Basic WordPress Blogging Tips

I sometimes assume if I know something then it must be self-evident to everyone, but this is obviously not necessarily the case. I thought I would include some tips for people who are new to the WordPress platform.

Separate Tags With Commas: If you look at the WordPress dashboard you’ll see a reminder of this advice but it is still sometimes ignored. Tags are a helpful way of searching for specific information within your blog. If you maintain a blog about rock and roll music people will be able to click on the tag ‘Elvis Presley’ for example and see all the blog posts relating to Elvis Presley. However if you don’t include commas between your tags as you enter them all the tags are treated as one entry. ‘Elvis Presley’ as a single tag is meaningful, ‘Elvis Presley Carl Perkins Blue Suede Shoes’ all together is garbled, confusing and not very helpful.

Think About Your Categories: Starting a blog can seem a little daunting at times, especially if you don’t know exactly what you want to write about. I actually think it’s quite natural for blogs to evolve over time – so don’t lose sleep if your blog takes on different dimensions as it develops. But thinking about what subjects you want to write about up front gives your blog a focus in the beginning. Listing blog entries under the ‘Uncategorized’ default category is lazy and doesn’t help your reader understand the entry subject matter. It’s a missed opportunity from a search engine optimization perspective too. [You can’t delete the uncategorized category but you can change it. Consider what your most blogged subject will be and change the category name and category slug. This will save you time in the long run.]

Create Meaningful Permalinks: The URLs that WordPress produces for your individual blog entries can be either pretty or ugly, generic or meaningful. Search Engines find a URL with relevant keywords in it more meaningful than a number. By default, WordPress produces permalinks that look like this:

http://www.domain.com/?p=2028

You can customize them however you like, personally I like to use a /%category%/%postname%/ format.

http://www.johnlacey.com/blogging/basic-wordpress-blogging-tips/
Just try to pick a permalink format you like and stick to it. If you change the permalink format after you’ve received a lot of incoming links to your blog this could be detrimental to the success of your blog. (Though it’s worth noting that links to domain.com/?p=2028 will still reference that blog post even after permalink formats are changed.) Learn more about WordPress Permalinks.

Use absolute – not relative – links when linking to external resources: If you link to Google for example from your blog entry and type in ‘www.google.com’ browsers will assume it’s a relative link. It will produce something that looks something like this:

http://www.johnlacey.com/blogging/www.google.com
There can be instances when this is useful but this clearly isn’t one of those. Make sure you include the protocol ‘http://’ before external links.

http://www.google.com

Remember you’ll learn by doing… so get started. WordPress is a great platform and whether you’re using WordPress.com or self-hosted WordPress it’s a powerful tool that will help bring your ideas to the world. Happy blogging!

2 comments… add one
  • Nope. Not always self-evident. Another tip would be to always do the updates when Word Press annouces one. Seems like a no-brainer, but I tend to ignore those, to my own peril.

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