Being a big fan of computer games myself, I really like “level up” expression. There’s, you know, some kind of quality in it, and I’m talking quality here. So far with a catchy content of yours and funny pictures in high resolution you’ve probably gained some local popularity. And with certain plugins and attractive theme you’ve developed it a little bit from a technical point of view. What’s next? Well, the sky’s the limit to perfection, and there are thousands of ways to move forward and keep rocking. I’m going to reveal 7 non-obvious improvements to level up your blog to the brand new level +3 useful tools.
1. “Oh look, another visitor. Stay awhile… Stay FOREVER!” (Impossible Mission)
Stanislavsky said: “Theatre begins at the cloakroom”. I say: “Your post begins with its link” (permalink is short for permanent link). It’s not worthy of note and so simple at the first sight, but… But having a catchy “respectable” link means engaging your customers before they can read your text and letting them remember its URL easily. So, user-friendliness would be number 1. And number 2 would be SEO. Dear old SEO loves keywords and bloggers being user-friendly. And like an attentive husband who leaves roses in each room for his wife’s birthday, we add keywords everywhere — even to the link. Especially to the link.
WordPress versions before 4.2 used to compose default URL of link to your home page and then some letters-numbers-signs stuff — like http://www.yourwebsite.com/?p=63562. Newer versions use the name of your article instead of that weird part. Of course it simplifies our web lives a lot. But still, if the name of the article is too long, or you want to add more or other keywords to your link, you can change a permalink the way you want. This feature is in Settings → Permalinks. WordPress will suggest you following options:
NB! Don’t change the names of your previous posts, especially the oldest ones. You won’t save them — their URLs will change and all previous mentions of these posts on other resources will lead to 404 page. If you still need to change the URL of the article, redirect the old URLs to the new ones with the help of Yoast SEO plugin which will make all redirects.
2. “Finish him!” (Mortal Kombat)
Our whole writing flow consists of unbelievable activity, when we write 3 texts a day and publish them like crazy, and of lazy observation moments (personally mine looks like this). Our readers are happy when we give them something new and go away when we do big breaks. Schedule can sound like boring school stuff, but we all need some order. From time to time I practice “writing in reserve” — during those energetic moments I write as many drafts as possible and… do not publish them all at once. I know, I know, it’s tempting to show everything immediately, but your readers will be a lot more satisfied if you joy them not that often but more steadily.
There’s a default option in WordPress to save all your drafts in there, specify the date of publication right away and go have rest, forgetting all your worries. So, you can make up a plan for a week or a month, write some texts, arrange them properly in your admin panel and WordPress will publish them whenever you want. You just continue working on other ideas.
It’s very easy to do. When you write your text, there’s such a window to the right from it.
3. “It’s dangerous to go alone; take this!” (The Legend of Zelda)
Lately I got lost in my own website. Yep, two days ago I was trying to recall where I’ve written about images optimization. I knew that was the part of my big article. But what was that article about? When for God’s sake did I write it? The end of the story: I’m rereading all my texts because of my stubbornness and wish to orientate in my own content better. The needed information was in the 8th one. Conclusion: not a single reader is going to read all your 100 or more texts to find what he/she needs.
Solution is of course a search through a website, and there’s such a default search option in WordPress. It exists. Hmm, in fact, that is the only thing I can say about it. Is it good? No, it’s not. Can it find everything from your website quickly and easily? No, actually it’s not even able to find everything. Dear WordPress, I love you as a CMS crazy, but search on the blog should be like google engines — quick, accurate and anticipating the smallest desires of the readers. In fact the very Google provides such an option — one can create a search engine for his own website. And of course there are always a plugin or two which can solve any WordPress issue. I would recommend free Swiftype Search or Search & Filter.
4. “The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world.” (Half-Life 2)
How many languages do you speak? I bet there are at least two of them. Go use your knowledge to conquer the rest of the world. I think writing in only one language is a blogger’s version of a comfort zone.
Just imagine how many of your would-be readers are waiting out there among 7,3 billion people currently living on planet. They want to read your posts, just give it to them. And what a great opportunity to practice your language skills!
Again, there’s a plugin to make your website multilingual — Polylang. It adds all needed features to switch between languages, and you can publish the same text in different languages with it, and a lot more, and why don’t you just write your text in foreign language and try it?
5. “Big…money! Big…prizes! I love it!” (Smash TV)
Now when you have your blog multilingual, the next logical and obvious step is to add a store section there. Funny T-shirts, mugs with your logo and jokes, and tons of stuff can be sold right from your blog. What kind of benefits are you going to have out of it?
First — money, money, money. Your existing readers (if not to use the word “fans”) will happily buy from you. Second — it will attract new audience. And if the first variant is simple, let’s figure out the second one. A store is a complete new source of customers: they will come to your store, and if they like what’s there, why not stay, right? In addition with your store you can conduct interesting contests, giveaways and that will attract them all, people love freebies. And who doesn’t want to try being a real business guy?
Adding a store doesn’t require moving to an eCommerce platform or something like this, WordPress again strikes me with its plugins. You can add a store section right to your blog with Jigoshop plugin, but I personally use and recommend WooCommerce. It’s free, easy and easy for beginners. WooCommerce installing and running processes are in How to build a store with WooCommerce.
Only think through your “business”. This will work only in case you sell something you’d buy for yourself, and your originality is always welcomed.
6. “Sonic Boom!” (Street Fighter II)
To make my article more smart science like, I’ll tell you some surveys, which show: 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load and 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. You see, one second is really a big deal. I’m going to delve here, because except of your hosting that has to be quick and reliable, there are some more difficult ways, which still can make your website fly like a rocket:
1. Plugins for caching (W3 Super Cache or W3 Total Cache ). In simple words, WordPress puts together all different components (files, plugins, data) of each particular page on your website each time somebody visits them. Every single time he does the same work — hundreds of times per day. And it takes him some time to do so. But caching and those caching plugins mentioned above will create some copies of pages which WordPress already compiled. These ready copies will be shown to your visitors immediately, so that pages of your website don’t have to be made up together each particular time.
2. Images are slow. We always drop huge images in high resolution for the sake of beauty. That is not bad, but that is not good. In fact 150 kB is around maximum you’ll need to make your website quick and still beautiful, so just cut or compress them. And of course there’s always a plugin to solve any problem — WP Smush (optimizes pictures and removes all useless stuff from them). The other “image” option is to use lazy loading of pictures — when only those picture displayed on a screen at that very moment are loaded, and the other ones will be loaded when you scroll and need them. There’s a plugin for pictures — BJ Lazy Load and for videos — WP YouTube Lyte.
3. In addition you can test if some of your plugins don’t slow the load time down (P3 Plugin Performance Profiler plugin is the tool to do so) and get rid of or replace those who do. And clean your website’s database, remove all the junk, auto-saved copies, drafts, unwanted comments etc.
7. “Thank you Mario! But our Princess is in another castle!” (Super Mario Bros.)
Some think WordPress is not the most secure CMS in the world. I think, WordPress is the king of the world! Stop saying bad things about it! Though well, okay, the security is a disaster. It’s like Liechtenstein — no army and 125 employees in the national police.
No panic, if Liechtenstein manages to be one of the most secure countries, WordPress will manage anyway. So, improving your website security is multilayered — beginning with your very computer and up to our beloved WordPress plugins:
Scan your computer and all other devices you access your website’s dashboard with an antivirus.
Hosting is the way to fix most of your problems. Security is also in its field. Check out all protecting tools your hosting provider offers.
WordPress knows its problems and with each update it tries to fix them, so don’t “remind me later” those updates, they will improve your website’s security in some ways.
Transferring your files through SFTP (“Secure File Transfer Protocol”) instead of just FTP adds one more layer of protection.
If you decide to add an online store, you’ll need SSL certificates for it. These are used to encrypt connections between a web server and a user’s browser.
Recommended plugins are following
BackUpWordPressis for helping you to create backups of your website. You need to have copies of it in case of problems.
All In One WP Security & Fireball checks all weak spots and cures them.
Wordfence Security protects your website from hackers and malware.
Don’t install unreliable stuff and don’t forget to take out the trash from time to time. And one more thing — get rid of spam!
“Conglaturation! You have completed a great game!” (Ghostbusters)
And as an 8th point or My special prize for those who reached the end of this post there are three useful tools for your successful marketing:
mention.com helps to track all mentions of your website on other resources
on storify.com you can submit your stories, gaining both mentions of your blog and linkbuilding.
with bloglovin.com you can get an account and make your collection of favourite blogs and blogs you cooperate with. Other people can track what you add there.
Now go get some coffee, because “it’s time to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I’m all outta gum” (Duke Nukem 3D).