New year, new year… First of all, Happy New Year everybody!
As you can see, today ThemeFuse takes a page out of the “New Year’s Biggest Clichés” book and publishes a list of new year’s resolutions for a WordPress blog. Oh yes.
There are a lot of things you can do with your WordPress blog this year. Besides the most obvious ones like: create great content, get traffic, change the world, get rich along the way, there’s a set of smaller things that are important too.
Have your pick, you don’t have to do everything.
1. Remove plugins you don’t use.
I’m sure you have those. Start the year with some cleaning work and delete those plugins permanently.
2. Back up your blog.
Let’s start the year fresh with a nice backup. If you’ve never backed up a blog before here’s an idea on how to do it: WordPress Backup Strategy.
3. Update the remaining plugins.
If you have a lot of plugins then I’m sure you get update notifications almost every day. You don’t have to take action on them the minute they appear, but doing it every month seems reasonable. Doing it as a new year’s resolution seems even more reasonable.
4. Update your blog to the newest version.
The 3.3.1 “Sonny” – current version of WordPress. Make sure that it’s what you’re using. By the way… How to Safely Update WordPress.
5. Create a proper robots.txt file.
… Or you will lose money, like I did. Robots.txt really is important. It’s the file search engines look for when they’re visiting a site. Feel free to read this post for more information: Understanding robots.txt and What it Can Do for a WordPress Blog.
6. Create a proper .htaccess file.
As Wikipedia teaches us, the original purpose of .htaccess was to allow per-directory access control. However, nowadays it can be used for a lot more things. I, for example, use it to protect my wp-config.php file, prevent hot-linking, disallow directory browsing, and set the default URL of my blog to non-www.
7. Check your sitemap file.
Two things. First, check if it sits where your robots.txt says it does. Second, make sure that it’s built properly. Using a plugin for this is probably the best approach.
8. Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools.
In my opinion it is still the best tool for making sure that Google is happy with your blog’s overall structure. It’s quite easy to grasp and like most things that Google offers it’s free. Some additional info: What is Google Webmaster Tools & How to Use it – Beginner’s Guide.
9. Set up Google Alerts.
This tool is a really something worth having a look at. You can use it to monitor every mention of your blog’s name or domain. In other words, whenever someone says something about your blog, anywhere on the internet, and Google finds it, you get an immediate notification. How cool is that?
10. Monitor your rank.
Couple of ways to do that. You can try to do it manually (by going to Google and observing where your blog ranks), use a web browser’s plugin, or invest in a custom piece of software. Either way, this is important for keeping your finger on the pulse.
11. Monitor your uptime.
I’m sure you want to be the first one to know when/if your blog goes down. UptimeRobot can help you with that.
12. Create a nice 404 page.
Here’s what a nice 404 page should do: (1) display a short message about what has happened, (2) provide a search field, (3) list the most popular posts, or the most recent posts, (4) display a link to the home page, (5) have some cool graphics.
13. Improve your blog’s search feature.
Search in WordPress sucks… we all know this. Thankfully, there are things you can do to make it suck less (this, for example, Improving Search in WordPress).
14. Tune your theme to use proper HTML.
… Or use a new one that already has a proper structure… caution: a subliminal message has been placed here deliberately.
15. Focus more on SEO.
This includes things like: getting a good SEO plugin (or an SEO-prepared theme), writing your content with SEO in mind, doing some off-page SEO tasks (e.g. link building). Come on, SEO is important, it’s about time to stop neglecting this.
16. Set a publishing schedule.
If you’re not publishing posts every day then it’s quite easy to lose track and don’t publish anything for even a week. A publishing schedule is something exceptionally good at preventing such a situation.
17. Do keyword research for every post you publish.
Sometimes SEO happens on its own… if you’re lucky and incorporate the right keywords into your post by accident. But most of the time it doesn’t. If you know what keywords you want your post to rank for then it can go a long way.
18. Promise to spend more time on your headlines.
Here’s something traditional journalists have been aware of for years – headlines are 80% of the success. Your headlines have to arouse some interest or no one will ever read your posts.
19. Use pictures along with your content.
To break the post visually. Or to emphasize its main point. There are more reasons actually – How to Use Images in Your Blog Posts.
20. Write one day, edit and publish the next day.
Some people refer to this as the superior writing technique, and it’s hard to argue that it isn’t. Just try it and see how much better your content will be.
21. Proofread before you publish.
This deserves its own separate place on the list. Proofreading is that important. Even when you’ve just finished editing your new post it’s still good to proofread it one more time.
22. Kill writer’s block.
Yes, not fight, kill. Some ways of doing this: (1) creating a bank of post ideas, (2) writing on a fixed schedule (you wouldn’t believe how effective this is), (3) exercising (as in going to a gym) – yes, this is not a joke, it truly helps.
23. Start a personal journal.
Writing a personal journal is a great way of learning how to express your thoughts onto a computer screen, or a piece of paper. It’s a great practice for improving your writing.
24. Warm up before you write.
Check resolution #23. Writing a journal is also great for warming up prior to writing the posts you’ve planned for the day. What’s a writer’s warm-up?
25. Use more types of posts than just a regular ‘ol post.
There are a lot more possibilities than simply jotting down a standard ‘ol post. At least 51 more, from what I can recall.
26. Reach out to other bloggers and say hi.
Do you know who your colleagues are? Meet them, simply saying hi is a good start. Who you know is always more important that what you know.
27. Join a popular community.
Browse around for some WordPress forums and communities. For instance, the official WordPress forum is a good place to get started.
28. Get a guest post on Smashing Magazine.
Because why the hell not?
29. Set an email newsletter.
The fact is that even though email spam is a major problem these days people still rely on email as the main source of various information. And that’s the reason why email newsletters are still widely popular. If you don’t want to spend any money check out MailChimp.
30. Subscribe to some popular WordPress blogs.
31. Too much work? get some help.
Now it’s your turn to speak up (and take action). What are your own resolutions that have something to do with WordPress? Feel free to share, I’m curious.