Let’s face it. You have an audience out there. Getting a larger audience for your blog is a slow, gradual process—I only have a small lot of you! But as a freelancer, I’ve been on and off in the marketing game, optimizing blogs and their contents for higher search results in Google. Although no one has it down to a science, implementing SEO (search engine optimization) tricks is a vital step to making sure your blog doesn’t go down in Google’s gutter.
I normally focus on productivity, the creative process, and writing in writing these how-to articles. But every now and again, it’s important to turn away from the copy of Hemingway, face the overwhelming sea of audience members, and consider what they want from your blog. Here are some SEO tips and tricks to consider as you develop your content plan (and yes, you should have one!).
1. You Don’t Have Anything Useful on Your Blog
Example: You have posts like “Weekends on the Oceanside” and “Lemon Twists and Raspberries,” but none that help your audience in any way whatsoever.
It’s tough when you’re a creative writer because you’ll often produce work that is intrinsic. It’s not a stepping stone for people to get anywhere—it’s supposed to be enjoyed, savored. And that’s awesome. But what will get readers to your blog? Listicles. What else? Listicles upon listicles. Why? They’re easy to read and take virtually no time to skim through.
Some examples of listicles from my own blog are “3 Surprising Sources of Inspiration for Your Writing” and “In the Artistic Trenches: 3 Ways to Be Creative Daily“.
Listicle titles ideally include prime numbers (humans, for whatever reason, “prefer” these). They’ll use words like tips, hints, ways, reasons why, etc. They will have a key phrase: in my examples, these would be “sources of inspiration for writing” and “ways to be creative daily,” and the key phrase will be repeated 3-4 times in the body of your post. They will be between 600-900 words in length, well researched, and include links to other posts on your blog. SEO optimized posts aren’t exclusively listicles either—as long as your post incorporates the elements described above, it should be good to go.
It seems boring. It probably will be. But your readership will thank you for it.
SEO Optimized Post Titles: “5 Ways to Use Descriptive Vocabulary in Short Stories” or “5 Unknown Tips for Writing Better Poetry”
2. Visually, Your Blog is Comparable to Original Flavored Oatmeal
I think this sort of goes without saying. I have always thought that the visual presentation of reading material was important. When people were advising me not to judge books by covers, I scoffed and told them I definitely would judge it by the cover. How you present the material is kind of like your opinion about it. If a waiter brings you a scratched up plate with burnt eggs and a sparse portion fried potatoes, you also kind of judge the way the restaurant represents itself, right? Your audience members are your diners in a restaurant. And if doesn’t look appealing, they definitely will not be coming back.
When I see blogs where there was little CSS styling done with stretched out, pixelated images and an outdated website layout, I shamelessly walk away. On WordPress, a domain is pretty cheap—just 100 dollars annually. This is a small price to pay considering you also get CSS styling tips that allows you to practically design your website completely.
The color scheme should fit the tone of your content, and you should always have at least one compelling image, ideally several, for each post.
3. Your Posts are Published at a Reasonable time in… China
WordPress. Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. Each of these have their own “peak traffic times” for many different reasons. But here’s what you can rule out: posting in the middle of the night. And as a night owl, trust me, I have made this mistake, snuggled up in bed hoping I’d see likes and comments in the morn’, waking to find a resounding nothing. The ideal posting time for blogs is the following:
- Mondays at 11am for more views
- Saturdays at 9am for more comments
- And if you’re going to post outside of these time ranges, just don’t post before 6am or after 6pm.
I have a few closing remarks. All of the posts on your blog don’t have to be fine tuned for SEO success. The idea is to have at least one or two a week that a) are posted at peak times, b) meet SEO writing requirements, and c) are visually engaging and appealing. Although you may feel like you only want to service your creativity on your blog, I’m sure your flash fiction, poetry, and memoirs will thank you for the company.
Melanie Falconer is a freelance writer and editor living in Los Angeles, California. Her writing mainly concerns philosophy, personal experiences, cultural commentary, and her love of the visual and performing arts. If you’d like to reach out to her, you can do so here.