I would like to thank Keith for this awesome opportunity to meet some new folks and engage in a conversation at one of my favorite blogs! I write about Technology & cool finds in the Internet at ShanKri-la.
I just recently helped a friend move from WordPress.com blog to a self-hosted blog. As I was implementing little tweaks in it I figured that it will be great to have a list of things I did so others can use it too. Here are the tweaks in no particular order.
Although most of these tweaks are aimed at a new WordPress blog, I still have a couple or more in this list that I need to implement in ShanKri-la. I hope you will find one or two that you can use too even if you have blogged for a while.
- WWW or no WWW: It is best to make up your mind to use www or not in your URL. Once you have made up your mind, you should set it up to redirect so whatever a reader types in, they will be redirected to the one of your choice.
- Permalink structure: Another important choice to make is about your permalink structure. Urls such as the ones with post titles are more search engine and reader friendly than the ones with “?id=78″.
If you ever change your permalink structure after you have built some link juice, don’t lose them but use a WordPress Plugin such as Dean’s Permalink Migration that’ll do the job for you.
- Add a Robots.txt file: Use a robots.txt file optimized for SEO. Take a look at this sample robots.txt file to make your WordPress blog Google friendly.
- Use Google Webmaster Tools: If you would like to make your site optimized for Google, Webmaster Tools is such an awesome resource. Find out how to use it to your advantage with this Blogger’s Guide to Webmaster Tools.
- Custom 404 Error Page: If a reader lands on an error page for any reason, try to help them with things such as popular posts or a tag cloud. If they are a search engine directed reader, you can offer posts related to their search terms.
I use this excellent plugin by AskApache Google 404 that converts any 404 into such a rich AJAX powered page for me. Take a peek here if you’d like to see a sample 404 page at ShanKri-la.
- Be SEO Friendly: Install All In One SEO plugin and start optimizing your blog for search engine traffic from the get go. This is usually done by most bloggers after they learn about it maybe months after they start blogging.
- Feed Redirect: Use a plugin like Feedburner Feedsmith to redirect all your feed to the Feedburner feed. And don’t forget to turn off Feedburner urls in the feed. Why make it harder for your fellow bloggers wanting to link to you?
Oh yeah, burn your feed at FeedBurner if you haven’t already done so and get cool stats about your subscribers for free.
- Contact Form: Add a contact form to let your readers connect to you.
- Subscribe to Comments: Offer the ability to subscribe to email notification when new comments appear on the one a reader commented on to keep the discussion going. Beats having to check the post for new comments.
- Separate Comments from Trackbacks: WordPress by default shows comments and trackbacks together. I think it is nice separate them out to keep it looking nice and clean. Your readers will give $10 for this feature. Or not.
- Sitemaps: For Google to start indexing your blog, you would have to submit your sitemap. A plugin such as Google XML Sitemaps makes your life easy by generating Sitemap.xml file compatible with multiple search engines.
- Track Your RSS Subscription: If you are on your way to increasing your RSS subscribers, why not keep an accurate track of new signups with this useful technique. This can look a little daunting but let me know if you need help with it.
- Add Google Search: You can add Google Search for your blog and your readers can choose to search your site or the web. Find out how to do this here.
- Feed Autodiscovery: A lot of recent browsers like Firefox, Internet Explorer 7, Opera, Safari, etc. can auto detect your blog’s RSS feed and show an orange icon for a reader. Make sure you have your blog with the right feeds set for auto-discovery with this excellent guide. You could also get your Comments feed to be auto-discovered.
- Add WordPress 2.3 Tags: If your theme was coded before WordPress 2.3 was released, follow this post to add WordPress 2.3 Tags to your old theme and spice it up with some cool Tag Clouds.
Let’s not stop with the 15 in this list but you can make this post into a great reference by sounding off your own tips & tweaks you have implemented in the comments.
What tweaks did you make in your WordPress blog?