Specific Tips For Making Your WordPress Blog Better!
Update: I have provided an HTML version of this Ebook that you can read here on this page as you scroll down. You can also download a PDF version by clicking on the Download button below. I am not asking for any donations for this ebook… just for you to “like” my Facebook page in return. Hope you enjoy the free ebook!
This is a free downloadable Ebook to help you make your WordPress Blog better than your competitors. Period. If you have a blog or are starting one, chances are you are competing in a niche with at least 1 other blogger.
In terms of technology chances are that they are using WordPress just like you. This evens the playing field between you and the competitor. This Ebook will help you utilize ALL of the technology available to you through WordPress in such a way that your competitors will not be able to keep up.
I cover 24 specific steps in detail that will help transform your WordPress blog into a high performing masterpiece. These steps are centered around technical things such as theme modifications and plugins. This ebook assumes that you are already doing your best to provide quality content to your readers.
One of the many wonderful characteristics of the WordPress CMS, is that you don’t need to be an experienced programmer to make your blog better. In other words, you can advance the functionality of your blog without ever touching code. Basically I am referring to WordPress Plugins. But which ones do you install? Which ones are a waste of time? I show you the way with this free ebook.
Who Is This Ebook For?
Anyone who runs a blog using the open source WordPress content management system and is looking for ways to increase traffic and readership to that blog. This Ebook is not for bloggers who use a different blogging platform other than WordPress. It’s also not for bloggers who blog “just for fun”. These tips are only helpful to the serious blogger.
Once You Have Read This Ebook You Will…
Have access to the same tools and information for improving your blog that the big bloggers do. So many of the high performing, high traffic blogs are quick to share information to you on what makes their blog “tick” if it’s going to make them money. This Ebook unlocks those secrets and delivers all the information directly to you.
Table Of Contents
- WordPress SEO Tricks = 6 Steps
- Getting More Reader Participation = 1 Step
- Get Social Media Crazy = 2 Steps
- Improving Your Readers Experience = 4 Steps
- All About RSS = 2 Steps
- Analytics & Tracking Improvement = 2 Steps
- Improving Your Blogs Performance = 5 Steps
- A Few More Things = 2 Steps
- Take Your Design Seriously
- Make Sure You Have The Right Hosting
- Learning To Become A Better Blogger = 10 Key Resources
- Some Words of Inspiration
- Who Is Chase Sagum? – About The Author
About The Author – Chase Sagum
I have been designing and developing WordPress blogs since 2005. Since that time I have created over 500 custom designed and developed blogs for various clients. I began blogging myself in early 2006 when I started this blog ChaseSagum.com. I am also the webmaster for Bestplayerontheplanet.com where I cover my other passion – NBA Basketball.
Over the course of my time working on over 500 different blogs, I have developed 24 specific steps that make each WordPress blog outperform it’s counterparts. This Ebook is an accumulation of all my work for with WordPress for the past 4 years. I hope you find this information valuable. I wish you the best of luck in your WordPress efforts!
WordPress Insider Secrets
The Step-By-Step Guide To Making Your WordPress Blog Better! – By Chase K Sagum
This Ebook is all about one thing, making your Worpdress blog better than your competitors’. Period. If you have a blog or are starting one, chances are you are competing in a niche with at least 1 other blogger. If for some reason this competitor of yours is not using WordPress, then you already have him/her beat. It then becomes a competition of who can be the better blogger and who can produce the best content in your niche.
But, chances are that your competitor is using the same powerful open source content management system that you are. That being WordPress of course. Millions of people have a self-hosted WordPress blog. But very few use it to its full capacity. This Ebook will give you 24 specific tips and tricks for making that blog of yours head and shoulders above the “evil competitor’s”. What does all this translate into for you? More traffic, more readers, and more cash! Making you the authority blogger in your niche.
Let’s Get Right Into It
The insider tips that I am going to give you are technical details, as in specific technical things you can do to your WordPress blog to make it better. These tips assume that you are actively blogging and creating content to the best of your abilities. Later on I will point you to several resources that can help you with content-specific areas of your blogging.
One of the many beautiful characteristics of WordPress is that you don’t need to be an experienced programmer to make your blog better. Thanks to community extensions such as Plugins and Themes, almost anyone is capable of adding new functionality and abilities to their blog. If by chance performing the tasks that I give you in this Ebook are outside your area of expertise, I will point you to some people later on this Ebook who might be able to assist you.
Please note: all plugins and modifications contained in this Ebook have been thoroughly tested. All work with the most current version of WordPress, which at the time of this writing is version 3.0.4. All plugins mentioned are either free or open source.
WordPress SEO Tricks – 6 Steps
SEO (search engine optimization) plays a critical role in blogging. It’s pretty difficult to debate this. Without SEO, you run the risk of people not being able to find your blog through Google. To this day 90% of my traffic comes from Google. That’s how important SEO is. A commonality amongst many self-hosted WordPress blogs is that they lack the proper tools and customizations necessary to make their blog posts and blog as a whole search engine friendly. If people can’t find your articles through Google, then they most likely will never find you. And as a result you will most likely never get the traffic your content deserves.
Step 1: Install the Platinum SEO Plugin
This plugin provides many SEO benefits to your blog. The biggest here being the ability to customize your page titles for your pages and posts. This is critical because the Page Title is one of the most important things in SEO. It’s what shows up as the title in the search engine results pages. Other benefits of this plugin include avoiding duplicate content, automatic 301 directs for any permalink changes, and the auto generation of meta descriptions for each blog post that you write. This plugin also has a sweet auto-suggest tags tool that I highly recommend using.
Step 2: Install the Google XML Sitemaps Plugin
This plugin automatically generates a Google-friendly XML sitemap, and does so every time you add a new post or page. This is critical to updating Google properly of all the new content you are constantly adding to your blog. I honestly cannot imagine a blog without this plugin. Your sitemap is also generated for Ask.com, MSN search, and Yahoo! The Sitemap is generated automatically, so you never have to even worry about creating or generating one on your own time.
Step 3: Install the SEO Friendly Images Plugin
Thanks to Google’s Image Search, your images in your blog posts play a critical role in driving traffic to your blog. In SEO, it’s important to have both the ALT and the TITLE attributes in detail for each and every image. These attributes tell Google about your image. So if you have an image of “Michael Jackson” you want to make sure that your ALT and TITLE attributes are created in such a way to make it possible for you to come up in the Google Image Search Results. This plugin saves you tons of time by automatically creating those attributes for you based off your preferences.
Step 4: Install the Broken Link Checker Plugin
Linking to outside resources is a good thing with blogging, but not if those links are dead and your readers are being taken to nowhere. There’s no sense in passing on your hard earned Google page rank to sites that don’t exist. This plugin will consistently provide a report for you of what broken links you have and where exactly they are so that you can quickly edit them.
Step 5: Configure Your Permalink Structure
This will change the default permalinks which look something like this: www.example.com/?p=13 to something like this: www.example.com/2009/09/michael-jackson. To do this go to: Settings >>Permalinks in your WordPress admin. From there select the option titled “Month and Name” and save your changes.
Step 6: Install the SEO Smart Links Plugin
In order to get good solid search engine optimization all across your blog, you want to make sure that you are linking to other posts within your blog whenever you get a chance. This is called “Internal Linking” and plays an important role with Google’s search engine results. This plugin will allow you to associate specific keywords or phrases with a specific link so that it’s automatically linked every time. So for example, you could link to www.google.com automatically everytime the word “Google” shows up in your blog posts. You will find this plugin extremely useful for your affiliate links as well.
Getting More Reader Participation – 1 Step
It’s a fact: the blogger who is able to get more participation from his readers is the blogger who is going to get all of the attention. But this can be tricky. Your content has to be engaging, and of an intelligent manner in order to get people to voice their opinions. But there are some specific tools that can be used in order to get people to “pipe up” and to create more of a community around your blog.
Step 1: Install the Subscribe to Comments Reloaded Plugin
This plugin is crucial to getting people to participate in a conversation. It allows the commenter to subscribe via email to the comment thread that he/she is commenting too. They are now able to be notified of every single subsequent comment to see what people say after them. This engages the reader into the conversation and get’s them coming back to your blog to reply to more comments.
Get Social Media Crazy – 2 Steps
Once you get your blog articles going viral in the Social Media sphere, there’s no going back. You’ll have more traffic than you honestly ever imagined. But it’s up to you as the blog master. By providing the proper tools, you can make it easier for readers to push your content through social media channels like Twitter, Digg, and Stumbleupon to name a few.
Step 1: Install the Sharedaddy Plugin
Have you ever seen those icons on the bottom of someone’s blog article for Twitter, Digg, Mixx etc. That’s essentially what this plugin does for you. It allows you to customize what social media outlets you want to display to your readers. This plugin is a mandatory for social media success with your WordPress blog. These buttons, when clicked on by the user, lead your reader to the social media site to have your content submitted.
Step 2: Install the Twitter Tools Plugin
This is one of the most flexible and complex plugins for WordPress. But you need it for your blog for a couple basic reasons. The first is that this plugin will allow you to post “Tweets” from your WordPress admin screen so you can tweet while you blog. Second it will post a “Tweet” every time you write a new blog post with the title and the url of the post. And finally third it will create an automatic post either daily or weekly (your choice) of your all your Tweets. Some very powerful stuff!
Improving Your Reader’s Experience – 4 Steps
Improving the user experience can mean so many things in the world of web development and web design. In this instance, since it’s blogs we are dealing with, it’s all about making your content presentable to the reader; making it easier for the reader to find the content you want them to see. WordPress straight out of the box doesn’t completely help solve this need for you as the blog author. There are a few customizations that need to be done.
Step 1: Install the Popularity Contest Plugin
This plugin keeps track of each individual blog post’s views, total number of comments, and trackbacks to determine which of your blog posts are truly the most popular. You can then use the widget for this plugin to show the most popular posts in your sidebar, making it easy for your readers to find the posts that your other readers have enjoyed.
Step 2: Install the WP-PageNavi Plugin
Wordpress by default does not have a very intuitive way of browsing through posts within categories and archives, or even the main loop itself. This plugin adds a navigation at the bottom of the WordPress loop that looks very similar to the navigation at the bottom of Google search results when you do a Google search. This makes it very easy for the user to browse older posts that you have written.
Step 3: Install the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
This plugin gives your blog some powerful functionality. When a reader is viewing one of your blog posts, they are presented (usually at the bottom of each post) a list of your other blog posts that are most relevant to the one they are reading. Keeps readers interested in your blog and keeps them coming back!
Step 4: Install the Smart YouTube Plugin
It doesn’t matter what topic you are covering, you’ve gotta put YouTube videos in your blog from time to time. It creates an element of Multimedia to your site which improves the look and the credibility of your blog. But embedding them properly can actually be a little tricky. This plugin makes it easy (through shortcodes) to embed youtube videos in your posts. It products valid XHTML code so that it’s embedded properly.
All About RSS – 2 Steps
RSS or ‘really simple syndication’ is the fuel that runs your blog. You have to make it easy for your readers to subscribe to and read your RSS feed. You also want to be able to track the communication between your readers and your RSS feed as much as possible. There are a few steps we can do to accomplish this.
Step 1 : Install the Feedburner Plugin
Set up a free account at feedburner.google.com. You want to use Feedburner as your RSS source so that you can track how many RSS subscribers you have. The Feedburner plugin will redirect all links on your blog that go to your feed to your new Feedburner RSS URL.
Step 2: Install the WP Greet Box Plugin
This terrific plugin will display a message just below your post title and just above your content recommending to your readers that they subscribe to your RSS feed. This is an easy way to remind people that you have an RSS feed and that you would like them to subscribe.
Analytics & Tracking Improvement – 2 Steps
If you are new to web analytics, I recommend using the free service from Google Analytics. It’s very easy to use and it’s pretty intuitive. Most bloggers (pros and novices included) use Google Analytics to track their traffic. But there are a few specific things that can be analyzed that most bloggers don’t look into. And the information you can gather from these sources, as well as the adjustments you make because of them could be the difference. Here two Google Analytics plugins you definitely need:
Step 1: Install the Google Analytics for WordPress Plugin
Pretty simple but useful plugin here. This plugin easily adds your Google Analytics tracking code to all pages & posts within your blog. You can tag outgoing links for your analytics without slowing down your blog. This means that you can track all clicks on your Adsense ads as well as tracking downloads.
Step 2: Install the RSS Link Tagger for Google Analytics
This plugin allows your Google Analytics account to track posts that are read via RSS. Believe it or not, without this you can’t really track how many of your readers that day read your article through an RSS feed. This plugin takes care of this potentially frustrating issue.
Improving Your Blog’s Performance – 5 Steps
There are many things that go on behind the scenes with WordPress that allow it to be the amazing application that it is. Because of this there are a few things that can be done from time to time to help keep WordPress and your web server performing well. You can almost guarantee that your competitor in your niche is not doing these things. Not to mention your blog will perform at lightning speed both for you and your readers.
Step 1: Install the WP Super Cache Plugin
This plugin generates static html files for your dynamic WordPress blog. Why do you need this? Because every time someone visits one of your blog posts, WordPress has to query its MySQL database, which after a couple hundred visits can take quite the toll on your web server and make your blog very very slow. This will eliminate that problem, making your blog load at a minimum 10x faster.
Step 2: Activate the Askimet Plugin
Pound for pound the most important plugin you could ever activate for your WordPress blog. It comes with your WordPress blog automatically. All you need to do is activate it and then get an API key from WordPress.com to get it working. This plugin does one thing, kill comment spam!
Step 3: Install the Optimize DB Plugin
This plugin runs an ‘optimize table’ command in MySQL for your WordPress database tables, basically defragmenting it. This will keep your MySQL database moving and performing quickly, which in turn effects how fast your blog is loading for your viewers. This will also have a big effect on your WordPress admin panel, as that involves querying MySQL the most.
Step 4: Install the WP Security Scan Plugin
This plugin will automatically scan your WordPress installation for security vulnerabilities and then returns suggestions or corrective actions. Every once in while your WordPress blog can possibly be vulnerable to a “Hack Attack” of some kind. When it happens, and I speak from experience on this, it can be very difficult to diagnose what specifically the problem is. This plugin takes care of that. It scans all the WordPress files as well as the WordPress database and looks for any malicious threats.
Step 5: Install the Cookies for Comments Plugin
I actually did not come across this plugin until Matt Cutts talked about it at WordCamp 2009 in San Francisco. This plugin drops a “cookie” in the person’s browser when they leave a comment. The cookie is then checked. This means that a bot cannot auto submit comments to your posts so you know the person is real! This along with the before mentioned Askimet plugin will eliminate your blog from ever being a victim of spam!
A Few More Things – 2 Steps
There are a few other steps that don’t exactly categorize themselves with the before mentioned. But nevertheless they are just as important. Skip these steps only if you plan on losing traffic to the other bloggers in your niche.
Step 1: Install the WP-DB-Backup Plugin
If your blog was your sword, your MySQL WordPress database is your shield. Lose it and your blog is nothing. You want to backup your WordPress database often. This plugin will allow you easily with 1 click backup your WordPress database. You will want to do this daily if you are a serious blogger. Othwerise you run the risk of losing all of your blog posts and comments and never being able to recoup your losses.
Step 2: Install the WPTouch iPhone Theme
This theme displays itself to iPhone users only. It gives them an iPhone App-looking application that’s actually your blog! Cool huh? It actually works with the iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, and Blackberry storm. You don’t even have to configure anything with this theme. Just upload, activate and go! This essentially makes your blog more usable and readable through the iPhone.
Take Your Design Seriously!
Imagine yourself as the reader. You are browsing around the web and come across a blog. The first thing you see is that bright blue background in the header. “Ouch” you think to yourself. “He’s still using the default WordPress theme!” What do you do? You continue on browsing somewhere else. Why is this so bad you ask? It shows that the blogger is not serious. Not committed to his craft.
Design plays a huge role in your online blogging success. But many people fail in this area due to a lack of education on the subject. I have found that bloggers either 1) don’t put enough effort into their blog’s design or 2) put too much emphasis on images and artwork and not enough on text and content. In blog design it’s all about where Functionality meets Design. The two have to work hand in hand. If the design takes your reader’s eyes off of your content, then you have lost the battle my friend.
Seek For Some Design Inspiration
A simple Google search for the phrase “blog design inspiration” will give you a bunch of blog articles displaying the newest hippest designs in the blog world. I always recommend doing this so that you can have a specific idea of how you want your design to look. Make specific notes on everything you like. From the header to the footer. To the font type. To the color scheme. And everything in between. Be specific. Sculpt out on paper exactly how you will want your blog to look. Here are a couple of resources that I turn to for blog design inspiration:
- 45 More Excellent Blog Designs – Smashing Magazine
- 100 Nice & Beautiful Blog Designs – HongKiat.com
- 70 Fresh & Inspirational Blog Designs – InstantShift
Look Into Premium WordPress Themes
Some of you may be capable of designing your blog on your own. But for those of you who aren’t, a premium customizable blog theme may be right for you. Before you invest in a custom designed blog, take a look around the Premium WordPress Themes market. These themes are created by professional blog designers. There may be a theme that already fits what you had in mind and only needs a few minor changes. The going price for a premium theme is typically anywhere from $50 – $150. So you end up saving a lot of money if you do go this route. These are the best of the best premium theme providers in the market:
Now there are many other premium providers out there. But these are the 7 that I have had a great experience with. But a quick glance at their websites and you can see the quality of WordPress themes that these guys create. And if you can find one that you like, you can save yourself quite a bit of money and time.
Make Sure You Have The Right Hosting
I’m still amazed to this day how many people still host their WordPress Blogs at places like GoDaddy. Don’t get me wrong, a place like GoDaddy is a great place to purchase and host your domain names. But it’s not a good place to host a serious WordPress blog. There are so many hosting companies in the market today. There are 2 that I have personally had great experiences with that I would recommend:
I currently host all of my blogs with these 2 companies. Both companies are so quick and efficient at solving any problems when/if they occur. They also have all of the preconfigurations necessary to do anything WordPress needs to do so you don’t run into any problems.
Learning To Become A Better Blogger – 10 Key Resources
When it comes to being a better blogger, there are 10 specific resources that I rely on, most of which are of course blogs. But these blogs are written by people who are truly successful in the art of blogging. So as you can imagine, their insight into the topic is profound and ground-breaking. I’ve spent the last 3 1?2 years reading countless Ebooks and blog articles from various sources. These I have found to be the most profound and the most beneficial:
Ever since I began blogging back in 2006 I have subscribed to this blog’s RSS feed. And with great reason. I have learned so much of what I know now from Darren, through his blog posts each day. Everything from how to write a better blog post, to improving your social media presence and everything in between. You will find this blog by Darren Rowse informative and inspirational.
A blog written by Brian Clark which I use as a great source for learning how to better write copy for my online content. Brian, just like Darren Rowse, has a terrific talent for explaining what he knows. I was always the guy who would spend hours just to write 400 or 500 words. This blog has helped me learn how to generate content ideas and get those ideas on paper into a format that is helpful to my blog readers. Super helpful blog!
This blog is a great all around “success online” type of blog, with an emphasis on blogging. Author Yaro Starak has a talent for communicating things at a human level so you will catch on to what he’s teaching you right away. He doesn’t write as often as Copyblogger or Problogger (a couple times a week, compared to every single day), so the information does not come in as high of doses. But his articles are very informative so this is definitely a blog worth keeping your eyes on.
This is the very first Ebook I ever read on Blogging. I first read it back in 2007 in which case it has probably been updated since then. I found this Ebook to be extremely helpful for me not only on the topic of blogging, but in other technical details such as how my blog should look and interact with my readers, as well as how to utilize Search Engine Optimization strategies to increase my readership. This Ebook is free by the way!
If you want to find success blogging you need to read this free Ebook from Copyblogger’s Brian Clark. The Authority Rules Ebook will help you understand what your ultimate goal needs to be with your blog: to become the Authority in your niche. It also helps you clearly understand the potential you have as a blogger to influence your readers and niche. As a summary, it explains how and why gaining Authority in your topic is the number one priority of blogging, and why Authority can bring you tons of success in online marketing.
Joost de Valk teaches you about how to optimize your WordPress blog for Google (and those other search engines). This is just a free article that I found very informative and I highly suggest you bookmark it and read it. It will really give you a good feel for what you have to do SEO wise with your WordPress application.
Matt Cutts is the head of Google’s Web Spam Team. He is in charge of deciding what Google accounts for in its search engine algorithm. At WordCamp in San Francisco 2009 he gave a presentation on SEO and WordPress. One of the most insightful and educational videos you will ever see on the Internet. Definitely watch this one!
Aaron Wall is widely considered one of the biggest SEO experts on the web. He and his wife Giovanna have written this amazing resource to help beginner bloggers understand SEO and what it means to their blogging efforts. This is one of the first articles I ever read on the subject a couple years back and loved every bit of it.
Rand Fishkin and the crew over at SEOMoz do a great job at covering all the aspects of SEO in a way that can make sense to everyone. While SEOBook.com (above) is beneficial because it talks more about SEO for bloggers, SEOMoz.org talks more about SEO and all of its uses. These guys are always ahead of the curve. You will find this Ebook informative and you will walk away from it knowing exactly what you need to do for your blog.
Chris Garrett writes this Ebook about how bloggers are able to make their blog a vital resource. The Ebook is great at teaching you how to create, package and promote compelling resources that attract more attention to your blog. You’ll love this free read.
Some Words of Inspiration
If someone were to ask me “what’s the one thing I need to do to be successful at blogging?” my answer would be this: blog about something you are passionate about! That would be my one answer. Let’s say you put two bloggers together in a competition to see who can get the most readers: one who is an SEO/Copywriting specialist, and the other who is a passionate insane maven on the subject. Who do you think will win? The passionate insane maven! Passionate bloggers always find something unique to write about. They always find a way to get people engaged in the conversation. Be Passionate! Every blogger is going to go through their ups and their downs; it’s inevitable. My passion for my subjects is what has gotten me through all of the downs with my two blogs. The most important attribute you can have when blogging is passion for your subject. Here are a few more that will help you become the best blogger you can be.
Persistence is a key in this world of blogging. Thousands of blogs are started every day, but thousands are also quitting. You have to earn your traffic. You have to earn your popularity. But once you do, you know that it was well worth it. Everyone has had to start a blog with 0 unique visits! It’s a fact. But through persistence and the test of time, big name bloggers have been able to achieve huge successes through blogging. One way I have learned to be persisitent is by constantly learning and evolving as a blogger. Read blogs like Problogger.net that teach and inspire you on how to be a better blogger. This will keep you pressing forward with motivation and energy.
Keep Balance In Your Life
Through personal experience, make sure you don’t screw this one up! Not only will you get burned out, but you will lose the things around you that truly have the most meaning. You will find that by balancing your life in all aspects, you will become a better blogger. Most of the high traffic articles I have written on Chasesagum.com were thought of while I was doing something else, like a personal hobby or spending time with my wife. You also want to keep your sanity. Too much time behind a keyboard can mess you up for good!
Discipline Is SO Important
The Internet is so big. There are so many things to do, and read, and watch etc. A big reason why many bloggers fail is due to a lack of discipline in their activities… whether it’s spending too much time online on nonproductive things, or not putting enough effort into each individual blog post. When you have an idea of a blog post you want to write, dedicate some time to it. Think about it. Make changes. Perfect it. Anyone can write a blog post. But not anyone can write a blog post that everyone wants to bookmark!
Being 10% Better
This is my mantra when it comes to blogging online. I know for a fact, especially in the industry that I blog in, that there is almost always an article already written somewhere in the blogosphere about what I am writing. There’s no getting around this. So I focus on making each article 10% better than what has already been written, knowing that even though someone has already written about the subject people will still love my article the most!
This mantra also comes into play on a personal level. I challenge myself daily, weekly, and monthly to make my blog 10% better than it was before. This has to do with everything from design, functionality, content/quality of articles, social interaction with my readers, etc. By concentrating on being 10% better I can consistently see the results of my hard work, which in return encourages me to press forward. Do this and you will see a constant increase in your blog’s traffic and readership.
I wish you the best of luck in your blogging efforts! Go make a ton of money online blogging about what you are passionate about. And don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do it!
Chase K. Sagum
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