This guest post is by Marcela De Vivo of Gryffin.co.
These articles are powerful, but often I find myself speaking with people who don’t have a blog yet, or are using Blogger or custom made, cumbersome platforms. Just this week alone I went through these steps with four different people who want to jump on the blogging bandwagon.
In this article we will go back to basics for those who haven’t started their blog yet, or who are on platforms that are hindering their progress.
If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to improve your blogging presence—or start a new one—read on!
We’ll go through a step-by-step process, including tools and resources for each step, to set up a WordPress blog that is optimized for social and search marketing success.
Setting up your WordPress blog
WordPress is currently the most popular content management platform. It can be used for static pages or as a blog. You can add plugins for a shopping cart, image galleries, and much more.
Here’s how to set it up.
- Register your domain with sites like Register.com, Godaddy.com, or Enom.com
- Create a hosting account with sites like BlueHost.com, WPEngine, or HostGator. If you would like to do more research on hosting companies, check out WhoIsHostingThis.
- Select a WordPress theme. I personally love using StudioPress as the themes are clean, functional, and easy to work with. Search for a responsive theme so your blog will be accessible to mobile users.
- Is your site running on a different CMS or platform? Consider using a blog migration service, such as BlogWranglers, to move your current site over to WordPress. Hundreds of thousands have done it, with no regrets.
- Upload WordPress to your hosting account, and customize with your relevant theme. If you are not a techie, this is the part where you’ll need some help. Check out Elance.com, Freelancer.com, or a site like Craiglist.org to find someone who can help you set up and customize your template.
- Install WordPress plugins.
Let’s take a deeper look at the plugins you’ll need.
Setting up your plugins
These are the social media plugins I recommend you consider.
- Disqus or CommentLuv for comments
- Digg Digg for social engagement
- The Slide to recommend related articles
- Social Metrics for a quick look at your social engagement from your Dashboard
- MailChimp to collect email addresses for email marketing
My favorite SEO plugins include these ones.
- WordPress by Yoast
- BWP Google XML SiteMaps
- Outbrain for related articles at the end of each post
Usability plugins can be a huge help. Consider these:
Doing keyword research
To gain exposure from search engines, you need to have your blog focused on a theme. Select a primary keyword within this general theme for each page of the site. You can read more about keyword research in this ProBlogger article.
Select keywords by identifying low-competition and high-search terms for your industry from Google’s Keyword tool.
Other tools you can use include:
Prepare content for your static pages and images
While a designer/programmer is working on setting up your site, you can start by writing and preparing content for your site.
A well-optimized page includes the primary keywords in the Title of the page, Meta Description tag, H1 tag, once or twice in the body, and in an outbound link.
As you’re preparing your content, remember these elements of an excellent blog post:
- Post title: creative and compelling
- Social share icons: make sharing your content easy
- Image: an image speaks louder than words
- Opening paragraph: include keywords in a teaser into the introduction
- Body copy: use headers and bold words
- Lists: make your content easy to scan
- Conclusion: include a teaser for your next article
- Related posts: give them more content to consume
- Comment section: Always respond to comments
Read Darren’s compilation from earlier this year for more information on each element in The Anatomy of a Better Blog Post.
Connect your site for optimum findability
By this point you should have a WordPress blog with a range of enhancements made possible by plugins and other customizations. You will have SEO plugins to improve your on-page SEO, page load times, keyword density, site maps, and other relevant SEO features.
You will also have a selection of social plugins so that you can encourage social shares from your site. You will have other features such as contact forms, tracking, reporting, and an email signup box to build your email list.
Incorporating keyword research will help you to deliver the content that people are looking for in a way that lets it be found. You can write articles based on long-tail terms, answer questions that your audience may have, and target hundreds of keywords by writing articles specific to each one.
So what are you waiting for? Make your New Year’s Resolution a reality and start your new blog today. And if you have any suggestions of plugins, tools, or services to add to this list, please do share!
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer who writes about blogging, SEO and social media at Gryffin.co/blog.