I’m going to start with Semiologic because this is my out and out recommendation. Some might find it pricey but not if you value your time.
I thoroughly recommend Semiologic Pro if you do not like any technical issues to get in the way of your internet marketing efforts. I remember hearing Alex Mandossian say that if you are not spending 95% of your time on marketing then you are doomed to failure. So you do not want to be spending your time building or maintaining your website. While WordPress is good, the packaging of WordPress with all necessary and relevant plugins into the Semiologic Pro package to make it a really effective website building tool is even better.
Although the quickest place to get started with blogging is on www.blogger.com, which still has some advantages as it is owned by Google, the best all round blogging tool is WordPress. You can host it on your own domain, perhaps as /domainname.com/blog or even as a stand alone site i.e. by installing it in the root directory so that www.domainname.com brings up the first page of your blog.
You can select the appearance of your blog from hundreds of templates available both free and paid and when you get to know enough about it you can edit your own templates. ‘Plug-ins’ are readily available to add functionality to your blog and are easy to install – and best of all it’s free!
If you would really like to develop your very own unique WordPress theme then try this free Worpress theme generator.Despite all this I have to admit my first encounters with WordPress were far from happy. I was expecting an easy experience based on the sort of introduction I realise I’ve just written myself in the last few paragraphs. But it was far from that, mostly because I was swimming in a sea of total ignorance.
That’s one of the lessons I have learned to avoid. Implementing some new tool, blundering through to set up what I need at that moment and then rushing on to the next new thing. You never get real value from the work you have just done because you are not using that tool to it’s maximum.
Some Aspects of Blogging..
Commenting and Trackbacks
Don’t forget that Commenting and Trackbacks are an extremely powerful way of developing targeted traffic. You need to locate 5-10 blogs that are active in your subject area and begin to participate in their discussions. You can Comment on their blog and make sure that you include a link either in your signature or directly in the text, prefereably to the Permalink of the specific post or page of your blog that is relevant. Blog etiquette allows you the one link.
Alternatively, you can post on your own blog on the same or related subject making reference to the post you have just read on another blog. When you decided to make your post while reading the other blog you located and copied to your Clipboard the Trackback code from that post. When you complete your own post on your blog you paste into the correct area of your software the Trackback code from the other site. This will ensure that as soon as you publish your post the other blog will be notified with a link across to you.
To find relevant blogs on your subject use the free tool at http://blogsearch.google.com/ – it’s name speaks for itself.
This is a great way of developing very focussed traffic.
Telling The World You Have Spoken
It’s all very well scribbling away on your blog but if no-one knows about it then you are wasting your time. To tell the world you need to have Update (or ‘ping’ ) Services activated. Although your WordPress blog will have Pingomatic installed by default you really want to major on this issue rather more. So go to WordPress and copy the list of Update Services then come back to your blog and paste them into the Admin area of your blog at WP Admin->Options->Writing.
The Ten Most Important WordPress Plugins
There is lots of argument and opinion about which are the most effective plugins for WordPress. Well here is a list of what I consider are the ten essential WordPress plugins for Internet Marketers.
Note that this is for the vanilla WordPress package. If you are a Semiologic user then you will see that the majority of these are all included and integrated in Semiologic Pro.
#1 All in One SEO Pack
As the name suggest a fantastic “all in one” plugin for SEO on your blog. Saves you having to load a number of separate plugins to achieve the same end result.
Essentially this plugin allows you to easily edit and control the Title, Meta description, and Meta tags for every post you make. This overrides the annoying WordPress default of using your blog tagline as your meta description and keywords. Although available in Semio the Semiologic package uses it’s own optimisation methods.
#2 WP Auto Tagger
When you run out of imagination, memory or research this automatically finds relevant tags for your posts. This plugin looks at what is popular based on your content and adds these popular tags. Can be a real time saver. Using tags is very important in blogs.
#3 Google XML Sitemaps
It’s essential for you to have an xml sitemap which can help you get indexed quickly as well as rank well in the search engines. This plugin creates and submits an xml sitemap for Google, Yahoo, Msn, and Ask.com
Akismet is a great help in reducing spam. It’s not perfect but helps you to dramatically reduce the amount of spam you will receive on your blog. Also keep your Comments moderated to prevent spam being published while you’re not looking.
#5 WP Stats Plugin
While there are a heap of plugins to product stats, many are far too complex. This plugin focuses on just the most popular metrics a blogger wants to track and provide them in a clear and concise interface (page views, which posts/pages are most popular, where traffic is coming from, etc). All on a single page.
#6 Max Blog Press Unblockable Popup
An unblockable popup? Yes this can be useful when you really want to make sure your visitors get the message. This plugin gives you a choice of doing that. This one is not included in Semio.
#7 RSS Include Pages
Got some pages of content not on your blog that you want to include in your blogs RSS feeds? This plugin enables you to do just that. It’s simple, effective and works a treat.
#8 SEO Friendly Images
Forget how important it is to label your images for SEO goodness? This plugin automatically updates all images with proper ALT and TITLES attributes.
Don’t forget that these are yet another way of telling Google what your site is about so don’t neglect them.
#9 Share/Save/Bookmark Button
Add buttons to enable your visitors to do just that to your posts. A great way to build backlinks, and drive more traffic to your website.
#10 WordPress Backup
You do backup don’t you? This is so important. Can you imagine having to re-create your blog from scratch? Backup every day on autopilot and send it to a Googlemail address with a filter to Archive immediately to a folder. Backed up and archived on autopilot!
Mass Blog Creation
If any of your strategies include mass blog creation then I would suggest you use Blog Matrix Pro from J P Schoeffel. This enables you to create multiple blogs automatically as well as posting content.
Once you are functioning effectively then you need to keep up on what everyone in your niche is up to. You could try BlogTalkMonitor for this. Still free at the time of writing and this monitors all the places on the internet that new information is appearing in your specified niche area and delivers it to your desktop. So when you blog about this new information then suddenly you are an expert….and can charge accordingly!
Optimising Your Blog for SEO
I picked up a useful tip today from well known SEO expert, Nathan Anderson. He signs off all his blog posts with his name (that he wants to optimise for SEO) linked back to his blog home page. That seems irrational when the post is already on the home page. But it actually has 2 purposes.
- When the posts are archived they will still have the internal link back to his home page. This will help promote his home page with the search engines.
- More importantly, many of his blog readers take an RSS feed. So his posts are being distributed across the net and published in all sorts of places – still carrying that link back to his home page. So he is creating multiple one-way, inbound links just by posting on his blog.
Thanks Nathan – I’ll be using that one!