In a previous blog, which you can read here, I discussed some basic techniques for building a business blog. In this space I’d like to go a bit more in depth into the technical aspects of WordPress to give you some ways to make your WordPress blog a smashing success. We’ll begin with the basics and go on from there.
Choose a Terrific Theme
There are literally hundreds of free themes out there, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you take the initiative to invest in a quality premium theme. First, you’ll find that you’ll be able to get support if something doesn’t work as it should or if you want a specific customisation on it. Second, there is less likelihood of it containing bad code in the design that could derail your blog if you install a particular plug-in or widget. Finally, premium themes just plain have a better array of designs and are easier to use. You can do a search on Google for “premium WordPress themes” and you’ll find loads of them.
Check Basic WordPress Settings
I know you’re anxious to start posting, but before you do, you’ll want to take care of a bit of housekeeping to make sure everything is in order.
Settings > General — This includes your site’s title, tagline, URL, registration options, timezone, and date/time formats.
Settings > Writing — This includes the basics for writing posts, such as the size of the post box, default categories, settings for posting via email, remote posting options, and updating services, which are sites that WordPress notifies when you publish a new post.)
Settings > Reading — This includes what your homepage will display (either posts or a static page), how many posts will appear on your homepage and in your RSS feed, and what will appear in the RSS feed.
Settings > Discussion — This relates to your blog’s comments section. It’s a good idea to check the option for “Comment author must have a previously approved comment” and uncheck the option “An administrator must always approve the comment” in order to avoid spammers.
Settings > Media — This setting deals with images in your posts and on pages and the folders on the server where your images are kept. Generally, the default settings are fine unless you have a specific reason for choosing otherwise.
Settings > Privacy — This enables search engines to index your site, so you want to check the box giving them permission to do so.
Settings > Permalinks — This determines how your URLs are configured. For SEO purposes, it’s best to set this feature as “Custom Structure” /%postname%/ so that your URLS will use the name of your post as the URL and will thus be search engine friendly.
Load Essential Plugins
There are plugins to enable you to do just about anything you could want to do to your WordPress blog—some free, some paid. But beware, some are better than others. Look at how they are rated before you use them. To install a free plugin, go to Plugins > Add New, search for what you need, and install it from your dashboard. Here are some of the essentials:
Akismet — This plugin comes pre-installed with WordPress, but you’ll need to activate it and get an API key. It helps to prevent spam comments from appearing on your blog. For personal, non-commercial blogs, it’s a free service, but for commercial blogs there is a fee.
All in One SEO Pack — This plugin creates additional fields on your dashboard so you can optimise your blog for SEO. Many premium themes come with a similar feature already installed, however, so you may not need it if you’re going with one of them. Also, there is a paid plugin called Scribe SEO that will give you suggestions for how to optimise.
Custom Contact Forms — This plugin lets you choose from its standard design contact form or create one of your own. It has lots of different options from which to choose.
Google XML Sitemaps — This plugin creates a sitemap of your blog and keeps it up-to-date, notifying search engines when you make changes or additions with new posts and pages. Once installed, go to settings to create your sitemap for the first time and it will do the rest.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin — This plugin introduces readers to related content on your blog related to the entry they’re reading, thus keeping them on your site longer.
As you can see, I’ve given you a lot of information. Feel free to bookmark this page for future reference as you build your blog. And do leave a comment below if you have additional insights for how to build a better WordPress blog.
The Internet Marketing Academy
(Image by Adriano Gasparri)