Post updated Jan 13, 2016.
When it comes to blogging, everyone has to start somewhere.
At some point, we were all newbies, but the last thing you want to do is look like a newbie or make newbie errors.
1. Write Good Headlines
I can’t stress enough how important your headlines are. A headline can mean the difference between whether someone bothers to read your post or not. It can draw visitors to your site and it can drive them away.
People are busy! Only 2 out of 10 visitors will bother to read your full content. The rest will just scan over your copy or read through your headlines. You have about 10-30 seconds to grab their attention.
In fact, headlines are so vital that at least 50% of your writing energy should be channeled to your headlines and subheadings.
To save time, keep a set of headline templates on hand that have a proven track record in reaching readers, such as –
- List headlines: [X] ways to get this and that done.
- How-to headlines: How to do [X] in 2 weeks time
- Target audience focused headlines: Swine flu – What [target audience X} should know
- Treat headlines: [X] warning signs that your [x] sucks
- Secret revealed headlines: Secrets your doctors don’t tell you about [x]
2. Use a professional domain
If you’re serious about creating a professional looking blog, then you’ll want to self-host your blog on a paid domain. What does that mean?
A blog that is hosted on a free platform might have an address that looks like this:
On the other hand, a blog that is posted on a paid domain (self-hosted) looks like this:
The self-hosted domain has a couple of advantages. Not only does it look more professional, but the domain name is shorter and thus easier for visitors to remember.
If you want to stop looking like a newbie, then avoid the ugly URL by investing in a domain name and hosting space.
If you haven’t built your blog yet –
If you’ve not yet build a blog and are still in the beginning stages of blogdom, pick a shared hosting provider and host it yourself.
If you are already hosted on WordPress or a similar site –
Even if you are hosted on a free platform like WordPress.com, you can still easily avoid the ugly URL by forwarding the blog to your own domain.
Forwarding is a simpler process than it sounds like. It is also known as “domain mapping” at WordPress.com. You can find detailed instructions here.
3. Update your permalink structure
The second thing you’ll want to do that will keep you from looking like an amateur blogger is to update your permalink structure.
The permalink structure is quite simply the style of URL your WordPress blog creates when you publish a post or a page on your site.
The default permalink structure will create a URL that looks something like this:
I’m sure just looking at that link above, you think the same thing I do. It’s ugly, non-descriptive, and useless to your SEO effort. After all, who is going to search for “p=3”?
Instead of leaving the default permalink structure, you should change the permalinks before you ever publish your first post.
Don’t worry, though. If you already have a blog in place, WordPress will go back and fix the permalinks for you when you change the settings. It is best to change them from the beginning, but better late than never.
WordPress Permalink Structure Tag References
|%year%||The year of the post, four digits, for example 2004|
|%monthnum%||Month of the year, for example 05|
|%day%||Day of the month, for example 28|
|%hour%||Hour of the day, for example 15|
|%minute%||Minute of the hour, for example 43|
|%second%||Second of the minute, for example 33|
|%post_id%||The unique ID # of the post, for example 423|
|%postname%||A sanitized version of the title of the post (post slug field on Edit Post/Page panel). So “This Is A Great Post!” becomes this-is-a-great-post in the URI.|
|%category%||A sanitized version of the category name (category slug field on New/Edit Category panel). Nested sub-categories appear as nested directories in the URI.|
|%author%||A sanitized version of the author name.|
4. Customize your favicon
Another thing that separates experienced bloggers from newbies is the favicon. Some bloggers are too lazy to update their favicon or perhaps don’t realize they should change it.
Another reason to update your favicon is that some web hosts install their own favicon on all user accounts by default.
In recent years, people tend to open multiple tabs. Having a favicon that identifies your site has become vital so that browsers can quickly click back to your site and read the article that is pulled up in one of their tabs.
BlueHost, for example, does this all the time.
So, if you do not update your favicon, BlueHost’s favicon will appear instead. Site visitors will know who your host is and your site will look less professional and customized. It’s like you’re using another business’s logo as the sign you hang out in front of your place of business. Don’t you think it’s embarrassing?
Creating a favicon and uploading it to your blog is a simple little task that should take you five minutes to complete, so it is well worth the effort involved.
Simple ways to create your own favicon
How to upload the favicon can vary, depending on the version of WordPress and theme you are using. Some themes offer the ability to change the favicon within the theme itself, so check the settings on your theme first and see if you can upload the favicon there.
5. Optimize your title tags
To give you blog that winning edge, you’ll want to optimize your title tags. When it comes to SEO assets, your post title tag is your most valuable on-page feature.
As a default, WordPress sets your post title as the title tag. However, you can use a plugin like All in One SEO to customize your title tags.
A few things you can do to optimize your title tags include:
- Removing common words such as “the” and “a”
- Creating a shorter tag
- Making sure your title tag includes any target keywords
Just because you’re a newbie blogger doesn’t mean you have to look like a novice. Use the tips above to make it look like you’ve been blogging since the beginning of blogs.
For more useful blogging tips like this one, check out our Blogging Expert Guide here.