Installing a WordPress blog is something anyone with zero experience can do it, and here at ShoutMeLoud we have covered installation guides for popular webhosting companies. Before I share this WordPress checklist, you can browse installation guides below:
One of the important aspect of creating a successful blog is by setting up your blog right way. It may take additional an hour or two, but this effort will surely pay off in long run. If you have gone through ShoutMeLoud previous guide on WordPress post installation essential process, lets move ahead with next one in the series. In this guide, I will share a list of checklist which you should follow to make your WordPress blog publish ready.
I won’t say all the steps are essential here, but I must say that every steps will give you great benefit. Atleast it will take you one step ahead of those WordPress blogs who are missing out to add the essential elements. So lets get on with the list. Feel free to suggest your 2 cents at the end of article via commenting.
How to Setup a Blog on WordPress Platform:
I assume you have your WordPress blog installed, and you have deleted the default “Hello world” post, and default page. If you haven’t done that so far, go ahead and do it right away. Now lets move on and look at this exclusive list of WordPress setup checklist:
Do read: Best WordPress Plugins for SEO
Lets start with SEO tip first and you should start with creating and submitting sitemap to Webmaster tool. The process is easy and it will help search engine bots to deep index your content. You can use Google XML sitemap to generate site map and read below guide to learn how to submit site map.
Unless you are only writing a personal diary expecting no readers outside your friends and family circle, an about page is required. Use this page to give a glimpse of yourself to your readers, and also what the blog is all about. Here are two articles which shows importance of About page and what all should be there in your blog about page. For the record, your blog about page will be one of the most viewed page of all time, so make sure you write in a way to turn your one-time visitors into subscribers. You can take some inspiration by looking at ShoutMeLoud about page, where Harsh have beautifully personalised the page and also gave plenty of options for new visitors to subscribe to this blog.
A blog is all about communication. A contact page on your blog will provide a mean of private communication between you and your readers. It can also be a gateway for advertisers to discuss a deal or sponsorship. Most typical contact page consist of only a contact form, but you could also provide other means of communication like Skype.
Customize permalink structure:
WordPress’s default permalink structure is both not user-friendly and not SEO friendly. Instead of (http://example.com/?p=123), customize it to something more meaningful like (http://example.com/post-title). You can learn more about customizing permalink here. Read: How to change WordPress permalink without losing traffic.
Categorizing your articles as Uncategorized is as meaningless as it sounds. Create a few categories you know you will write about beforehand. It will make navigation a little easier and also act as a hint to your readers what the blog is generally about.
- Recommended reading: How to noindex WordPress tags and categories
No sane blogger on WordPress will blog without an anti-spam plugin. There’s a huge army of spammers out there spamming the hell out of out unprotected blogs every single minute. The most popular anti-spam plugin, Akismet is bundled in your WordPress installation, and you can read this guide to get your free Akismet API key and activate it to get rid of spam.
Your blog might be new, but you won’t really know how well the genius in you will do. In case any of your articles go rival, the server you paid very little money for might not be able to withstand the waves of visitors. Caching your blog will reduce the load and generally make your blog load faster. W3 Total Cache is the choice of many big and small blogs alike, you probably won’t go wrong with it.
It’s important to track your blog’s statistics since day one. Google Analytics is a free service that provides in-depth statistics and information about your visitors. You could also install Jetpack plugin on top of Google Analytics to view your statistics right in your WordPress dashboard.
Complete Blog Backup:
We all have heard of nightmares about web host holding customer’s files and database ransom, getting out of business or losing your data. With a complete blog backup solution, you are rest assured that no matter what happened to your blog, as long as you still have control of your domain name, you can restore your blog’s content on any other host.
I use wp Time Machine for this purpose, automating the backup process and have the files uploaded to Dropbox automatically, and in turn have them synced on my computer automatically.
I believe, a unique design is always great for branding and user experience point of view. One thing, which you need to take care of is theme should not only be fast but should also be search engine friendly. The moment I see a blog using WordPress’s default theme with zero customization, I’ll come to two conclusions. 1) The blogger is not serious. 2) It’s a scraper site. I would suggest pick any good theme or better get a custom WordPress design. Here at ShoutMeLoud we are using Thesis theme.
The Optional setup tips for WordPress
If you already have all the above item checked, your new blog is good to go. The following items in my opinion is good to have, but by no means a must.
Social media buttons:
Make it easier for your readers to share your work by adding social media sharing buttons.Buttons like Facebook “like” button is popular across many websites. Users are so used to it that they would not hesitate to like your work as a sign of appreciation. Traffic aside, these social shares can also act as a morale booster especially when you are just starting out. Check out this post which list best social media bookmarking plugin for WordPress.
Blog account on social sites:
Register your blog’s brand name on popular social sites like Twitter and YouTube. You might not need it now, but don’t get upset later when you discovered someone else has grabbed your blog’s brand name as their username on such sites.
FeedBurner or Aweber:
The popularity of “subscribing to RSS” has definitely gone down compared to several years ago. Readers these days prefer to follow a blog on Twitter or Facebook. That being said, I’m unsure whether it’s still necessary to track its statistics, especially on blogs where readers are generally not tech-savvy. What say you? Make sure you offer Email subscription feature from day one, as Email is one of the best too to subscribe to website updates. Here at ShoutMeLoud we use Aweber for sending Email newsletter.
These are some of the basic WordPress set up tips which I can think of now and can suggest you. If you have more to add in this list, do let us know via comment.
This is a guest post by Vincent. If you would like to write for ShoutMeLoud do read ShoutMeLoud guest posting guidelines.