Starting your blog is one of the best ways of sharing your expertise with your audience.
As a content creator, your blogging success is enhanced through the value you provide with the information you share.
Your blog is therefore an asset you should protect.
There are 7 things every WordPress Blogger should know to keep their site secure, legally protected, and SEO compliant.
Setting Up Your Blog to be Secure and Legally Protected is a Recipe for Success
Assuming you already have your niche thought out, you can focus your write-up and target your specific audience.
If you are not sure of which niche to focus on, no need to worry. You can check out Blogging Her Way for suggestions on profitable niches you can choose from.
As a blogger on WordPress, you need to check through the themes available for building your site. If you are on a budget, there are free functional, nice-looking, and light themes you can choose from.
It is important to choose themes that will allow your site to load faster. I had to switch themes mid-way to a lighter one – the Astra theme. You should not have to do that.
I shied away from building a blog until recently when I took the plunge. At first, everything seemed daunting as a newbie but I later got the hang of things.
Legal and SEO
In the process, I discovered that it is one thing to start a blog and another thing to have it secure, legally protected and ranking for SEO.
These are critical success factors for any blogger to keep in mind when starting a blog.
Although I am still at the early stage of my journey, I have learned a lot.
I have decided to share some of what I learned to help you protect your blog and achieve your blogging goals.
7 Things Every Blogger Should Know
Use a Hosted Plan
Using a hosted plan rather than a free plan gives your blog credibility.
Do not use the free WordPress.com plan because you will not have a custom domain name such as www.mysite.com. Use WordPress.org for your site.
WordPress has three recommended hosting partners on its website. I use and recommend DreamHost for your shared hosting plan starting at $2.59/month.
My choice of DreamHost was based on their higher ranking against other alternatives recommended by WordPress in the area of security.
As a beginner, I wanted to test the waters with a shared hosting plan.
I had no coding experience and knew that a hosting provider with a strong security review will save me a lot of headaches. Their support is also good and they are responsive.
To start with DreamHost you can choose the Shared Starter Product or the Dedicated Hosting option.
Be sure to add the DreamShield Protection to guard against malware. It is an add-on from DreamHost that costs $3/month.
While it is not mandatory, I recommend it. As I said, security for me was top on the list of considerations for a hosting provider.
Secure Your Blog
It is very important to keep sensitive files hidden from public view.
In this section, I am going to talk about two things.
i) Non-Indexing of Pages
The first is the non-indexing of certain pages on your site. This simply means that you do not want every sub-page or child page making up the main page or parent page exposed.
For example, if you want to show certain information like an event coming up and you have a sub-page listing all participants of the program, you may choose to have google exclude that page when crawling on your site.
This ensures that sensitive information is not open for search to the public. When your site is accessed the visitors can only see the page showing the event without accessing the list of participants.
You can do this by simply going to your WordPress dashboard, clicking on the “All In One SEO (AIO SEO)” icon, then “Tools” to access the area where you disallow the crawling of any page by highlighting the “Url”.
ii) Prevent Directory Browsing
The second critical thing is to prevent third-party browsing of your directory. Very important!
All your wp-files are by default open to public browsing if you do not take an active step to prevent it. This is done by adding a line of code to your .htaccess file.
Don’t worry, it is not as complicated as it sounds. I have zero coding skills but followed the instructions I am about to give you to fix this issue.
When your directory, meaning every single back-end wp-file on your site comprising all the work you have done to generate content on your site is open to browsing, there is the risk of cyber attack.
Hackers explore this vulnerability to either take over sites, attach malicious codes or steal sensitive information.
FTP User & Files
So you fix this by going to your DreamHost (or other Hosting Provider) dashboard and clicking FTP User & Files. It will open a page with “Manage Files” shown on the top right side for DreamHost users.
Click it to access your files. One of the files listed will be your “Site Name”. Click on it and you will see other files plus your .htaccess file.
This file is very important and the backbone of your site. Don’t make any changes to it. When you click it, copy what is on it to a word document and add this line of code
Options All -Indexes after the # END WordPress line. Make sure to leave a line of space behind the “Options All – Indexes”, copy with the space, and paste it back into the “.htaccess” file.
Please take a screenshot of your .htaccess before you touch it. If there is any error you paste back the original code and it will correct itself.
Everything is “copy and paste” to preserve everything “as is”.
Do not change the font or touch any other thing. For further information and hand-holding on this.
Legally Protect Your Blog
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Get your Comprehensive Legal Bundles using the highlighted links.
Focus on SEO
SEO seems to be the buzzword in the blogging sphere and for good reasons too. Your dream is to add value, be the solution to someone’s problem and make money while doing so.
All that cannot happen if your helpful content cannot be found by those searching for it. This is where Search Engine Optimization otherwise known as SEO comes in.
Aim to have your site and your posts optimized for search. This allows Google to show the most relevant answer, in this case, yours, to a search query.
Do not neglect this but be intentional in your writing so that you can rank for the relevant keywords your audience is already searching for.
To help you on this journey I will recommend you check out https://www.stupidsimpleseo.com and https://www.neilpatel.com.
Back up Your Site Constantly
Recently I had a scare when my site crashed and kept showing me Error 500. I think I should write a post on how I resolved it. It would be helpful to others.
You may wonder why I am bringing this up. This was the incident that made me realize firsthand the error of not backing up your site constantly.
Had I not found the solution to the Error 500 crash, I would have had to start everything afresh.
I had UpDraft installed, yet I didn’t use it to back up my site regularly.
With just a click, this wonderful plugin will back up your whole site in minutes and store it to your preferred storage site in the cloud.
I love Updraft because it is so easy to use. Everything about it is intuitive and it is free.
Today I have it set to daily back up. A good contingency if anything were to happen, you will have a site as recent as 24 hours from the last backup.
Understand Basic Troubleshooting
This might be a bit challenging to think about if you are just starting your blog. It is, however, a must if you are on a shared hosting plan.
You are the webmaster. I did not know this when I encountered Error 500. After I sent out a distressed email to the “webmaster” seeking urgent assistance I learned this.
When their response landed in my mailbox, I discovered I was the webmaster. You can imagine the panic that engulfed me… knowing I knew nothing.
As a result, I was forced to read and research until I bailed myself out. Understanding basic troubleshooting should be in the toolkit of every WordPress blogger.
Get Important Plugins
A plugin is software that helps you extend the functionality of your site when it is plugged in. That is what it is, “plugged-in”.
It is not part of the WordPress offerings for a standard website but plugins have been configured to work in a complementary fashion with WordPress, helping it do what its site cannot ordinarily do.
As a blogger on WordPress, most of these Plugins are free although they have their paid plans. If you want more functionalities you have the option to upgrade to a paid plan.
If you are just beginning, the free versions have all you need to start.
Some of the free plugins I use are;
– All-In-One SEO (AIO SEO) to keep you in line with your snippet preview, meta description crafting, and other SEO rules to observe when writing your post.
– Updraft as already mentioned above for backing up your site.
– Smush to minify your pictures so the site loads faster.
– Akismet to detect and protect from spam, especially in your comment section.
– Wordfence to add a greater layer of security such as anti-virus, firewall, malware scan, and to block suspicious IPs.
– Site Kit for Google Analytics, Search Console, AdSense, and to monitor my site speed and stats.
– Other plugins but a note of caution though. Before you install make sure that the plugin will complement your site and the existing plugins already on it to avoid breaking your site.
These tips while not exhaustive will help you get off to a good start in setting up and running your blog on WordPress. Check out my post on How To Start A Blog As A Beginner In 7 Easy Steps.
These are the 7 things every WordPress Blogger should know to keep their site secure, legally protected, and SEO compliant.
Many of the resources listed above are free for blogs on WordPress and are especially helpful if you are building your blog on a budget.
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