Blogging has evolved over the years to becoming a cultural thing. Each blog represents the voice of someone passionate (at least I hope that each blogger is passionate about what they do) about what they like to write about. However, it is no longer just open up a new blog and write away. There are tools that bloggers should use that can help their site. Here is an ultimate checklist to setting up a new WordPress Blog.
Please note that this checklist covers several areas for a blogging and not directed toward a singular blog niche. The areas of the checklist are separated into the following areas.
- Focus of Site
- Branding and Design of Site
- Search Engine Optimization
- Social Media
Focus of Site
Without a focus, why bother having a website? Your readers would be confused on what to expect on your site. It is okay to have a blog that has random topics, but focus boils down to several areas.
- What the site is about?
- Who are you trying to reach? (your target audience)
- What do you want to do with your website? (your goals for your site)
Each one of these areas are what you will always turn to as it is much like a business plan. You want people to do something on your site whether it be share, comment, subscribe, or buy something. Without establishing the answers to each of these questions, you cannot master how to convert your site’s visitors to the areas of your site that you truly want them to visit.
So, in a way, this is where you do your brainstorming.
For this area, please feel free to read more on site focus in the other articles on my site:
- Graphic: Fix Your Site Focus
- The Art of Blogging: What is Your Site’s Focus?
- 5 Steps To Building A Business Plan For Your Blog
- Taking That First Step To Starting A Blog
Branding and Design of Site
People connect and remember brands that have done something to get them to react. Aside from the obvious products or services that a brand may provide, with online blogs, it can be done through:
- Site Name
- Design / WordPress Theme
Your site name is of course going to say something about you or the services you provide. Whether you are focusing on optimizing it for search engines or in the case of this site, Blondish.net, you are wanting something memorable for people to associate you with, it all ties into branding. Once you have chosen a name that fits what you do, you need to be consistent with how your brand is portrayed. For example, if you provide internet technical services, obviously, you do not want people to confuse you with fashion.
The design of your website is definitely factor with branding. It IS a virtual business card. People should be able to come to your site and within the first minute, get a clear gist of what you are about. Design can be from the actual graphics of the site and logo, to even how your site is organized or viewable in multiple browsers including mobile devices.
In this section for branding and design, some of these articles may help you.
- Branding And Design: Be Yourself, Not A Copycat
- How to Attempt to Tidy Your Site
- 10 Mistakes In Web Design To Look Out For
- Taking Your Site Brand To The Next Level
- 5 Ways Your Site’s Design Can Pop
Billions of people are online, and some of them are not very nice. Your blog can be at risk if you do not take serious action to prevent your site being hacked. The number one piece of advice when running a WordPress powered blog is to make sure it is up to date. After that, your plugins and theme need to be up to date. This is the first line of defense.
Of course, you definitely can harden you WordPress site’s security with hardening techniques or even security and anti-spam plugins. I normally suggest Growmap Anti-Spam Plugin and Akismet (which is provided by default with each WordPress installation) for handling comment spam. However, Akismet tends to produce false positives, which means that you may be missing comments from people who are really not spammers. There are other plugins out there, but I have found them to be a bit bulky and therefore, not really a viable option for larger blogs.
Hardening the security of your site usually involves placing code snippets in the htaccess file of your web hosting account that prevent spammers or other people from accessing specific areas of your WordPress blog or even the backend administration area.
Feel free to check out my article on hardening or securing your WordPress site.
Another issue with security involves with who you allow to use your website. If you have a multi-author website, you will need to pay attention to what roles you are giving them and furthermore, what they can do on your site through that role. Role Manager plugin does a great job of specifying in detail what a person can and cannot do.
Another great plugin is Login Lockdown. Please note that from the time this article has been published that the plugin has not been updated in 2 years, so use at your own risk
Search Engine Optimization
A lot of people use to believe search engine optimization was based on just backlinking and tweaking your content. It is more than that. It involves:
- Linking from within your site and outside of your site
- You site’s design and organization
- How much engagement and syndication is going on about your site.
When you planned your site, you have to know what keywords you want to focus on in order to make sure that it is listed correctly. For example, if you have a site that focuses on technology, you do not want it to be listed with fashion sites. Your articles should also reflect this by keeping true to your site’s focus.
You do want to take advantage of linking to other resources both within your site and from other websites to build links and even more so, your site’s authority. Don’t be afraid to refer to other articles or have a plugin like YARPP (Yet Another Related Post Plugin) to try to keep your readers interested in staying on your site, which decreases your website’s bounce rate.
As for themes, no matter if you use a free theme, a premium paid theme, one that you designer, or perhaps a theme designed by someone you hired, you definitely want it to be clean, loads decently, is flexible for you to work with, and is easy to use. Because of mobile use, it is definitely a good thing if you want to have a mobile version of your site, but please note, that if you are trying to go for valid coding, HTML5 blows that concept out of the water.
You can still check your site at the W3 Validator, but you will want to ignore the errors for code related to your mobile theme.
A really good WordPress plugin to assist with your site’s SEO is WordPress SEO by Yoast. You can customize your search engine listing down to the pages and posts on your site. The WordPress SEO plugin also has RSS feed enhancements, breadcrumb navigation options, and even can build your site’s XML sitemap. So in a way, it almost does it all.
However, if do not use an SEO plugin like WordPress SEO for Yoast, it is important to have a valid sitemap for your site. You can certainly try Google XML Sitemaps which is a nice alternative XML sitemaps plugin that even notifies search engines about your site.
Remember, even though WordPress comes SEO ready out of the box with its well written code and fewer database tables versus other content management systems, you still have to write unique and quality content. Plugins just add a little more help.
Here are some related articles to SEO:
- Stop Over Complicating Search Engine Optimization For Your Blog
- SEO 101: Are You Writing For Humans?
- The Importance of Sitemaps
- 12 Link Building Strategies To Give Your Website A Leg Up
Social media has become a big dog in how blogs bite the dust or succeed. Google has even come to recognize that even having a site and relying on a computer to crawl your site, does not mean your site will become popular. The answer is that despite the fact that “Content is King”, our real people are the queen… or as I say – “While Content is King, Visitors are Queen.”
We all know the queen has a lot of power, even in chess, and marriage.
For your new WordPress blog, you should focus on the following arrows for your social media strategy:
- Where you want to have a presence
- 3rd party resources
You can write all day, but really, you need to make it easy for people to share your blog’s articles. There are many social share plugins. I normally recommend Digg Digg or even Sociable, which add social share buttons on your site. Both give different ways you can display the icons on your site for the best impact for converting your visitors to sharing.
You need to tell people about your site, so obviously, just sitting at your computer looking at your site is not going to do anything. You need to go outside of your site and find people that are interested in what your site is about, and perhaps even other interests you have. You cannot be shy about it, but you certainly cannot just spam the crap out of people as soon as you introduce yourself.
There are millions of blogs, thousands of forums, and hundreds of social networking websites. Of course, you do want to have a presence with big players like Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. However, there are also places that may be specific to your niche. That is where you need to be.
WordPress can do many things, but you do not want to overload your hosting account’s data resources. You might want to try using 3rd party resources for pinging your site, or automatically sharing posts across several networks. This saves you time and not having to install another plugin on your blog. One of the 3rd party resource sites I like to use for publishing my articles is Dlvr.it. Another resource I like is the Facebook App called RSS Grafitti that you can put your blog’s RSS feed in and allow posts to publish to your Facebook fan page OR your profile.
Of course, there plugins like Tweet Old Post and Twitter Tools that can be installed in WordPress to publish to Twitter. Tweet Old Post actually allows you to re-share articles to Twitter, so all those evergreen posts will not stay dusty.
Please note that you may want to install other type of plugins based on what functionalities you need for your website. You may need to even make a new plugin or hire someone to make it for you. WordPress can do it!
When you are starting off with a new blog, you do not need to overdo it. You are still learning the waters, trying to pump out content, and even trying to engage with people that you hope become regular readers that help syndicate your site.
What type of WordPress blog do you run? What plugins do you use for your site? Any other advice you might like to share with newbies that are setting up a new WordPress blog?