I have spent the last number of days learning everything I can about WordPress.
Today, I’m starting a guide – how to set up a WordPress blog – so I don’t forget everything I’ve learned so far. I also know that I still have lots to learn so I intend to start the guide today, but I will come back and update this page whenever I learn something new.
I also invite you to make suggestions. What have I missed? What else should be included? Please tell me!
OK without further to do..
Ivan’s Guide: How To Set Up a WordPress Blog
This guide does not cover installing WordPress or choosing a theme. Instead this guide answers the question, what do I do next?
1. Change your WordPress Permalink settings to a more SEO friendly format.
Why to do it and how to do it is covered in detail in this post.
2. Install these Essential Plugins:
Prevents comment spam. It comes pre-installed with WordPress, but you must purchase an API key to activate it. The API key is free for non-business sites. Get it here.
WP Super Cache
Makes your blog load faster. Make sure you change this setting so you can see your blog updates immediately.
Google XML Sitemaps
This plugin will generate an XML sitemap which makes it easier for search engines to index your blog. It will also notify them whenever you publish a new post.
All in One SEO Pack
Automatically optimizes your WordPress blog for search engines. I do not use this plugin myself as most of what it does is included in the Genesis framework as standard. However, for SEO, the All in One plugin seems to be the one recommended by almost everyone. Here’s a video that explains how to use the All in One SEO Pack plugin.
This is a social bookmarking plugin that adds share buttons to the bottom of your posts. I looked at lots of different social plugins and could not find one that I really liked. I’m not crazy about AddToAny either. There are too many options. If you have a social plugin that you love, I would love to hear about it.
3. Learn Some Basic WordPress SEO
Don’t think that just because you installed a plugin you no longer have to think about SEO. In order for your blog to be successful it must be found. SEO is the art (or science) of being found and ranked by search engines. To be successful online you need to understand SEO.
There are SEO guidelines that apply to all websites and there are specific rules for WordPress websites. Here are the best WordPress SEO resources I have found so far.
Jim Westergren’s SEO for WordPress – The Complete Guide
The Blogger’s Guide to SEO from SeoBook.com
The Beginners Guide to SEO from SEOmoz.org
The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For Your Blog from yoast.com
Each guide comes at SEO from a slightly different angle so all are worth checking out. If you follow all their advice, nothing will stop you charging up the rankings!
4. Set Your Preferred Domain
This is part of SEO, but is something you should do from the outset so I’m highlighting it separately. You domain can be either:
If someone enters either address in their web browser they will make it to your home page. However, having two versions can dilute your popularity with search engines. It may also dilute the power of your backlinks if some are pointing at one version and some at another. To solve this problem you need to do two things:
1. On the WordPress General Settings page, make your WordPress address (URL) and Site address (URL) the same, both either with or without the www.
2. Tell Google your Preferred Domain. You do this by creating a Google Webmaster Tools account.
Log in, click Add a site, then Continue. You will have to verify that you are the owner of the website. This is immediate if you already have Google Analytics tracking code installed on your site. You need to add and verify both versions of your website (www and non-www). Next, click on the version you want as your preferred domain, then from the menu on the right choose Site Configuration >> Settings. Under Preferred domain, check the version you want and click Save.
5. Learn How to Use WordPress Tags and Categories Properly
Again this is part of SEO, but is important to know from the very outset. This page explains it pretty well, How to Use Tags for WordPress SEO
6. Add an RSS Feed to Your WordPress Blog
Here’s an easy to follow step by step guide to adding a feed using Feedburner. Feedburner is owned by Google, so apparently you would be crazy to use anything else.
OK that’s it so far. I will be adding more as I discover it.
But please, please tell me what I am missing. I’m a WordPress newbie, I’m only just getting started.