The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Uncategorized Out Of The Box
When starting a blog, you are excited. You have thought about it for weeks and you have so many opinions and you just want to share them with the world! Why not? Everyone else is doing it. It has been made so easy that you can actually purchase your domain, hosting, and have a website set up in less than 10 minutes. That is really all it takes. It is so simple! What are you are waiting for? Do it! You know exactly what you want to write and what you want your topics to be about. You have learned all there is to know and you have finally installed WordPress. Congratulations, you are a blog owner and you now have started your own website!
You will go through a lot of easy times, fun times, rough times, and writer’s block moments. You will come up some great ideas that pander out very well and you may even write a few posts that will go viral. You will probably write a hundred more that get just a few visitors or views. Your blog might even not be as popular as you thought it would be, but don’t worry: Even Confessions of the Professions only had 3 visitors in the beginning. (Thanks Mom, girlfriend, and Googlebot!)
As you start sharing your blog with friends and family and even posting it on Twitter and setting up your website to work with Google Webmaster and Bing Webmaster, your website will be discovered. Unfortunately, it can take months to years to be indexed very well and show up in every search ranking. If you write about less common topics that are not searched for very often, you might end up not getting a lot of visitors. If you happen to write for an audience that is enthusiastic about a topic and you write well on it, such as writing about the latest technology and trends, or sticking up with the latest news and adding your own twist to it, or even covering the latest fashion and beauty trend topics, you will likely be indexed faster and show up more in search engines. It all depends on how well you write, how unique your articles are, how many people are sharing them across the Internet, and how relevant they remain over the years.
One thing that WordPress and other CMS have learned to do is give you a boost in SEO. Google and other search engines particularly favor WordPress, as it does come with some basic automatic SEO tools. However, there are plugins that will definitely help you get to where you need to be and help your blog get discovered even easier. SEO Yoast happens to be one of my favorites. There is a free and paid version of the Yoast plugin. The free version will give you all the basics and is wonderful to use in the beginning to get yourself discovered. As your website starts to get more popular, however, it might be worth the (at the time of this writing) $69 investment, as purchasing the Premium version of the plugin will definitely give you a lot more to work with and more options for expanding your SEO.
SEO is always ongoing work and it never stops. You could pay a company $500 a month and still not be anywhere that you want to be. It takes time to build up a great website and have SEO kick in and do its job. I am not knocking any companies that do SEO work, but when they promise you the impossible of getting your website discovered in search engines tomorrow, unless you type the exact keyword or headline of your article, it probably won’t get discovered. SEO works in the way that you want Google and other search engines to pull up and show your article to those who are looking for it. It may seem like having EVERYONE see your article is awesome, but it really isn’t. Having people that WANT TO READ your article is far more important than just having everyone land on the article itself.
There are even companies that specialize in sending traffic to your article. Again, everyone wants to make their money because money allows us to eat and pay our rent, but in my opinion, unless the traffic is relevant to you and people actually found your article useful to them, there really is no point in spending so much money on un-biased traffic. I personally have tried many of the tricks of the trade too, purchasing traffic and Facebook likes. What did it do for me? That one day it gave me like 2,000 extra visitors, but did traffic increase after that? Nope. It went right back to its normal 30-40 visitors at the time. $5 that probably could have gone towards something else.
Anyways, a lot of SEO work and getting your website popular and going viral takes time. Do things that are unique and interesting that other blogs are not doing. Keep up with some blogs that are related to your blog and see what they are doing, and then do something better. Focus on topics and unique sentences that stand out. Google some topics you want to write about and if they don’t exist, write them! They will likely be indexed quicker than others.
A start to getting SEO right is to make sure that your categorize match your website topic. One common mistake, that even WordPress.com still makes, is leaving a topic in Uncategorized. Uncategorized comes with WordPress and if you search Google, you will see that too many people left their topics uncategorized. A Google search for “uncategorized” by itself shows over 344,000,000 results. A Google search for “WordPress uncategorized” shows 74,300,000 results. Do you really think your article stands a chance at being found if it is left in the category of “Uncategorized”?
Think of uncategorized as “no where” and “nothing”. That is what it really means. If you are organizing your paperwork, you might have an area for “Uncategorized”, and it is likely the most useless paperwork that you should probably throw away, but you don’t. Yeah, leaving your articles in Uncategorized is exactly like that. While search engines may not care that you left it there, because they were made smart enough to scan and categorize your article based on sentences and keywords, it does show that you did not care enough to even bother to change this category or rename it.
It would be even better if you changed it to “Nothing” or “Bullshit” than leave it as Uncategorized. Uncategorized means you are using WordPress “right out of the box” and that you really didn’t even bother to take the few minutes that you should have to explore WordPress. WP Beginner even wrote a simple-and-to-the-point article Renaming Uncategorized.
A search of YouTube will reveal to you that some people have designed tutorials on WordPress giving you the entire tour in under 20 minutes. If you can take time out to watch a show on Netflix for an hour, you can take the time to learn WordPress for 20 minutes. It will be worth it. From learning the very basics of the difference between a Post and a Page, categories and tags, media images, and themes and plugins. That is really the entire outline of what WordPress is.
All of these things make your website. Not only do you have to stick to your own website, but you could make websites for other people who don’t care to learn, and charge them a fair amount of money to do it! Having been to a Wordcamp and several smaller workshops throughout the years, I have talked with a few people making their living, working from home, complete with a salary, that are setting up WordPress websites for clients and maintaining them. I wouldn’t recommend that you charge thousands of dollars, but a few hundreds is no big deal. So just taking 20 minutes to an hour of your time to learn WordPress will have benefits beyond your website. Knowing your own website will teach you how to know other websites.
If you are starting a website or have been running a website for a while, you need to eliminate all the things that make your website look it is “out of the box”, including removing the default comment that comes with WordPress, creating a new administration username that doesn’t begin with or include the words “admin”, and anything else that seems too “default” in WordPress. Your website should look personal or professional if you are to attract visitors. When I see “uncategorized”, it makes me want to leave the website.
I mean, “wow, you couldn’t even take the time or effort to think of a category this might belong to?” are my exact thoughts. Whether I am setting up a website for a client or myself, the very first thing I do is remove all the WordPress defaults because they do not belong. It doesn’t mean they are bad or anything, but imagine if Amazon or Walmart had things in “Uncategorized”, would you still care to buy from them? Of the hundreds of thousands of products that they carry, they do take the time to try and classify and organize every single one of them. You should do the same for the articles on your website.