Sure, a great idea will take you far. A great idea with a perfect execution will take you farther. Starting a new blog is like your first roller coaster ride; a complete blast and yet completely nerve-wracking. Thanks to the household name WordPress, blogging has become second nature to this tech-driven world.
It is estimated that by 2020, the number of bloggers will reach 31.7 million. Being one in a million has the potential to be a good thing or a bad thing for your blog’s reach. You can either stand out, or you can simply be a number added to the pile. The only way to secure your spot in the rankings is through SEO or search engine optimization.
Before you select that perfect theme, here are three day one things you should do to boost your blog to new heights, even before you truly begin.
1) The Magical Plug-In
WordPress already comes with tools that are made with the blogger in mind, including perfect plug-ins for most of the things you want to achieve with your blog. For SEO purposes, you will want to install the Yoast plug-in. Yoast allows you to manage all the required elements of your blog that will optimize your site for optimum visibility. The plug-in is easy to use and straightforward, even for the first-time blogger.
Simply installing the plug-in will not automatically optimize your blog. You will need to activate the plug-in and set your general settings to get started. This includes setting your search engines as well as entering your business or company information, so Google can identify you properly. You can find these settings once you install your plug-in under the Webmaster Tools verification tab within WordPress.
Are you a photographer who uses WordPress as a portfolio? Or, maybe you are a chef with a food blog where photos are a key player. There is also a plug-in for image optimization in WordPress. You should optimize your images using the alt-text, great real estate for added SEO power. The SEO Optimized Images plug-in will optimize them all for you.
2) Consider the Permalink
There is a huge difference between the run of the mill web address and an SEO friendly blog URL. A permalink takes your blog URL from basic to optimized, each time you publish. This is an easy setting to change by going to the settings section of your WordPress under Permalinks. You then change the default setting to post name, creating SEO friendly URLs for each blog post, automatically.
What will this do exactly? This will change the numbers at the end of a blog URL to the post title, allowing search engines and other folks find your awesome blog quicker.
3) Mapping Your Site
XML site mapping is crucial to SEO. After you activate your Yoast plug-in, there will be a section for XML site mapping with default settings already in place. These defaults are created by masters of the art and you can leave them alone for now. A sitemap will help Google and other search engines learn what your content is about and how to index it properly for ranking. These search engines “crawl” your content to read it, therefore understanding where you should be placed on the internet. A sitemap is a map of what your blog includes from your pages to your content to your images.
You should also submit your sitemap to Google for indexing purposes. However, this is best left alone until you have your blog pages setup such as the contact page and about page. You should also write a few blogs using your Yoast SEO plug-in as a guide to give Google something to index. If you have already done this step, you can send your blog off to Uncle Google by creating a Google Search Console account. More about that here.
After you submit your created sitemap to Google, you will then be able to index which you can complete within the Google Search Console as well. As Google completes indexing your blog, you will be able to view a recap of what your blog looks like to search engines and what it will look like to readers. This will be helpful when trying to find flaws in your SEO.
The first day of this new adventure is an exciting day that may seem a bit overwhelming. Focusing on these three elements of your SEO on day one (maybe even two and three) will take your blog from nowhere to somewhere, without an extreme amount of effort. Here’s to pictures of baby goats wearing hats, sculptures made from macaroni or whatever it is you enjoy, ranking high for the world to see.