11 Unescapable Steps To WordPress Synergy

The Motors StepsThere’s no longer a need to argue the benefits of using WordPress as your blogging platform. If you’re not using it, you’re missing out on some features, period. Are most people getting the most out of WordPress? No, not even close. This article is going to assume that you use WordPress or are going to start using it. In order to make this lesson more efficient, it will be divided into two sections:

  • Things to set up before you even start blogging with WordPress. Since many of you already have WordPress blogs, this means that you may need to make some changes right now. Skipping any of these steps will result in less search engine traffic, stickiness, or performance.
  • Things to set up after you start getting some content. Although I still consider these steps to be absolutely essential, due to their natures you will need to start using them after getting started.

Things To Set Up Before Posting Anything

1. Related Posts Plugin – Having related posts at the bottom of each of your posts gives you several significant advantages over people that don’t. First, it gives the reader additional information that they can use. Second, it mixes things up for Google and other search engines. The posts that are most closely related to other posts will change over time, refreshing the content on old pages. Third, it increases the amount of linking within your site which will give you better search engine rankings. More on that here: Related Posts Plugin and SEO.

2. Tag Cloud – Using a tag cloud on your site gives readers easy channels that they can use to find the information they’re looking for. In order to make this work properly, you will of course need to tag your posts properly. Tag cloud functionality is built in to WordPress 2.3+, and if you have an older version of WordPress you can always go with the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin.

3. Show Top Commentators – This plugin allows users to earn links for participating actively through comments. You will be giving away a number of links, but this will really help to get the discussion going. This is extremely important for new blogs because people will judge your site based on how many comments you get, whether that’s fair or not. Some of you won’t want to give these links away. I would at least use this method until you get a more active group of people that are using your site. You can find out where to get this plugin on my WordPress plugins page.

4. Feedburner Feed Count – Install Feedburner RSS from the beginning and you’ll always know how many subscribers you have. There are ways to recover subscribers that subscribed before you install Feedburner, but it’s a pretty huge hassle and sometimes causes problems with your feed. Make sure to offer your feed through RSS and RSS by email.

5. All-In-One SEO Pack – This takes care of you on a lot of different levels. With this plugin, you will get more optimized HTML titles, which will help you to rank better. You also get generated meta descriptions which will also help you.

6. Threaded Comments – This step is 100% about the user experience. Using threaded comments has allowed me to answer reader questions directly. There is no debate as to whether this has increased the success of this blog. I’ve received at least 100 emails from people telling me that I was the only one who would answer their question.

Yes, you can answer questions without threaded comments but that is extremely inefficient. Many readers won’t scroll down to find an answer, especially considering that most bloggers don’t answer everyone’s questions. If the answer is right there, everyone will see it. You can find out where to get a threaded comments plugin on my WordPress plugins page.

7. Recent Posts – When people get to your site, they will want to get an idea about the type of things you usually write about. You want to make this as easy as possible for them, and you can do that by creating a recent posts section in your sidebar. Skip this step, and you’ll lose some people that might have stuck around.

8. Google XML Sitemap – This step is crucial, especially in the beginning when you don’t have as much authority. You can either build this by hand (if you’re out of your mind) or you can use the Google sitemaps plugin. You can find more about this concept here: Getting Your XML Sitemap Into Google.

9. HTML Sitemap – Creating an HTML sitemap will help search engine spiders to find all of your pages, and will increase the linking within your site. I went over this concept in great detail here: Creating A Quick HTML Sitemap To Increase Crawlability.

Things To Set Up After You Get Some Content

10. Best Work Section – People will really be able to tell what you’re all about by reading your ‘best of’ section. I’ve received quite a few emails asking me what plugin I used to create that section. I didn’t actually use a plugin, I just placed links in my sidebar that go to each of those posts. I picked the posts that I thought people would like the most. Some people use comments to judge their work, but in my case some of my better posts were written before I had the audience I have now.

A ‘best of’ section also passes more link weight to the posts you include, which means that they will rank better than they would if you didn’t include them.

11. Channels or Channel Boxes – My three boxes at the top of my pages have been a smash hit, even though they need to be updated pretty badly. When people come to your site, they may want to find something that you haven’t talked about for a while. Organizing your site more like a traditional site and less like a blog can really help a lot of people out.

WordPress Synergy And Value Writing

I consider each of the above 11 steps to be absolute necessities. Each of them alone will increase your blog’s performance and together will create a great synergy that makes for a very ‘together’ WordPress site. Add value writing into the mix and you surely will have a winning combination.

Comments 58

  1. I knew I was going to be lacking in these before I even read your article.

    I have had trouble putting in a couple of these plugins in the past and just gave up. About a quarter of the plugins I try like “the related posts” plugin just don’t work right for me.

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  2. I don’t like the threaded comments much. I can see the benefit but if you have a ton of comments and you like to reply to them all individually (as I do) wouldn’t that create a whole lot of individual comments from yourself?

    I just responded to 20 new comments I had on one post and I simply do an @name, for each section and reply to them all that way. I know its slightly less convenient but I would kind of feel like I was spamming my own comments if I individually replied to them all.

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      To each his own Caroline. I personally wouldn’t read all of your answers because I would have to scroll up and down 20 times to compare them with the questions. I am open to the fact that people have differing opinions though – you’re allowed. 😉

  3. Good post Court!
    I agree with just about everything. I have been thinking about using a tag cloud, but I admit that I never pay much attention to them on other sites.
    While I would make sure all feeds go through Feedburner, I am waiting till I have a decent number to show before I put the stats up for everyone to see.
    I like the threaded comments. Right now, I don’t need it with the volume of comments I currently get. I am hoping Blogging Zoom will help change that.

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      It’s wise of you to wait until you have a good count to show it. I waited until about 150 but if I could do it over I would have shown it after 100!

      The traffic on Blogging Zoom so far has been great, and the people that are participation actively are doing really well!

  4. I’ve got probably half of the plugins that you suggested. I need to increase my subscribers drastically. I’ve got around 40-50 right now. How can I get the feedburner buttons you got up there Court?

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      Do you already have a Feedburner account Carlo? If so I should be able to give you some code that you can use to install buttons like that. If not, sign up for one and get back to me!

  5. PLUGINorama! Looks like your feed count is moving along nicely Court!
    Blogging Zoom must be helping out!
    Oh… and because you have good content too of course.

  6. I wonder if the wordpress vs blogger debate is reminiscent of the apple computer debates all those years ago. Each Blogging platform has its merits and the believers in each system absolutely believe they have the best. To create blogs I use blogger and it serves my purposes adequately.

    Good post,. Great that you have totally mastered your chosen blogging software

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  8. Great list of things to set up! Thanks for sharing the threaded comments plug-in! I never knew such thing existed.

    Anyway, great blog. Can’t believe I wasn’t able to subscribe before.. Well, I just did, so you get +1 to your subscriber count!

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  9. Hi,
    I found your blog looking for other do-follow blogs (just like mine). However I see that you changed your policy since my browser shows me that you are no-follow. Also you did not mention do-follow plug-in in your WordPress list. Any reasons for coming back to no-follow? I was just curious to know what can be potential dangers of having do-follow policy on comments on one’s blog.

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      Hi Melody!

      That’s a great question and one that I debated with myself on for quite some time. The dofollow plugin is great for blogs that are starting out because it really helps to start some conversations.

      If you get to where you get 25+ comments on almost every post and 150+ comments on some posts, it’s going to become very difficult for you to rank in Google using the dofollow plugin. If you want to do well in Google you really can’t give that many links away on every page.

      The decision to follow or not to follow should come down to how many comments you’re getting!

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  11. Another great post, Court.

    I used to have threaded comments but when I changed themes I never implemented them again. I’m all for the readers of my site, however, so after reading what you had to say I might add the plugin back!

    As for a best work section and channel boxes, those are both things I need to work on!

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  13. I think too many people put too many keywords in the cloud tag and I think that dilutes the overall strength of the keywords. I believe that having few keywords but placing them prominently will reap more benefits than otherwise. What say you?

  14. Compliments on a very informative site. I’m planning to blog and want to set things up well at the outset. You mentioned “tag cloud” and the “Ultimate Tag Warrior” plugin.

    Do these things work synergistically or is it a case of choose one if you can’t use the other?

    Tag for this post is “tag newbie”.

  15. yay! I’ve installed all of these and followed the advice before I read this post, lol!

    Still some great information that I think I’ll refer to in the future.

  16. Hey Court (or Mark) –

    What plugin do you use to “redirect” to other sites? I noticed that your unique article wizard link on a new post actually goes through your site through an address like /go/uaw.php then shoots you over to their site. Is that a plugin? Does it count clicks, etc.?

    Any help would be appreciated!

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