Blogging Basics Part 3 of 3 — Launch Checklist
So far in our Twenty-One Days to a Better Blog Series (Intro, Table of Contents), we’ve been talking about elements of your blog that you usually work on when your blog is still young, such as what platform it will be running on. We also talked about how your domain name, title, tagline, and theme will work together to let your reader know right away that your blog is one that they’ll want to read. In this article I want to walk you through three more things that I always do when a blog is just a little infant, before I start happily typing away. Together with the tasks we’ve already talked about, these tasks make up a kind of launch checklist for a new blog. Even if you’re new to these three tasks, getting through them should only take a couple of hours.
Override the Default PermaLink Structure
When you blog, you have a blog home page as well as pages that represent categories, archives of past blogs, and individual posts. The links to the individual posts are called PermaLinks. As the name suggests, you don’t want to be changing how these work late in the game.
By default, Wordpress PermaLinks are “dynamic” URLs that are not very descriptive, and will look something like http://www.yourdomain.com/?p=123. To change this, go into the “Settings” tab of the Wordpress control panel, and select “PermaLinks”. Generally, I check the “Day and Name” radio button, which will give you a structure that includes the name in the URL of the post, thus (for example): http://www.yourdomain.com/2008/04/14/my-first-post. Such a “static” URL makes more sense both to a human reader and a search engine, though admittedly it loses brevity compared to the dynamic version.
Burn a Feed Using FeedBurner
Another task that you’ll want to do early on is to “burn” a feed using FeedBurner. FeedBurner, now owned by Google, is a popular site that helps you do things like tracking statistics for your RSS feed. It also helps you make your feed available to people using different readers. I’ve found FeedBurner very easy to use, so you should be able to follow the directions there to get your feed burned relatively easily.
Once you have your FeedBurner feed published, if you’re running Wordpress I recommend installing the Feedburner Wordpress Plugin. In brief, what this plugin does is it redirects people who find the default Wordpress theme to your FeedBurner feed, so that your FeedBurner statistics better reflect everyone who’s visiting your blog.
The reason I consider using FeedBurner to be an “early in the life of a blog” task is that many blog directories want to have a URL of a feed to work with, so I like to point them to the FeedBurner version of the feed from the beginning.
Turn On Spam Filtering
Dealing with Comment SPAM manually is a pain, and I have had excellent luck on Wordpress with either SpamKarma2 or Akismet. I think that of the two, Akismet is a better choice going forward, since it is slightly easier to configure correctly. In fact, there’s not much to it beyond activating the plugin and entering a Wordpress API Key (which you can get more information about here).