For whatever reason you desire if you decided to use WordPress (self hosted) then your already headed in the right direction. WordPress is a CMS ( Content Management System ) that allows you tremendous control and flexibility over your web site.
Obviously I am a blog designer and it’s natural for me to suggest to you that it would be in your best interest to hire a blog designer like myself to do all the heavy lifting for you. Of course, your most likely reading this because your ready to find out more about WordPress and you want the inside track to how to make the most of your new blog site.
After 10 years of professional web development experience , with the last 7 years specializing in WordPress , I feel highly qualified to give you the most important things to look out for when you take the leap to WordPress.
Here is my top ten list of things you should know before creating a new WordPress self-hosted blog:
- [dropcap]#1[/dropcap] WordPress Compatible Hosting: I know a thing or two about hosting after creating hundreds of websites. With WordPress, it’s simple and cheap if you know what to look for. The most important question to ask your hosting provider is “Do you have hosting for WordPress blogs?” . If the answer is yes, then your all set. Make sure that you understand the difference between WordPress.org (which is what I am referring to in this post) and WordPress.com (which is for beginners who are casual about their blog). Read this article from WordPress.com for more information .You must understand that although most major hosting providers offer hosting for WordPress blogs and other 3rd party software, not all do and if they don’t offer it, or they are not sure then look elsewhere. I personally use Dreamhost and Bluehost. I am also a paid affiliate for both hosting companies. I practice what I preach and can vouch for Bluehost as being the best hosting provider for WordPress hosting.Ask your hosting provider is they have some kind of “1 click installation” option for WordPress installation. Both Dreamhost, and Bluehost have this feature and plenty of other hosting companies also.This is going to save you alot of headaches if you dare try to install it manually. So make sure your host comes with that option.One more tiny suggestion I have for choosing a host for your WordPress blog is to get your hosting on a Linux server vs a Windows server. Linux servers are cheaper than Windows servers and alot less complicated to deal with. Trust me on this!
- [dropcap]#2[/dropcap] Make sure you have a solid site title and description for your site settings. Your site title and description can be found easily under the “Settings>>>>General ” option in your WordPress dashboard. Whenever I set up a new site for a client I make that a priority before I even begin to configure any designs and style to the blog. These two segments of text are important because they are among the first things that the search engine crawlers read when they crawl your site.In my opinion, this is the most important text you can place on your site for seo and placement. Make sure the title is strong, clear, and keyword centric without being spammy . I tend to keep the title short but detailed, the description can be a little longer, maybe a sentence or two. Just make sure you fill these slots in with words and detail that you would want to be found with by users. Here is an example of a quality site title and description for a beauty salon in New Jersey.
Example site title:Hair Mania, Central New Jersey’s top rated hair and beauty salon
Example site description: Hair Mania offers a wide selection of hair and beauty services that include Hair Treatments, Bridal Up-Dos, Manicure, Pedicure, Facials, Makeovers, and hair extensions.
- [dropcap]#3[/dropcap] Where To Find Images For Your Blog: Unless your looking to possibly get sued, I highly recommend you DO NOT steal images from other people’s site. If you must have an image that you see on someone else’s site and your feeling brave, you may consider contacting that person and asking if you could use the image. If you explain your purpose and give a credit link back to the author’s site, you may get lucky.Otherwise you have other legal options, like content sites. If your looking for content you can always go to sites like istock.com or fotolia.com to access to tons of content. They have photos, illustrations, videos, in every size and style you can image. The images are cheap and there are millions to choose from.You can also shoot your own content.
You would be amazed what you can do with a digital camera and some good light. Many of my clients shoot their content for their blogs with camera phones. It all depends on what your topic of interest is. Google values anything that is original over duplicated mass used content, so don’t be afraid to do it yourself. If you need a picture of a bowl of lemons, then go get a bowl, fill it with lemons and shoot! I would then watermark that image with my site logo or url and upload to my post. You will feel great knowing that all your content is yours, and if anyone tries to steal it , let them because your images are watermarked and everyone who sees it will know where it came from.
- [dropcap]#4[/dropcap] Original Content Is What Google likes best: Google is the only search engine that matters nowadays. It’s hard to believe that even though yahoo has been around much longer, they literally do not matter when it comes to search engine visibility . Grabbing stories from other sites, even if you linkback to the original source doesn’t hold much water with Google ever since Panda came on the scene, and many business have found out the hard way that they cannot go that route anymore.Don’t be afraid to write your own content.
If your writing skills are weak, just ask a friend or family member to look over your post before you publish and give any logical input that can help you improve your post. Make sure that the information your discussing is useful and explained clearly. In general a post or page with 500 words is enough to be considered useful by Google’s new standards.[clear]
- [dropcap]#5[/dropcap] Consider Carefully What Plugins You Install: People tend to go nuts with plugins. I understand the temptation. Plugins make life so much easier and allows you to take your blog to a much more interactive level. If you install too many plugins at once, it may cause considerable conflicts with the WordPress theme your using.I recommend a maximum of 7 plugins per blog. You should always make sure that your plugin is compatible with your version of WordPress. Using outdated plugins with newer versions of WordPress can cause the dreaded broken blog look or even render an error page once it’s installed.[clear]
- [dropcap]#6[/dropcap] Install Google Analytics: I love this free tool and it can literally be a guide to understanding your site statistics and how your site views find you. The new updated interface gives you unlimited ways to analyze important information you should know about your audience and traffic flow. I could not live with out this tool. If you do not pay attention to this valuable free information about your site then you are missing out and could do more damage than good. You must know whats going on with your site and how people find you or else you can never improve your rankings.
- [dropcap]#7[/dropcap] Keep your posts fresh: This means that you should post to your blog as often as possible. I can’t tell you how many people go through all the trouble of getting hosting, paying a web designer to design their blog, doing all the leg work to get started and then when everything is done, they neglect their blog and only post content once or twice a month.
Unless you have a product or knowledge that is so in-demand that people will flock to your blog no matter what you do, the lack of activity will tank your blogs page rank.It’s true that WordPress is great for SEO, but it’s not just something that happens because it’s WordPress. The benefits from using WordPress for SEO comes from how you use WordPress as opposed to WordPress just doing it because it can. I recommend at least 4 posts a week for the very least. Anything less than that and your not going to see much results. Whenever you write a post, submit it immediately to social media. It works like a charm.
- [dropcap]#8[/dropcap] Social Media Is Crucial: If your dreading getting a Facebook or Twitter account for your blog, then get over it. Even if you don’t have a lot of friends on Facebook or Twitter and your afraid that no one will notice you then your wrong. This goes back to the quality of your content.The one thing about the Internet that is always going to be true, is that there is always someone interested in something. When you submit your posts to your social media pages your now telling the world, “I have something to say, now pass it around”. People from everywhere will like your page or re-tweet your tweets. Once you track your site statistics in Google Analytics and start seeing how much traffic your getting from these social media sites you will start to understand how important they are.
- [dropcap]#9[/dropcap] Get Familiar With WordPress.org: This site is the ultimate resource for everything that is WordPress (self hosted) related. The best part is that it is official and is incredible for answwering any questions about WordPress you may have.
- [dropcap]#10[/dropcap] Consider Your Audience: Everything you do from your site design to the content you write and upload should be catered to the demographic your site was created for. Don’t overload your site with ads that can cause the page load to slow down. Make sure your content isn’t offensive or off subject. Encourage your readers to comment and share your posts on their social media pages and blogs. Get social and make the most of your site.