It is a little bit of a chicken and egg dilemma.What to do before your first post?
Should your blog be ready, whatever that means, before you post something? Or should you just post?
This blog is a new one but based on my prior experience I have compiled this list of 15 things I think you should do before you publish your first piece of content.
They are not in any specific order as I think that if you are going to do them before publishing anything, what difference does the order make?
I like to get started with the obvious. Install a good SEO plugin to help with the optimizations so that the possibility for stupid SEO mistakes is lower.
In this blog, I am using Yoast for no other reason other than it ‘feels’ better.
This is a small thing that I really didn’t appreciate enough until I read Neil Patel’s article about this a few weeks ago.
Full article is well worth a read, but basically, it boils down to using URLs that are
- relatively short (50-60 characters, 2-5 words)
- human readable
- word separation with hyphens
- written in lowercase
- only safe characters
- maximum of two folders
- no keyword stuffing (use only 1-2 keywords)
There were couple other points but those above were my take away from it.
And accordingly, I have now set up URLs for this blog to be a single folder (category).
I also will put some thought into URLs when writing up a post to include keywords and to manage length etc.
Previously I have only favored human readable URLs from the list above.
But these guidelines are not so difficult so it makes sense to spend a couple of minutes per post and follow them.
Pingback – should you tell machines about new content?
Before starting up with this blog I was still under impression that a huge list of pingback address is a thing.
Apparently, the internet (and Google) has moved on.
And a huge list might actually be detrimental to your rankings.
Good thing that I read Ana Hoffman’s post at Traffic Generation Cafe. She does a good job shooting down the whole concept. Her points were further backed up by Andrew at MMOZ and I realized I was on the way to make a mistake.
I took my list of 50 services and checked each of them to determine if I felt they could be of use.
First I picked out all domains which were not com/net/org. Out went nonfunctional sites (duh) as well. As did sites that couldn’t justify their inclusion in any way.
In the end, I ended up with this list of five services.
Legal or cover your ass-pages
This is something that I have glossed over previously as I haven’t felt it important enough.
But as my goal is to eventually earn some pocket money from this project it makes sense to have some policies in place.
And when it comes to disclosure about affiliate links, I think it is just a decent thing to do.
Templates for the legal pages I picked up from Leo Emery over at Wealthy Affiliate.
There are plugins available to help with setting up legal pages as well. Such as aptly named Legal Pages.
That plugin can be of help if you need something more extensive than those templates. But you are not yet ready to go full on lawyer route.
Show only latest posts on front page
A simple thing, but I greatly prefer blogs that don’t have “front page” but have just a list of recent posts.
Don’t really know why, but it is another gut feeling type of a thing.
And obviously, I don’t even have anything to fill the front page yet in this blog 🙂
Add the property in Google Search console
To help with indexing speed as well as to see that everything is okay on your blog when it comes to crawling it you need to add it to Google Search Console.
I don’t think there is any reason not to include your site there?
The process is simple. You can prove your ownership of a website by adding a file to the server or with a help of plugins in WordPress.
With plugins, you don’t need to mess around with files and such. For example, Yoast has a feature to help with this. So you don’t even need to install another plugin. Which is always a good thing.
Create A Sitemap
Having a sitemap greatly increases the speed at which a site is indexed. Again, it just makes sense to have it in place.
And again Yoast has your back as it creates and updates sitemaps for you automatically.
You do need to enable advanced settings in YOAST to do it though.
After enabling sitemap in Yoast, log in to Search Console and add it in there as well.
If you don’t want to use Yoast, there are also plugins just for sitemap creation. For example Google XML Sitemaps.
Create an account in Google Tag Manager (GTM) for Google Analytics
Although you can do analytics without Tag Manager I find that it is so much easier to do it with Tag manager in place.
While previously you added, for example, Google Analytics code directly into website code (or with a help of a plugin). And the same thing with all external scripts you wanted to use.
Now you add just the tag manager code. And then inside the tag manager, you are able to include multiple services and/or scripts.
Without the need to touch your website code each time you add something new.
If you are not familiar with Google Tag Manager, WPBeginner has a really good beginner guide about it.
If you want to have an even better understanding of GTM. You can find more detailed information from OptimizeSmart’s beginners’ guide to tag manager.
The easiest way to get GTM integrated with WordPress is to use a plugin where you just need to paste in your Google Tag Manager ID. This is how I did this for this blog.
After everything is set up. You need to create a new site in Google Analytics and add a new tag for it in GTM.
Set up Facebook Pixel
Even if you are not planning to start advertising on Facebook today. It still makes sense to get Pixel up and running right away.
Luckily when you have GTM up and running, it is straightforward to utilize it to include scripts required for Pixel to work as well.
You need to open a business account at http://business.facebook.com and create the Pixel there.
The process itself guides you well. But if you feel that you want to learn more I can recommend a post by Rick Mulready.
Have a signup form for your email list – make it easy to follow you
Money is in the list goes the oft-repeated mantra.
And your own email list is the most important asset you as a marketer own.
I use GetResponse as my email list provider and with them, it is easy to insert signup forms where needed.
Like the one in the sidebar of this page, or the one below here.
Regardless of who you are using, I recommend to get it up and running right away.
Should be clear without saying, but once you have people signed up, you should email them as well.
I am broadcasting to my list daily. And currently, I don’t have any autoresponders other than the initial message.
Depending on your situation you could use even a lengthy autoresponder. Andre Chaperon has couple free courses on the subject I recommend that you check out.
Sharing and liking – Let them tell friends how great your content is
Make it easy for your readers to share your content to their own followers. And the easiest way to do that is to have buttons for this purpose close to each post for easy reach.
I am using the buttons provided by Jetpack. But there are many alternatives available for WordPress. Both free and paid.
Autosharing new posts
This ties into the previous point. To save me some hassle I want to automatically publish new posts to Twitter and Facebook.
Jetpack has an option to do this and I am going to go with it for the time being.
Before I realized that Jetpack has this functionality I was looking to use Socia Networks Auto-Poster-plugin.
Later on, there might be valid reasons to go about this some other way, maybe even with a paid plugin.
Paid plugin seems to be the only way if I want for example to schedule repeat shares in social media of my blog posts.
Redirect those who land at the wrong place
While 404 (Page not found) errors in themselves don’t damage your rankings. I still think it makes sense to handle them in a consistent manner.
For example. This blog had an incoming link almost immediately I got this registered in search console.
The user that followed that link saw just an error. I would very much prefer for them to see my homepage, they might even appreciate the content.
Reason for that incoming link is that I am not the first user for this domain. Wayback machine shows that there was a blog in here ten years ago that was about internet marketing.
Later it was replaced by something that looked like health blog filled with PLR articles.
I am using a plugin for 404 redirections.
Prettify those ugly links
Especially in my emails, I like to have my links human-readable. Unfortunately, when it comes to many affiliate links I find that they are really ugly.
For that reason, I like to prettify my outgoing links with a shortening service.
I don’t want to rely on an outside service for that. And that means I need to host such service myself.
In my previous blogs, I have used a plugin called Simple URLs. And it does the job. No problems there. This time though I wanted to do this outside WordPress.
After some google-fu, I found myself installing a script called Yourls. And so far I have been really happy with it. It is fast and gives me some extra statistics as well.
Write that About page
I didn’t realize the importance of about page before, but now that I think about it, it does make sense.
Your about page, if you have one, will most likely be one your blogs most visited pages. I read them myself after reading an interesting article.
I just didn’t think that I should have one as well…
Well, this time I tried to do a better job of it and also to have it done before I start posting content to my blog.
Melyssa Griffin has a good article with included worksheets to help you write yours. Those worksheets were a good starting point when writing my About page.
Conclusion – what should you do before publishing your first post in a new blog?
There you have it, my list of 15 things to do before you even publish your first post in a new blog.
Can you start without any or some of these?
But to me, it made sense to use that 4 hours or so that it took for me to research and do all above.
Now I have a good starting point before I start churning out content.
Do you have something to add? Something to take away from my list? Have I understood something completely wrong? Let me know in the comments!
The simple answer is that I felt like it.
I felt that another course correction was in place and easiest way to do it would be to start afresh with a new domain name and a little bit different approach to the whole blog.
This was made easier by the fact that I wasn’t really getting much organic traffic so I don’t think I am going to lose huge even when I am starting a new.
In the old blog, before my break in posting, my main content was reviews of internet marketing products. Most of them of the WSO-type.
While reviews are something that I wish I can do more of in the future I do want to be more picky in the products that I do review.
There needs to be some connection to what I use personally.
Meaning that I won’t review just for the sake of promotion.