5 Essential Items Every WordPress Blog Should Have

Every blogger starts at the same place – a theme you chose and your first article. But once you start writing and getting your groove, you will want to do more for your blog to help promote it and follow it’s growth. Although there is a ton of advice available on what every blog should have, these 5 items that I have chosen are a good place to start if you are just starting a blog or just starting to look under the hood to see what you can do to improve it.

A Robots.txt file – If you do not have a robots.txt file installed inside your blog, you might be allowing the search engines to see duplicate content and other content that you do not want indexed. This is very important because you only want your content to be indexed at places like Google, and not, for instance, your categories, certain informational pages, your RSS feed, or your admin pages. You can normally see anyone’s robots file by just putting robots.txt after the domain name – “www.example.com/robots.txt”. You can create this file in any text editor, and there are samples available everywhere on the internet and on most major sites. Check out your favorite blog and see what theirs says! Once you have created the file, you should save it as “robots.txt” and place it in your root folder of your blog through your FTP program.

A Google XML Sitemap – This easy-to-use plugin generates a map of your WordPress blog for Ask.com, Google, MSN Search and Yahoo. A sitemap basically tells search engines how your blog works, where the content is, and anything else that helps the search engines index your site correctly. I use the plugin that is actually called Google XML Sitemaps. Set up is easy – download the file, FTP it into your Plugins folder, and activate it. Once you have done that, click once on “Rebuild Sitemap” to create your sitemap the first time.

Akismet Spam Killer – I was a big fan of Spam Karma for stopping spam comments and trackbacks; that is, until I started using Akismet instead. Each day, I was receiving tons spam comments and trackbacks, no matter how much work I put into blacklisting IP addresses or deleting comments. So I switched to Akismet, and BAM – it stopped. Not one spam comment or trackback in the first 5 days of use! Amazing. This is another simple plugin – download, upload to your Plugins folder, activate. In order to activate though, you do need a WordPress API key, which you might already have. If you don’t you can get by signing up for a simple account at WordPress.com (even if you host your own site somewhere else). That’s it, you don’t have to do anything else!

All-in-One-SEO – Probably the easiest to use Search Engine Optimization plugin available, the All-in-One-SEO pack is something no WordPress blog should be without. I mean, you want the search engines to find your great content, don’t you? With this installed, you can automatically optimize your titles for search engines, generate META tags automatically, and helps to avoid duplicate content. Even if you don’t do anything other than install the plugin and activate it, this plugin will help your blog get noticed by the search engines. But if you do decide to tinker with it, there is a lot you can do to optimize your site, and the explanations on how to use it is very well done. A definite must have that I have used for a long time.

A way to track visitors – You want to know where people are coming from and what they are looking at, don’t you? Sure you do! I have both Sitemeter and Google Analytics installed on all my sites, and each of them serves a purpose for me. Sitemeter I use as a basic “quick-look” stat counter, where I can see how many visitors I get in a day, where they came from, and how long they stayed. I take a look at it daily so I get a feeling as to how the site is doing. Google Analytics, on the other hand, is a monster of a tracking program – you can see traffic referrers, bounce rates, item uses, time of day vs. amount of visits – basically anything you could want to track, you can do with Analytics. And I think the coolest part is that you can run weekly or monthly reports, and export them as Excel or PDF files. These come in very handy when advertisers want to see your traffic numbers!

All of these things are free and very easy to use, and no blogger should be without them. And although there are many more things that every blog could have installed, if I had to pick 5 to install right away from the beginning, these are the 5 I would pick after blogging for quite some time. In another post in the near future, I will cover each plugin that I have installed on my sites, and how I use them all to my advantage. Happy blogging!

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10 Responses to “5 Essential Items Every WordPress Blog Should Have”

  1. James says:

    Thanks for the info, I will give some of these a shot!

  2. EarnBlogger says:

    you are right. we must have at least these items. then we must backup our databases regularly. thanks.

  3. Randall says:

    Good info, Gotta remember these.

  4. Mike says:

    These are all good points, but they are useless with out good quality content. You can set up all of the blogs with these great 5 tips but if the blog is not worth reading it won’t stand a chance.

  5. plonkee says:

    Aksimet is really that much better than Spam Karma? Maybe I should look into that.

  6. David says:

    So much better, and I never knew it!

  7. Patrick says:

    David, I just installed Akismet this weekend, and just like you – no SPAM trackbacks. 🙂

  8. David says:

    It’s amazing!

  9. Peter Lee says:

    Good choice of essential items for your blog. It’s good to know that I have all of these. Thanks for sharing.

    Peter Lee

  10. This is a great article and I just implemented your tips on both of my blogs. Thank you so much. I love the SEO tool for WordPress – great stuff!