WordPress ‘How To’ Guide

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Optional (but cool) plugins

  • Add to Any. This small plugin allows you to add links to popular bookmarking/social networking sites. Elegant in its simplicity it’s a great way of helping your readers link back to your site (and therefore help your page rank in Google if YOU link to them).
  • Breadcrumb NavXT. Gives the option of adding breadcrumb links to the any point in your pages/posts. Personally I’m a big fan of breadcrumbs as they give readers the option of back-tracking back through the path they came in on, depending on your configuration of course.
  • Lightbox 2. Used properly this widely-known and popular technique can give your image links some power. Instead of linking to a relatively boring image they can be made to popup in a much cooler way – you’ve seen this before but maybe not known it’s called Lightbox.
  • WP-CodeBox. This plugin is aimed exclusively at people with code on their sites. Code snippets can be displayed with syntax-colouring/highlighting to make code reading much more effective.
  • WP-PageNavi. As the plugin’s own description says, “Adds a more advanced paging navigation to your WordPress blog.”

Advanced WordPress configuration

Some of the steps below are recommended, some are completely optional but still things I do on each WordPress site I create. I’ll leave it up to you as to whether or not you do them on your own site. They can, amongst other things, inform social networking sites when you add content and therefore drive more traffic to your site. All these options are under the ‘Settings’ section on the left of the WordPress dashboard.

  • General > Tagline. The appearance and location of this is theme-dependent but will inform readers, at a glance, what your site is about.
  • General > Timezone. For obvious reasons you should set to the appropriate time zone for your site.
  • Writing > Remote Publishing. If you want to use a desktop client to publish your articles (e.g. Microsoft Live Writer) you’ll need to enable these options.
  • Writing > Update Services. My list of update services can be downloaded from the Digital Formula Downloads page.
  • Reading > Front page displays. Change this to be a static page if you don’t want your site’s entry page to be a list of your latest articles. If you’re using a theme from Elegant Themes some of the will override this setting – please take this into account before asking “Hey, why won’t my static page show up?”
  • Discussion > Other comment settings > Enable threaded (nested) comments ‘X’ levels deep. This is disabled by default – I always set it to 5. Discussions look better that way.
  • Discussion > Before a comment appears > An administrator must always approve the comment. If you install the ‘SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam’ plugin mentioned above it’s pretty safe to disable this. Only web bots (and people) clever enough to figure out the CAPTCHA images can submit comments anyway.
  • Permalinks > Common Settings. I always the custom structure ‘/%category%/%postname%/’. It looks far better than the default and is also SEO-friendly.
  • Miscellaneous > Uploading Files. Worth mentioning but I always leave these at the default settings. If you want to organise your uploads a different way you can change the settings here.

I hope this article helps someone. These settings, plugins and recommendations have helped my blog’s traffic, according to Google Analytics, from increasing by 15-20% each week to over 60% each week. They work for me and, provided you add decent content to your blog, they’ll work for you, too. 🙂