5 Easy Ways To Improve Your New WordPress.com Blog

Fresh new flowers...and blogs

Fresh new flowers…and blogs

I love finding fresh new blogs. Every few weeks I’ll veer away from my regular weekend blog reading and venture out into the unknown via WordPress.com’s homepage. I’ll check out the hand-picked Freshly Pressed posts and then wander into Topics (also known as the Global Tag Listing) in the hopes that I’ll come across a fantastic new blog.

New WordPress blogs are being created at an alarming rate:

  • There are over 500,000 new posts and 400,000 new comments on WordPress blogs every day.
  • 349 million people view over 2.5 billion pages a month
  • As of today (March 28, 2012), there are 72,368,041 WordPress blogs.

(Check out more stats here, including a really cool map.)

(Note: the stats above also include WordPress.org blogs.)

There are a few common things that I notice about new blogs that if changed, would make a big difference in the amount of traffic they’re getting, as well as the usability of the site. I notice them mainly because I did these things too when I set up my first WordPress.com blog, and I learned the hard way that to stand out from the crowd (even a little bit) I’d need to change at least some of them.

Without further ado…

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your WordPress.com Blog Today:

1) Choose your tagline.

I come across many new blogs with the default WordPress tagline still up: “Just another WordPress.com Site.” Leaving the default tagline up on your blog makes it difficult for readers to find out what your blog is about.

Choosing a tagline isn’t easy. It needs to be short and snappy and let site visitors know a little something about you (or your blog) so they can decide if they want to stick around. Your blog tagline also contributes to improving search results for your blog, making it easier for people to find.

To change your tagline, go to Settings > General and edit the text in the second row down (“tagline”). Remember, you can always change it later! Learn more about how to create an effective tagline in One Cool Site’s post here, and click here for 45 Creative, Clever and Effective Taglines to inspire you.

 2) Add an ‘About’ or ‘Bio’ Page

Half of the excitement of discovering a new blog is discovering a new blogger. Even if you’ve chosen to blog anonymously, an ‘About’ page is (in my mind) a must-have page. Writing about yourself can be daunting, but you just need to crank out a few sentences to get yourself started. Why are you blogging? What are you blogging about? Who are you? Give your readers an idea of what they can expect from you (and why they might want to stick around to read it).

Here are a few tips on writing ‘About’ pages to get you started: How to Write Your “About Me” Page from Problogger and How to Write an About Page in 8 Simple Steps. Just like writing a tagline, creating an ‘About’ page can be daunting, but remember, it’s not set in stone: you can always change it!

3) Remove the WordPress Meta Widget

When you start a WordPress.com blog, WordPress automatically adds a widget called “Meta.” The Meta widget includes links to log in to WordPress, Site Admin, the RSS feed and WordPress.com. I often find this widget on newer blogs, and I can understand why: the widget makes it easy to log in and out of WordPress.com. But if you take a look at many more established blogs hosted in WordPress, such Nina Badzin‘s blog or Gene Lempp’s, you’ll notice that the Meta widget has been removed. It’s handy for the blogger, but not super-useful for your readers. You can always bookmark the WordPress.com home page and log in from there.

The Meta widget does include links to your RSS feed, but it’s often a good idea to highlight your RSS feed and email sign up in a more prominent way. Which leads us to…

4) Give Readers an Easy Way to Follow Your Blog

There’s nothing more frustrating than stumbling upon a new blog that you like, only to find that there’s no way to follow the blog.

You’ve gone to all the work of creating a wonderful blog, make sure people can be reminded to come back and visit the next time you post by adding an email sign-up box as well as a link to your RSS feed.

Email Sign-Up: It’s really easy to set-up an email subscription option in WordPress.com thanks to their wonderful ‘Follow Blog’ widget. For details on how to set this up, visit this post.

RSS Feed: When you start a blog, WordPress.com starts two RSS feeds for you: one for your posts and one for the comments on your posts. An RSS feed is a stream of your posts (or comments) that can be loaded into feed readers. Some blog readers use RSS feeds to keep up-to-date with their favourite blogs without having to visit a ton of different websites.

To learn more about using your WordPress.com RSS feed, check out this article from the WordPress.com support forum.

For a really easy way to add your RSS feed to your blog, visit this post: RSS Links Widget.

5) Tag Your Posts

Your new blog is awesome: you want other people to be able to find it to see just how awesome it is. WordPress.com makes this really easy with tags.

You can (and should!) add tags to each of your WordPress.com posts. Tags are keywords that let readers (and WordPress.com, and search engines), know what your blog post is about. Tags will be displayed on your posts, and be used to categorize your posts in WordPress.com’s Global Tag Listing. Even more importantly perhaps, tags are indexed by search engines, so they can have a big impact on your blog traffic.

Tags can be single words or short strings of words. For example, for this post, I have added the following tags: WordPress.com, setting up WordPress.com, getting started WordPress.com, WordPress.com for Writers, writing, 5 Tips for New WordPress.com bloggers, what to do with a new WordPress.com blog.

When creating your tags, try to think of the words that someone might enter into a search engine to find your post. Also, check out the more popular tags  in the Global Tag Listing and try adding a few relevant ones to your post to make sure your posts show up in the more popular categories. The bigger the tag’s font in the global listing, the more often that term is being used.

I usually add between 3 and 8 tags for each post; WordPress recommends between 5 and 10. Just be sure your tags are relevant so readers won’t be disappointed when they arrive at your site.

Each time you compose a post, look to the right-hand side of your screen for the box labelled “Tags” and add a few to make sure your future readers can find you!

Are there any other blogging lessons that you learned the hard way? If you’re a more experienced blogger: do you agree with this advice? Have any to add?

 Image source: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Krappweis

17 Responses to “5 Easy Ways To Improve Your New WordPress.com Blog”

  1. Great information – thanks Carrie!

  2. Excellent! The about page is an extremely important aspect of blogging; I want to know about you! Super tips.

  3. Thank you, Carrie, this helps alot. I’ve been lost with wordpress so my blog just sits there. I handle blogspot better. Your suggestions and how to make them happen is golden!

  4. Very cool info. I went back to my blog and changed my tagline to better suit what my blog is about. The previous one was too vague, I think.

    I also added the RSS link feed, but I noticed there is another widget that is simply ‘RSS’. What is the difference?

    Thanks for a great, helpful post!

    • Hello!

      I believe that the widget that’s called “RSS” enables you to bring in an RSS feed in (yours or one belonging to someone else) just like you would a Twitter feed. I don’t see people use this very often.

      P.S. I love your new tagline!

  5. Hi Carrie! Love the site and the way it looks… I also agree with the points you listed above. After nearly 2 years of blogging and reading blogs, it pays to make it easier for readers to use your blog, whether it be through a descriptive tagline, subscribe button or what have you. Awesome tips for bloggers.

    • Hi Anne,

      Thanks so much for dropping by to check out my blog! I think I should add a #6: Join the A-List Blogging Club and save yourself some time :)

  6. Hi Carrie,

    Great post, thank you. I’m a new blogger and learning day by day. I must have taken the meta widget off early! Now I’m looking at how to add the RSS feeds in.

    Thanks for your advice!

    Ruby

    • Hi Ruby!

      Let me know if you have any other questions about blogging – I’m happy to help if I can :)

      • Hi Carrie,

        Thanks for your kind offer, I do have a question. Before I started my blog, I had numerous blogs that I checked on a regular basis, and always posted comments when I had questions, etc.. Now I find when I use list my website or log in with my wordpress name, the comments aren’t being replied to, just ignored. I know this because other visitors’ comments are replied to, but not mine. I take this to mean that bloggers don’t like when other bloggers comment on their site.

        What are your thoughts?

        Thanks in advance.

        • Hi Ruby,

          That’s very odd – I’ve never had that experience myself. Generally bloggers like to meet other bloggers and help each other — I’ve never found the blogging community very competitive. I have found that it’s a good idea to make comments you leave easy to respond to (if you’d like a response). In some cases I leave a simple comment about how I liked a post or how I agree with the author of the post. I don’t expect a response on these types of comments because there’s not much to say. I’ve also noticed that the bigger bloggers often can’t keep up with all of the comments on their posts (there are hundreds sometimes!) so they only respond to a select few.

          Hope that helps!

          Carrie

  7. I agree with your advice and I would add that appearance means a lot. It can make or break a blog. If the format is too clutter or too dull or too hard to follow and read, then chances are people will not pay that much attention to it. I would also suggest making the content the main focus. If you have great content, then that should be the star, not your favorite links, comments from others, a bunch of photos, social media connections, etc.