So you want to create a blog but don’t know where to start?
Don’t worry, I’ve been there. Creating a blog can be quite overwhelming and confusing.
But, fear not! In this step-by-step guide, I will show you exactly how to create a blog from start to finish.
What will we create?
Specifically, we will create a website know as a blog.
A blog is a type of informal website that includes a series of entries known as posts. In fact, this website you are reading now is an example of a blog!
To do this, we will use a content management system known as WordPress.
WordPress is the most popular website management software used on the internet. In fact, 43% of all websites on the internet use WordPress!
Once installed, a WordPress website is very flexible; the appearance and functionality can be changed with just a few clicks – no coding is required!
This makes WordPress an excellent website platform for beginners.
The steps for creating an awesome blog
There are 10 distinct sections that we will cover in this how to create a blog guide; these are:
- Purchasing a domain and web hosting
- Installing WordPress
- Correcting setting up your blog
- Changing the appearance of your blog
- Adding extra functions to your blog
- Adding content to your blog
- Structuring your blog
- Researching topics to write about
- Creating awesome SEO blog posts
- Sharing your content far and wide
Step 1: Purchase web hosting and a domain
The very first thing we need to do is to find a suitable web host that we can purchase hosting and a domain name from.
What is website hosting?
For a website to be live on the internet we have to ‘host’ the necessary files on a server. A server is basically a large computer that is constantly switched on.
Website hosting companies have a lot of these servers and rent out parts of them for people like you and me who want to create a website.
Just like renting a flat in an apartment block, you can rent parts of a server.
The good news is that the cost of web hosting is very, very cheap (a few dollars per month).
There are so many website hosting companies out there that it can be overwhelming to know how to pick between them.
Personally, I use and recommend SiteGround. I’ll talk more about SiteGround shortly. But first, let’s go over what a website domain is.
What is a website domain?
A domain is the website’s address that you type into the search console to bring you to that website.
For example, this website’s domain is:
How to purchase website hosting and a domain
As mentioned, I recommend SiteGround as a web hosting provider. They are also the company I use to purchase my domain name from too.
Here are the reasons why I opted for SiteGround:
- Their prices are super cheap; they start at just $3.95 per month!
- They focus on speed and performance
- Their support service is available 24/7 should you ever need them
- They have a 100% renewable energy match – ideal for those conscious about the environment, like me
So, when you’re ready, head on over to SiteGround to check out their price plans.
You will see that there are 3 plans to choose
- StartUp – ideal for those just starting out, like you
- GrowBig – ideal for those with more needs
- GoGeek – for those who want the best of everything
If you’re just starting out on your website journey, then I recommend going with their StartUp plan.
With StartUp you get:
- Enough room to host 1 website
- 10 GB of storage space
- Free email
- Automated daily back-ups
- Free SSL certificate (more on this later)
All of SiteGround’s plans also come with a 30-day money-back guarantee for added peace of mind.
The StartUp plan is available at a discounted price of just $3.95 per month. Note, this price does not include the cost of the domain – this will be added on shortly.
Go ahead and select a plan. You will then be asked to choose a domain name.
A domain name defines your blog and branding, so think carefully about what you want it to be. Changing a domain name once a site is live can cause some serious issues.
💡 Here are some tips I have when choosing a domain name:
– Avoid names that are too long; people simply won’t remember it
– Consider using your personal name
– Try not to include numbers
– Don’t pick something too similar to other websites
Think about whether you want your blog to have personal or company branding. A lot of bloggers nowadays simply use their own names as their domain name.
Also, decide on the best suffix for the domain; do you want it to end in ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.com’, for example?
If your blog target audience is only in the UK, then you may want to go with ‘.co.uk’. Otherwise, I recommend going with the popular ‘.com’, since it doesn’t restrict you to a single demographic.
The cost of a domain through SiteGround is $15.95 per year, which is only $1.33 a month.
When you proceed onto the next page, you will then need to fill out the usual account information, such as email address, contact details as well as your payment options.
At the bottom of the Review page there is the option to adjust your order.
Consider where the Data Center will be located. This indicates the country that your server will be; as standard, this is within the USA.
Ideally, you want to select a location that will be close to the majority of your website visitors. Why? By having the server closer to your website visitors, this will reduce the time required to serve your website to them.
For example, when I created Side Hustle Teach, I selected the USA as the Data Center as I wanted to target a readership predominantly in the US.
Also, consider the length of the inital hosting period (1-36 months). This period is the initial introductory rate that you will be charged. Obviously, the longer this period, the more money you will save since you are paying the initial invoice at a cheaper rate.
This is entirely up to you and your situation; however, I suggest 12-24 months if you are just starting out and don’t want to fully commit.
Finally, I also suggest adding the Domain Privacy as an Extra Service. Whenever someone purchases a website domain, their personal information, including name and address, are publicly searchable on the whois database. By having Domain Privacy, your details will be hidden from the public.
Step 2: Installing WordPress on your hosting
The next thing we will do is to install WordPress onto the server. This will then allow us to add content and customize the appearance of the blog.
How to install WordPress on SiteGround
So, sign in to your SiteGround account by using the details entered during the account creation step. You should also check your emails to verify your account.
Once signed in, click on the Websites button in the menu.
From here you will see the websites linked to your SiteGround account. Since you’re new, you should only see the website you just created.
Click the Complete button on your website.
You will then be asked whether you want to start a new website or migrate a website.
You want to select the Start New Site option.
For the type of application, select WordPress.
Finally, create a username and password for your WordPress website. Note, this is a separate account to the SiteGround account you made earlier. This WordPress username and password will eventually be used to login to the backend of your website so you can customize it.
After selecting the installation settings, click the Continue button.
You may be asked to add on extras to your account if you haven’t already done so, such as the SG Site Scanner. These are optional and are not required for the installation, so you can just skip these.
When you are ready to begin the install, click on the Finish button. The WordPress install should take just a few minutes, so go and grab yourself a brew (a cup of tea – yes, I’m English).
When you come back, everything should be done. And that’s it. You have successfully installed WordPress onto your web hosting – well done! 👏
If you’re then asked to Point Your Domain, you can simply ignore this. Because you purchased the website domain and hosting with SiteGround, they will point your domain for you automatically.
Pointing a domain basically just means linking your domain with your website files so it goes to the correct website when you type in the domain in the search bar of a browser.
How to install a SSL certificate (and why you need one)
The good thing about purchasing hosting from SiteGround is that they give you a free SSL certificate for your website, unlike some other companies that charge extra for it.
SSL refers to Secure Sockets Layer.
You usually know a website has an SSL certificate installed when you see the little padlock icon at the top address bar next to their domain.
Another sign that the website has an SSL certificate is that the start of the domain begins with ‘https’, rather than the non-secure ‘http’.
Having an SSL certificate on a website is very important for two things:
- search engine rankings
The SSL certificate firstly ensures a secure connection between the website visitors device and the server. Having a secure connection here is important to protect the transfer of sensitive data, such as customer payment details if your website sells online products.
Additionally, having an SSL certificate installed on a website can boost its search engine rankings. And, the higher the search engine ranking, the more likely the website will attract organic visitors.
To install the free SSL certificate onto your website, login to your SiteGround account and click the Websites button. Then under Available Extras, select the Add button for SSL.
Ensure you have the Let’s Encrypt Wildcard SSL option selected (this version is free) and click on the Activate button at the bottom.
Now in the SSL Manager, you should see the SSL certificate is active. If not, use the dropdown menu to select the ‘Let’s Encrypt Wildcard SSL’ option and click the Get button.
Don’t worry if you see a certificate expiry date – SiteGround automatically renews the SSL certificates every 3 months, so you don’t have to do anything.
Another thing you will want to do is to Enforce HTTPS. This is to make sure your website runs over the secure connection, instead of the usual http.
Now you have a secure connection on your website that will help with customer reassurance, as well as improve your rankings in search results.
How to login into your WordPress site
Now it’s time to log into your WordPress website for the first time and to finish the install.
To login to your WordPress website, you need to access what is referred to as the backend. This is the area where you can modify the appearance of your WordPress website and customize it.
To access the backend, simply type in your domain name in the internet browser search bar followed by /wp-admin.
Enter the WordPress login details you created earlier during the installation.
When you log in for the first time, you will be presented with the WordPress setup wizard. This is a guide to help you with the initial setup of your WordPress website, such as setting the appearance (theme) and adding additional functions (plugins).
Firstly you will be asked to select a design, known as a theme, for your website. Themes are basically packages that can change the look and feel of your website. There are hundreds to choose from, many of which are free.
Themes are discussed in more detail later on in this guide, so for now, just select the Twenty Seventeen theme and press the Continue button.
Over the next few steps, the wizard will recommend useful plugins to install. I will discuss plugins a little later on, so for now, unselect any plugins and finish the setup wizard.
That should be everything you need for now.
When prompted, go to your WordPress dashboard. This is what you will see from now on whenever you
Step 3: How to correctly setup your blog
In this section, you will learn how to setup your blog so that it runs fast and is correctly configured for search engine opimization (SEO).
Exploring the WordPress dashboard
The WordPress dashboard is the first screen you will see whenever you login.
It is here that you can create content (posts and pages), adjust the site’s appearance and tweak the settings.
I suggest you take a bit of time to explore the different components of the dashboard and menus.
- Dashboard – The Dashboard is the main screen whenever you log in. You will also be notified of any updates to the WordPress program, plugins and themes installed on your website
- Posts – Here you can create and edit blog posts. Blog posts are entries on your website. For example, this guide that you are now reading is a blog post
- Media – At the Media area, you can upload and edit media such as images, files and videos to your library. These can then be used in blog posts or pages
- Pages – Pages are static webpages on the blog. These are similar to blog
posts,but are meant to be standalone pages, such as an About Me page
- Comments – Whenever someone writes a comment on your posts they will be saved in the comments area. Here you can moderate the comments
- Appearance – To change any aspect of your blog, you will want to go to the Appearance section. Here you can change the theme, add menus and widgets
- Plugins – To add and remove plugins to your site, go to the plugins section
- Users – WordPress is designed so that you can have multiple users that can log in to your website. Maybe these are collaborators or fellow content creators. Here you can adjust the settings of these users
- Tools – In the Tools area you can import or export content such as pages and blog posts. You will also find additional options related to privacy
- Settings – There are a plethora of additional settings you can change here, some of which I will go into more detail shortly
- SG Optimizer – This is SiteGround’s Optimizer plugin that will be used to speed up your blog
- Purge SG Cache – This is related to SG Optimizer. It is a function that clears the website’s cache – more on this shortly
- New – This is where you can quickly create a new post, page, media or user
- Comments – New and unread comments on the website will be highlighted here
How to setup the SG Optimizer plugin
The SG Optimizer plugin is only available to those who hav
But before we go into the actual settings of the plugin, I think it’s best to give you a general introduction about website caching.
What is a website cache?
A cache is simply a folder that contains temporary website files that do not change very often, such as logos and static pages.
By having a cache, this means that these files can be delivered to visitors faster because the server does not need to recreate that same content over and over again.
A downside to having a cache on a website is that sometimes if you update something on your website, such as the logo, it may not be updated in the cached version. This is why the cache needs to be cleared, or purged, from time to time.
Now you know what that Purge SG Cache button at the top does! It clears the cache so that a new cache can be created. So, if you ever change your logo, for example, and you don’t see it updating on your website, purge your cache.
Recommended SG Optimizer settings
Head on over to the SG Optimizer settings page by clicking on SG Optimizer in the WordPress menu.
There are different tabs to go through here, I’ll go over each one and the settings I suggest.
These are not available on the StartUp hosting plan, so we will not go over these.
- Enable HTTPS (Yes) – If you haven’t already done so, you want to Enable HTTPS. Remember earlier on in this guide I talked about an SSL certificate and the importance of having one. Well, this is the alternative way to enable HTTPS
- Fix insecure content (No) – Since we have just started a fresh blog, there should be no insecure content. If you do get any errors in the future, you may try turning this on
- Set your PHP version (Managed PHP) – PHP is a scripting language used in website creation. Without going into too
technical details, it is important to use the latest versions of PHP. This has been shown to increase the speed of websites. By setting this to Managed PHP, the guys at SiteGround will automatically update your PHP version for you much
- GZIP compression (Yes) – By enabling Gzip compression your website files will be compressed into ones that are smaller in size. This will then make them faster to deliver from the server to the website visitor, therefore increasing page load speeds
- Browser caching (Yes) – Enabling this means that parts of webpages will be stored on the visitor’s device. So, if they return to the same page within a timeframe the server does not need to deliver the same files; this saves precious time
To cut a long story short, turn on all of the setting here. Basically, all these setting will improve your blog speed for visitors
Again, switch on all of these settings here.
If you’re wondering what Lazy Load is, this means images will only be loaded once the visitor reaches them on the page; so, they are only shown when required. This saves a lot on webpage sizes and speeds up your blog.
Here you can test the speed of your webpages as viewed on a desktop or mobile.
Ideally, you want the score to be as close to 100 as possible. Since you have a new site, it should already be at 100.
If not, the plugin will let you know how to correct certain things to keep your site running ultra fast.
As you add plugins and further tweak your blog, be sure to regularly run a page speed test to ensure you keep on top of performance.
Setting the permalink structure
A permalink is the part of the web address after the main domain name that points to a specific page or post.
For example, the permalink for this post is create-website.
As standard, WordPress includes a plain permalink where a random number will be added. This is not great SEO practice and just looks plain awful.
The good news is you can (and should) adjust the structure of permalinks. To do this, go to Settings>Permalinks in the dashboard menu.
I advise you change the permalink structure to ‘post name’, which is what I have.
By having this structure it will add the name of the post or page to the permalink. This will help with SEO and just looks more presentable. Don’t forget to save your changes.
It is important that you change the permalink structure before publishing any content as changing the structure after you have content can cause serious errors.
How to change your display name
Whenever you start a new WordPress website, your account name will be the email address used to create the WordPress account with. This means that whenever you make a comment on a post or include your author biography on the post your email address will be posted – not great!
Ideally you want to change your display name to your actual name, or a nickname.
To change the display name, go to Users>Your Profile in the dashboard menu.
In the Name section, add a nickname to your profile. This can be your full name or just your first name, for example. Whatever entered here will be used as the display name.
Then change the ‘display name publicly as’ to the new nickname that has been created.
Finally, make sure you save the settings.
How to set your homepage
Another thing I like to decide early on is to determine what the homepage will be.
To change what your homepage displays, go to Settings>Reading.
In WordPress, the homepage can either be the blog or a separate static page.
If the first option is selected, which is the default in WordPress, any posts will be listed on the homepage in a blog style. It is probably best to stick with this option for the time being.
I also recommend changing the ‘for each article in a feed, show’ option to ‘summary’. This will show post excerpt rather than the full article on your feed.
If your website is not going to have a blog as its main focus, then you will want to create a new page and define this as the homepage.
If you want the homepage to be a static page, there has to be a page published on the site. Ideally, name this page Home.
Step 4: Changing the appearance of your blog
Now you have your blog setup correctly, it’s now time to start tweaking its appearance to make it your own.
The appearance of a WordPress site is determined by what is known as the theme. What’s great about WordPress is that it is super easy to change the look and feel of your blog simply by changing the theme.
There are thousands of themes to choose from that others have already created. Some are free, while premium ones come at a cost.
What theme should you pick?
The answer to this is really personal preference and the aims of your blog.
💡 When looking at potential themes, always look for those that:
– Are lightweight and don’t skimp on website speed
– Are responsive so they look good on all device sizes
– Have excellent technical support
– Are regularly updated
– Are easy to customize
– Have good customer reviews
Personally, I use and thoroughly recommend the GeneratePress theme.
GeneratePress ticks all of the points I mentioned above. There is a free, but limited, version that is enough to get you started.
If you’re after a more premium theme, then have a look at Astra Pro. There’s also a great Asta Pro vs GeneratePress comparison over at WPCity, if you want to learn about the different features of each theme.
How to install a WordPress theme
There are a few ways that you can find and install a new WordPress theme:
- Directly through the theme area
- Manually uploading the files
Installing through the theme area
Go to the theme area of your website (Appearance>Themes) and click the Add New button.
It is here that you can search the official theme database connected to WordPress.
You can also preview a theme to see what it looks like as a website by clicking the Preview button.
To install a theme, click the Install button. Remember to click on the Activate button once installed to make the theme active on the site.
Manually uploading a theme
If you’ve downloaded a WordPress theme from an online store, or after purchasing GeneratePress, then you can upload the ZIP file directly to WordPress to install it.
Click on the Upload Theme button and upload the ZIP file.
It’s important that you do not unzip the folder before uploading it. Simply upload the ZIP folder.
Again, remember to activate the theme once it is installed.
How to customize your blog
To customize the appearance of your blog, head on over to Appearance>Customize.
This will then open the customization window, which will display a menu on the left and a live preview of your blog the right.
Depending on your theme, these options may look slightly different to mine. Basically, there are a lot of settings that you can tweak.
But, don’t feel overwhelmed! Simply go through each, one by one, and take your time.
Below is a breakdown of the customize settings with the premium GeneratePress theme installed.
- Site identity – Change the title and tag line of the site. The title will appear on the main header of the site. It is also possible to upload a logo and icon (favicon)
- Layout – It is possible to fine-tune the appearance of most aspects of the theme including the header, sidebars and footer
- Colors – As the name suggests, here you can change the color of the site’s components
- Typography – If you want to change the style of the text used throughout the site, such as the size and color, then you will find these settings in typography
- Background images – If you fancy adding in a background image then you can do so here. I personally advise against this
- General – In the General settings you will see options for the icon type used on the site. I recommend using SVG icons and have the ‘combine CSS’ and ‘cache dynamic CSS’ options enabled
- Menus – You can create and edit menus
- Widgets – Widgets are simply blocks that can be added onto the site, such as adding a search bar widget on the sidebar
- Homepage settings – Here you can choose to have your homepage display your latest blog posts (the default in WordPress) or a static page. If the latter is preferred, then you need to select what this page is
- Additional CSS – CSS is a coding language that is used to add styling to the website. Here you can easily add any custom CSS code you want to add
Take the time to make your blog your own. I recommend starting off by tweaking the colors and adding a logo to match your desired branding.
Step 5: Adding extra functions to your blog
WordPress plugins are essentially pieces of code created by others that enhance your blog with additional features. These plugins can easily be installed.
There is pretty much a plugin for any website function you can think of. Some are free, while others are a premium.
How to install a WordPress plugin
Installing a plugin works in a similar way to installing a theme. To install a WordPress plugin, go to Plugins>Add New.
Again, you can browse the catalogue of plugins available through the WordPress database. Simply search for a plugin or use the filter buttons to narrow the options down.
Plugins that have been downloaded elsewhere can be manually uploaded by clicking on the Upload Plugin button at the top.
Remember to upload the ZIP folder and activate the plugin once installed.
How to remove a WordPress plugin
To remove a plugin, go to Plugins>Installed P
To remove a plugin it firstly needs to be deactivated by clicking on the Deactivate button. It can then be safely deleted.
Which plugins should you install?
To start with, I recommend deactivating and deleting any unnecessary plugins, including:
- WordPress Importer
- WordPress Starter
It’s always best practice to remove any redundant plugins and don’t go wild by installing too many plugins. Having too many installed can seriously damage your page load speed.
I then recommend you add the following plugins. These can all be searched for using the search bar in the plugin area.
- SG Optimizer (already installed) – The SG Optimizer is exclusively for SiteGround customers. As mentioned, it is packed with features to speed up the delivery of your website to the visitors
- Yoast SEO – Yoast is a really useful plugin to improve your SEO. Basically, lets you add additional information about your posts to make them more discoverable by search engines
- Titan Anti-spam & Security – An anti-spam plugin is a must for a blog. You will soon realise that there are a lot of bots that spam your comments sections, which is extremely annoying
- Easy Table of Contents – If you’re going to create posts with a lot of content, then consider adding a table of contents plugin for improved navigation
Step 6: Adding content to your blog
Content written on a WordPress site can be in the form of a post or a page. The design wizards for both look pretty much identical.
How to create a blog post
A post is an entry that will be added to the blog. Most webpages on your blog will likely be a post. This guide you are reading now is an example of a post.
Posts differ from pages since posts can have categories and tags assigned to them. Categories and tags are used to group related posts together.
Categories are usually broad labels. For example, if your blog is about pets, you could have separate categories for ‘dogs’, ‘cats’ and ‘rabbits’.
Tags are a more discrete means of grouping posts that contain similar elements. Again carrying on with the pet example, posts that contain information on Golden Retrievers can have their own ‘Golden Retrievers’ tag whilst being in the ‘dog’ category.
To create a post simply go to Posts>Add New.
- Status and visibility – Here you can set whether the post is visible to the public or private. It is also possible to change the format of the post from say standard to video
- Permalink – Change the permalink of the post to something short and relevant. Do this before you publish the post
- Categories – Pick a category for the post, or create a new one
- Tags – Add any relevant tags
- Featured image – When a featured image is set, this will be used for the thumbnail of that post. The thumbnail is the small image added next to the post in the blog. Depending upon the theme used, the featured image may also be seen at the top of the post
- Excerpt – Excerpts are short entries that are used to summarise the post
- Discussion – Here you can choose to allow comments on the post, as well as Pingbacks and Trackbacks. The latter option is used to notify other WordPress websites that you have linked to them
Content is added as blocks. There are many different blocks to choose from such as paragraphs, lists and images. The reason why they are in block form is to make it easier for you to create content.
Have a play around with the different blocks to see what you can make. It’s all very intuitive once you get started.
I’ll discuss the steps required for creating an awesome blog post further on in this guide, so stay with me.
How to create a page
Creating pages is very similar to creating blog posts.
Pages are meant to be static areas of your blog. Common examples of pages are a Contact page containing a email contact form so visitors can contact you.
To create a page, go to Pages>Add New.
The page builder looks identical to the post builder, however there is no ability to add categories or tags.
I will explain my recommendations for pages to add shortly.
Step 7: Structuring your blog
Now you know how to create posts and pages, let’s start thinking about what content to create.
Let’s start by thinking about the pages to add.
My recommended blog structure
As a minimum, I recommend that you create the following pages on your blog:
To start with, the Home page can just be set as the list of blog posts.
If you want to experiment with something fancier, then create a new page and call this Home.
You can use the default blocks to create an attractive Home page or you can download plugins to add more functions, such as GenerateBlocks (free plugin that works well with the GeneratePress theme).
Depending on your WordPress theme, some even come with more advanced features to make a beautiful Home page with just a few clicks.
Once you’re happy with your new Home pages, ensure it is set as the Home page by going to Settings>Reading. Then change the Homepage to be the new page you have created.
The About page should be a personal introduction to who you are. This is the page visitors go to if they want to learn more about your story.
It’s hard to advise on what to put here as everyone’s About page should be tailored to their background.
You can check out my About page here if you want a little inspiration.
Ideally, you should have a Contact page where visitors can contact you.
This page can be as simple as adding an email address, or links to social media profiles.
However, what’s common on most sites is a contact form. Contact forms are essentially boxes where the visitor commonly enters their name, email and message and this will be emailed to you.
Adding a contact form is super easy by adding a new plugin. I recommend the Contact Form 7 (free) plugin.
Privacy disclosures are so important, especially after recent changes to online privacy laws.
The good news is that WordPress does provide some guidance on how to do this. Go to Settings>Pricacy to learn more.
Note, the content that goes in the Privacy Page may vary from blog to blog and will depend on the information that is collected. For example, if a site uses Google Analytics to analyze visitor’s information, then this needs to be disclosed in the Privacy Page.
How to add pages to a menu
Now you have some core pages on your blog, it’s time to add them to a menu so they can be easily found.
To add a new menu, go to Appearance>Menus.
Start by creating a new menu and giving it a name.
Then tick the pages you want to add to the menu and click the Add to Menu button.
You can drag the order of the pages around and even rename the menu links.
Underneath you will find the Menu Settings. Here you can tick the option to display the menu as the Primary Menu. Depending on your theme, this will add the menu to the top of the page.
What I like to do is to create two menus:
- Primary menu – contains content-specific blog posts
This way, the links to the important pages are still there to be found, but it saves precious room in the primary menu for the main content the reader is looking for.
Step 8: Researching topics to write about
According to Ahrefs, 90% of web pages on the internet get zero traffic from organic searches in Google. Zero!
Well, this statistic perfectly sums up the importance of search intent.
People everyday search Google and other search engines to find answers to their questions.
Your job as a blogger, is to identify what your target audience are searching for. Otherwise, you too could be part of the 90% that get zero traffic.
How to perform keyword research
This brings me nicely on to keyword research.
Keyword research is the process of investigating potential search terms that have a high search volume with low competition.
Luckily, there are quite a few platforms available that can help you in your search for those elusive keywords. Most of these are paid for services, but some do have a free option.
I’ll discuss a few free options that I personally use when looking for search terms.
Ahrefs Keyword Generator
Ahrefs is arguably one of the most powerful keyword research tools available.
Their platform is packed with all of the analytics you will ever need. But, access to this data doesn’t come cheap, with prices starting at $99 per month.
There is, however, a super basic Ahrefs Keyword Generator that is completely free to use.
With the Keyword Generator open, simply enter a phrase or keyword you are interested in writing content about. For this, put yourself in your audience’s shoes and pretend you are searching Google (or you can choose to search Bing, YouTube or Amazon).
Ahrefs will then return some keyword ideas along with two important metrics:
- Keyword Difficulty (KD) – A number between 0 and 100. The higher the number, the harder it will be to rank on the first page of the chosen search engine
- Volume – An estimate of the average monthly number of searches for that keyword
With a fresh new website, your job is to look for keywords that have the highest volume, with the lowest KD.
A general rule of thumb is to look for those terms with a KD <10 and a volume of >1,000.
As you can see in the screenshot above, if my new blog was about DIY, it may be worthwhile creating a blog post that explains how to plaster a wall.
Why? Because according to the Keyword Generator around 1,200 searches of ‘how to plaster a wall’ are searched monthly on Google. Not only that, but this term has a KD of 7, meaning I have more chance of ranking higher on the search page.
Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest
The other keyword research tool I commonly use is Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest.
Ubersuggest returns more data than Ahrefs Keyword Generator, but the main features are the same.
Head on over to Ubersuggest and type in a keyword or phrase and select a country to search for.
On the results page, go to the Keyword Ideas tab.
The metrics returned in the search are as follows:
- VOL – The average number of estimated searches in Google
- CPC – Refers to cost per click. It is the estimated price advertisers pay per click of an advertisement using that keyword
- PD – Refers to paid difficulty. It is a number between 0 and 100; the higher the number the more difficult it is to rank in paid search
- SD – This is the SEO difficulty. Similar to Ahrefs’ KD metric, it is a number between 0 and 100; the higher the number the more competitive it is to rank for that keyword
The metrics that you should focus on are the VOL and SD.
Again, for those that have a new blog, look for keywords or phrases that have a VOL >1,000 and a SD <10.
Note, there will be slight differences in the results returned from Ubersuggest and Keyword Generator. This is because both platforms use different methods to gather their data.
Step 9: Creating awesome SEO blog posts
Now you have your desired keywords and phrases, it’s time to get that content cranking out.
In this section, I will discuss my approach for creating awesome blog posts and how to ensure it is SEO optimized.
Again, I strongly recommend ensuring you have the free Yoast plugin installed and activated as I use it a lot for post creation.
Add a post title
Start by adding a post title. The post title should contain the keywords that you want to rank for.
Don’t make the title too long otherwise it will appear cut off when viewed in search engine result pages. Also, don’t make it too short.
It’s best to use the Yoast snippet viewer at the bottom to decide the best title length.
If you’re struggling to come up with a decent title, try using a Headline Analyzer to tweak and improve your blog title engagement.
Using the correct heading settings
Content is added as paragraphs, which are separated into different sections with headings.
With headings, it’s very important for SEO purposes and readability to use the correct settings.
Headings work as a series hierarchical levels ranging from H1 to H6.
- H1: post title
- H2: a heading in the post
- H3: a subheading of H2
- H4: a subheading of H3
- H5: a subheading of H4
- H6: a subheading of H5
Never assign the H1 setting to any headings within the blog post; there should only be a single H1 heading, which is the post title.
Continuing the example of ‘how to plaster a wall’, below is a screenshot of a post outline I made. Pay close attention to the heading settings.
Note, I am no plasterer; please don’t judge me on my approach haha!
Making content readable
Now you have a topline outline, it’s time to fill out the different post sections with content.
When doing so, always think about how the content is presented to the reader and the device they are using.
Around 50% of all website traffic is viewed on mobile devices. So, make sure it is displayed well on desktop and mobile.
💡 Here are 3 simple tricks to make content more readable on all device sizes:
1. Make paragraphs 1-3 sentences long; shorter paragraphs are easier on the eye
2. Include some images/videos to separate paragraphs
3. Think about using bullets/lists now and again to mix things up
Responsinator is a useful website to refer to when drafting a blog post to ensure it displays well in different device sizes. Simply copy and paste the website URL from the WordPress post Preview window and Responsinator will show you how the post looks on different mobile devices.
Strategically place your keywords within the content
It’s recommended that the keyword density of a post should be between 1-3%. This means that for every 100 words, the keyword should be found between 1-3 times.
You want to be clever about this. Don’t go spamming your keyword everwhere; this looks awful.
Below I have written the introduction to the plastering example used above. Notice how I have included the keyword a few times, without overdoing it.
Always refer to the Yoast snippet at the bottom of the post window to see how many times your keywords appear.
Add internal and external links
Link building is another useful SEO strategy.
When writing content, try and include facts and stats from reputable sources. People love statistics!
Ensure that you add a hyperlink to the webpage you found the data from; this is known as an external link.
To add a link, simply highlight the text you want to add the link to and click the Link button. Paste in the URL and decide if you want the link to open on a new tab or not.
💡 Always open external links in a new tab
This way, visitors will not lose your webpage when clicking on links.
Internal links, those that are linked to other pages on your website, should not open in a new tab.
Internal link building will become more frequent when more content is created.
Be sure to go over old posts now and again to add some internal links to related posts.
Internal linking is a great way to keep visitors on your website and boost your search engine rankings.
Adding a meta description
A meta description is a short, 160-character summary of what the page/post is about.
These short snippets of text are often seen below the webpage’s title when viewed in a search engine. This means the meta description is an important click-through rate (CTR) factor.
Again, thanks to Yoast, we can easily modify the meta description of a post. Simply scroll down to the Yoast snippet viewer and edit the description.
Think of meta descriptions as a space to pitch your post to the reader. The purpose is to provide a snappy description that encourages the viewer to click on the post to learn more.
Another trick is to also include your keyword within the meta description. Most search engines bold keywords in meta descriptions, which can draw added attention of viewers.
Edit the URL slug
Another important step you must do before you publish a post is to edit the URL slug.
The URL slug is the part of the URL that follows the domain name. For example, the URL slug of this post is ‘create-website’.
Ideally, keep the slug short and include the keyword you want to rank for.
To change the URL slug, ensure the post draft is saved and refer to the Document sidebar on the right-hand side of the screen.
For the plastering article, I would use a slug of ‘how-to-plaster-wall’. This is the exact keyword I want to rank for and is relatively short.
Final bits to check before you publish
A few other bits you may want to do before you smash that Publish button is to:
- Check the Yoast snippet at the bottom; ensure the SEO and Readability attributes are all measuring well, if not, address them
- Add a featured image; use the Document sidebar to upload a featured image, which will be shown after the post title
- Write an excerpt; just like meta descriptions, excerpts are a summary of the post, but are only shown on the homepage; edit excerpts in the Document sidebar
- [Optional] assign the post to a category and/or tag; if you want to organize similar posts by categories and tags then by all means go ahead
Once all of the above is done and dusted, it’s time to hit Publish and let the world read your content.
Step 10: Sharing your content far and wide
The final step in this how to create a blog guide is focussed on sharing your content.
Creating amazing content is great and all but all that effort is wasted if nobody actually sees it.
There are quite a few ways that you can share your blog content:
- Post on social media
- Contribute to Q&A websites
- Be active on forums
Post on social media
This is quite an obvious method and is one of the most straightforward.
Be sure to create social media accounts for your personal or business brand. Then, you can post your content for others to see and potentially reshare.
Social media platforms include:
- Twitter – A good all-round option
- Pinterest – Excellent for how-to and instructional content
- Facebook – Not as popular these days
- LinkedIn – Can be good for formal and business-orientated content
But, think carefully about the social media platforms you choose. Ensure you select only the most relevant platform for your niche.
For example, if I wanted to promote a post on ‘how to plaster a wall’ I would primarily use Pinterest to share this. Why? Because Pinterest is dominated with practical tips and tricks.
Facebook, on the other hand, wouldn’t be as effective in this case.
I recommend going with Twitter and Pinterest.
If you go for Twitter, another tip is to tweet companies or individuals that you mention in your blog post. Or, if you think they might find the content useful.
If you’re lucky, they may respond or even retweet the link!
Contribute to Q&A websites
An excellent example of a Q&A website to use is Quora.
Quora is a place where people go to submit questions and find answers. Think of it as a mini search engine.
Chances are, some people are asking questions related to your content.
Have a search on Quora and see which questions you can answer. Look for those with a high follow count, which indicates reader interest, with a low number of answers.
Then, create high-quality answers and include a link to your related blog post for readers to learn more.
Be careful, don’t spam your links or you could be banned. Be sure the answer you write clearly answers the question and the link to your blog post is relevant.
Be active on forums
There is a discussion forum for pretty much any niche you can think of. These are places where likeminded individuals discuss a common interest.
Just like using Q&A websites, people will also use forums to ask questions and seek knowledge.
To find a forum in your niche, search Google for your niche and include ‘AND forum’.
Before you reply to forum topics, be sure to careful read their rules. Some forums do not let you post links.
If you use forums correctly, you will increase your reputation and authority in that niche. People will want to know what you have to say.
If you made it all the way to the end, congratulations, you should have your very own blog created!
So, what next?
The next steps are to prioritize making content for the site. After all, who wants to visit an empty site?
Have I missed something? Let me know in the comments below.