Given below are eight basic tips that you should abide by to ensure you don’t make mistakes while starting a new WordPress blog.
#1. Install WordPress in Root Directory
While installing WordPress, one thing that you should always remember is that you should install it in the root directory (unless you want to add this blog to an existing website). If you don’t install WordPress in root directory, your blog will be accessible through www.domain.com or www.domain.com/blog. That means your homepage will have a duplicate copy. So, keep this point in mind.
#2. Set Up Post URL Structure
Post URL structure mistake is quite common with new bloggers. When you set up a new WP blog, the posts that you create will have dynamic ID – http://www.domain.com/?p=113. Whether you look at it from SEO point of view or user’s point of view, dynamic URLs must be avoided. This is something you need to fix. You can do this by logging into your WordPress admin and going to ‘Settings’ from the dashboard. Then you can click ‘Permalinks’ and choose a better URL structure like ‘Post Name’ or ‘Custom Structure’.
#3. Organize Categories
Another important task that you need to pay careful attention to while setting up your blog is organizing the categories appropriately. Most importantly, you should understand why categories actually exist. That means you shouldn’t make the mistake of creating too many categories. Apart from limiting the number of categories, you should also make sure the names that you assign them are descriptive so that readers understand quickly. It’s also a best practice to place one post under one category only.
#4. Install Basic Plugins
There’s absolutely no doubt that the WordPress plugin directory is a one-stop solution to several blog issues. When you start a new blog, you should know about the basic plugins that you’ll need to improve the functionality of your blog. For example, the All in One SEO plugin will help you to customize the Meta tags of your blog posts. Here are some important plugins that you’ll find necessary.
SEO – In order to improve the SEO of your blog, you should install All in One SEO Pack plugin. By activating this plugin on your blog, you will be able to customize the Meta tags as you want. SEO Smart Links is another WordPress plugin that will help you with the optimization of blog posts.
Comment Spam – Though the Akismet plugin is available on your WordPress blog by default, you’ll need to activate the same. After you have activated this spam protection plugin, you’ll be required to enter the API key. You can collect this key from the official website of Akismet. For personal use, getting the key has no charges. Once you have the API key, you can get back to WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins, click Akismet Configuration and enter the same.
Back Up – New bloggers should also be careful about taking regular backups of their blog. You can accomplish this either manually or using a plugin. VM Backups is one of the most recommended WP plugins for taking backup. WP Complete Backup is another good plugin. If you want to do it manually (which is not very hard), you should watch this YouTube video.
#5. Get a Professional Blog Theme
The design of a blog speaks volumes. If you are really serious about blogging and turning it into a business, you should never ignore the significance of a professional custom blog theme. You can get premium themes from WooThemes for as little as $70. Thesis theme is another good option.
#6. Create Sidebar
When you are setting up a new blog, you should also know about the importance of the blog sidebar. The sidebar of your blog is one of those sections that catch the readers’ eyes very quickly. You should, therefore, make sure that your blog sidebar has all the important items. Some of the most popular sidebar items include subscription option, list of recent posts, list of popular posts, list of categories, blogroll etc.
#7. Check Browser Compatibility
One of the most important tips that you should remember when starting a WordPress blog is to check its compatibility with different browsers. Different people use different browsers to access blogs or websites. If your blog doesn’t render well in different browsers that your readers might use, it will be a big problem. Browsershots.org is a good service for checking browser compatibility.
#8. Set Up Analytics
To keep a close watch on your blog’s performance, you must also set up Google Analytics. Many WordPress themes will offer you an option to directly insert the analytics code that you generate from GA. Otherwise, you can place this code into the header file of your blog. You should also set up Google Webmaster Tools so that you can take appropriate steps to improve your blog. Both Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are available to you for free.
Do you have some more tips to share? Please leave them in comments.