Starting a blog is fairly easy. There are many free blog hosting providers in the internet. However, each of them has some limitation on the level of customization. So, I decided to host it myself and figure out the best alternative.
These were the first steps, I took while starting my blog - Simplicity:
Domain: Domain is the most important identity of a blog. Free domains are mostly bound to a hosting provider and help them more than the owner. So, I decided to get a personal domain - rohit.io.
Static vs Dynamic: Personal blogs are mostly static. Only blog posts get added every few days and comments by visitors. So, I decided to go with a static website generator - Jekyll. For comments, I added the Disqus plugin.
Hosting provider: Github has support for hosting Jekyll websites. Plus, it’s highly reliable, zero maintenance and free. Problem solved!
Design: The inbuilt theme of Jekyll is very basic. I searched few Jekyll websites and decide to reuse this one: http://rsms.me / https://github.com/rsms/rsms.github.com. Source code was under creative commons license (friendly).
Google Analytics: This was, again, already configured in the code. Updated the same with the ID generated for Simplicity.
I had a decent blog site. However, there were some unsolved problems like SEO, social plugins, link share previews, etc. Since, the website source code was not mine, it was difficult to fix. I did a complete revamp of the website to fix this. Post this, I was able to solve the following problems:
- SEO: Learned about SEO stuff and handled most of the meta tags as per standard.
- Page Speed: Google PageSpeed Insight tool is a fantastic tool. It helped me to improve the website structure. I also integrated cloudflare CDN to improve latency. The score of Simplicity in PageSpeed Insight tool is now 96/100 :-D
- Twitter card: Added twitter card support for previews in twitter for links.
- The Open Graph protocol: Added open graph related tags. This is used by Facebook and Linkedin for generating link previews.
- Search: Google CSE depends on Google indexing + the search results were displayed at google website. I wanted to have an in-house search feature. I found this awesome Jekyll plugin: jekyll lunr js search
- Google Analytics: The bounce rate at home page was reduced to almost half. This was a bonus :-)