Ok, so you’re tacking a blog onto your site to (1) quickly get breaking news about your products and company online and (2) boost SEO. We all know that (2) is the REAL reason you’re adding that blog onto your corporate site. You want to get on the first page of Google for certain search terms. Good plan! In fact, it’s such a great plan that EVERYONE else on the internet is doing the same thing.So what can you do to get in front of your competition?
First off you can use the latest version WordPress. WordPress does optimized URI rewriting and about a hundred other little things that rocket it to the front on the long list of blog platforms. Next, you should automate site map submission to Google, Ask, Bing, Yahoo, and 5 or 10 minor players plus the new challengers that pop up weekly (and get shot down almost as quickly — anybody remember that massive market changer, Cuil?). You can line up your Twitter feed to stream to the main page of the blog.
In short, simple layouts rule. Make your blog as visually simple as possible. Any fancy tricks (like the java tag cloud over there on the right which we are in love with) are just going to slow down your blog and MAY prevent it from getting indexed.
That leads me to my next point. Get it live and online ASAP. If you are building or re-building your main site, get the blog up and indexed before all the main dev is done. It’s gaining search engine traction while you’re testing and making final mods to your site. Even if you decide not to take the blog live, you can always line up 15 or 20 posts. With WordPress 2.6 & newer, you can schedule your posts to auto-magically go live on a specified date. So you drink two or three cups of that crazy Vietnamese coffee that has quadruple the caffeine and write them all in one mad literary sprint. Then stagger out the publish dates.
If you keep the blog layout simple, you’re going to get it online faster. You won’t waste time debugging complex interface issues. The simpler the layout, generally the more compatible it is with blog platform upgrades and plugins. I’ve worked with some very complex WordPress themes. After we add some plugins, the really crazy animated multi-columns themes will inevitably break — and that is just during the initial build. Complex themes and heavily customized layouts limit forward compatibility. Weigh that carefully.
Finally, use your blog. Post to it consistently. Especially at the beginning, daily posts that are rich in relevant keywords are the key to success. You can slow down once you have a couple hundred posts. Seriously.
Now with all that said, do you REALLY want that fancy layout???