10 things You can do Today to Improve Your WordPress blog
Is your blog perfect ? You may think so but I can assure you there is always something you can do to add to it, whether that is to improve things for your readers or give it a traffic boost. Im guilty of complacency as well ( I have been planning a redesign for WPLift for ages now! ) but if you take a little time out from writing and look at your site from an objective perspective I bet you can find something to improve. In this post Im going to round up 10 things you can do today …
1. Speed up your blog
Please your readers and Google at the same time – no one wants to hang around for an age waiting for your blog with its hundred sidebar widgets to load. You have a small window of time to grab that reader before they hit the back button and move on without giving your amazing content a second thought.
- Declutter your sidebar – do you really need a widget showing today’s weather report in Utah ?
- Install a caching plugin, check out our guide to the W3 Total Cache plugin
- Start using a CDN, check out our guide to the using a CDN
2. Add Social Sharing Buttons
We receive a good amount of traffic from Facebook and Twitter because people love sharing good content with each other, you should make it easy for them to do so by adding buttons for sites relevant to your niche. Here are some plugins so you can do this easily :
- Share This – This plugin allows users to share your content through email and 50+ social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon and Google Buzz.
- Add to Any – Help people share, bookmark, and email your posts & pages using any service, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, StumbleUpon, Digg and many more.
- Share and Follow – Add Share Icons, Follow Links, Facebook Like, Twitter Tweet and other buttons on your site in the way you want. Simple & adapatable social network
3. Recommended / Popular Posts
To help direct new readers to your better content, you should create a ‘popular posts’ or ‘recommended posts’ area – in your sidebar or footer ( like I have done on WPLift ). This is easily done using the “links” option in your WordPress admin panel. Create all your links here and then use the links widget to place them where you like.
If you want to show popular posts, some themes have this feature built in as a widget or you can use this plugin :
- WordPress Popular Posts – With WordPress Popular Posts, you can show your visitors what are the most popular entries on your blog.
4. Fix up your About Page
This has been on my to-do list for a while now, so I should really take my own advice! A good about page lets users connect with the author – Im always interested to hear bloggers background stories.
5. Collect Newsletter Signups
I think every blog should be collecting email addresses from the start – people respond better to emails than tweets, facebook posts and rss updates. You can send out updates about your blog, new posts and subscriber only content. I recommend a service like Aweber, Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor to do this, they will make sure opt-ins and opt-outs are handled correctly and your mails have a better chance of getting though and not being marked as spam if sent through one of these services.
6. Install an SEO Plugin
WordPress does a good job of SEO out of the box but to really get the best results then a dedicated plugin should be used, here are two of the best options :
- Yoast’s SEO Plugin – WordPress SEO is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin that exists today for WordPress.org users.
- All in One SEO Pack – Automatically optimizes your WordPress blog for Search Engines.
7. Create a Sitemap
Every blog should include an html site map and an XML sitemap for the search engines to read, this just ensures that all of your content can be crawled and ranked. You can view
the WPLIft sitemap here and the XML sitemap here. I used these plugins to generate these :
- XML Sitemaps Generator – This plugin generates a XML-Sitemap compliant sitemap of your WordPress blog. This format is supported by Ask.com, Google, YAHOO and MSN Search.
- Site Table of Contents – Site Table of Contents plugin allows a users to easily create a page that lists all posts and their respective categories
8. Run a Poll
Everyone loves a poll, no? Host one on your blog or facebook page to find out what content your readers would like to see more of. If you are a fan of our facebook page you can see one Im currently running here. To host one on your blog, Poll Daddy have made a plugin available :
- Poll Daddy Plugin – Create and manage Polldaddy polls and ratings from within WordPress.
9. Show Related Posts
Once you have a good amount of content on your site, then showing related posts at the end of a post is a good way to encourage people to dig further into your archives. Its also good from a search engine perspective – deep linking related content together. As always there are a number of plugins to help you do this :
- Yet another related posts plugin – Display a list of related entries on your site and feeds based on a unique algorithm. Templating allows customization of the display.
- Related Posts – This WordPress plugin provides multiple options to show the via tags related posts of a post (for example via a sidebar widget).
- Efficient Related Posts – A related posts plugin that works quickly even with thousands of posts and tags.
- Related Posts With Thumb Image – Show related posts with thumb image after Posts. Ajax Base Admin options. Options for dynamic height and width of Thumb.
10. Install Feedburner
If you haven’t allready, you need to signup for FeedBurner – A free RSS feed management service from Google. It allows you keep track of how many subscribers you have, without it you would have no idea. Also allows you to create widgets to sign people up and show off your feed count. Once you have signed up for the service, you will need a plugin to divert all people on your old feed to the new one :
- FD Feedburner Plugin – Redirects the main feed and optionally the comments feed seamlessly and transparently to Feedburner.com.