You’ve taken the plunge. You’ve finally accepted just how powerful a blog can be to your small business and made the decision to add a WordPress blog to your site. You’re even working hard cracking out some small business blog ideas that will help you build thought leadership, connect with potential customers, and answer common questions. Now what do you do?
Before you even write your first post there are few things you’ll want to knock off your To Do list on your brand new WordPress blog. Below are six simple tweaks small business owners can make to their blogs today to ensure they’re stepping out on the right foot and optimizing the findability of their blog to customers.
1. Set Up Your Blog Feed
Your small business blog exists. Your next step is to create your blog feed so that potential customers can subscribe to your blog and stay up to date on what you have to say. To get set up, head over to Feedburner, Google-owned property that’s free to get set up with. Once you’re there, simply type in the URL for your blog and follow the short process to burn your feed. You’ll also want to go through the steps to set up email subscriptions for people who will prefer to read your blog that way. Don’t assume that just because it’s 2011 most people prefer to get content via RSS. Depending on your audience, you may be surprised just how many of your readers will prefer the email format.
2. Subscribe To Your Own Feed
Once your feed is set up, you’ll want to be become your very first subscribing, signing up for both the RSS and email version. Why is this important? Because it allows you to see your blog the way your readers will. You’ll be able to tell if a plugin is broken, if your images aren’t lining up correctly, if your calls to action are appearing too low on the page, if the feed isn’t updated correctly, etc. Watching your own feed is a great way to spot problems in your own feed.
3. Create a Favicon
A favicon is the tiny graphic that represents your Web site up on the address bar, in a user’s bookmarks or in their browser tab. Just because the actual graphic is tiny, doesn’t mean its impact is. Creating a favicon to go along with your site and blog can go a long way in small business branding, exposure, or just making your blog stand out in someone’s list of bookmarks. If you’re not familiar with creating your own, I recommend you check out our post creating a custom favicon. The process takes just a few minutes and can really help your brand.
4. Change Your Permalink Structure
This is a big one. Because the default WordPress URL structure isn’t particularly search-engine friendly, we typically recommend that small business owners use a custom URL structure. By setting your URLs up this way you’ll be able to control how your URLs appear, allowing you to take advantage of keywords and use the most user-friendly URL possible. To set this up, you’ll want to go into your Permalink Settings located inside WordPress admin panel. Once you’re there, select the Custom Structure radio button option and enter /%postname%/ into that field. This will set it so that your post title will appear by default as your permalink URL.
5. Pick Your WordPress Plugins
One reason so many bloggers and SMBs select WordPress as their blogging platform is due to the number of free plugins available to them. While using too many plugins can slow down your Web site, there are some great plugins that I’d recommend any small business owner to use.
For example, some helpful plugins are:
That said, you also want to do your own research and find the ones that best fit your needs.
6. Set Up Google Analytics
Your last step before even penning that first blog post is to set up Google Analytics to allow you to track users, set up conversion goals and monitor what’s happening on your Web site. Running analytics on your site is really important in allowing you to learn how customers interact with you, where they’re getting stuff, where you’re getting traffic, and which social media sites are most friendly to your brand. Google Analytics is also free to get set up with.
Those are six things you’ll want to knock off your To Do list before you introduce your blog to the world. You don’t want to invite people over to a dirty house, do you?