Between the countless writing classes I took a bit too seriously in college, the time I’ve invested in my hobbies, and the past couple years I’ve spent freelancing and working for SEO companies, I’ve written a lot of blog posts. As a result, I’ve written on a lot of blog platforms.

There are a lot of great platforms out there – some that are easy to use and secure, some that work well for niche purposes, some that make interacting with other bloggers really easy. Though I’ve had my dances with Tumblr, spent many a late night conversing with Quora, even had my morning coffee with Blogger, I’ll always return to my love affair with WordPress.

Perhaps it’s true that my affinity for a free, sophisticated, minimalist theme and a reason to spend hours perusing possible personalization options are what initially attracted me to WordPress, but its superior SEO capabilities are what keep me coming back. Maybe you’re blogging for the sole purpose of SEO or maybe you’re a hobby blogger who optimizes out of necessity; either way, blogging and SEO are happily married, so all authors should prioritize posting on a platform that’s easy to optimize.

If you’re not taking advantage of these four WordPress SEO customizations, simply stated, you’re doing it wrong.

The WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast

It doesn’t get any more straightforward than this. The SEO Plugin allows you to choose your focus keyword for the blog post, edit the post’s meta description, create custom descriptions for social media platforms, edit the post’s meta title, and more. It’ll even provide you with suggestions to make the post more SEO-friendly. Get the plugin here.

The Ability to Customize and/or Modify Permalinks

Your permalink – that is, how your blog post’s URL appears in your browser bar – should be as reflective of the content as your title. If you modify your permalink, then instead of your permalink reading “www.webimax.com/blog/2013/10/01/modifying-permalinks,” it’ll simply read “www.webimax.com/blog/modifying-permalinks.” That way, Google only has to do a shallow crawl to see that this page is relevant. All you have to do to modify your permalinks is access your WordPress Dashboard, go to Settings, then go to Permalinks. Choose ‘Custom Structure’ and in the field, simply put /%postname%/.

Premium Themes

I’m sure I’m not alone in this: I can write a decent blog post on nearly any topic, optimize it, and promote it. What I cannot do on my own, though, is make my blog look pretty. That’s why WordPress themes are the design-inept blogger’s godsend. There are few things more important than a user-friendly, attractive website if you’re trying to attract (and keep) traffic, but accomplishing a clean, easy-to-navigate look is hard when you know virtually nothing about Web development. Premium themes on WordPress are a good investment because they don’t glitch, they appear sophisticated, and they’re almost always pre-optimized by their developers, so your blog has a predisposed fair chance at competitive ranking.

The ‘Related Posts’ Widget

LinkWithin is a widget that shows related stories from your blog’s archive under each post. It’s genius! If someone’s reading a blog post about a recipe you created or a home repair how-to you detailed, chances are, they’re going to be interested in another recipe or another home repair how-to. Show them where to find more! Having them click to another one of your blog posts will keep them browsing your site, helping you to maintain their attention and giving you the opportunity to demonstrate your credibility. It’s basically free interlinking, and it helps your old content to resurface, making your blog posts into gifts that keep on giving.

Manager Monday - Marc Cornish

WordPress is one of the most popular Content Management Systems currently being used on the Internet.  In fact, more than 60 million websites currently use the popular CMS.  For the average user who does not have a strong technical background, WordPress is an ideal back-end for a website because it allows users to easily update and maintain the content on their websites. From an SEO-perspective, WordPress has tons of great features built in, or easily added with one of the many plugins that have been developed by their network of open source developers.  But just as with any popular piece of software, there are risks.

Recently a massive attack was launched against websites running WordPress and Joomla CMSs.  Characterized as a ‘brute-force’ attack, the method of infiltration was to use as many different computers as possible to try as many different username/password combinations as possible.

The attacker was able to utilize over 90,000 unique IP addresses from all around the world in a coordinated attack on the default login pages of the popular content management systems.  Using the standard username ‘admin’, the automated attack then attempted to gain access by trying thousands upon thousands of different passwords.

The result was a huge strain on hosting servers, which caused many websites to go down or load poorly.  In worst-case scenarios, the attacker was able to gain access to website owners’ CMS dashboards where they can do as they please.  Preventing and stopping attacks in progress was a task that each hosting provider handled differently. Many opted to change the URL of the default login pages that the CMSs use, or to remove them completely.  For many people though, the biggest question is “What can we do to prevent this from happening again?”  The answer may be easier than you think.

While it is nearly impossible to prevent some lunatic from launching a wide-spread hacking attack on any website he/she/it wants to, there are steps you can take to make this task exceedingly difficult for them.  With a brute force attack such as this one, the prey was websites with weak passwords. ‘Password’, ‘12345’, ‘login’…if your password resembles any of these, then you have a weak password.  Strong passwords are crucial to keeping your site secure.

You may be wondering “What is a strong password?”  Generally, you want the password to be at least 8 characters, and a good mix of letters, numbers, and special characters, with some capitalizations thrown in as well.  Many CMSs come with a built-in password strength checking tool, but if you find yourself wondering, you can use one provided by Microsoft: https://www.microsoft.com/security/pc-security/password-checker.aspx.

You’ll also want to make sure you have a unique username as well.  ‘Admin’, ‘User’, ‘Manager’…avoid simple usernames such as these.  Try to pick a username that is a mix of letters and numbers. Case sensitivity is normally not important when setting these up, and special characters are often not allowed. Pick something that is unbiased and does not have anything generally in common with the website it is being used for.

These tips are great for your CMS logins but can be applied to all aspects of your life.  Applying these simple principals when signing up for bank accounts, customer accounts at ecommerce websites, or loan or credit accounts can save endless amounts of frustration in the future.  When it comes to your personal information, privacy is key.  Having a strong set of login credentials will help you keep your personal information out of the hands of hackers.  If you do not have strong credentials, take some time today to update them, you (and your wallet) may thank you later.