So you’ve been hearing a lot about blogging and you’ve decided to jump in and test the waters. Here are some tips of what to do and what not to do when setting up your blog using WordPress. I am writing this post about WordPress because it is far and away the most popular and user friendly CMS or Content Management System, available. But there are a few things you need to know before you get started.
Choose Between WordPress.com Hosted or Self Hosted Via WordPress.org
Basically we are talking the difference between free or paid and whether you want the ability to do far more customization. For someone just starting out who is planning to just use the blog for writing or sharing photography the free WordPress.com option is probably fine. However, if you are using the platform for business you would be better off with utilizing the self hosted version that allows for customizing themes and adding additional plugins as well as as much space as your server will allow!
Choosing Name/Domain Name
Regardless of whether you go with the free version or the paid version you will need to come up with a name that represents You or Your Brand. As with all web addresses online, the shorter you can make it the better. With the WordPress.com version your URL will be something like http://MyCoolName.Wordpress.com – On a self hosted site you will choose a domain name and buy it through a registrar like GoDaddy for example. This can be a .com or .net or any of a variety of extensions but it is best to get the .com if at all possible. If you can try to get one that uses keywords for what you sell or what you do unless you are branding yourself then you want to try to get the domain for your name. Examples would be, FloridaSunsetPhotos.com or for a name JohnQPublic.com – obviously if you have a common name you are going to have to get creative.
Change The Tagline
By default, regardless of whether you go with the free or self hosted version, the tagline says”Just another WordPress blog” – Nothing says, “I’m an amateur” more than this. Be sure to change this is your settings to something more suitable that flows with what your site is about. Try to be creative and make it catchy, think of it as a byline – If you are a photographer and the name of your blog is JaneQPhotography.com then a great tagline would be “We capture priceless moments” or something like that.
Change Default User
The default user name for WordPress blogs is simply admin. This makes it a lot easier for people to hack your site if you don’t change it to something different. In addition you can get a little SEO benefit by going into your user settings and creating a keyword user name or using your own name so that it is posted by “John Q Public” instead of admin. You an also change the “favicon” at the same time, and you should change it not only to look more professional but to make your blog stand out from all of those who don’t take the time to do these simple things.
Create Keyword Rich and Simple Categories
The default category for WordPress is “uncategorized” – Again, leaving it like this just looks unprofessional and it gives you ZERO SEO benefit. Your categories should be topics of the things you write about or what your content is about. Change the default to one that would be representative of the broad interest of your blog. You can add categories as you write your posts, just be sure to change the default and keep them short, preferably one word.
Change the Default Permalinks
By default, WordPress will name your post with a numerical reference, something like ?p=456. This gives you no SEO benefit whatsoever in addition to just looking bad! Change the default to postname and then the URLs will be keyword rich based on the title of your post. This makes your blog posts more user friendly and helps you to get better rankings in the search engines which are looking for keywords to rank websites and pages.
Optimize Your Images
Many people neglect this aspect, and you really can’t. People these days are VERY image oriented and if you don’t have an image within your blog post that displays a thumbnail in the search results they may not even click on the link. On top of this, you also want to make sure that the image is titled with a keyword and that you utilize the image alt tags. This is very easy to do and only takes a few seconds. Take it a step further and be sure to rename the image before uploading it as well. This way when people are searching for images to “pin” on Pinterest they will easily find your images and possibly visit your blog as well.
Optimize For Mobile
Mobile is quickly becoming the way that many people navigate the internet so if you aren’t optimized for mobile you are missing out on a lot of traffic. Many Gen Xers will bounce right off of your site if it doesn’t display properly on their tablet or smartphone. Use a responsive theme that displays optimally on multiple devices or utilize a plugin like WPtouch or WPtap that will create a mobile version of your site for display on Mobile.
So there you have it. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it does cover the basics of what you need to do in order to be successful blogging. Start blogging and you will see great results in short order. Just do it, you’ll thank me later. Remember that your blog will not be successful without Quality Content