It’s no secret that I think starting a blog is the best way possible to create change in your life. Whether it’s for the benefits of building a support system and community, establishing yourself as an expert in a given niche, or merely as an outlet to figure out what to do with your life, a blog can be a powerful change agent.
With that said, when you’re starting a new blog, there are a lot of different things to think about. You have to consider everything from branding, to content creation, to the technicalities of dealing with WordPress – and if you’re new to the whole thing this can be extremely overwhelming.
Due to this, I’d like to make one aspect of your life as little bit easier.
In the last month there’s one question I’ve received over and over again from bloggers that are just starting out:
“How much time should I spend on SEO?”
This is a natural question to ask, because it seems all over the internet people are talking about it. Whether it’s in response to Google’s algorithm changes, the effect of Google + and Twitter on search results, or the increasing importance of social influence in our online world, there’s always someone talking about SEO.
If you’re just starting out, it’s a natural assumption to think that should be a big priority.
Well here’s the deal, if you’re starting a brand new blog which has nothing to do with niche sites or affiliate marketing you should spend less than 5 minutes per post on SEO.
Any more than that is completely unnecessary and is taking away valuable time that you could be spending creating valuable content, which in the beginning, is what is really going to grow your site.
So with all of the talk about the importance of SEO, why do I say you should spend less than five minutes a post on it?
Because the reality is, until your site has a base with some quality backlinks, decent amount of content, and a little bit of authority, Google isn’t going to care. It will generally take a few months (maybe more, maybe less) for you to get much in the way of search traffic, so it isn’t worth stressing over at the beginning.
Here is what I tell new bloggers to do when it comes to SEO on their site:
Step 1: If you’re not using Thesis or another theme with built in SEO, install the All-In-One WordPress plugin. Note: As Markus notes in the comments, the Yoast WordPress plugin is more full featured, and includes some pretty cool features as well.
Step 2: Fill out the SEO info for your site including Title Tag, Description, and keywords. The title tag should include 1-2 keywords that are what your site is really all about. For instance, “location independent” is in my title tag. Then write a 160 character or less description about your site that includes your main keyword, as well as 3-4 more relevant ones. These are the main terms that over time you would like your site to rank for. Then add all of your keywords to the “keywords” section.
This is the basic setup you need. Now, on a per post basis you do the same thing. Think of the one keyword you would want people to find your site by. Put that in your post title if possible, description, and keywords.
That’s all you need to do.
What this does is set you up for success later on. A few months down the road when your site has a bit more authority it will start recognizing those posts, and seeing that you actually have some authority, so your rankings will climb.
It is a huge pain in the ass to go back and add all of this stuff to your posts retroactively. So spend 5 minutes thinking about your main keyword, fill in the boxes, and move on. High quality content is WAY more important than SEO upfront.
You don’t need to worry about keyword research, competition, or linkbuilding at this point. Just keep it simple, and fill out the information based on the keywords you deem most appropriate.
As you site grows you’ll want to reassess this strategy, and spend a little bit more time optimizing. but in the beginning, you’ve got enough things to worry about, and SEO doesn’t need to be one of them.