Friday, April 8, 2011

How To Set Up The Perfect WordPress Blog

By Luke Jones

WordPress as a blogging platform is actually quite bland. I suppose that, with the support of the community, there really isn't a huge amount that the developers behind WordPress need to do to make the platform any better, apart from the odd security and interface upgrade. In all essence, it almost seems as thouth they copy wordpress versions from the past, with just a few additional features.

What this means for you is that WordPress is, in effect, a blank canvas that you can paint what ever way you like. There are many ways that you can do this, but for the moment, lets start with a few basic settings.

Essential Administration Configuration

Your permalinks will be the first thing that you want to change, not just becuase this makes your URL's look mich nicer and more professional, but because of the added search engine optimization benefits of having your chosen keywords in the URL. You should always include the post title, or even the keyword on its own on the domain at bare minimum. You can also opt to use categories too, which has its added SEO benefits.

I will generally change the URL in my general settings so that it includes the WWW. Although there is no real benefit of doing this from an SEO stand point, through testing, I believe that this ensues more trust from your visitors when they see this in the search engines.

As some themes support your profile information, it is worthwhile adding a short bio about yourself, changing your display name to your real name, plus creating an avatar by associating your admin email address with a Gravitar account. Fun photos work best.

Time To Get Plugged In

This is the part that I have the most fun with. I love messing around with plugins, and cant get enough of them. This is where the real usability of your blog comes from, but for the moment, I am going to offer the basics only.

The first plugin that I always use is All In One SEO. This allows you to add custom titles, and desctiptions to each page, which will allow you to appear more relevant in the search engines, plus the added ability to sell via the search engines.

Tracking visitors is also of huge benefit, so a plugin such as Google Analyticator will help you install tracking codes from Google Analytics, so that you can monitor your traffic numbers, and focus on improvements.

Lets Not Forget Themes

There are so many theme makers that are always going to compete for your attention, but most of these come at a cost. Remember, there is a large directory of free themes available via your appearance tab if you dont want to invest in themes just yet, all of which can be installed with a click of the mouse without having to mess around with FTP settings and the such. This is a great way to make your blog unique compared to the rest of the crowd.

This should hopefully get you up and running in no time with WordPress. As an added power tip, I generally like to make a copy wordpress file of my perfect installation, plugins included, as this saves me time later on down the track. The choice is yours. I wish you luck with your Wordpress blog, and dont be afraid to experiment! That's only half the fun.

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