You have chosen your blog name, purchased your domain and your hosting and now you are about to publish your first page. But WAIT! Stop and make sure you have done these 4 things before you write your first post or publish your first page!
4 Things to Do Before You Publish Your First Blog Page
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Secure Your Site
There is a whole lot of technical stuff that goes along with this, but simply put you need to make sure that your website has a SSL certificate and is secure. This means that your domain starts with HTTPS:// as opposed to HTTP://. You should also get a little green lock icon next to your URL in the address bar at the top of your browser.
This recommendation is relatively new, but an important one to ensure rankings and accessibility. Making the switch before you publish any posts will help minimize redirects to your site.
Your host should be able to help you get set up with SSL free of charge.
Yoast is a free plugin that will help you optimize every single post you write for search. You can add it by clicking Plugins on the leftside of your WordPress Dashboard and then clicking Add New.
This plugin is arguably the most important plugin for your site. Early traffic may come from social media, but you don’t want to put all of your traffic into one basket. You need to optimize your posts so that they can be found via Google search as well.
Check Permalink Structure
There are a couple different opinions on this particular topic, but it is my opinion that you want all of your URLs to be in the form https://yourwebsite.com/post-title.
The default setting is either plain or with the dates included. Some bloggers will tell you to leave the dates in, but I think the above permalink structure is better for SEO and for keeping your content evergreen.
You want to make these changes before writing any posts to avoid having to redirect traffic from the old URL structure to the new one. To check (or change) your Permalinks go to Settings –> Permalinks on the leftside of your WordPress Dashboard.
From there choose the POST NAME option.
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Create a Newsletter Signup Form
Your blog newsletter is one of your most valuable assets. It is the only way to contact your readers directly and one of the only things you directly control (unlike Google or social media). This means before doing any writing or getting any traffic you need to have sign up forms on your site.
This can be a form on the sidebar. It can be an embedded form at the bottom of your posts. It can also be a small fly-in or pop-up in the corner of your site.
Eventually you will offer things like content upgrades or other freebies to encourage people to sign up for your newsletter, but for now just get a few sign up sheets on your pages.
Now that you’ve done these 4 things you can start writing and cranking out amazing content that your readers will love!