To get search engine traffic to your website, you need to build your blog's domain authority. In this article, I’ll show you how to do that in 120 days or less.
Building a blog from scratch can be a mysterious process.
There's plenty of advice available out there about how to get started: some of it good, some of it, well, not so good.
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Traditional wisdom about the process has become outdated as bloggers have spent more time learning what works. And as they develop scalable, repeatable processes that drive results in a reasonable amount of time.
The old methods used by countless passion project bloggers no longer apply if you're serious about building a blog with longevity and earning potential. And let's be honest: No one starts a blog as a charity. We're all in it to make a few bucks along the way.
The first 120 days of your blog's life are crucial. You'll establish patterns that will set you up for success or frustrations, which could quickly lead to burnout.
Here’s the step-by-step process to build your domain authority and your initial base of organic traffic in the first 120 days.
1. Content Strategy Starts With the Right Research
You need to conduct two types of research before you write the first word of a blog post on your new website:
- Competitive Analysis
- Keyword Research
It's essential to conduct competitive analysis to understand how to approach your blog's content.
It's a good idea to have at least one - but preferably two to three - websites you see as direct competition. Maybe they're selling similar services or products, or cover your niche in a way you find admirable or informative. You want to emulate what these competitors are doing well and take advantage of what they are not doing well.
Several tools are valuable for this analysis, but two of the best are Ahrefs and SEMRush. Each offers the ability to dig into your competitors' content strategy and better understand the keywords for which they rank. You can also see which pages are their strongest, and which opportunities they are leaving on the table.
Your competitors fall into three categories for purposes of this research:
Reachable competitors are the new kids on the block. Their sites are maybe a few years old, they have a solid domain authority (30-60ish), and a content program driving organic traffic.
Distant competitors are those who have been at it a little longer. They rank for many keywords in the Top 100 of Google Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs) and have a 60 or greater domain authority. These sites drive thousands of organic visits monthly.
Stretch competitors are out of your reach. They're the "kings" of your niche. They likely have a ton of keywords ranking on the first few pages of Google and a 75+ domain authority. Also, tens of thousands of monthly organic blog visits.
Identify at least one site that falls into each category.
Your initial 120-day strategy should focus on chasing your reachable competitor.
Take time to identify their most significant weakness from a content perspective, and build your plan around capitalizing on that weakness. It may be a particular keyword for which you want to rank, inconsistency, or something else.
When you identify the opening, your content calendar quickly takes shape.
Conducting Keyword Research on Your Niche
Conducting keyword research on your niche is an essential step in building a content strategy. There's a dangerous trap to fall into here, though. It's easy to get stars in your eyes and start to chase high-volume keywords in the niche because of the traffic potential.
The problem is, high-volume keywords also come with high competition. Therefore, it's valuable to find keywords in your niche, which are low-hanging fruit. These keywords have a moderate amount of global monthly search volume and keyword difficulties.
The content you create on your blog in the first 60 days, in particular, should be focused on exploiting opportunities these keywords present.
Keyword Competition Benchmarks
There are a few keyword competition benchmarks to think about when deciding what to write:
- The keyword should have at least 1,000 monthly global searches.
- The keyword difficulties of the keywords you'll use -- I use Ahrefs for this metric -- shouldn't be greater than 35.
- If at least six pages in the Google Top 10 have a domain authority of 60 or greater, Page 1 will be a steep hill.
If two of the three are true, the keyword has some promise, and you can create some articles around it that can succeed. If none do, it could be a tough battle, and it’s worth taking a look at some alternatives.
2. What to Write on Your Blog in the First 30 Days
Once you understand the competitive landscape and have done keyword research, it's a good idea to build a 30-day content calendar.
Shoot to publish at least two 1,000-1,500 word blog posts a week for the first 30 days. If it's a typical four-week month, this would be eight posts in 30 days. Commit to writing 30 minutes a day and you can write a 1,000-word blog post each week.
Sounds like a lot, right? It isn’t when you get into a groove and stay consistent.
As you stick to this pattern, the writing becomes more comfortable, and you can produce more than you would have thought possible!
These posts should cover copy points that address content gaps you see from the competitive analysis. The posts you create should take an angle your competition isn't to give you a unique edge.
Once you have published at least eight articles on your blog, your attention shifts to guest blogging.
How to Aggressively Pursue Guest Blog Opportunities in Your Niche
Acquiring guest blogging opportunities should be the focus of your next 60 days of content creation. Guest blogging allows you to earn backlinks back to your website, building your domain authority.
All websites start with a 0 domain authority. It's rough but accurate. The only way to grow domain authority is to earn backlinks from other sites with an established history.
This effort shouldn't be a shot in the dark, however. It's a measured, careful approach that ensures you'll see some early success and build a slow-growing momentum leading to results.
- Evaluating Niche Blogs for Guest Posting Opportunities
Like you evaluate keywords for content, there's a process to assess blogs in your niche for guest posting opportunities.
First off, do not do what every article under the sun says about finding guest posts. This method is to search Google for something like "guest post" + "keyword" and then email those sites for opportunities.
The problem is, everyone out there is doing that search, so the same sites are pitched for guest post opportunities. So, as you might imagine, doing what the herd is doing won’t work.
You're not likely to get many responses from this approach.
Instead, be more calculated!
- How to Pitch for Guest Posts the Right Way
Here are the steps to take:
- Use Ahrefs or SEMRush to see websites from which your competition have earned backlinks. If these sites link to your competition, the link may be from a guest post, especially if they are similar in domain authority.
- Make a list of these sites. I like to write these down on paper. Yeah, I'm old-school.
- Use an email tool like Hunter or Norbert to uncover email addresses for website contacts.
- Email them a few at a time manually, or use an automation tool like MailChimp or Woodpecker to email several at once.
Pro tip: Focus on blogs with a domain authority between 30-60 as you're getting started. Blogs with a 60 or greater domain authority get multiple guest post pitches a month.
Two more things:
- Make sure the backlink you receive from the website is a permanent, do-follow backlink. If the site is offering no-follow links or paid links, avoid these. You won't be getting the value you need from the link. Paying for links is bad practice, generally.
- Ask for a firm publishing date and hold the website to that date. If you don't do this, blogs can get wishy-washy, and you could occasionally submit a blog that never gets published. Or, gets repurposed by the recipient for their blog removing you from the equation (yes, this happens, unfortunately.)
Get a few posts under your belt before you pitch high domain authority sites.
That time will come.
You have to crawl before you walk and walk before you sprint!
3. When to Return the Focus to Your Blog (Day 90)
After 90 days, you've focused on your blog for 30 days and guest posting opportunities for 60 days. The blog posts you published early on are starting to percolate and getting a few organic visits from your targeted keywords.
You've built up an initial pod of backlinks pointing to your website from other sites in your niche (from your guest posts). Your domain authority is growing slowly but surely as you earn some organic links.
Now it's time to ramp things up!
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Go back to your blog and aim to publish at least one to two blog posts per week, and keep pushing on acquiring guest posts.
At this point, it's essential to publish as much on your blog as you post on other blogs in the niche. Consistency of content is a critical factor in how Google uses its algorithm to rank content and position it in search rankings.
You'll notice there's one thing we haven't mentioned at all in this process: sharing your content on social media.
There's a reason why.
4. The Impact of Social Media on Domain Authority and Traffic
There is only one social media activity you should bother with in the first four months of content creation: securing the accounts you want to use.
Do not post to social media daily. The time will come for that once you have some content to share. Traditional wisdom states you should post several times a day to each of your social media accounts in your website's early days.
Think about this for a minute:
If you don't have an audience on these social channels, who sees the content?
The answer is no one. You're yelling down an empty hallway.
When you have enough of a library built up after 120 days of creation - guest posts included - then turn attention to social media.
As you do, there are a few steps to take:
- If Facebook is your focus, use a small budget to buy likes for your Facebook page that mirror your website visitors' demographic makeup. This alignment is important. Without it, the content you share on Facebook will fall flat because it won't match your audience.
- Take time to join niche communities on Facebook and interact there to build your presence. As you add value, people become curious about you and visit your website.
- I would strongly recommend using LinkedIn for your personal and professional branding efforts. LinkedIn has unlimited potential for people who are consistent and use the platform to build a community.
So, ok, you're asking: What are some hard numbers I should target in these first 120 days?
5. How to Set Goals for the First 120 Days of Content Creation
It's never smart to dig into a project without first setting goals.
Content creation is no exception.
The goals you set are unique to you.
However, there are industry standards worth considering.
I would recommend you have a goal of a 15-20 domain authority by the end of the first 120 days of your content creation. If backlinks are flowing from your guest posting efforts (and you're earning organic links from your other content), this is reasonable.
I would also recommend setting a goal of at least a thousand organic visits a month to your site. A thousand organic visits a month is 30-something visits a day. That's certainly a reasonable goal to set for yourself.
It's probably a conservative goal.
But, conservative goals aren't so bad.
You need a few wins here and there in the early going to stay motivated and continue to press ahead.
However, the ultimate goal is building a repeatable, consistent pattern that reflects the time you have available to dedicate to content creation.
This pattern helps you achieve long-term success, no matter your business or branding goals.
Building a business through blogging is not for the weak-hearted or those looking for instant gratification. That said, the benefits are well worth the efforts if you’re willing to be consistent and follow a predictable, repeatable pattern that’s ingrained in your daily work.