You have started your gaming blog and are motivated to get started with your content for thousands or even millions to read in the years to come.
But what about gaming blog setup and design?
Is your site optimized to give your visitors the best experience possible?
Let’s get started then!
This post is basically divided into two parts.
In Part 1 things are a lot more practical, where I’ll walk you through all the important settings to optimize your blog’s performance, which plugins you should use and how to set up tracking for your website.
Your blog setup can make a massive difference to how your blog perform, look and feel. Not only for your readers, but for search engines like Google and Bing, where you will aim to get traffic from.
Luckily I went through all the trouble of creating this guide to help you setup your blog so you can do this right the first time.
There are thousands of articles about setting up your blog, but I try to bring it all together so it doesn’t take too much of your time.
Most of the settings are a one time thing at the beginning, so it would only take a little time at the start.
In Part 2 of this post I am discussing a few things like choosing a theme and basic tips when designing your gaming blog.
So are you ready to setup your blog?
Make sure you also read my first post
How To Start A Gaming Blog From Scratch – Step by step
Here is a gaming blog that I have been helping lately, make sure to check it out.
SlipperySnips Blog – Gaming news, and insightful reviews that will engage any gaming fan! Building a community and featuring Fans of the week!
You can also find it on Twitter at Twitter.com/SlipperySnips
The first half of my post will help you create the right setup for your gaming blog regarding General site settings, Plugins and Tracking.
It’s important to set up your blog before you start creating your content, because all of these settings are aimed to optimize the performance of your site. This is basically an article you can use as a resource to come back to while configuring your gaming blog.
Default Page, Post and Comment
When you first login to your WordPress account after getting you hosting, your blank site will have a few dummy settings.
They give you a Page, Post and a Comment. You will find the page under the pages tab, the post under posts and the comment under the comments tab. You can find it on the left hand side of the screen.
Go ahead and delete the default page, post and comment.
This is important!
Before you create any page or post on your new site, you need to change the link structure setting. It will definitely save you a lot of headache in the future.
To find your Permalink settings, go to the Settings > Permalinks.
It will look like the picture below (just with your site information).
Select the “Post Name” setting.
This will automatically change your new page or post’s link to the name of the post, rather than the default setting on WordPress that looks ugly.
It is also a lot more Search Engine friendly.
Here is an example of one of my links on Google.
Next, click Settings > General in the same tab. Here you will find a few things you can change like your “Site title”, “Tagline” and other general settings.
Tip: Do not change the “WordPress Address (URL) or Site Address (URL).
In the “Discussion Settings” you can just follow this basic guidelines.
All of this can be a little bit confusing if you don’t know what to do.
Go to Settings > Discussion
The Media settings will help your gaming blog perform better and WordPress will handle images better.
It will ensure that your site will not get slowed down by the different sizes of images went uploaded.
Go to Settings > Media
Just follow the settings below and you’ll be good.
Static Page or Blog Posts
The next setting will depend on how you want your gaming blog structured.
You can either decide to have your latest blog posts on your homepage or you can create an unique front page for your website.
If you want to have a front page rather than your blog posts show up on your homepage, you can create a static page.
Before you can do this, you’ll need to create 2 new pages. One called “Home” and another called “Blog”.
Go to Settings > Reading
Choose “A static page” and make the front page “Home” and your posts page “Blog”.
This can also depend on the theme you choose for your gaming blog, because different themes have different designs.
Another small, but very important setting is to make sure Search Engines can index your site.
Also in the “Reading Settings” section, make sure the box next to “Search Engine Visibility” is not ticked.
That’s basically it for the general settings.
Now your gaming blog setup almost ready!
What would WordPress be without plugins?
That’s what makes WordPress such a great platform to create a blog and website. Plugins are used for a thousand different reasons and there are literally millions you can choose from.
It is basically mods, like in gaming, that you add to your website to make your blog works better, faster and easier for visitors.
Plugins also help with things like security, search engine optimization (SEO), social engagement and much more.
You can easily become lost if you don’t know where to start. That’s why I made this basic list of Plugins that you can use when first doing your gaming blog setup.
Like I said, there are millions of Plugins out there and you are not limited to only use the list below. This is the basic Plugins I used when I did my gaming blog setup the first time.
I will also explain what the Plugin is for and how it can help your gaming site to perform at it’s best.
The easiest way to install plugins are by clicking on “Plugins” in your WordPress Dashboard, search for the plugin you want, Click “Install” and activate the plugin. Then you’re good to go.
So here are my favourite Plugins in no particular order.
Akismet is maybe one of the most well-known plugins millions of people use on their blogs. It basically check all the comments and contact forms your site gets to filter out possible spam.
No one likes spam, and we see it everywhere on the web, so it’s best to keep that spam off of your gaming blog.
You need to create an account though, but it’s free for personal use.
2. W3 Total Cache
What this plugin does, is optimize and compress your website so it can load faster and perform better.
This will improve your user experience and SEO of your gaming blog, which can help you rank higher in Google in the future.
There are 2 popular caching plugins that most people go for W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache, but I chose W3 Total Cache.
The settings can be very overwhelming, it was for me so I used this article to quickly setup this plugin.
Just follow the settings in this article and you would be good to go – How To Install & Configure W3 Total Cache WordPress Plugin, by Harsh Agrawal.
3. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is maybe my most favourite plugin I use, because it’s so easy and powerful.
Yoast let’s you optimize your website for better SEO, fast and easy. It will help a lot when optimizing your site’s pages and blog posts, by letting you choose the target keywords you’d like to focus on.
This is the best on-page SEO tool you can use for your gaming website, so do not forget to install it. Just remember to change this setting to activate all the advanced feature for the plugin. You will find it Yoast SEO>Dashboard>Features.
Here’s a screenshot.
You can also use this great beginner’s guide to configure Yoast SEO for the best performance – Beginner’s Guide To Using Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin, by Nate Shivar.
4. Image Optimization – Smush or Imagify
The 2 most popular plugins for image optimization are Smush and Imagify. It is very important to optimize your images, especially for gaming blogs, because we like our high quality gaming wallpapers ect.
Image optimization is basically compressing and resizing your images to be website friendly, meaning that it increase your site speed a lot.
Try to not use too large images in the first place.
5. Social Share Plugin – WPUpper Share Buttons
How are people visiting your gaming blog going to share your content? Almost every visitor will rather use share buttons than copying your link directly to their social profiles.
It’s just so much easier!
There are a lot of different sharing plugins you can choose from, so if you are not sure what to use and where to start, I chose to use WPUpper Share Buttons.
It’s an easy plugin to use and it looks really great, you can see the buttons on the left hand side on my blog posts.
6. Subscribe Plugin – (Subscribe Form)
Every visitor to your gaming blog will be looking for something, whether it is information or a product you write about. If your content is what they’re looking for they’ll be back.
The important thing here is to remind them to come back and visit your site. You can only do that if you have their email address, so it’s essential to make it easy for new visitors to subscribe to your email list.
Luckily their are also many plugins for doing this. Many plugins have the ability to integrate easily with Mailchimp, which is used by most bloggers starting out.
Another great Subscribe tool you can use is HelloBar. It’s easy to use, work well with wordPress and looks great!
7. Google Analytics Plugin by MonsterInsights
Last on the list, but definitely not least is a plugin by MonsterInsights that let you connect your site with Google Analytics.
Google Analytics tracks all the activity on your website and can help you a lot when you are trying to figure out where the most/best traffic is coming from.
MonsterInsights gives you all the basic statistics to keep up to date with the latest visits to your gaming blog.
I also explains how to get Google Analytics set up later in this post.
Your Gaming Blog Setup For Tracking and Indexing
In this section I will basically cover how you can quickly get your gaming blog setup ready in order to index your gaming blog on Google and how to track all your website statistics.
Tracking is a very important part of any blog or website, because with that information you can later make decisions on how to improve your gaming blog.
The two basic tools you should use in order to do this are Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Below is a quick step by step guide to help you do the setup for your gaming blog.
Google Analytics let you track a wide variety of different statistics for your website and is important for making informed decisions to grow your blog.
You can follow the steps below or watch this video to easily install Google Analytics on your gaming blog.
Step 1 – Like with Search Console, Log in with your Google Account and click “Admin” in the left bottom corner.
Step 2 – In the Account column, you can use the menu to select to which account you want to add a property. The in the Property column, select “Create New Property”. It will look something like this.
Step 3 – Fill in all the details for your gaming blog and click on “Get Tracking ID”.
Step 4 – The next window will give you your Tracking ID and code that you should use to track your gaming blog.
You can use the Tracking ID with the MonsterInsights plugin that I discussed above or you can manually adding the code to your website.
Next up, is Google Search Console.
Google Search Console
Step 1 – Log in to Google Search Console with your Google Account. You need to add a Property to your Search Console by clicking the red button on the right hand side like the one below.
Step 2 – Enter your gaming blog URL in the next box and click the “Add” button. You just added a Property (Your Gaming Blog) to your Search Console.
Step 3 – Now you just need to verify your property. You will have a few options to choose from. The easiest way is to use the Google Analytics verification method. Make sure you have set up your Google Analytics before you use this method, otherwise it will not work.
Here is a image.
Step 4 – The next thing you should add is your gaming blog’s Sitemap (very important!!!). The best and easiest way to find your Sitemap is to go to the Yoast SEO plugin you just added to your gaming blog.
Go to XML Sitemaps and “Enable” the setting like below. To actually finding your Sitemap URL, click on the link that says “XML Sitemap”.
Click on the red button in the right corner.
Copy your Sitemap URL into this little box and click “Submit” and you’re finished.
This will help Google to Crawl and Index your gaming blog on the search engine. Google traffic will play a big part in order to grow your gaming blog and create an online brand.
Your Gaming Blog Setup is done, including all the important settings, plugins, tracking and indexing!!!
Now we get to Part 2, which is about basic design and customization tips for how you make your gaming blog look and feel.
Themes, Design & Customizing
Before we start talking too much about important settings for you gaming blog, you need to choose and install a WordPress theme.
You can choose to start with either a Free or Paid theme. If you are on tight budget or just want to check how your blog perform and later upgrade to a premium, it’s all up to you.
Most of the Free themes will be fairly limited, but it can be a great way to just get your blog going.
Below are a few sites where you can find both Free and Premium gaming themes.
Free Gaming Themes
Paid/Premium Gaming Themes
Tips for Choosing a Good Theme
Strive for a more simple theme design.
A lot of WordPress themes out there have a million settings for colors, flashy animations and complex layouts, but most of the time all of that is not even needed.
For a gaming blog specifically, you should look at what you want to write about and what theme will achieve that goal the best.
If you missed the part about the topics in my previous post, check it out here.
A responsive designed theme is very important and you will definitely need it to give your blog the best chance of success.
Responsive design is basically the ability to adapt to different screen sizes, especially with the growing mobile market.
Most themes will indicate that they have responsive design features.
Already have a gaming blog? You can easily test your website for mobile friendliness, just follow this link Mobile Friendly Test.
The theme you want to use should be supported for all the most popular plugins.
The backbone of WordPress websites and blogs are plugins, it just make everything much easier especially because the code is much less.
It will help you a lot to customize your gaming blog without struggling with unnecessary things.
SEO Friendly Themes
A SEO friendly theme plays a very important role when starting a website, because you will eventually try and get as many traffic from Google as possible.
Make sure to check if the theme you want is coded with SEO in mind. Most of the themes on the sites I shared earlier would indicate that they have a SEO friendly site, but just make sure to check.
Look at the Reviews
A great indication of how good or popular any theme is, is by looking at the reviews and ratings for themes.
It is also a good idea to quickly read through all the details to see what each theme has to offer and if it meets the goals you are targeting.
Almost all free themes will not have any support from the author or developers, so you will have to figure most things out yourself.
You can always Google for answers if you get stuck.
Most premium or paid themes will have customer support that will help you if you get stuck on something.
Themes are easy to Install
So now that you chose an awesome gaming theme for your blog, you will need to install in on your WordPress backend. This is luckily very easy and fast to install, just follow the basic steps below.
Step 1 – Download theme files from the website your theme is on.
Step 2 – Go to Appearance> Themes and click on the “Add new” button.
Step 3 – Click on the “Upload theme” button.
You will now have the option to browse for the files you downloaded earlier on your computer. Choose your file and click “Install now”.
Step 4 – After your theme is uploaded and installed, Activate your theme to start customizing your website.
As easy as that, you’re almost ready to go.
Designing a Good Looking Gaming Blog
You have chosen your theme, installed it on WordPress and activated it. So now you can start designing and customizing your theme to make it unique and different from other blogs.
Your gaming’s blog design will affect the user experience of your blog, so my recommendation is to make it creative yet simple enough to make it easy to navigate through your website.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you design and customize your gaming website.
Before you change anything on your blog, you should first create a Child Theme.
A Child theme basically allow you to customize your theme without losing all the updates when you update the parent theme. It’ not nice to work hours on your design and loose everything just because you didn’t create a child theme first.
You can either create one yourself or use a plugin to easily create a child theme if it’s too much trouble. I used the plugin, much easier and faster. Just create the Child Theme and deactivate it.
Here are links for both scenarios:
WordPress Theme Customization Guide
The theme you use will most likely have a range of different settings you can change like colors, buttons, widgets ect, but can easily become very overwhelming.
So keep experimenting and try to keep the changes as simple as possible.
This will not also save time, but will make navigating the site much easier for readers and visitors.
People do not like to struggle in order to find what they are looking for. This will also depend on the type of gaming blog you want to create.
Like I explained in my previous post (How to start a gaming blog from scratch), about what kind of topics you can choose to write about, will depend on how you design your gaming website.
For example, do you want a front page with products, your latest blog posts or a design that is focus on news and the latest things in gaming.
If you don’t feel too creative, just start off with a theme that already has a gaming structure.
There are plenty of options on the websites mentioned above.
Colors can play an important role in the overall look and feel of your website.
Most of the themes out there will have a default color scheme, so I think it’s best to stick to them at first.
If you decide to make major changes to your colors, try to make it easy on the eye.
Don’t know the color code you want to use that you see on an image, you can use this easy tool to tell you.
Just with choosing a color, the fonts you choose for your gaming blog will also play a big role in your user experience.
When designing a website, one can get carried away by trying to be too creative and totally forget about your visitors.
Always try and optimize the experience. So when you choose a font, try to pick one that is popular, is easily readable and stick with it.
Check out this article for the most popular fonts used for websites.
20 Best Web Fonts from Google Web Fonts and Font Face
Don’t forget to use awesome images!
It is important to keep a visitor’s attention and one the best ways is to include interesting images in you design.
Make sure the image you choose blend in well with your website, otherwise it can be actually a negative factor.
Also remember to optimize your image after you put in on your gaming blog, it will help your gaming blog to perform better with shorter load speeds.
Here are 2 tools I always use even before I upload the images to my blog, especially if I have large images.
Image Resize Tool and Optimizilla (Compression Tool)
Just look at the difference it made to my site after optimizing those large sized images, I tested it with GTMetrix.com.
Before I optimized my Images.
After I optimized my Images.
So now you see that a small change can make a huge difference.
Are you still with me? Great, because you’ve made it to the end of the post.
Congratulations, Your gaming blog setup is done!!!
Here is a quick recap – The important site settings are now configured correctly, you know what is the best basic plugins to start with, how to set up your Google Analytics tracking and Google Search Console Indexing.
I also gave a basic overview of everything you need to look at when choosing the best themes, installing themes, making customization and design changes on your gaming blog.
Now that’s a mouthful!!!
In the upcoming posts I will dive deeper into creating high quality content and how to best optimize your content in order to get better rankings and more traffic from Google.
So remember to subscribe if you want to get the latest posts on my blog.
If you liked this article, please be so kind to share with people you think that would benefit from it.
What is the thing you’re struggling most with while setting up your gaming blog?
You can let me know in the comments, also share your gaming blog I’d love to check it out.