I recently joined the WordPress world, and even though I have previous experience creating blog posts in WordPress, I’ve never had to set up the whole thing from scratch. It is really important to understand that if your (free) blog site is not a self-hosted WordPress site (a.k.a. your URL looks like this: blogname.wordpress.com), you will not be able to add plugins (additional functionality you can install and upload to your site). Here are five things I’ve learned so far.
Google Analytics tracking code can’t be added. All the blogs and forums out there will tell you to add the “Insert Header and Footer” plugin, but as I mentioned, if you are not self-hosted you won’t be able to do this. However, WordPress does provide some statistics under Dashboard > Site Stats, and you can add your site to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools which will provide additional data.
- Visit Google Webmaster Tools and/or Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Create an account if you do not have one.
- Add your site, you will be provided with a Meta Tag to verify you are the owner.
- In WordPress, go to Tools > Available Tools, and paste the verification Meta Tag.
- Go back to Webmaster Tools and click “verify” and you should be set.
In order to have a main navigation menu on the header of the site, you need to:
- Add categories or pages.
- Go to Appearance > Menus and select the items you want.
- Reorganize if needed by dragging and dropping.
- Check the “Primary Menu” check box under Menu Settings.
Social Following Icons
This one is a bit more challenging but don’t be intimidated, you can do it! There is no simple way to just add your social links to the sidebar, so I found this great article that walks you through the steps. The instructions recommend to look for free social media icons, and I found this other amazing article that shares free downloadable icons in a variety of colors.
Social Sharing Icons
By default, when you add a new post you will see some social sharing buttons; however, you can display additional ones:
- Go to Settings > Sharing
- Drag and drop the icons from “Available Services” to “Enabled Services” and reorganize if you want.
Blog Posts Migration
If you are like me and started your blog in another site and are now migrating to WordPress, you can first look under Tools> Import, and see if you can easily import all your posts. In my case, Blog.com was not an option, so I had to manually copy and paste all the posts to my new blog, BUT, be careful…
- Duplicate content is not good for SEO, so I decided to leave one post with a link to the new blog and hide or eliminate the posts on the old site once they were migrated. This was not a big deal for me because I started blogging in March and I didn’t feel I had accumulated much SEO equity, but if you have been blogging for a while, you might want to invest in professional help implementing 301 redirects from your old content to your new page URLs.
- I moved 30 articles in one day, which raised a flag in the system, and I got the message below that same night [completely FREAKED ME OUT]. But I just followed the instructions, contacted them, explained what I was doing, and they lifted the suspension the following morning.