I’ve been blogging since the summer of 2009 so I often forget just how much I really do know. To me some of the simplest things I don’t even think about anymore. I do remember starting out though and not knowing a darn thing. I’ll admit, those times were tough.
That’s why I’m so passionate about helping others who are so lost here online. My heart just goes out to everyone who is where I was back then and still trying to figure things out.
My Aha Moment in 2012
I just had my first aha moment this week. I had several people ask me at the very beginning of this year to write a post about pinging which I did just this week. I admit I was very surprised at the number of people who weren’t familiar with this term. I honestly had no idea so many people still didn’t know what it was or that WordPress automatically does this for you.
If you are one that isn’t sure what pinging is, be sure to read that post. But don’t go just yet because I have a feeling you’re really going to want to hear what I’m about to share with you in this post.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
Because I was hit with so many people who didn’t really understand what pinging was it got me to thinking. We are told we need a blog so we install WordPress and we’re off and running but were you aware of everything you really should put into place in order for it to be set up properly?
Now before I continue, this is for all those self hosted WordPress blogs, not the free versions over at WordPress.com. Sorry Bill Dorman, you’re being left out yet again! I promise I’ll get around to something you can bite into soon okay!
I’ve already covered pinging and that post is what inspired me to write this one.
The first thing I do want to share with you is how to set up your permalinks properly.
If you’ve never heard of a Permalink, it just means how a URL of a WordPress post appears. So by default they look something like this www.your-site.com/?p=123. Now SEO is very important so you want your keywords in your URL so the search engines can pick those up! In order to do that, all you need to do is change your default Permalink.
In order to do that you will need to be in your WordPress dashboard and you want to go to “Settings” and “Permalinks”. Under “Common Settings” you’ll see where it says “Custom Structure”. Click that and then add this code /%postname%/. Now when you see your URL, it will look like this www.your-site.com/your-posts-name. Tada, you’re all done.
One word of warning… If your blog has been up for awhile and you get an error message after you do this, don’t freak out. I suggest calling your hosting company and ask them how to get around this because I certainly don’t claim to be a coder. I’m sure my friend Jeffrey will come to the rescue after he reads this one and save the day for us all. I definitely will leave that up to the pros.
Here’s another one you want to be sure is in place. An XML Sitemap is basically a directory that allows search spiders to find and index every single page of your website. You want them to be able to find the pages they might have otherwise missed. If you haven’t installed this yet then you are just letting all your hard work go to waste.
This is why I love WordPress so much because you can just upload a plug-in, install it, follow the instructions and you’re done. You definitely want to be sure and install the Google XML Sitemaps plug-in. Don’t worry, it’s easy. Once that’s done we now need to go to the next step which is to submit your blog to Google and the other search engines.
Google Webmaster Tools
I’m sure you’ve heard of this service before even if you weren’t sure exactly what it was. Once you have the XML Sitemap installed you need to add your site to Google. What Google Webmaster Tools does is it lets you access data that was generated when they crawled and indexed your website. It displays Google’s view of your site, helps you diagnose site issues, lets you share information with Google to improve your site’s visibility in search engine results, provides you with crawl statistics, recent queries, errors and other information that Google collects about your site… really, the Google Webmaster Tools is a pretty awesome free service.
You want to register using the same gmail account that is connected to Google Analytics. You will have to upload a file to the root of your server so that Google knows you are indeed the webmaster. The instructions are pretty simple to follow I promise.
As I just mentioned, you definitely need to have Google Analytics. It’s a must because it will show you how people found your site and what they did once they were there. With this information you can increase conversions and learn where you need to make improvements.
There are a couple of ways you can do this. Once you sign up with them they will give you a code that you can put on your blog. Some themes have a place for your code but if you don’t want to mess with that I suggest you just download their free plug-in. It will do all the work for you.
Here are a few plug-ins that I believe will help you set a few things up that you’ll definitely need:
- Contact Page: You definitely want people to be able to get in touch with you so a Contact Page is a must. I’ve used a few different plug-ins but the one I have been using for awhile now is Fast Secure Contact Form (updated Jan. 2016).
- Great SEO feature: If you aren’t using a paid theme that has this plugin built in then you’ll want to grab a good plug-in that will help you with your SEO. The one I always used was All In One SEO Pack but Yoast has a good one too called WordPress SEO.
- Reply Plugin: When someone comments on your post and you respond, there is no way for them to know unless they’re sent an email letting them know what you said. This is the best way to keep the conversations going. Before CommentLuv Premium the plugin of choice was ReplyMe but it’s not been supported in years. There are two that I have found will do this as well so take a look and see which ones you prefer using. Send email only on Reply to My Comment and Comment Email Reply. (updated Jan. 2016)
- CommentLuv: I can’t say enough great things about CommentLuv. They have a free version but the premium version is definitely worth the price in my book. It has so many added features but it’s main purpose is sharing the link love in the comment section and it’s a great way for new readers to find your blog posts. It also has the best spam filters of any plugin around.
- Spam Filter: We all hate spam and there are a lot of plug-ins that will help cut this down. GASP is still one of the best. What it does is it puts a box at the end of your comment so that people have to check it. It cuts down on the bots automatically sending spammy comments to your site. With the CommentLuv Premium version, this one is included.
- Do Follow: When you create your blog your comments are automatically nofollow. In order to remove this nasty old attribute you have to install the DoFollow plug-in. This is another thing I love about CommentLuv premium. This plug-in is included as well so that’s just one more extra one you don’t have to worry about.
- Mobile Access: Unless you are a high tech whiz most people don’t consider this. I didn’t for the longest time but when people view your blog from their phones you want them to be able to read your posts. Most themes now are responsive but for those who haven’t purchased a newer one yet will need a plugin to do this for them. The plug-in I used to use is WPTouch. Make it easy for people to view your content from their hand held device. In the near future that will be the only way they view your content.
Few More Suggestions
I just have a few more suggestions that I think are important for the overall workability of your blog.
- About Me Page: Everyone should have an about me page. Remember guys, this is a people business so new people just visiting your place will want to learn more about you. Tell them what you use to do, why you’re here and what you will share with them on your blog.
- Favicon: Set up a Favicon so that your site stands out from all the rest. A Favicon is a small icon, most commonly 16×16 pixels, associated with a particular website or blog. It sits in the address bar of your browser. If you look up at your browser while here on my site you notice my photo to the left of the text in this browser. That’s a Favicon. If you want to learn how to create your own, I shot a video that may help.
- Social sharing buttons: You definitely want it easy for your readers to share your content so be sure and help them with this. I’ve tried so many myself but recently changes to Social Warfare. You can try it for free for 30 days. When you set these up, don’t forget to set up your Twitter ID. You definitely want to thank the people who shared your content.
- Backup your Blog: Last I want to just share how extremely important it is that you back up your blog on a regular basis. There are a few plug-ins that will do this but I’ve always had issues with them all. I don’t have a plugin to recommend because I back mine up directly from my CPanel. I created some instructions for a few friends so you can download that PDF file and it will walk you through what you need to do.
Is Your WordPress Blog Set Up Properly?
So is your WordPress blog set up properly? Do you have everything I mentioned above in place or some of it at least? Were you aware of the majority of this? I know a good bit of you are pretty familiar with what I shared here but since my post on pinging, I’m now aware of just how many people are more than likely not up to date on a good bit of this.
Sure hope you found this post helpful and if you run into some problems, don’t hesitate to ask. Be sure to share with me in the comments any other suggestions you would recommend that you feel are a necessary. There is plenty more that I have on my blog of course but I believe to initially set it up correctly, these are a must.
Thanks for hanging in here with me once again and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Until then, have a really great day!
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