Techs: WordPress and General Blogging Tips
Techs: WordPress and General Blogging Tips
So I’ll discuss a little about the wordpress platform, themes, recommended plugins and some tips.
If you have just started blogging, there are a few steps you should take.
1. Activate the akismet plugin. This plugin comes preinstalled with wordpress but you have to activate it and get a wordpress key (which takes 2 minutes). Akismet blocks spam comments on your blog, so if you choose to enable comments on your posts (which you should) then this plugin is a must, and best of all it’s a set and forget.
2. Choose a theme. You could use the default theme, but it’s way overused. The ideal is to choose a theme that is very user friendly, with good link visibility, nice color contrast, and a nice and attractive layout. If you know how to design a theme or can change a free theme to your liking, then you should do so, unique content and layout designs are always a better choice than free themes that are probably used by hundreds or more. A good place to get themes is the WordPress Theme Directory. Another one is searching Google for “free wordpress themes” 🙂
3. Decide on a permalink structure, permalinks are the actual links to your blog posts, and wordpress gives you a lot of flexibility here. For maximum SEO performance, you should simply choose “yourdomain.com/blog-post-title” but this really comes down to personal preference as I personally don’t think it makes that much of a difference, so you might prefer “yourdomain.com/year/month/blog-post-title” that is also search engine (and user) friendly. Whatever you choose, do activate the permalink feature because otherwise you’ll have those ugly query strings all over your urls.
4. Download and install the Google XML Sitemaps Generator Plugin. This plugin takes care of updating and submitting your sitemap to Google and other search engines. This allows search engine to know more about the structure of your website.
5. Dowload and install the All In One SEO Pack Plugin. This plugin optimizes your blogs output for search engine optimization. Optimizes keywords, page titles and more.
6. Install the ShareThis plugin or a similar social bookmarking plugin. This should go right after your posts along with a reminder letting visitors know they can subscribe to your feed. This way visitors have some options when they finish reading your posts. If they like your post, they will be able to quickly submit it to whatever social bookmarking sites they use or e-mail to a friend.
7. Create an About page. You should use this page to introduce yourself to the visitors, your background, your work, what you do and like and what people should expect from your blog. This gives your blog a personal touch that helps visitors to identify you as an actual human behind the blog. Also consider placing one or several pictures of yourself on the about page (or on a photos page if you prefer) as this also greatly increases the human awareness of the visitor.
8. Create a Contact page. You can simply put up a page with e-mail instructions or use a contact me plugin like Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form. This gives confidence to the visitor that he can reach you if he so chooses and, like the about page, gives the human touch.
9. Create an account on FeedBurner for your blog and give your visitors a visible option to subscribe to your blog by RSS and by e-mail (FeedBurner takes good care of all this). This allows users to use an rss reader or just get your posts by e-mail. Most visitors never return so you should make it easy and worthwhile for them to subscribe to your blog and receive future updates.
Well, those are 9 of the things that I think are most common and needed, but I could go on, you should familiarize yourself as much as possible with wordpress (or your other blogging platform of choice), try out new plugins and optimize your theme. It’s a work in progress, but you shouldn’t let that get in the way of your posting.
You could consider setting up a password protected subdomain and creating a clone blog for testing (or install it on your own computer) because once you start getting traffic you shouldn’t go trying new things on your live site where things could break giving your visitors a bad surfing experience. A clone blog is obviously just a blog installation that matches your actual site with the same theme, same plugins and a few dummy posts so you can do your testing.
Once you get your blog ready to go, all that’s left to do is start posting! You should make a nice first post, introducing yourself briefly and letting the reader know that you have an About page with more details. You should give some idea of what visitors can expect from your blog posts.
Now for some quick blogging tips:
1. Make constant posts. You should try your best to do about 3 posts per week minimum. This all depends on your ability to express yourself with words. If you’re good at it, then post as much as you can, daily or even bidaily. If you’re not, well, then try to make at least 3 posts per week.
2. Use post titles wisely. Your post title is very important as it’s the part that will be most visible to the web. Create informative titles, the words you choose here will eventually make your site rank on Google for some or all of those same keywords.
3. Make medium to long posts. Not saying that you can’t do small blog posts, you can and should, but you should try your best to create full length and keyword rich posts. Write your best and biggest posts as if the were articles with a small intro, content and conclusion.
4. Post about other blogs. Read blogs about the same topic than yours and link to them and do your own spin on the post, agree, disagree, whatever. Basically try to engage in friendly debates with other bloggers.
5. Leave them wanting for more. End your posts with a small text about what you’ll be posting about next time. Be creative and suspenseful.
6. Proof read and spell check your post before publishing. Occasional typos are ok, but proof reading and using a spell checker should keep them to a minimum.
7. Have fun! You should be having fun blogging. If you’re just starting you can probably feel a little intimidated or sometimes don’t knowing what to post. But you shouldn’t stress to much about it, just take a break and post some other time. Blogging should be relaxing not stressful. Find inspiration around you.
Well and that’s it, there you have just some blogging tips to get you started. These are of course mostly geared to blogging beginners. You can do much more with blogs and use the blogging platform to create other type of niche sites and AdSense sites but that is topic for a whole different article.