Running a blog takes work — writing the posts, reaching an audience, installing plugins, etc. — not to mention supporting it with the proper infrastructure. #sfbeta relaunched its website earlier this summer on a WordPress backend, and here’s what we advise so far:
1) Host your site on WPEngine — period.
WPEngine will pre-cache your site for faster load times, auto-update every new version, and run extensive back-end security to prevent hacks and exploits. Trust me, you do NOT want to be alone when your site inevitably gets targeted by some asshat 16-year-old-with-a-laptop in Russia.
2) Choose a responsive theme.
When a theme is “responsive,” that means it renders your content with a UI ideal for the reader’s device — whether a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. There are a bunch of responsive themes for free, and plenty for $10 – $50 on ThemeForest. Mobile and tablet traffic are really, really, really, really important, so don’t burn your potential readership with a rigid theme that renders like crap on half your pageviews.
3) Optimize for social sharing.
I recommend Facebook Comments, a share and tweet button for each post, and Facebook / Twitter widgets that show your follower count. Each of these will increase your traffic and exponentially boost your virality, while making it easy for your audience to share your work.
4) Get in the fast lane.
Optimize for speed and performance. Install a CDN, and make your site as efficient and zippy as possible with plugins suited to the task. Not only will slow pages annoy your users, but they’ll lower your standing with Google.
5) Make your site Google-friendly.
Set up Webmaster Tools and Analytics, and make sure that your sitemap is getting properly indexed. Search is a significant (if not dominant) driver of traffic, and must be accounted for.
Any other tips or tricks? Share them in the comments!