Ok, you now know what to write for and how to write it, but where the frick-frack is the step that says set up an actual blog site? ‘Cos surely it’s not as easy as signing up for a username on LiveJournal, right? Relax. We’ve got you covered.

Which TLD Should I Have?

Some sites will tell you you should look into the Top-level Domain (TLD), i.e. .com, .net, .biz, etc. but I recommend just going with the classic .com if you’re targeting a global audience. Otherwise, go with country code TLDs (e.g. co.uk/.fr/.es) for an audience specific to one country. There are also other, newer TLDs like .blog, .club, .me and so forth, but before you go for something awesome like .ninja, bear in mind that even if Google may love all TLDs equally, users might not.
Always stick to .com

Should I Get an Aged or a New Domain?

The age of a domain itself is not the issue. What matters is whether the aged domain is connected to strong backlinks (links from other sites to that domain) that were made previously and are still giving it authority right now. Does this mean you should just snatch up an aged domain so long as it’s got a strong backlink profile? No. Good backlinks add some points to the domain, but what if the domain was used for email spamming and is now blacklisted by service providers? What if 90% of the backlinks are useless or harmful? You would then have to spend lots of time cleaning up the mess left by the previous owner. It’s like buying an old house. You could end up with the loving renovations made by the previous tenant ….or the site of a crack den. Because of this, looking for a quality aged domain is an art, which I’ll save for another course. While aged domains are undeniably good for setting up a Public Blog Network (which, by the way, qualifies as a black hat SEO tactic), and renovating old websites for re-sale, it’s just not worth the time for beginners. I recommend you go with a new domain; at least you’ll start afresh instead of with a potential negative. If you are going to be in this business for many years anyway, why worry about not having a few existing backlinks?

Should I Get a Branded Domain or a Keyword Domain?

The basic difference between a branded domain and a generic, keyword domain boils down to this: a branded domain has a name you would love to have printed on your T-shirt, while a keyword domain is a mish-mash of keywords. Like “thingsthatlooklikejesus.com“. The realm of keyword domains can get really ugly sometimes. The entire point to having one is that when someone types the exact matching keywords (which turn out to be your domain name) in a search engine, you’ll be more likely to rank right at the top of the results. However, because of this, bloggers have been known to write hit-and-run blogs with keyword domains, where they employ any possible black hat technique to maximize traffic until Google blacklists them in a few months. (As a side note, since this course is about building a sustainable blogging business, hit-and-run tactics will not be encouraged.) That said, how often do you stumble upon a keyword domain ranking on top of Google, compared to branded domains? It’s clear that branded domains are the solid winner in this area. So I would highly recommend you go for branded keywords. Something you can be proud to tell your mom when she asks you what’s your website. That’s all well and good, but what if you don’t know what domain name to get? Fear not, you can use a site such as https://leandomainsearch.com/ to help you come up with some ideas:

You should check not just .com, but all the social media usernames

Gray = Taken Green = Available If Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are taken, you probably should look for a new domain name.

Buying Your Domain

It’s a no brainer to choose Namecheap over other websites like godaddy.
  1. Namecheap.com ($7 for .com 1 year)
  2. Namecheap discount 30%
    • Use KINGDOM or WELCOME30 coupon during checkout
  3. Whois Free (to protect your privacy)
  4. SSL Free (the green https you see)

Hosting That Saves You Headache

Once you’re set on your domain, you’ll also need a hosting package. It’s how your website becomes accessible to the Internet. Choosing the right hosting service is particularly important because the type of service you get affects your page’s loading times and other indicators of user experience. This website is hosted by siteground.com. It might be slightly more expensive than the rivals, but the quality is well worth the money. The last thing you want is website down when users click on your website. There are 2 plans I recommend:
  1. StartUp – One website – $3.95 mo (paid annually)
  2. GrowBig – Unlimited Websites – $5.95 mo (paid annually)

Choosing The Right WordPress Theme

There are so many themes with sleek layouts and cool features out there, so which do you choose? Well, sadly, not all of these beautiful themes are SEO-friendly, so when shopping for one, you should be looking at:
  • whether the demo site of the theme has a good page speed
  • whether the theme is mobile-friendly
  • whether the theme has any content above the fold (that’s the point on the blog where you’d have to scroll down to see the rest of the page)
Avoid preloaders if possible too. For some reason, sites with these little animations that show up while page content is still loading don’t fare so well in search results. Find yourself with a tight budget? Scroll through these sites for free themes, or Google “free wordpress themes for blogging”: However, if you have some cash to spare, it can pay (pardon the pun) to have a really good theme. Try Themeforest.net. I usually buy from an author who has at least 1000 sales or above, as they often come with a dedicated support team. While there’s nothing wrong with supporting indie developers, if you encounter a bug it can take them forever to respond to you. This site is using Gillion ($55) and I find it intuitive and modern.

. . .

Setup Silo Structure For Your SEO Blog

Before you start excitedly posting all that blog content you thought of earlier in this course, there’s one last thing you need to know: It’s crucial to the health of your website’s rankings that your content is organised well. It’s hard for search engines to grasp what your site really is about with disorganized content, making it difficult to rank for your target keywords -be it broad keywords (e.g. Brussels sprouts) or longer, more specific keyword phrases (e.g. steamed organic Brussels sprouts) (Yum!). This is where silo pages come in. A silo is “a system, process, department, etc. that operates in isolation from others” (thank you Oxford Dictionary). In SEO, siloing does just that: form page groupings or link them to each other in a neat little system so your overall ‘message’ (i.e. keywords & themes) becomes readily apparent to search engines.
Jar with mixed marbles: disorganized website. Jars sorted by color: page siloing. Jar with orderly marbles: website with silos. The jar with metaphors is invisible. Now, there’s more than one way to silo your content, but for simplicity’s sake, we will adopt The Circle Silo structure. As the name suggests, this method is about creating an enclosed system of similarly-themed blog pages centered around one silo page (see diagram below), using the following steps:
  1. Write at least 4 blog posts about a single topic.
  2. Create a silo page for that topic.
  3. Link each of those blog posts to another blog post within the system.
  4. Link each blog post back to the silo page.
    • (Note: Each blog post should only link to one silo page, even if it shares topics with another silo system, as linking to other silo pages would disrupt the circle.)
  5. Duplicate this for every silo page you would like to rank.

Essential Plugins For Your Blog

All of the listed plugins below are FREE and a must. You just need to find them at the WordPress plugins store.

(1) Yoast

Too many benefits to mention all e.g. At every blog post, Yoast will have a section where you can edit the Meta Title & Description (i.e. how you want your post to appear on Google exactly). This is important because WordPress typically displays the name of your site followed by the post name. With SEO, it should be the other way around.

(2) 404 To Homepage

  • Redirects all 404 (Not Found) errors to the homepage for a better user experience
  • Less abuse from bots
  • 100% elimination of Google GSC (Google Search Console) warnings

(3) Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress (GADWP)

  • Displays Google Analytics Reports and Real-Time Statistics in your Dashboard
  • Automatically inserts the tracking code in every page of your website

(4) Pretty links

Changes those fugly long URLs into comprehensible, keyword-added links that can rank on search engines e.g. from afflist.com/aff?=232342… to yourwebsite.com/5-best-solutions-to-facial-boils

(5) Drift

  • Live chat service for marketers
  • Gives users an opportunity to chat with you if they encounter any questions
Note: Plugins can be fantastic, but don’t install anything you’re not going to use on the regular as too many plugins can slow down your website! Keep it to the bare essentials.

It might sound like a lot to take in, but don’t worry, we’ve got it summarized. All you have to do is:

  1. Get a branded, spanking new domain
  2. Select a hosting package
  3. Say goodbye to your green for a bit
  4. Choose a mobile-friendly WP theme with good loading speed
  5. Silo your blog pages
  6. Install the listed plugins
  7. Profit (Ok, maybe not this fast but you get my point)
It’s just that simple. As long as you’re involved in every step and are willing to chip in the time and work, you’ll be earning in dividends soon enough.