How to Make Your Free WordPress Blog SEO Ready
If you manage your blog through a free blogging platform like WordPress.com, you may already know that your blog isn’t going to rank in Google. If you didn’t know that, then I’m sorry to be the one to break the news to you. Unfortunately, there just aren’t any great ways to beat paying for a custom domain name for your blog.
Under a custom domain at WordPress.org you gain access to a number of plugins, analytics tools and cusomization options not available to WordPress.com users. And it really isn’t too costly to purchase a WordPress custom domain – only $18.00 per domain, per blog, per year. But if that just isn’t a leap you’re ready to take right now, here are few ways you can do SEO on your blog so that it has the potential to rank well after you commit to registering your domian. Even on a free blogging platform, however, these SEO strategies are well worth your time because they will make your blog more user-friendly and possibly help you generate some buzz even before your blog has its own domain. However you want to look at it, here are some ways you can improve your blog:
Create High Quality Posts
I know that we stress creating great content a lot on this site, but that’s because it’s so important for SEO! The great thing about developing high quality content for a free blogging platform is that you don’t need a plugin or analytics tool to make it happen. All you need is a spell checker, some valuable ideas and some good old fashioned motivation. To provide the best signals to Google and your readers alike, I strongly recommend making your posts at least 300 words in length. However, if you can write between 500 and 650 words, that’ even better.
Update Your Blog Regularly
I know how difficult it can be to motivate yourself to write a new blog post at the end of a hectic day, but trust me – frequently updating your blog sends some great signals to search engines. You should write new blog posts as often as you can, and it’s a good idea to set an “update goal” for yourself on a weekly basis. Holding yourself accountable for creating X number of blog posts will keep you motivated and leave you feelings accomplished when you reach your goal at the end of each week. And when you finally do register your blog’s domain name, you’ll have a ton of great content for the search engines to index!
Optimize Your Blog’s Media
Hopefully your blog contains some sprinkling of images or videos. If it doesn’t, you’ll likely want to begin adding such elements to your blog in the future. Adding media files to your blog’s content not only makes your posts more sharable on social media sites, but it also provides additional opportunities for SEO.
When you upload a new picture or a video to your blog, make sure that you’ve optimized it with your keywords and blog objectives in mind. Doing this SEO work now will save you a ton of time and ranking opportunities in the future. Elements like the media file name, the title and description of the media and the relevancy of the content on the page all play a role in the SEO of your blog. For more information about how you can optimize your blogs, videos and images in advantageous ways, check out my post on search verticals and how to optimize for them.
Provide Smooth Internal Links
While entirely under your control, this SEO tip can become frustrating for bloggers using free platforms. Especially with WordPress.com sites, the internal linking structure of your blog may need to be completely revised every time you update your blog’s theme or move a single post. Because WordPress.com users are more or less at the mercy of the themes they have access to, creating a smooth internal linking framework for your blog may require a bit of determination and patience.
To create an internal linking framework for a free WordPress blog, create a menu using the main pages of your blog and incorporate internal URLs and anchor text links in your content. After you feel you’ve created an easy-to-navigate internal linking structure, ask a friend or family member to click around your blog. Can the person find everything easily? What do they want to see done differently? After you switch to a custom domain name, you should also search Google for your landing page URLs to make sure they are being indexed, thus allowing you to get the most out of your linking structure.
Reach Out to Other Bloggers
One of the best ways to get more people to your blog and higher rankings in Google is to acquire inbound links from other websites. Just because your blog is hosted through a free blogging platform doesn’t mean you can’t do this. Take some initiative and contact bloggers in related industries. Offer to write a guest post in exchange for a brief author bio on their blog. Or write a positive review of their blog and helpfully suggest that they could reciprocate the favor.
An additional tip for gaining inbound links – don’t reach out to people on weekends, Mondays or Fridays. Studies have shown that emails sent out on Tuesday – Thursday have higher open and click through rates than those sent out on other days of the week. By establishing inbound links now, not only do you stand a better chance of driving more people to your free blog, but you’ll also help your SERP listings when you switch over to a custom domain name. An additional piece of good news is that WordPress.com automatically redirects visitors to you new custom domain. As long as you blog name is relatively similar after the switch, your anchor text and content surrounding inbound links should still be sending some quality linking signals to Google.
If you have questions, comments or other strategies for preparing a free blog for future SEO, tell me in the comments section below!