We all want to improve our wordpress blog in various ways, that is why I have compiled a massive list of different ways to improve your wordpress blog. From navigation to page loading times, it’s all here!
1. Related Posts
Related post’s can provide quick navigation to different post’s of the same nature. If a visitor likes the current post they are bound to like a similar one. There are quite a few plugins to choose from, here’s a simple and easy one: Related Posts
2. Most Viewed Posts
Similar to before, the most viewed post’s are obviously your best posts. Most visitors would be interested to see the most viewed posts. Having the most viewed post’s readily available will increase your most viewed post’s traffic even more. There is also a plugin for this, check this one out: WP-PostViews
Breadcrumbs are navigation links that shows where you have come from, example: Home -> Photoshop -> Text Effects -> Firey Text Effect. This helps if the visitor wants to go back to the same category or home page quickly without any hassle of the drop down menu’s etc… As before, there is a plugin. Breadcrumb NavXT
4. Multi-page Posts
There are three reasons why this is done, 1. Faster loading page times (Multi-page Posts is also in performance section) 2. Easier for the user to read 3. Better SEO (more pages indexed). Yes, you guessed it, there’s a plugin for it as well. Multi-page Toolkit
5. Category Icons
Usually the sidebar is clogged up with meta data, advertisement’s and tag clouds. We sometimes miss the categories in all the mess, assigning images to your categorys is a great way to fix this and will help your visitors navigate your blog with ease. Download this plugin. Category-Icons
Without design your visitors can’t tell your blog from the others. If your blog looks exactly the same as someone elses, the visitor will be likely to forget about the blog. Changing a few design features around a theme can make it stand out dramatically and give it a personal feeling.
1. Improve Your Sidebar
Going back to the sidebar, every theme has to have a nice usable widget ready sidebar. The widgets must be easily definable to tell which is which. Here’s an example, your links could get mistaken for advertisements and ignored. You want the visitor to fully understand your website quickly. Also dont forget to make good use of the sidebar, eg. don’t put useless junk on there.
2. Remove Advertisements In Posts
If you want your suscribers and visitors to dislike you then put advertisements in the middle of your posts. Anywhere I see this I instantly dislike the blog unless it’s a really good one. Having adverisements in your posts makes the reader confused and can’t tell the post apart from the advertisement. Most webmasters are try to achieve this to get more cash but it’s a surefire way to loose suscribers & traffic.
3. Subscribe Area
I always love seeing new ways of trying to get subscribers, I want to see different RSS icon’s, not just the boring plain old shaped buttons that everyone uses (including me). If you want some inspiration check out the images below that I’ve compiled.
4. Image Styles
You might of noticed in most of my posts that the images either span the whole width of the post area or have a gray box around the image spanning to the edge of the post area. This makes the post a lot more neat and readable. The image cuts off the post into a smaller chunks allowing the reader to understand and digest the information easier.
5. Comment Numbers
Comment numbers arn’t essential but do help if there is a question that need’s to be answered or there is a discussion. People can specify the post number for quick reference etc… Heres how to implement them! Adding Comment Numbers To Your WordPress Theme
6. Highlight Author’s Comments
If asking a question about a post, it might be hard to spot the authors reply in the mess of comments. If you were smart you would add some nifty code that would highlight the authors comment. Check it out. Highlight Author’s Comments or ff you don’t want to get dirty with PHP then use this plugin.
Before we indulge into the performance section of this list, here’s the facts: 1. 10 seconds is about the limit for keeping the user’s attention focused on a loading page, according to Jakob Nielsen and other studies. 2. At the moment, almost 20 % of US households still use a narrowband internet connection, according to Leichtman Research Group (via WebSiteOptimization.com). 3. The average web page size increases by 20 KB per year, according to this author’s empiricism. Users are thus continuously forced to wait, albeit and probably slightly less due to increasing connection speed.
Bearing that in mind, heres some tips to improve your blogs performance.
I can’t sum up performance any better than this post, so I put it in the post for easier reference.
All credit goes to this post: http://maketecheasier.com/8-ways-to-improve-your-wordpresss-loading-time/2009/01/21 and this blog: Maketecheasier.com
1. Reduce the number of images and image size in your site
Images take up a lot of bandwidth and can slow down the page’s loading time to a great extent. One of the best way to reduce loading time is to reduce the number of images in your site.
There are main two types of images that most WordPress blogs contain: theme images and post images. Theme images are those images that are used in the theme. These can be the header images, the small bullet images you use for any list, the small icon beside the comment link and many more. If you are not the designer of your theme and you know nuts about coding, there is really nothing much that you can do. You can either live with it or change your current theme to one that uses lesser images. For those with some coding knowledge, you can use CSS Sprite to combine several images into one big image and use CSS background-position to shift the image around (more detail here).
Post images are images that you inserted into your posts to illustrate your points or to beautify the post. If possible, reduce the number of images used in the post (not more than 5). If your site is a tutorial blog that uses plenty of screenshots to get your points across (just like Make Tech Easier), the best way out is to optimize and compress the images before posting them in your site. Adobe Photoshop has this “Save for Web” function that you can use to optimize/compress your images easily. Most free image editors (such as GIMP) also provide you with the option to compress your images. Online tools such as online image optimizer and JPEGWizard are also great tools you can use to reduce the filesize of your images.
2. Split up long posts
If you are in the habit of writing long posts (more than 1500 words), it is best to split the post into several small pages. Not only does it leads to a faster loading page, it is also easier for your visitors to read and digest. In WordPress, you can easily split your post with the ‘nextpage’ tag. Read here for more detail.
3. Upgrade your WordPress and plugins
It is important that you update your WordPress and all your plugins to the latest version. The WordPress team is working hard to make sure that every release of WordPress has a better performance than the previous version. The only way for you to make use of their effort is to follow the development cycle closely and update whenever a newer version is available.
4. Deactivate unused plugins
In addition, check out your existing list of active plugins and see if any of those have overlapping features with the latest version of WordPress. For example, prior to WP2.7, I used the Admin Management Xtended plugin to better manage all the administrative tasks. With the release of WP2.7, most of the features in the plugin are integrated into the software itself, which means I can now retire the plugin and free up the valuable resources.
You may also want to check out the WordPress plugin repository regularly for any other plugins that can do the same function as your existing plugins, but have better performance.
5. Install WP-SuperCache
If there is one plugin that you must keep, it have to be WP-SuperCache. The SuperCache plugin caches your page as a static html file. When your visitors arrive at your site, they will be served the static page instead of the actual page.
If your Web host can support compressed file, you can further improve your site loading time simply by checking the Enable Compression feature within the SuperCache option page. When this option is turned on, the static html will be compressed as a gzip file, making the filesize even smaller.
6. Streamlining your theme
Your theme (especially header.php and footer.php) contains a lot of redundant dynamic content that can easily take up valuable server resources. You can easily streamline it to reduce the number of php and database queries.
Here is an example of how you can streamline your code. Log in to your Admin dashboard. Go to the theme editor section and load up the Header file. You should see something like this (without the color coding):
(Screenshot taken from classic theme header.php in a html editor. Depending on the theme that you are using, result may vary.)
Here is how I change some of the dynamic content ( tag) into strings of text. Also, look how I have reduce the number of items in the header file.
By streamlining your theme, the site won’t have to keep going back to the server to query the database, thus the time taken to load will also be faster.
7. Add Expires header to static resources
Download your .htaccess file from your server.
Add the following lines to the file:
ExpiresByType image/gif A2592000
ExpiresByType image/png AA2592000
ExpiresByType image/jpg AA2592000
ExpiresByType image/jpeg AA2592000
The A2592000 means that the cache file will expire one month (in seconds) from the time the visitor first visits your site.
8. Install php_speedy
1. Upgrade WordPress When Possible
Always upgrade to the latest wordpress version, this will ensure that you have all secuity fixes. It is also good to remove the wordpress version in the header tag. Doing this will ensure that the hacker can’t tell which version you are using.
2. No Directory Should Be Browsable
On some servers if you don’t have an index file in a directory it will show a sitemap of the contents of the directory. This is a serious security issue and need’s to be fixed asap. Just plop a blank index.html file in your directory. You can also fix this by adding this piece of code to the root .htaccess file.
Options All -Indexes
3. Edit The config.php file correctly
Go through each line in wp-config.php, not only the first block for database configuration. Make sure to complete every line for maximum security.
Use WordPress secret key generation tool to generate random keys. These keys are used to insure better encryption of information stored in WordPress user’s cookies.
Also modify the WordPress table prefix to something other than wp_. Adding random characters and numbers to the end of wp, such as wp101gt_ obfuscates it enough but still allows you to recognize the tables as those belong to WordPress.
4. Don’t use the default username (admin)
Hackers know the default username for wordpress is admin, so they now only need the password. In wordpress you can’t remove the admin profile or change the username, you have to go into the database and change the field.
5. Backup your database regulary
If you do get hacked and your website is destroyed, your backup will save you. These are a must since you don’t know what things could go wrong.
6. Prevent Brute Force Attacks
Bruteforce is considered the most effective, and most likely has the easiest solution, this plugin: Login Lockdown. It blocks visitors for 1 hour (default) if they enter the password wrong 3 times in 5 minutes. All these values are changeable in the plugins options panel.
Without SEO what would most blogs be? Nothing. With good seo your post’s are ranked high in search engines for more people to read, thus increasing your traffic.
1. SEO Title Tag
SEO Title Tag – This is a great plugin, some people prefer the All-In-One Seo Page, but I’ve had great success with this one in particular. Title tags are probably one of the most important pieces for SEO, that people can often overlook. I always make sure that I include the name of the site along with the title of the post/article/page.
2. FeedBurner Plugin
FeedBurner Plugin – FeedBurner is a fantastic service, if you don’t already have an account, you will need to set one up. FeedBurner is a service that takes your RSS feed and syndicates, tracks, standardizes your feed so that it can be easily picked up by many other sites/services. The company was purchased by Google in 2005, and since that acquisition it seems that it has helped with my Google rankings, although that could just be a coincidence. The best part of WordPress is that everything is RSS-able, you can RSS everything, by category, by date, etc. I have seen instances where I post something, an article to StamfordCTGuide and within about 2 hrs its in Google and getting decent traffic. By using the feedburner plugin, it gives you a direct route to Google.
3. Google Sitemaps
Google Sitemaps – This particular Google Sitemaps plugin is a great tool for generating an XML Sitemap of your site, which you then feed to Google via their Webmaster Tools. The sitemap will inform google of which pages are necessary to be crawled throughout your site. If you would like to learn more about Google Sitemaps, Google it!
4. Site Permalinks
Permalinks – I setup permalinks within my wordpress install as “/category/postname.html” . I have been setting up installs of wordpress in this fashion for about 3 years and have always had great luck with SEO. Some people choose to add in a date, but I prefer to use category and postname, it seems to work best. You can find Permalinks by going to Settings > Permalinks in WordPress.
5. All In One SEO Pack
All In One SEO Pack – This is a well known plugin that does wonders, it has a variety of options. Also very easy to setup, this is a must have on all of my wordpress sites.
6. Keep the Blog Posts Long>
Keep your post word count to be of 400+ words and more as it increases the quality factor of article so the search engines will think it has more quality content even if you sidetrack off the subject of the post. More words higher ranking. The wordcount of this post is about 2500+.
Though wordpresss itself offers enough 301 redirect if you edit the pages, but many times you may like to redirect more then 1 page to other page using search engine friendly 301 redirect, in that case you can use Redirection plugin which easily redirects old urls to new urls. Redirection Plugin
8. Alt Tags On Images
If your post contains a lot of images without alt tags then search engines do not know what they are and if they even relate to the post itself. By giving each image an alt tag you are improving the SEO of the page. Thus increasing your ranking in search engines.