Now that you have your blog setup, you will need to do some modifications to it to make it more search engine friendly, less likely to be labeled as spam by the ping engines (more on this in a little bit), and less of a hassle for you down the road.
Modify the Permalink Structure
The very first thing, and one of the most important things, is to setup appropriate permalinks. Permalinks generate a nice friendly url structure to the search engines (e.g. instead of “http://www.yourdomain.com/blog/?p=2, you’ll get http://www.yourdomain.com/your-first-article-title.html). To do this, login in the admin area of your blog (http://www.yourdomain.com/blog/wp-admin), click on “Settings” -> “Permalinks”, then enter this is the custom box:
Now all of your posts will have the proper url structure.
Now it’s time to move on to installing the appropriate plugins. Installing plugins is super easy, all you have to do is go to Plugins -> Add New. Now all you have to do is search for the appropriate plugin name, click on it, then click install to add it to your blog (if necessary, click the activate button as well). Just in case you have any issues finding them, or just want the easy link, I’ve included the links below. These are the plugins that I’m actually using, and that I think you should use as well:
- All in One SEO – once installed, if you want to follow the settings that I’m using, see this screen shot:
- MBP Ping Optimizer – once installed, edit the settings, and copy and paste over the “URIs to Ping” list with the following list:
- Twitter Tools – once installed, edit the settings, and follow this screen shot:
- Ultimate Google Analytics – once installed, edit the settings, and update the “Account ID” for your google analytics account id. You’ll obviously need a google analytics account, and you can get that setup here (link will open in a new tab).
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – once installed, you don’t really need to edit the settings, unless you just want to. I have changed a few things on mine, particularly increasing the maximum number of related posts to 7, and adding a maximum of 3 related posts to my rss feed.
Install a Theme
Themes are easy to install, and there are zillions out there. I recommend using a theme with a fixed width, and 2 columns with the sidebar on the right. Most people who read blogs tend to expect the sidebar on the right, and generally, you don’t need more than 1 column within your sidebar.
To install a theme, go to “Appearance” -> “Themes”, click on the “Install Themes” tab, search for a theme, find the one you want, and click on “Install”. It really is that easy!
Last but not least. Go to “Appearance” -> “Widgets” and drag and drop the “Recent Posts” widget into the sidebar area. This will make sure that your latest posts will appear in the sidebar of your blog, and thus search engines will always be able to index your latest content. You can change the number of posts to show if you wish, the default is 5, I’m showing 10 links in my sidebar under “Recent Posts”. You can install other widgets like the “Categories” widget, the “Archives” widget, etc. if you like, but the big one to make sure you have in there is the “Recent Posts” widget.
These modifications to your blog will help optimize your on-page SEO, ensure your new content gets indexed in Google and the other search engines, enable visitor tracking, and increase your visibility on the social networks. It will probably take a little time to implement, but it is well worth it. And just to reiterate, I use every one of these plugins on my own blog.