Content has always been king when it comes to helping a website increase in rankings. And with the release of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates over the last 2 years, unique content on a site is even more important.
Having a blog, either as part of your current site or as an entity all by itself, is a great way to regularly update content on a site. There are a handful of content management systems available but using WordPress is both user friendly and able to incorporate SEO best practices easily, even for beginners. If starting a blog has been a goal of yours but you haven’t been sure where to start, then read on.
Finding a Domain for Your WordPress Site
First you will need a domain and hosting. I typically use GoDaddy.com to research and purchase available domains. Your first choice may not be available, but the best thing to remember when choosing a domain is to pick one that reflects your site, includes a targeted keyword or two, and is easy for users to remember.
Once you have a domain you will need somewhere to host your site. Wordpress offers two options for publishing a blog. The first can be found at Wordpress.com and is hosted by WordPress. With this option you don’t have much control when it comes to customizing your site. The second, and the option that is recommended and offers you 100% control, is to self host your blog. There are plenty of hosting providers to help you with this step, but be sure to shop around as some cost more than others. Keep in mind that a more expensive hosting cost may be due to extra services offered. Once hosting is set up you will want to install WordPress. Many of the hosting providers include this as an option but if for some reason yours doesn't, you can find some helpful tips here. If your current website is already set up and self hosted with WordPress installed, then adding a blog to your site should be fairly simple depending on the theme you are using. Which brings us to our next step - customizing your WordPress blog.
Customizing Your WordPress Blog
One of the first things I always do is change the theme. WordPress themes come in all varieties, from your very basic customizing options to those that include all the bells and whistles. Many are free and others will cost you an annual fee to use. Options for customizing your site can include uploading a customized logo or picture, changing the colors for the site, adding a sidebar or two, having a blog only site, or a site with static pages in addition to your blog. You could spend hours perusing WordPress themes online, but to speed up the process take note of other WordPress sites you like. Find out which theme they are using and if it fits within your budget, use the same one.
If your blog is for a corporate business or an institution of higher learning you will want to choose a theme that looks professional and reflects your company’s culture. You might even want to hire a developer to help you achieve the desired look if your technical skills aren’t up for the task. If you are a small business you may have a bit more flexibility with the style and tone of your blog depending on the products and services you offer. You might be surprised just how many business websites use WordPress blogs, including our very own SEO.com. Here are a few other examples of sites using WordPress:
Once your blog looks the way you want it to, the next step is to install your plugins. Simply put, plugins are components that add specific functions and abilities to your site. There are literally hundreds to choose from and they can all be installed and utilized through your WordPress dashboard or the back end of your site. (If you will be the one managing updates to your site you will want to become very familiar with the dashboard and all of its functions).
As I stated above, there are hundreds of WordPress plugins available. To help you get started you might do a search for “best WordPress plugins” and get an idea of the general consensus among WordPress enthusiasts. My own essential list includes the following:
- FD Feedburner Plugin
- Google Analytics for WordPress
- Related Posts Thumbnails
- Twitter Facebook Social Share
- Wordpress SEO by Yoast
- Enhanced Linking
Now, Get to Work!
A WordPress blog is not just for the casual blogger. Companies big and small, as well as individuals are utilizing WordPress blogs to add value and unique content to their sites. Much of your knowledge with WordPress will grow the more you use it, but WordPress does host conferences all over the world for those looking to increase their knowledge. Check their schedule to find a local WordCamp in your area, but most importantly get started on your WordPress blog today.