Understanding and using WordPress themes and plugins are basic for knowing how to blog on WordPress.
You can compare building a WordPress blog to building a house. The basic structure of your house is WordPress it’s self. It is the framework on a piece of real estate (your domain).
Your WordPress Theme would be the basic structure of your of your home. It is the foundation and framework you build upon. Your theme is the character and personality of your blog. Your theme adds the color design. This includes the placement of your sidebars, the date and comments. Most importantly, a good theme makes it easy to change those design elements.
So when it comes to plugins, you are adding the extras to your blog. It is like adding to the plumbing and electrical of your house to really make your home function the way you want. You know, the important decisions like “Do I have a gas or electric furnace?’or “What lighting or electrical outlets go in a room?” or “How many shower heads go in your master shower?” Your plugins give your WordPress blog the extra power to do exactly what your want.
Once I learned how to blog on WordPress, I was hooked. The simple format and the ability to ad video and pictures is a plus to someone who does not want to learn code, yet wants a site that grabs the attention of the search engines.
The advantages of blogging on WordPress
1. Content Management – It is easy to add content to your website without having to pay a webmaster. You do not need to know code or learn editing programs.
2. SEO – Search engines love WordPress…hear it straight from the horse’s mouth: Googles Matt Cutts.
3. Themes and Plugins – There is a huge variety of themes, you can always find a theme that suits your style and needs. Think of your theme as the basic format and design of your site. Kind of a skeleton. Plugins are added on to make that theme work even more efficiently.
4. WordPress Help – WordPress has become so popular, it is easy to get help if you get stuck. The WordPress.org site has both a forum and tutorials that help tons.
Blogging on WordPress can be broken down to really simple blog basics. WordPress is really quiet simple when you understand blog basics. No matter your niche, you can do great things. Here is a quick overview of the component parts of a WordPress blog designed to make money online.
Keywords – SEO
As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) considers how search engines work and what people search for. Optimizing a website primarily involves editing its content and coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords. The idea is to get on the first page you see when you look up a particular word or phrase. It goes without saying, you want visitors to your blog and you need the help of Search Engines like Google.
Keywords can be defined as the specific terms used by a person to search for something on the net. To find this page, you may have searched for “blog basics” or “how to blog on WordPress” or similar terms.
You might as well get used to the idea of doing good keyword searches. You will be using keywords for your domain name, tagline, blog posts and articles.
Blog Basics that will optimize your blog for making money.
1. Effective Design: The main thing you should be concerned about when it comes to your blog’s design, is that it needs to be usable and simple. You want every visitor to be compelled to stay. You will need to grab his attention in just a few seconds, interest him and make it easy to navigate your site.
Design elements include Theme – Layout – Header – Color – Icons – Header.
3. Content is King: Every page, every post needs to grab your readers attention. Then this is where the rubber meets the road…you need to provide great copy that will keep your visitor reading and coming back.
Content elements include Presentation – Headline – Tagline – Copywriting – Video – Pictures.
4. Core Pages: At the foundation of your blog are the pages that give core data. These pages are important. For Example, the “about page” is the second most looked at page on a blog, the home page being the first.
4. The Back End: Behind the scenes of every blog are tools that make your blog come together and work.
Back End elements: Permalinks – Settings – Meta tags – Plugins – Blog protection- Backup – Links.
WordPress has come along way in making it easy to get your blog basic in. If it is not built right in to the basic WordPress platform there is a plugin that will cover everything you need.
Knowing how to blog on WordPress has gotten more important than ever. WordPress has laid claim as the best blogging platform on the Internet. And now it is taking over as a platform for e-commerce and membership sites.
USA Today gave WordPress a thumbs up,
“WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg is many a bloggers best friend…” .
There are two different WordPress formats.
WordPress.com has in house hosting. In other words you do not need to get a separate host. This makes it very easy to set up. But also has it restrictions
The benefits of using WordPress.com
- It’s free, no need to buy hosting.
- It is easy to set up. You can be up and rolling in 5 minutes.
- Plenty of themes to choose from.
- You do not have to worry about anything: security, setup, backups.
The downside of using WordPress.com
- You can not put up a custom theme.
- You can not change any of the coding.
The benefits of using WordPress.org.
- You can up load any theme you want.
- You can change the code in the back end.
- You can add plugins, which give your even more functions.
The downside to WordPress.org
- You need more technical skill to set up and run.
- You will need a hosting account, which could cost you an average of $8.00 a month.
Which WordPress format is best for you?
Simply ask you self “What is the purpose of my blog?” If you plan to make money from your blog, you will be better off in choosing WordPress.org. Find yourself a good host and a theme you like. Because WordPress.org is open source, there are a lot of people that can help out.
If you plan to blog for fun and do not plan to monetize you blog, WordPress.com is for you. You will find over 70 themes to choose form. It is easy and you will have plenty of support. In fact I would use WordPress.com over Blogger wanted a free format that was for fun.
How to Choose Your WordPress Themes
WordPress Themes as an over all subject can get pretty deep fast. Keeping the Newbie in mind I am going to make it as simple as possible for you to get started.
The WordPress blogging format provides the meat and bones of your blog. A WordPress theme gives you the look and function you want.
What to consider when choosing your theme.
- Purpose of your blog: If you are blogging to make money you will want to make sure your theme has room for ads in the side bar
- Color: By survey, the color of a blog is the most important feature. Look for a color you like or one that fits your niche. With some technical help you should be able to change the color of any theme.
- Navigation: Check closely at how well the theme navigates. How easy is it to get around on the blog? Where are the features you want to stand out? View the theme as if you are a reader coming to your blog.
- Browser Friendly: Will the theme work with all of the well known browsers; Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Netscape.
- Reputable Designer: You want to choose a theme that comes from a reputable designer. How a theme is coded is as important as how the theme looks
- Growing: Can you grow with this theme? As you ability grows is there room for you with the theme you choose?
Free Themes vs.Premium Themes.
A premium theme is usually a theme that comes with support (the theme producer might be more willing to answer questions about it). There is absolutely no problem with using free WP themes. Many of them are very well coded and can be easily customized.
I recommend checking out the WordPress Theme Directory by WordPress.org
WordPress Theme Directory has 812 Free WordPress themes available. These free themes have been checked out and approved by WordPress.
Check out the different themes. Remember to keep in mind what you like in a theme and how a reader will view and use your site. Be sure to use the Demos to find the theme that is right for you.
If you feel you need support, pick a premium theme.
For Premium themes I recommend:
ThemeForest – All premium themes are buy one and get the second theme for free. You will also find some really great free themes.
Elegant Themes – Some of the most beautiful themes with all of the back end coding you could ask for. Such a great deal! You can choose from a gallery of themes, and use as many themes as you like for only $19.95 a year. This is much better that going for most free WordPress themes.
When you are checking out themes look for features you want on your blog. Remember to keep in mind how your readers will view and use your blog. Get in and use the Demos of the themes.
WordPress Plugin Essentials – Must Have WordPress Plugins
I am sure every WordPress blogger has a list of plugins that they love. Lets start with those WordPress Plugins that are essential to running your blog.
These are the behind the scenes plugins that help you run and get the most out of each and every blog post.
All In One SEO: This plugin allows you to control what is seen when some one searches for your site or for the keywords you are using. In a future post I will be getting into how to best use this plugin.
Akismit: This plugin protects your blog from comment spammers. You are in control when it comes to who can comment on your blog. Akismit determines who may be spamming your site and keeps those comment separate for your moderation.
FD Feedburner: An RSS (Really Simple Syndiation) feed on your site can make it easy for your blog to become syndicated. Google has set up the Feedburner Syndication. It is easy to use when you want people to subscribe to your blog in this way. Now I have to admit that this is always essential, depending on your niche. But if you plan on syndicating your blog on Facebook, you will need this.
Google Analytics For WordPress: Although I do not use this plugin for my niche sites I use it on my main blog. The Google Analytics for WordPress plugin automatically tracks the links of your posts.
Google XML Sitemaps: This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your blog.
Home Page Layout | Make Your Site SEO and Visitor Friendly
Your home page layout can make a big difference in who comes to your blog and sticks around to read it.
There are two parts to designing your layout. First is to make it SEO friendly….yes I did put SEO first. You will need to get visitors to your site before you can entice them to stay. The search engines will be looking at your site and judging it in comparison to what people are searching for.
So lets take a look at how your can make your site SEO friendly.
- Choose a blog theme that has the post content in the left hand column with the sidebars on the right. The search engines read from left to right just like humans. So you want your main content (which you will keyword search) to be first for the spiders that read websites. (You know- Word Wide Web – Spiders)
- Use keywords for your categories.
- Use keywords in you post and page titles. Also in your bolded subtitles.
Make your site visitor friendly.
Second: Now that your visitor has arrived, you only have a few seconds to catch a visitors attention. Then you need to make your site easy to navigate.
1. The look of your site should fit your niche. When your visitor arrives he knows immediately he is at the right site.
2. Make your site usable and simple. You want your visitor to stick around and find the great information you will be giving. You want your site to be easy to read get around on.
Permission Marketing – Make your opt in box pop!
In short, your page layout needs to be both SEO and visitor friendly. This means using keyword to get your visitors to your page and then making them feel at home. Go look at sites you like to visit. Pick out what you like about them.
SEO and Backlinks
SEO and backlinks are so simple when it comes to learning how to blog on WordPress.
No matter how you look at it, getting traffic to your website, blog, opt in page and sales page can be quite a game. A game that can be played so many different ways that it can be confusing.
Two of the most important ways to get traffic….and ways you can include in everything you do, are SEO and Links.
Whether you are blogging, twittering or putting up an opt in box, taking the time to do your keyword search can go long way to getting you seen on the web.
Even when I set up opt in pages for list building I use keywords for may domain name, opt in page and sales page. I like using the WordPress platform because I can set up my optin page as a static page and then add keyworded posts to get traffic to the site.
You can also use your keywords for getting quality backlinks when you are commenting on other blogs, guest posting or even twittering.
Here is a video that Matt Cutts (of Google) did last September. He gives very solid advice. He also explains the advantages of blogging on WordPress.
To sum it up.
“People might start with LiveJournal or Blogger, but if they get serious, they’ll graduate to WordPress. We try to cater to the more powerful users,”
says Mullenweg, 25. -USA Today , January 28, 2009.