After writing several articles on this blog, it is starting to get pretty big. Once you have a good set of articles, it is time to come up with a list of activities and a schedule that you need to adhere to to attend each activity individually. The goal of this article is to start thinking about how to maintain your blog as it grows. You will need to perform a set of tasks that involve more than just writing new articles. I have discussed some of these activities in various articles. I think that having a list of all of these activities in a single article will help keep things organized and easier to understand. This will be a very comprehensive article. It is the kind of article that I can only write after setting the stage with my other articles.
Since this will be a long article, I will first list the activities that you should do to maintain your blog and instill good habits early on. Do not wait until you have tons of articles then establish good habits because then it will be even harder to do so when you have a lot more articles to manage.
Dedicate Time For Each Activity: Set Up a Schedule
One of the most important activities that you need to do for your blog is to schedule time for every task and dedicate yourself to it. You should set up a schedule where you do maybe two or three things on that list a day or whenever you have time. Remember, the success of your blog depends on how much time you can devote to it. We all know that life gets busy and that things come up in life that take us away from our blog. So this is why we need a schedule so that we can stick to something and at least try our best to follow through. Once you have enough articles that you feel is sufficient. I cannot really say how man y articles you need before you dedicate time to other blog tasks. This has to do with your ability to produce quality content that Google likes. This will determine how much traffic you get and how many impressions and clicks your website will receive. Be patient yet also critical of yourself. You know if your masterpiece is truly a work of art because the user traffic will tell you. Again, I have stated that not every single article will rank the same on Google. Some will, some will not. You have to take the traffic as it is and move on. Focus on topics that work, drop topics that do not.
Coming up with a schedule means that you might not write articles every day, maybe every other day. You should mix in updating your existing articles and re-reading your articles might give you ideas to write better articles. This is why you should go back and see what you have already said. This also prevents you from just writing the same stuff over and over and possibly producing duplicate content. Duplicate content is not bad in of itself. You will repeat yourself because your topics are related and more often than not, have some kind of underlying theme or concept that you are trying to address to your audience. So repeating is okay, but you connect it to different concepts than you can take repetitive content and make it special. Take a day off from writing and look at your traffic to see what is performing or do some research in your niche and see if there is something new and interesting that you want to write about. Just make sure that you link to the original source as a citation. This also helps users read more on the details on the topic that you researched.
Write New Articles
This one is obvious, I mentioned it a lot. You will have to continue to write new articles and provide more articles to Google. This is the bulk of your activities in the start and you are creating something out of nothing. How well your articles perform on Google determine the other tasks that you need to do to maintain your blog. Strong performing articles will give you the statistics about your traffic that you need so you know how to proceed. If you have a lot of good articles that bring traffic then you can take a look at them and see what worked. Was there a common topic between them? Were they really detailed, long and thorough? Once your blog takes off, then you can slow down writing new articles and focus your attention elsewhere. You can take time from writing new articles and instead update existing articles. I have written an article that helps you know when to write new articles or when to update them.
Use Google Docs and Spreadsheets to Write Your Blog Articles
I like to use Google Office to write and keep track of my articles. I wrote an article about how Google Office has replaced Microsoft Office. I used to use Microsoft Word and Excel but they now cost money so I switched over to Google Docs and Spreadsheets. I now use Google Docs to write my blog articles and Google Spreadsheets to create a list of my articles plus add new ones to it. So when I do research and come up with new topics, I like to jot them down in Spreadsheets. So using both of them has been helpful in writing out and planning my articles before I send them over to WordPress.
Update Existing Articles
Updating articles ensures that they do not become stale. This also gives you a chance to link your articles together. Make sure that you use an anchor so that you can point users directly to a section of your article. Very important detail here for you to know. You do not want to just link to an article and have the users search for the part that you are talking about. Excessive scrolling is very bad and ruins the user experience. Since user experience is part of SEO, you need to help your users find your content easier. So make sure that you use the hashtag # at the end of your links to send users right to where you want them to be. Also, be sure to open all links in a new tab so that your users do not lose their place in your blog. Having to click the back button and scroll to where users lost their place is a hassle. This is also a very poor user experience.
When you update your articles, you are completing your thoughts on a topic that you did not finish when you first published it. So go back and finish up your article. You will find it so rewarding knowing that you can always return to an article and continue on it. No article is ever finished and you are most welcomed to complete and add more to it. This will not only make your articles full and complete but make you feel better because you finished something that you started.
Link Your Articles Together
This is something that I already mentioned in the previous section but want to add to more onto why it is so important. The part that I have not talked about when it comes to linking your articles together is how Google crawls your articles for content and keyword relevancy. Whenever you link two related articles together, you are telling Google this article is linking to another similar article. Google uses the text in the link as a way to know what the linking article is about. So make sure that when you create links that you are using text that describes the linking article. Instead of saying “Click here for another related article” say “I have written this article that shows you how to build a robot”. The second phrase has to do with building a robot and simply does not state “click here”. Too many people just say “click here” because it is quick and easy. You need to get away from quick and easy. Put some effort into giving your links some context. I am telling you this now so that you do not have to go back later and correct all of your links with better text with context. This is what I mean when I say establish good habits early.
Organize Your Articles With Categories and Tags
This is something that you should do once you have a good set of articles and you want to start grouping them together with categories and tags. Since we have a tendency to write about some topics here and later on we diverge and go off on tangents that we find interesting. So our categories will probably evolve as time goes on and we might have to shuffle the articles around. We might need to move articles into this category and then we find out that some categories are no longer relevant so they might disappear. That is something that I have not talked about yet is how to redirect any old pages so that you do not lose any SEO. The good news is that WordPress is already good at redirecting old pages to new ones if you change the slug. This might be for another time as I am here to discuss categories and tags. I will start off with describing what they are and what the difference is.
What is a Category?
A category is a way of placing a set of your articles under one related group. This makes it easier for your users to find similarly related articles under a single grouping. For example, you might have a food recipe blog with articles that are related to breakfast and another for dinner. So when you go to the breakfast category, you see all breakfast recipes and the same for dinner recipes. Categories allow you to control how articles should be grouped and give you some organization. If you have lots of articles under a single category, then you can separate categories into subcategories. So for breakfast, you might have cold and hot breakfast recipes. As your blog grows, you should consider creating sub-categories from your categories to make it even easier to find articles on your website. This also creates more pages on your blog because each category in WordPress has its own page. What about tags? Tags are different, as I will explain the next section.
What is a Tag?
A tag is a keyword that you associate with an article. You can assign several tags to an article. Using the food recipe example, you can have breakfast recipes with tags like “hot”, “eggs”, or “milk”. When you tag several of your articles, some articles share the same tag. Then you can display the tags on your blog and the tag will display all articles with that tag. This is similar to categories, but not as controlled. What I mean is that you will start to tag your articles and articles will start appearing all over the place depending on how many tags there are and how many articles share the same tag. The concept is a bit different because tags focus more on linking articles together based on keywords rather than a specific designation.
What is the Difference Between Category and Tags?
I would like to use a book to describe the difference between categories and tags. Think of the chapters of a book in the table of contents as a set of categories. Your website is telling a story, just like a book. Each chapter in a book represents a different part of the book’s story. Just like how each category represents a different list of grouped articles. When you read a chapter in a book, all the pages are telling the same part of the story. Just like articles under one category, all tell the same story of that category. Then you move onto the next chapter just like moving on to the next category. Everything is orderly and happens in a certain order. You continue to read each chapter until you finish the book and its story. Much like you go from category to category until you read each article in each category. So categories represent order and storytelling. How does this differ from a tag?
A tag is much different, tags are just keywords for the chapters and categories. Tags actually represent what is called an index in a book. An index is just a list of keywords at the end of the book with page numbers to show where the keywords appear. So the book that you are reading might be about animals. So the keyword “bird” might appear on pages 50 and 60. So in the index you will see this word along with the pages that you will find it. So the keywords are used to relate the story but do not actually represent chapters in a table of contents like categories do. So categories are used to relate groups of articles together. Tags are just used to point out the keywords used in your articles.
Analyze Your Web Traffic with Google Search Console and Google Analytics
Tracking traffic on your website is very important for learning about how people find your website and what they do when they get there. I wrote articles on both Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Refer to these articles to learn how you can use your traffic to make your blog better. Since I already have those articles, I will not go into detail here. I will just tell you that you should spend time regularly monitoring your traffic and see what content works and what does not. With these traffic reports, I know which of my articles people are finding on Google and what articles they click on, once they get there.
Update Your SEO Meta Title and Description to Get More Clicks
If you find that some of your articles are underperforming, then you might need to re-write the meta title and description and see if you can make them more compelling. One key trick is to not always use the title of your article as the meta title. The meta title is what shows on the Google search engine when people are searching for your website online. You need to come up with a very concise and succinct meta title. Meta titles are usually between 50 to 60 characters long. If your article title is longer than that, then it will get cut off at the end of the title for being too long. Plus your meta title needs to make a strong impression to get someone to click on it from Google and go to your website.
Writing Compelling Meta Titles: Grab Your User’s Attention
Coming up with a meta title that makes people click on it can be tricky. You need to somehow take your article title and rewrite it to make it more exciting. You can use language and wording that evokes emotion so that people become more interested and want to click on your link. Use words like “best”, “ultimate”, or “definitive” to convey that your article is the best one out there on this topic. Also, make it sound like your users must click on your link right now because it will give them what they are looking for right here right now. Consider writing your titles in a way that either asks a question or answers it. Something like “Do You Also Have Problems with Your Phone?” or “We Solved How to Fix That Problem with Your Phone”. Asking a question in the title and then answering it in the meta description helps you relate to the user. The reason why is that users are online to look for answers to their questions. So if you present a question and provide an answer, you might get a click. If your meta title answers the question that solves issues that people are having, then you might also get a click here.
Meta Description: Summarize Your Articles in about 150 Characters
The meta description is there to support your meta title. So they relate together just like a heading and its supporting paragraph. As mentioned in the previous section, meta descriptions are great for explaining how your article can solve problems. Think about adding a call to action like a phone number or an e-mail address so that people can contact you without going to your website. If you can reduce the number of steps to get a conversion from your users, then you are being efficient in writing your content. Again, 150 characters is not much, so you really need to highlight the most important part of your article and get straight to the point of why your article can best solve someone’s problem.
Keep Your WordPress Plugins Updated
Another task that you should stay on top of is keeping your plugins updated. Of course your WordPress version core and theme are important also, but your plugins are pretty much being updated on a weekly basis. This is pretty obvious but someone we forget and let plugins just stagnate over time. Make sure not to do this because an outdated blog will fall behind and might cause issues if not kept up-to-date. If you need to rollback plugin versions, try this one. In case a plugin has issues when updated, just roll it back a version and you should be good. Make sure that you keep backups from Updraft current just in case a plugin takes your website down.
Research New Topics Relevant To Your Niche
Every now and then, it is good to research in your niche to see any new developments. Then you can take your new findings and see if you can come up with new topics to write about or update your existing articles. Use Google Spreadsheets to keep a list of articles to write in the future so that you always have something coming down the pipeline. Having a list of article topics ready to write means that you will never run out of topics to write about. This is very important as the lifeline of your blog depends on your content. So you need to constantly think about new topics and check online to see which ones are generating the most interest in people.
Check Your Page Speed Scores Using Google Page Speed Insights
If you add some images and video to your articles, be sure to use Google PageSpeed Insights to see if the added content will weigh down and slow your page. Checking your page speed scores after adding some media will ensure that you are staying active on keeping your user experience good. If you would like to know more about Google PageSpeed Insights, then I wrote an article talking about what it is and how important it is for your website. Just checking every now and then is also good when there are changes to your blog through updating. You never know if a plugin that you are using adds some JS or something else that can slow things down.
This is a very comprehensive article that touches on several different activities that you should do to keep your blog running healthy. Just like a business, a blog needs constant attention almost everyday. I am not saying that you need to be on your website all of the time, but it is good to keep a good eye on it. Come up with a schedule dedicated to certain tasks on certain days and stick to it. Being able to keep a schedule and actually follow through on it is more important than just writing articles every day. Yes, writing new articles is very important but all of the supporting tasks that get your content fresh and unique are critical also.