10 Essential First Steps When Starting A WordPress Blog

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blog featured   10 Essential First Steps When Starting A Wordpress BlogHaving created quite a few blogs, I’d like to think that I have a good system down for those essential first steps, and I hope it can be of use to you too. By following these you’ll get a good head start in the world of blogging and hopefully an influx of traffic to give you the motivation to carry on. If you’ve already started, think of this as a checklist as I’m sure there’s a few you haven’t done yet.

1. Good Quality Content Is Always The Best Tactic

I can’t tell you how sick I am of hearing people announce their blog when it has less than 5 posts on it and/or consists of nothing more than YouTube videos and re-posted pictures with a one-sentence commentary. If that’s all you have to say, get a Twitter account or use Tumblr.

Make sure you have, at the very least, 10 quality posts, but aim for around 30 ideally. By “quality“, I mean 400 words or more of your own original content. Never copy content from elsewhere, like these mountains of autoblogs do with our MakeUseOf content…

autoblogged   10 Essential First Steps When Starting A Wordpress Blog

Keep your articles focused, grammatically correct and spell checked. If you speak like a valley-girl or have a tendency to write in txtspk, do your best to hide it and take remedial English classes – no one wants to read that, even your best friends.

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2. Get A Domain

Spend a whole $10 on a unique, short as you can, relevant domain name – even if you’re hosting your blog on a free WordPress.com or Blogger account. Get this right from the beginning and you will save yourself a world of hurt later.

Don’t be tempted to make up a “cool” domain unless you have a rock-solid web service and a VC investment to the tune of a million dollars to market it; and absolutely don’t get a free domain like .cc

If you need to set up web hosting, try Bluehost or head over to our Best Web Hosting Services page for other recommendations.

3. Establish A Good Permalink Structure

Don’t promote your blog if your URLs still look like mydomain.com/blog?id=1324. Take a minute to go the permalink options in your WordPress settings. Something like mydomain.com/my-article is great.

You might also want to consider installing an SEO slugs type plugin, which reduces the length of your permalink URLs by removing common words such as a, the, or. Shorter URLs are better.

permalinks   10 Essential First Steps When Starting A Wordpress Blog

4. Change The Tagline

It’s just embarrassing to find a blog that still has “Just another WordPress blog” in the title or on the theme. You can change it from Settings -> General to something more relevant to your site. Apart from the fact that many themes feature the tagline prominently in the header, it’s also often used in the meta-titles of your homepage and therefore shown to everyone who finds your site through Google.

just another   10 Essential First Steps When Starting A Wordpress Blog

5. Set Up Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free traffic report for your website. But what’s the point of installing Analytics if you don’t actually have any traffic yet?

Well firstly, motivation. If you have accurate feedback that shows a clear, progressive growth in traffic then you are far less likely to give up. Don’t wait until you think you have some traffic – get real feedback, right now.

analytics   10 Essential First Steps When Starting A Wordpress Blog

The second reason – to find out exactly what’s popular on your blog; exactly which keywords bring in the most traffic; and make adjustments based on this. Try not to get too caught up in the numbers game yet, but if you find people are coming to your page for a particular topic and leaving quickly, perhaps try to write another post on that topic that’s more in-depth or targeted more specifically.

My favourite plugin in this area is Analyticator, as it connects to your Analytics account and lets you choose the profile from a drop down list, avoiding the need to copy and paste any fiddly codes. If you have no idea how to read all your Analytics data yet, just start collecting it anyway and I’ll go over the major features in a later article.

6. Google Sitemaps Plugin

This isn’t essential, but as far I’m concerned any helping hand you can give Google to index your blog is a good thing. Get a sitemap generator such as this, set it up correctly to automatically generate whenever you post something, and you’re halfway sorted.

7. Webmaster Tools

This is a useful, free set of tools from Google. It has a number of functions, one of which involves submitting sitemaps to be indexed. It also keeps a track of 404 errors, and alerts you to malware security issues and even if WordPress updates are available. You could get by without it, but it’s a nice tool to have under your belt.

webmaster tools   10 Essential First Steps When Starting A Wordpress Blog

8. SEO Friendly Images

The power of image search should absolutely not be underestimated. Put simply, this plugin will add ALT and TITLE tags to your images. You can do this using the WordPress image uploader, but I don’t know many people who actually bother to do that – so this plugin does it automatically. By adding these to your image tags, you may find a huge influx of traffic from Google Image search.

seo friendly images plugin   10 Essential First Steps When Starting A Wordpress Blog

9. Join A Forum

Find a forum related to your particular topic and establish a presence there. Introduce yourself, make some good quality comments or advice on other threads, help some people out. After that, change your signature to include a link to your website, and repeat. This should give you a small trickle of visitors.

10. Social Networks

Be sure to announce your articles on your own social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and StumbleUpon – but don’t fall into the trap of promoting absolutely everything you write. Pick one or two of your best posts to promote, and you’ll be far more likely to get a good response and not piss people off in the process.

Done all that? Awesome, you should start seeing results soon. Got any other essential first steps or WordPress plugins you always install? Let us know in the comments!

Image credit: Shutterstock

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13 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Ben

Great post I have changed the permalinks of my wordpress blog and now looks alot better then before. 

Owner of – http://www.computersychio.com 

Reply

Clif Haley

Great tips.  Glad to see the Google Sitemap and Analytics setup.  I’d also add All in One SEO Pack or the Yoast SEO plugin…but maybe that doesn’t have to be in the first 10 steps of setting up your blog…at least within the first 25, though.

James Bruce

Yep, thats the next step ;)

Reply

Jennifer Jensen

I’m bookmarking this!  Going to be moving from a free wordpress blog (my domain name) to a .org.  Among other things, there are plug-ins you can’t use on wordpress.com, and Google Analytics is one of them.   Their “site stats” do okay, but I’d like to have the whole thing.  And use some affiliate programs!

Thanks for posting.

James Bruce

Glad to hear it Jennifer. WordPress.com is *very* restrictive, and I always recommend people start off straight away on their own domain and custom WP install. 

Reply

Jamie Northrup

Domain is key, and maybe also a WordPress Theme, there are so many great ones out there, for cheap or even free!

James Bruce

Themes are difficult. Certainly, they make all the difference, but a huge number of free ones out there are full of hidden links and nasty stuff. Stick to the big designers and you’ll only get good stuff. Trawling through the WordPress theme archive is just such a slog…

Reply

Asiru Nasir

Step by Step nicely executed….  Thanks for the post

Reply

Steve Lovelace

Regarding #1. I have found that the best way to build a collection of good, quality posts is to post on a schedule. I post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. WordPress has a built in scheduling function, and thanks to a simple plugin called Editorial Calendar, I can plan my posts for the weeks ahead.

James Bruce

Great advice Steve!

Reply

Thomas

Hi James
That is some great tips that I can only support. I have used most of them on my own WordPress blog. I wish I knew about these thing when I first started my blog, but I guess that is part being a blogger. Learn new tips and blog smarter :-)

Reply

Danceeatbeauty

Thank you so much for this post. Very helpful indeed for us newbies trying to navigate the blogosphere.

Reply

Self Esteem Tips

I am planning to build my own blog on wordpress.org. definitely your all these steps will help me to build a proper plan. I would like to request a article to write on “How can I move my blogger blog on wordpress?”. Thanks for this article.

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