So far, in this series of blogging for beginners in Nigeria (read the part one here and part two here), the prognosis is that blogging is hard. In a way, it is just like starting a new business.
At first, the learning curve would be steep, but things should get easier by the time you get the hang of it.
If your mindset of going into blogging is about quick bucks, you won’t succeed. If you are thinking of making it big, then you must put in the hours and sweat and in many cases, money.
Today, we are looking at why you blog might never appear on Google’s first page or why your pages never get the traction you expect from search engines especially Google.
Say you have done everything to make your blog top of the line. The design is awesome. You have dozens of unique articles on various subjects or in your own niche and they have all being indexed by Google.
But the disappointing thing for you is that your blog never makes it to the first page. The best you got after several months of trying is the third page.
That isn’t good right? It is absolutely the pits.
However, if you understand a bit of how the Google algorithm ranks pages, you’d know that you are doing okay for a few months old blog appearing on page 3 or thereabouts.
In the age of Google Hummingbird, this is how Google ranks pages. Understand that it is not a case of either/or, it is a combination of all the listed factors.
Age of Blog/website
It is a fact of life that businesses/organizations that have been around longer tend to be the best or the most successful. Generally, new businesses are likely to have a tough time breaking even in the short run.
The same applies to blogging in most cases.
The older, consistent sites have the trust of Google search. Most of them (we are talking about hundreds of thousands in any niche) already have most of the information needed.
Chances are, the research you did to get your own content are from the old blogs. There is hardly anything you’d write that is not already available in bigger, better websites or blogs than yours.
For that reason, Google would rank all these sites ahead of you. Clearly, the fact that you visited the website to get your material means others are doing the same. That makes them more trusted.
The only time you would rank ahead of them is when you wrote on something none of them had written. And that is very rare.
For example, recently I was asked by a blog to do a piece on ‘Na dem dey rush us.’ Apparently, nobody had written much on the subject because it just started trending.
The blogger though wanted to rank for #NaDemDeyRushUS.
A day later, he contacted me and asked me to search for #NaDemDeyRushUS, I did. His blog ranked at the very top (#1) of Google search for that hashtag. He was ecstatic.
The point here is simply this, that page came at the top because no website had written about the subject. Interestingly, two weeks later, the piece is still number one on Google search for that keyword.
Generally, once the old established blogs finally write about that unique topic you wrote on, they would outrank you in subsequent Google search results. That is the fact of life and Google.
Authority in the niche
Let me give a very extreme example so you’d be clear about what this means.
Assuming your chosen niche is search engines. As a new blogger, there is no way any search-engine-related article would outrank a similar piece written by Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google.
Nobody knows the search engine more than him. He is an authority on that subject. And Google would recognize the name and subsequently rank his piece for ahead of yours.
Though that is an extreme example, you can extrapolate it to any niche. Renowned experts in particular niches are always ranked ahead of the rest.
And it doesn’t even matter if that blog is not that prestigious. Obviously, though, the experts only publish their content in the very top blogs.
The Google algorithm understands that when people like them talk, the whole world listens. Ultimately that is how you want to be seen in your niche.
But that can’t happen in one day or a few months except you come into the niche with an offline reputation of being one of the best in that field.
Sometimes, the only way you’d be recognized as an authority are from a combination of how long you have been blogging on the subject and the quality of your content.
The last bit is very important. This can’t be stated enough times: you must never compromise on the quality of your pieces.
Number/quality of backlinks
Some months ago, I got a multi-content job for a new blog. Along the line, the owner filled me in on how he intends to attract traffic to his website.
The phrase he used was ‘link building’.
His plan was straightforward; he was going to pay a trusted SEO firm to promote the new site in prestigious blogs in the same niche.
The expectation is that with the right strategy, people from those blogs would come to visit his site and get hooked. It was a long-term plan.
That, in a nutshell, is what link building is. It is also another name for backlinks.
But for backlinks to impact your site’s ranking on Google positively, they have to come from quality websites.
The Google algorithm values this as it shows that your blog or website is so good even the best blogs are linking back to it.
Getting the right kind of backlinks takes a lot of time and effort if you don’t have money to pay for it.
The firms that collect money to do it don’t have any magic formula for getting the backlinks. It is still the same grueling work for them; that is why you pay a lot of money for them to do it for you.
We would talk about the strategy of getting quality backlinks in subsequent pieces. So Say tuned.
So to summarize, backlinks are links directing people from other webpages to your own site.
But then again, overdoing the backlink thing can’t count against you especially if they are coming from low-quality sites. The algorithm sees that as trying to cheat the system.
This is simple. The more traffic you have, the higher your ranking on Google search.
Traffic, in case you don’t know, literally means the total number of people you get on a daily basis.
More traffic to a website or page indicates something special about it: perhaps it is the quality; whatever it is, Google algorithm would factor that big time.
However, traffic is a consequence of quality content, the age of the website, quality backlinks and number of people referencing your website.
Some SEO experts advertise this service. Some of them do actually deliver on their promise. But, most of the time, it is spam traffic or bots. Google would penalize you heavily for that.
So websites with a legitimate high number of visitors tend to get ranked higher than those with less.
Bear in mind building your traffic number up is a slow, painstaking process. Consistency and patience are the two things you need to get you where you want to be.
These are the main points to take when you start worrying about your Google ranking. In other words, stop stressing much about your rankings when you are just starting out.
The desired ranking would come later if you are really in this for the long haul.
Next, we would take a look at how to get quality backlinks and consistent traffic to your blog.