learn from the experience of others – be it good or bad. Only then should you try heading your own business.

My take:

I’ve never been a huge Neil Patel fan but I thought this was an interesting post mainly because it’s surprising. There’s a lot I would have done differently if I had to start over again – but joining the corporate world for nine years? No way.

My working experience is limited to seven years in the military. From there, I left to start my own online business right away. However, I have enough friends who went the corporate route. Sorry, I don’t think I would have subjected myself to that work style.

I honestly can’t see how it would have helped me gain much. Sure, I could spend time developing some skills at someone else’s expense, but I don’t think it would have been worth the time invested.

Final words

I hope you found these interesting. I think there are some golden nuggets in these posts and hope that I’ll be able to test them myself.

Enjoy March, everyone!

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