Are you interested in guest post blogging? And, are you keen on starting your own blog? Or, are you keen on reaching out to existing bloggers to find a home for your content?
There is merit to both options. However, the salient points of this discussion include the setting up of a blog as well as content publication on the blog that you have set up.
Lee Odden, the author of the book titled “Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing,” confirms, in the quotation highlighted above, that content is the foundation or key aspect of the successful digital marketing strategy.
In other words, the publication of content, content marketing, and guest post blogging form the cornerstone of a successful digital marketing strategy. However, the caveat here is that the content published must be high-quality, authoritative, syntactically correct, and related to the topic and keywords or anchor texts.
Ryan Robinson, in his article titled, “Guest Blogging 101: How to Guest Blog Post (for SEO and Traffic) in 2020,” notes that over 70 000 blog posts are published every month. While on the one hand, this figure infers that, with the high volume of blog posts posted every month, it is becoming increasingly competitive to grow and retain a broad audience, this number demonstrates that blogging is still one of the most important tools in the SEO or digital marketer’s toolbox.
And, this argument provides the raison d’etre for starting a blog. Thus, the question that begs is, “how do you start a blog?”
Blogging 101: The difference between a blog and a website
Before we answer this question, let’s consider the fundamental difference between a blog and a website:
In summary, a blog is a website or a type of website. However, there are a few subtle but significant differences between the two. It is vital to note, at this juncture, that many brand websites now include a blog, so it is essential not to get confused between a stand-alone blog and a brand or company website that has a blog linked to it.
Consequently, here is a list of some of the differences between a blog and a website:
- A website’s content tends to be static, while a blog’s content is dynamic.
- Blog content is in the form of blog posts that are listed in date order from the latest to the earliest.
- A website, on the other hand, is a collection of web pages that are collated together under one domain. And, it is brand specific.
- Different websites have different purposes. Private individuals, businesses, NGOs, and governments publish websites advertising their goods and services. Under normal circumstances, these do not change very much; hence, why the website contains static content.
- A blog’s content, on the other hand, changes all the time. The bogger or blog owner publishes new content regularly. Some of the larger blogs publish several new articles per day.
Blogging in the post-modern world, or post-digitalage
The online world has changed substantially from its early days, where scientists and the American military primarily used it. It is hard to pin the Internet or the World Wide Web’s development on a single person. Even Andrews, in his article “Who Invented the Internet?” states that the Internet “was the work of dozens of pioneering scientists, programmers, and engineers who each developed new features and technologies that eventually merged to become the “information superhighway” we know today.”
Before the first working iterations of the Internet and the technologies to build it existed, many scientists were pondering the concept of the World Wide Web. Nikola Tesla first considered the idea of a “world wireless system” at the beginning of the twentieth century. And, “visionary thinkers like Paul Otlet and Vannevar Bush conceived of mechanized, searchable storage systems of books and media in the 1930s and 1940s.”
The first operational model of the Internet, known as ARPANET, was released in the late 1960s. The US Department of Defense initially funded it. ARPANET used packet switching, or the movement of small blocks of data in a row one behind each other, as its method of transport to communicate between computers on a network.
As the technology that undergirded the modern Internet continued to develop, researchers continued to build on ARPANET’s foundations. 1983 was a watershed year for the development of the Internet. ARPANET adopted TCP/IP and, in essence, the platform for the modern Internet was laid. Finally, the World Wide Web, as we know it today, was developed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990.
At this juncture, it is worth highlighting that the phrase “World Wide Web” describes an “information system where documents and other web resources are identified by…URLs…which may be interlinked by hypertext and are accessible over the Internet.”
The next notable development in all things Internet was the start of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). This phrase was coined in 2016 by Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. He had this to say about the 4IR:
“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.”
Technologies that are part of this new revolution include the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, WIFI and cellular technologies like the development of 5G, autonomous vehicles, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, robots, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and 3D printers.
The speed at which the technological breakthroughs are occurring “has no historical president.” Schwab goes onto to state that4IR is disrupting every industry with profound results that include the transformation of entire manufacturing production lines and business processes, management styles and competencies, and the way governments govern countries.
“The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited.”
Thus, the question that must be asked and answered is what impact will the Fourth Industrial Revolution have on the development of blogs and blogging in general?
Simply stated, the answer to this question includes the following points:
The development of sustainable, affordable Internet access by 2022 is one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Should this target be achieved, the increase in the global audience that has access to the Internet will translate growth in the size of your blog’s possible target audience.
The development in computer server technologies as well as the cloud have created, and continue to create, the opportunities for bloggers to develop blogs using high-resolution images as part of the blog’s infrastructure as well as in blog posts.
Google’s ranking algorithms
The developments in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning have allowed Google to improve their indexing and ranking algorithms and to sort through their search results. Their latest algorithm is known as RankBrain.
At this juncture, it’s vital to note that Google does not release propriety information on how their indexing and ranking algorithms work. However, they do release some information to SEO experts like those working for Search Engine Land; thus, much of what stated about a particular algorithm is a combination of intelligent guesswork, knowledge of these algorithms work, and information from Google.
Therefore, let’s consider what we do know about RankBrain and how it affects search results.
Succinctly stated, the more we know about how Google ranks website content and blog posts on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), we will build our blog according to SEO best practices.
Search Engine Land defines RankBrain as a “machine-learning artificial intelligence system that’s used to help process its search results.” Google’s search algorithm is known as Hummingbird and RankBrain is part of Hummingbird.
As an aside, Google uses indexing algorithms known as web crawlers to “gather information from across hundreds of billions of webpages and organize it in the Search index.”
How do these web crawlers’ function?
All websites and web pages are linked together by URLs. The web crawlers crawl through all of the sites using sitemaps provided by website owners. As the crawlers visit websites, they use the links on known pages to discover new pages and sites. According to Google, these crawlers pay particular “attention to new sites, changes to existing sites, and dead links.” And, in layman’s terms, Google builds a big, interlinked site index by using anchor texts and keywords that are linked to URLs of other websites and pages.
Blogging 101: A step-by-step guide to starting a blog
Now that we have gained an insight into the differences between blogs and websites, how the Internet or World Wide Web functions, and what the impact the Fourth Industrial Revolution is on blogging in the twenty-first century, let’s now work through a step-by-step guide to starting a blog.
Decide on a name and niche
This step forms a vital part of the blog-development process. The blog’s name should be relevant to its target niche.
For example, if you are interested in developing a blog that targets the content writing industry, a name could be something along the line of www.firecrabwords.com.
Additionally, let’s assume you are interested in writing a tech blog; the name www.hotfrogoriginals.com is not a proper name. The name Hot Frog Originals is better suited to a blog about any one of the creative niches like arts and crafts, handmade items, or interior design.
These names are just examples for the purposes of this content, nothing more.
Register the domain and sign up for web hosting
Once you have decided on a domain (blog) name, the next step is to sign up with one of the web hosting companies open for business. If you don’t know where to find one, the best thing to do is to Google “Web hosting companies,” and the businesses closest to your location will display on the SERP.
What is web hosting?
The way to get your blog online is to sign up with a web hosting company as well as selecting the blogging platform you will use. The web hosting company will store your blog on their servers and make it accessible to both the world and you.
You can theoretically buy a web server and host your blog yourself. However, this is not advisable as computer hardware specialists and cybersecurity experts are needed to keep web servers up and running 24/7 and, equally importantly, keeping the site secure and hackproof. You do not want hackers to break into your site under any circumstances.
How do you register a domain name?
Several essential tips should be followed when registering a domain name. Here is a list of the most critical points:
A website, or blog name, consists of two components: the name, and the domain name extension. The extension identifies what kind of website it is. Some of the common extensions include, .com, .org, .net, .edu, and .gov. The most frequently used domain extensions are .com and .net. They are used by businesses and individuals trying to expand their global reach. And, as an aside, a .com extension is the most valuable extension when considering guest post blogging opportunities.
The Name: length and meaning
At the outset of this discussion, it is vital to note that a domain name must be short, meaningful, and unmistakable.
The domain name must reflect your blog’s niche. If we take the first example, firecrabwords.com highlighted above. This is a domain name for a content writing and guest post blog. The “firecrab” in the title is the brand name, and the second part “words” relates to the niche the blog is in.
Before registering a domain, it is vital to check whether the name already exists. Products like the Godaddy whois will very quickly tell you. Hosting companies also offer alternative names should yours already be taken.
If your chosen name has already been taken, you can add a modifier. If we look at the example of firecrabwords.com again, the brand name “firecrab” was already taken. Therefore, the business owner added the relevant modifier “words” to the domain name.
Set up the blog
Once you have chosen and registered your domain name as well as signed with a web hosting company, the next step is to install a blogging platform. The most common blogging platform is WordPress. WordPress is free to use and free to customize, And, there are lots of existing free templates available on the Internet for you to upload to your blog.
It is vital to note, however, that when designing your blog’s template or uploading an existing template to your blog’s web hosting platform, that you need to comply with SEO best practices. Otherwise, Google will not rank your blog as highly as it should. In other words, Google takes the following details into account when crawling through your blog:
- The speed at which the blog loads
- The content must be relevant to its niche. And, each blog post must be relevant to its topic or title.
- External links in each blog post must be related to the topic. For example, it is not wise to write a blog post on the importance of content marketing and link to a website that sells little black dresses. There is no apparent connection between the blog post topic and the linking URL.
- Images on posts must not be too big in that their loading speed is important.
- How usable or user-friendly is the blog?
And, according to Ryan Robinson, even though you might not consider the importance of developing a usable and user-friendly blog, a 2012 research study conducted by Google and the University of Basel discovered that “that users judge a website’s aesthetic beauty and perceived functionality in 1/20th — 1/50th of a second.”
And, due to something known as the Halo Effect or psychological bias, users will decide whether to stay on your blog or move off it within this short time frame. Thus, “in less time it takes to snap your fingers, readers decide whether or not to trust your blog.”
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Once you have set up your blog, the next step is to write authoritative, high-quality blog posts that are relevant to your blog. It is also essential to add at least two topic-related authority backlinks to each blog post. This will help cement your blog as an authority in its niche, and Google will add the value of these links to your ranking statistics.