15 Things to Do Immediately to Improve Your New Blog
Last modified on 27th October, 2018
So you started a new blog, now what?
You googled for some ideas only to be overwhelmed with a million things to learn, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Either that or…
You probably have little to no idea as to what the necessary next steps to take or how to get things done when you have no technical know-how or previous blogging experience.
What you need is a good plan to help you start building your blog on a solid foundation.
It may take some trials and errors but that’s fine because the improvements will happen over time. That’s part of the learning process.
What’s more important is to just start doing something right away.
So, in today’s post, I’ll discuss the exact steps you’ll need to take to help incorporate the elements of a successful blog and immediately improve your new blog.
You’ll learn how to integrate the social media channels, create a logo, add important pages, install must-have WordPress plugins, analytics and more.
Even if your blog isn’t new, Â you can use the suggestions below to see if there’s anything you might have missed since you launched your blog.
Ready? Let’s dive right in!
#1: Improve Your New Blog Using the Perfect Theme
Selecting your blog theme is one of the most rewarding parts of starting a blog.
When you change the theme, you’ll be able to see the result immediately. A theme dictates the look and feel of your blog and how your users interact with your content.
Changing your theme is the fastest way to improve your new blog.
There are thousands of free and paid WordPress themes you can install.
I’ve personally purchased many paid themes from Theme Forest due to the broad selection of themes, quality design and niche specific theme offerings.
For example, I wanted a theme to showcase my mobile apps and found one specifically designed for that purpose.
At the time of this writing, I’m using the FocusBlog Theme by Thrive Themes.
To change your WordPress blog theme just follow these steps:
- Login to www.yourblog.com/wp-admin
- In your WordPress dashboard, click on the Appearance > Themes
You’ll see several pre-installed themes. If you don’t like those, click the “Add New” button at the top:
On the next screen, you’ll be able to search the free WordPress theme repository. You can sort by popularity, latest or filter by feature, industry and layout.
Once you have found a theme that you like, click the “Install” button (which appears on mouse over). WordPress will download the theme files to your server.
You can also see how it would look like without installing by clicking the Preview button. Then, just click “Activate ” on the next screen:
You can further customize the theme by clicking on the Customize menu under Appearance.
You can always switch theme if your current theme doesn’t do what you want.
Although, as your blog gets more popular, try to avoid changing themes often because it will only confuse your regular readers.
#2: Write Your Site Title and Tagline
The title is typically the name of your site, while the tagline is a short description or phrase which describes what your blog is about.
WordPress uses the site title to identify your site in syndication feeds. It’s visible in the title bar of a web browser and in a few other places.
Since they are one of the first things your visitors will see, it’s important to optimize and create a strong title and tagline which communicate what your blog has to offer.
It’s also a good idea to include important keywords in them for search engine optimization (SEO) purpose.
To update your site title and tagline, go to Settings > General and update the text box. Click Save Changes when done.
#3: Claim Your Social Media Accounts
I suggest creating dedicated social media profiles just for your blog.
To get started, decide a handle to represent your blog. At the bare minimum, you would want to create profiles for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Ideally, you would want to use the same handle for all the social media platforms for branding and consistency. This makes it easier for people to find and follow you on each platform.
In addition, try to make your social media descriptions consistent across all platforms.
If the handle you want to use isn’t available, you’ll need to get a little creative and come up with a handle which you can use everywhere (but don’t make it too complicated).
You should consider creating a Facebook group as groups often have a better reach and engagement due to how Facebook algorithm treating them more favourably.
#4: Install Social Media Sharing Buttons
Placing the social media sharing buttons next to your posts make them more shareable which could potentially drive more traffic to your blog.
In fact, a study found that using social media sharing buttons on blog posts leads to 7 times more mentions.
The share count provides a social proof. The higher it is, the more likely other people will share your content.
To encourage sharing, place the buttons at two locations, one at the top and another at the bottom of your content.
I like to have mine floats on the left so that people can share the content anytime while they read.
Although you don’t want to include too many buttons because more choices don’t mean more shares. Only display buttons for sites that you think your audience use.
There are countless free and paid social sharing plugins to choose from. Unfortunately, some of them can actually slow down your site.
I am using the Social Warfare plugin because it’s fast and I like the clean design. It costs just $29.95 a year which I think is worth paying for.
Besides the standard sharing buttons, it has additional features to let you:
- Show the Pin button on image hover for Pinterest
- Customize your Pinterest image, description, title
- Recover your lost share counts when you change your permalink structure
- Perform automatic link shortening
- Create Click to Tweet box easily within your content as you can see below.
#5: Create Favicon
A favicon is the little site icon you see on your browser tab or on your browser bookmark.
Favicons were originally created for a fast visual search among thousands of bookmarks on the Internet.
While this change may seem trivial, it is important because it improves user experience by making your blog more identifiable.
If you care about branding, it is a must-have element to help your blog stand out and look more professional.
If you have a logo for your blog already, you’ll only need to upload it to the generator above and download the generated icon file.
Alternatively, it may also be possible to create one right from your theme settings.
If this function is supported, you can usually find the setting under Appearance > Customize
#6: Create a Professional Looking Logo
In addition to your content, your logo is another way for your readers to connect and identify with your brand.
So it’s important to have a professional looking logo which represents your identity the way you want it.
Alternatively, you can hire a designer or head over to one of the freelancing sites like Fiverr to get this done cheaply for as low as $5.
Once you have a logo ready, you can upload it to your blog by going to Appearance > Customize > Site Identity
Although depending on the theme you are using, this setting may be located elsewhere.
For instance, for the Thrive Theme that I am currently using, I can change my blog logo via Thrive Dashboard > Theme Options > General Settings
#7: Add About, Contact Other Important Pages
To create a new page in WordPress, go to Dashboard > Pages > Add New.
The About page is one of the most important pages to have in any blog.
Contrary to what some people may think, the About page is not just about you. It’s about how you can help your visitors to get what they want.
It’s a chance for you to connect with your readers and to establish trust. Use this page to convert casual browsers into avid readers or visitors into subscribers/customers.
Remember that you don’t have to come up with the perfect About page in one sitting as you can always edit and improve it later.
Next, you need to create a Contact page so that people can get in touch with you.
As you’re just starting out, including a simple contact form should be enough.
Currently, I am using the Contact Form 7 plugin. I like it because it’s free, light-weight and supports Google reCAPTCHA to filter spam.
In addition to the form, you may also want to include your email address just in case the form stopped working.
However, you risk having your email address harvested by spammers if it’s visible in plain sight.
To make it a little bit harder for email scrappers, you can try any of the followings:
- Do not make your email address clickable using the mailto prefix.
- Spell out the email address: nancy [at] lovelywebsite [dot] com. Not a great solution though as users may mistype the address themselves.
- Convert your email address into an image. This is the solution I am currently using.
- Install Email Address Encoder
You need to create these pages as they are mandatory by law in some countries.
They are also required if you:
- Are doing business in the European Union, you need a policy which is fully compliant with the GDPR requirements.
- Want to apply for Google AdSense to display ads or if you plan to use other third party services like Google Analytics.
- Are doing affiliate marketing. Some companies might require you to add a paragraph on each page which includes one of their links. In other cases, disclosing this in your Terms of Service or Disclaimer page should be enough.
So how do you create these pages?
The information provided above is for reference only. It’s not a recommendation or an endorsement, or a legal advice. If in doubt, please consult a lawyer.
#8: Set Your Permalink Structure
A permalink is the web address used to link to your posts or pages.
It’s called permalink because the URL to each post/page should be permanent and never change.
As you start a new blog, you need to make sure to use the most friendly URLs for both humans and the search engines.
To set your permalink, go to Settings > Permalinks
I recommend using Post name because it’s clean, short and it’s easy to include your main keywords in them.
By default, WordPress uses the Day and name option.
You can change this to the Post name option then click Save Changes.
If you already have many posts when you make this change, your existing links will break.
To fix this issue, you’ll need to create redirects to instruct WordPress to automatically redirects the visitors coming from your old URL to the new URL.
The one plugin that works for me is WP 404 Auto Redirect to Similar Post.
#9: Install Google Analytics to Track Your Traffic
Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool offered by Google to help you track and analyze your website traffic.
You can use it to monitor your progress, see where people are coming from, the number of visitors you get and so on.
Even if you are not ready to use it, you should just install and start collecting data now.
Sometime in the future, you may need to present this info if you are marketing a media kit or trying to attract advertisers.
To get started with Google Analytics go here and sign up.
Next, you’d want to insert the tracking code into your blog.
Most themes should have an option where you can just paste your code in.
Or you can install Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP) to add Google Analytics to your blog quickly.
For starter, some of the most important metrics to track are:
- Average session duration
- Bounce rate
Click here to learn more about each of those metrics and why you should track them.
To ensure you get more accurate data, you may want to prevent Google Analytics from tracking your own visits.
To do that using GADWP, go to Google Analytics > Tracking Code then select the Exclude Tracking tab.
Select the user you want to exclude tracking from then click Save Changes.
#10: Register Your Site With Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and keep your site’s presence in Google search results.
Among the metrics you can track from the Google Search Console are
- How many times your page appears in Google search results (impressions)
- How many clicks you get
- Your click-through rate or CTR
- Your page position
This information comes straight from the horse’s mouth so don’t ignore it. Instead, use it to improve your new blog.
If done right, the adjustments you make will improve your Google rankings and drive more traffic to your blog.
#11: Install the Necessary WordPress Plugins
While WordPress itself is an awesome platform for creating websites, the default installation is rather limited in features and functionality.
This is where the WordPress plugins come in.
You can pick and choose which plugins to install to add certain capabilities and features into your blog. It’s the fastest way to improve your new blog.
For a start, I recommend installing:
- Yoast SEO for search engine optimisation
- Antispam Bee for anti-spam
- W3 Total Cache for caching and speeding up your blog
- BackWPup for backups
- Wordfence Security for security.
Find out more about them in my article about the must-have plugins for blogs.
#12: Add Optin Forms to Collect Email Leads
While this step may be the last one on this list, it’s by far one of the most important things you can do to improve your new blog.
I can’t stress this enough.
If you want to make money from blogging, the money is in the list.
So much so, an email list is probably the most important asset you’ll ever have as a blogger.
Also, it makes you less dependent on traffic coming from Google and the social media platforms.
You can’t control those traffic sources and you don’t own your followers â€“ Google, Facebook, Pinterest and other social media networks do!
If they decide to shut you down, your followers will be gone in the blink of an eye.
On the other hand, your email list is yours to keep. You can bring your audience anywhere with you no matter what happens to your blog.
Find out how to start an email list for free.
Creating the perfect blog won’t happen overnight so don’t get discouraged if yours doesn’t look like what you have in mind.
The most important thing is to just get started right away.
To improve your new blog, pick one thing (or two) to implement today and then come back later to this article and implement another.
Have I missed anything? Which ones are you looking forward to implementing in your new blog?
Please share your story in the comments below!