Written By: Adam Dince
One of my favorite hobbies is blogging about different topics across many niche areas of digital marketing and advertising. I’ve found that the two most important qualities of having a successful blog is its content and look and feel. After many many months of redesigns and iterations, I’m thrilled with how my blog site looks.
I’m always asked to help people develop their blog sites, so I felt compelled to write an article that acts as a resource for those who want to get started creating their own. In this post, I share some of the tools, plug-ins, and tips that will help you create an awesome WordPress blog site.
Domain Name and Hosting:
One of the most important things about your blog is its domain name. From a branding and SEO perspective, it all starts with the right domain strategy. I highly recommend using GoDaddy.com for domain name research and registration.
GoDaddy.com also offers excellent WordPress hosting packages. For about $65 – $70 bucks, you can register a domain name and get WordPress hosting/support for an entire year. Yes, I know there are other providers, but I prefer GoDaddy.
Domain Name & Hosting Tips:
1. Think about your brand and what you want to be relevant for:
– If you’re looking to build out your personal brand, I would register your name (e.g., adamdince.com)
– If you’re looking to gain visibility for a particular niche or skill, keyword research and social listening can help you identify the most relevant terms to use in your domain name (e.g., searchengineland.com)
2. Register your domain name for more than a year. Typically SPAM sites register their domains for shorter periods of time, so the longer your domain name is registered, the more trust your domain will have with search engines.
3. Try to land a .com. While .co and .net are also viable options, it’s easier to remember .com’s.
4. If you’re a bigger brand, don’t give in to the latest ICANN extortion plot to buy your brand’s TLD (e.g., .IBM)
5. Sign-up for at least a one-year hosting plan. This reduces the risk of forgetting to pay your bill and losing everything you’ve built.
Selecting The Right WordPress Theme:
Your WordPress theme should fit your personality; if you don’t like looking at your blog, neither will anyone else. Take your time selecting a theme, and remember—you can typically swap WP themes out fairly easily. Here are a few sites that offer a variety of free WP theme choices:
If you’re not happy with the themes on the above listed domains, I highly recommend Googling “free wordpress themes” and checking out the search results.
Plug-Ins and Tools:
Okay, I’m going to sound like a total geek here, but I LOVE playing around with WordPress plug-ins and tools. Furthermore, I’m a huge fan of powering Websites with social media and SEO functionality. Here are some of the most useful plug-ins and tools that I use on my site/blog (listed in alphabetical order):
- All In One Favicon – This plug-in will help you install a favicon that will appear in your browser, left of the URL
- All In One SEO Pack – This plug-in is essential to helping you optimize your Website for organic search! Definitely install this tool
- Captcha – I used to receive close to 75 comment spam notifications per day. After activating Captcha, it’s droppped to down to zero
- GetSocial – Is the social toolbar that you see on the left of my Webpage. It makes liking, +1’s, etc… much easier to do. While this is a nice plug-in, I recommend looking for a social bookmarking tool that compliments the look and feel of your site
- Google Analytics – This plug-in makes integrating Google Analytics into your WordPress theme a sinch
- Google XML Sitemaps – I love this plug-in. Google XML Sitemaps allows you to easily recreate and republish your XML sitemap right from your WP dashboard interface. Furthermore, this tool notifies the major search engines of updates to your XML sitemap. This is a must have!
- Outbrain – Allows your Website readers to rate your content which gives you an option to enable a widget called “Most Popular Posts”. What I love most about the Outbrain plug-in is that it provides your readers with other blog post recommendations that they might like to read. This should hopefully increase time-on-site and pageviews metrics. Furthermore, Outbrain provides you with a log-in to their Website so you can keep track of user interaction with the Outbrain tool on your site
- Show Twitter Followers – Allows you to show your Website visitors a sample of who is following you on Twitter. This plug-in also provides readers an easy way to click and follow you as well
- Twylah – If you are a Tweetaholic, Twylah will organize your trending tweets in a topical format so that your users can easily find your Twitter content. Twylah is free and you’re crazy if you don’t use it! Checkout my Twylah page (which I threw on a subdomain) http://tweets.adamdince.com
- WP-DB Manager – Allows you to back-up, optimize and work directly with your WordPress database. Optimizing your database on a regular basis is helpful in maximizing your site’s speed
- WP Minify – This plug-in allows you to easily combine and compress JS and CSS files to improve page load time
Other Quick Tips/Advice:
- User Experience: It’s all about the user-experience! Make sure that your readers enjoy using your site and can easily find what they’re looking for
- Make It Sexy: Use engaging imagery and videos to compliment your content. This should increase time on site as well as advocacy
- Socialization: Socialize your content on Twitter, Facebook, and other social communities (e.g., bloggers.com)
- Write Regularly: Try to post at least once a month—once a week is optimal
- Make It Personal: Tell people your story. If people can relate with you on a personal level, they are more likely to subscribe to your RSS feed and share your content. My personal pages are “My Story” and “Sam’s Page“
- RSS Feeds: Make sure that your Website/blog has an easily findable RSS feed
- On-Site Search: Make sure your Website has an on-site search tool in order to help your readers easily find content
I would love to hear about any plug-ins you enjoy using. So please do share within the comment box below or visit my contact page. In the future, I will be adding more blogging tips! Also, feel free to share this with your friends!