I started my career off in online marketing, back in the days when ranking in Google was much easier and social media marketing was not a thing yet. Since then my interests in it have died off, and if I am honest, I am pretty slack about it with my site. However, I do frequently get asked by fellow bloggers on ways to improve their website, and there are some basic things you can do, most of which don’t cost a great deal of money. Once you start getting some traffic, you can try to monetise it, and this usually starts out as just covering your hosting costs, then a little beer money, and hopefully one day it can be a full-time job.
Ironically, the more successful your site is, the less you might have to worry about the below, you can use things like Talking Ads marketing management services to handle your advertising aspects, and managed hosting services can handle many of the hosting related problems you may face.
Search Engine Optimisation
I will get this one out of the way straight away, with the evolution of Googles search engine algorithms I think it is important to focus less about SEO and more about the quality of content. If you write your posts with SEO in mind then quite frequently the quality goes down.
I recently came across a blog post that claimed that the average Google first page result contains 1,890 words and content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images. Keyword stuffing a 2000 word article is going to have a terrible user experience, but using natural formatting techniques like headers with sensible titles will help with the overall readability.
So, I wouldn’t stress too much about SEO, installing things like YOAST SEO will help with titles, adding your site to Webmaster tools will identify issues.
Using Google Analytics can provide insides on what content is getting the most traffic, and from where you can then use that to help come up with new post ideas.
Hosting & Website Speed
One SEO factor that has become increasingly important is website speed. However, I think more important than the SEO aspects is the user experience. No one likes a slow loading webpage, so spending a little extra on hosting will pay dividends.
There are plenty of specialised WordPress hosting companies, WPEngine is quite a popular choice. If you have any familiarity with Linux it is not that hard or expensive to have a dedicated server and manage it yourself.
Another important factor with the performance of your website will be the theme. ThemeForest is very popular for WordPress themes, but the problem with a lot of them is that they have so many features built in they can run slowly. So if you are starting out try and find something that runs quickly out of the box.
Adding hundreds of plugins will also dramatically affect page speed, so try and keep things down to the essentials.
Google Chrome is pushing people to use SSL aggressively, and there is a strong correlation with first page Google rankings. SSLs are cheap and easy to implement so even if it doesn’t improve things for your rankings; you may as well do it regardless.
Cloudflare has a relatively easy to implement and free flexible SSL option that is worth using if your hosting provider tries to charge you a lot of money.
Mobile Friendly & Amp Pages
This is probably one of the more critical aspects of improving traffic and monetising your site. Mobile traffic now accounts for 52% of all the web traffic, so if yours is not mobile friendly, users will likely hit the back button.
Amp Pages or Accelerated Mobile Pages have been controversial but they load quickly and work well on mobile, there are plenty of plugins that help generate amp pages, and AdSense supports them so you can still monetise these pages. They are basically just a slimmed down version of your website that loads quickly, using free plugins only gives you basic design options, but I have found it is still worth it.
There are a lot of ways to monetise your website and dozens of advertising platforms. The three easiest to deal with in my opinion are AdSense, Amazon and then AWIN.
AdSense is the Google advertising platform, it probably isn’t the best paying option out there, and I don’t earn a lot from it myself, but it is easy to implement and covers a lot of costs and gives me a little spending money at the end of the month.
There are all sorts of advert options and Google even make it easier for you with auto ads. Using this option, you need to insert the code provide and Google will handle multiple advert times covering all devices.
If you want to get a little more adventurous, you can manually set up ad types and stylise them yourself. If you are willing to put the time in then, this method will earn more money as you can make them look more natural and focus on the adverts that generate the most money.
If you review or cover any products, then Amazon Affiliates is excellent. Similar to AdSense, it probably isn’t the highest paying option, but it is easy to install and Amazon cover way more products than any other company. With Amazon owning over 50% of the ecommerce market you will likely get better conversion rates compared to links for other companies.
AWIN is the biggest affiliate network that I know of, and they have most retailers that I deal with. Applying for retailers is easy, and I haven’t had one reject me yet but they can take a few days if not weeks sometimes. You can earn more commission here than Amazon, but it can be a faff applying for a retailer just to drop one link.
I sort of wing it with the adverts I run, they don’t always look natural on the site, and some scripts slow down load time. Once you finally get big enough, you can look into management services that deal with all the hassle for you. Talking Ads machine learning algorithms will use machine learning to auto optimise the adverts based on user behaviour and therefore maximise profitability while improving the user experience.
All the above only skims over the various things you can do, but the main take away is to think about the user experience and focus on quality of content. If you are writing about a subject you are passionate about all this should come quite naturally and you can then slowly integrate advertising options that will provide an additional income to your day job and maybe even become your main job.