Buying a theme doesn’t guarantee quality. Some premium or paid themes have “dirty” code that don’t do you any SEO favors. On the other hand, some “free” themes do a great job. Do your due diligence before selecting.
Beware of poorly functioning/performing themes or those that insert malicious code to infect machines that visit your site. Search for themes that make customizing your site a dream — while maintaining your site’s SEO marketing advantages.
The best option is to have an experienced programmer review the code on the themes that interest you — BEFORE you select. The second best option is to explore the available themes and select one with a large number of reviews and at least a four star rating in the WordPress theme library.
Be sure the theme you select is a “responsive” theme (meaning it displays beautifully on smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktops and adjusts for the viewing platform automatically.) Depending on the topic and the readership, many blogs are experiencing more visits from mobile devices than from standard desktops/laptops these days. Make sure your theme (and your blog) will render well on any device a visitor might use.
Keeping your theme clean will help dramatically with load times and SEO performance, but un-optimized (read as HUGE) graphics will slow your load time and the more posts you show per page with these uber-large images, the slower your site will be. Google prefers light-weight, fast-loading, high-performance sites filled with great focused content. Make your blog a preferred site!
Breadcrumbs are the “path” listing, usually at the top of your blog’s theme that shows visitors where they are and how to get back to where they were. In addition to making your site more user-friendly, Google displays breadcrumbs in search results making it easier for people to find what they need on your site.
Some bloggers have so many tags and categories that the list is merely a tangled mess of keywords. Focus yourself and select just a few categories and no more than a few dozen tags. Remember that tags help people to find similar topics within your blog. If you have only one or two blogs associated with a tag, you aren’t helping your readership. Having focused categories and tags will make your site more appealing and “sticky” for your readers. You will keep them entertained longer and they will be more likely to return.
This means you should add appropriate and SEO-sensitive titles and alt-tags to every single photo you upload to your blog (if you have more time, add descriptions/captions). Do this as you add images, so you don’t forget, or delay by thinking, “I’ll do this later, the content is what matters right now.”
You should create custom menus with label and title attributes for each item in your navigation bar. Be sure to add titles for every link.
Use intra-blog links to highlight other blog entries that can serve as a reference to the current topic and use external links to share great resources you have found web-wide (just be sure you check the box to “open link in a new window/tab” when you add the link so you don’t lose your traffic to those sites. )
Every time you create an account online, create a profile. Make sure you fill out your profile completely — including your blog’s URL.
Create a Gravatar.com account and use a good “face shot” on that profile to give you consistent face-time across the web. Avoid cartoon or non-branding graphic elements. Your Gravatar should be your face (preferred) or your logo (second best).
Using a Gravatar will help people recognize you and associate you with your responses on other blogs and forums. This means people become familiar with you, recognize/remember your personality, and feel that they know you. This means individuals will more easily relate to you, your blog, and your business.
Even if you aren’t a huge fan of social media, you should be auto posting (at the very least) your blog entries to your preferred two or three platforms. Don’t limit your posts to just your blog autopostings — add other direct posts from time to time.
Log in regularly, check your notifications (or have them pushed to your smart phone) and stay on top of what people are saying about you and what you write. Use the same mugshot for your social platforms as you use for your Gravatar to have cross-platform instant recognition.
Do regular backups of your blog (if your hosting plan doesn’t do this automatically), update your WordPress CMS when a new version is released, and keep your plugins up to date. Doing these things once every week or so will help reduce the chance that your site will fall victim to a security hole, get hacked, or get hijacked.
Whether you have been blogging for a month or a decade, blogs are all about creating content. Google continually tweaks its algorithm to insure that search queries deliver more relevant results. Don’t underestimate the importance of “local” to your blog. Local results continue to grow in importance and updates in recent years to the algorithm have focused on knitting the Google local and the core Google algorithms together a little tighter.
All those technical details aside… If you blog regularly and your blog is relevant and the content is solid, your blog will rank higher over time than those sites that try to “game” the system.
So, keep calm and blog on!
Have more questions about blogging? Need more tips on planning, promoting, and growing your business? Contact us, we are here to help!