As of this post it has been four months since I launched this blog. The site receives just over 200 visits per month at the moment, with virtually all that traffic coming as a result of the blog ranking in Google for keywords like “mormon beliefs, “mormon culture”, “mormon myths”, “joseph smith is a fraud”, “mormon dna”, “mormons and abortion”, “where did the book of mormon come from”, “do mormons believe in evolution”, “do mormons believe they will get their own planet”, and “joseph smith education level”.
While 200 visitors is not a huge amount, relatively speaking (I have blogs dedicated to other topics that receive 10,000 visitors per month), it’s also not an insignificant number if you take into consideration the value of being able to change just one person’s mind.
I started this blog as a result of an experience in which an aquaintance of mine engaged me in a “friendly debate” on various LDS doctrines. It became clear over time that he was merely regurgitating what he had obtained from anti-Mormon sources and it seemed to me he was merely trying to steer me away from my own beliefs, as opposed to searching for the truth. However, as I would receive questions and challenges from him, I begain to enjoy the process of researching them, and I found it to be a highly educational experience that strengthened my beliefs. By the time he gave up trying to convince me of the error of my ways, we had built up quite a lengthy bit of correspondence, so I figured I had enough content to get this blog going. Since then, I’ve found inspiration for additional content by figuring out what keywords the anti-Mormons are targeting, and then targeting the same keywords by responding to their arguments.
There are a lot of negative voices out there criticizing Mormonism, and only a handful of defenders of the faith who can respond in an articulate and convincing manner. I would guess there could be many more, but the technical challenge of setting up a blog and knowing how to get it ranking in the search engines is probably more hassle than most are willing to take on. So I’d like to offer some basic guidelines here for those who may have the necessary technical skills but aren’t sure how to get started.
1. Domain Name – I chose mormondna.org because I knew it would come up well in searches for “mormon dna”, it would also come up well in searches for the word “mormon” plus anything else, and because I thought it sounded kind of cool. I chose a .org extension because I thought it might appear more official than a .com to some people.
2. Hosting and Blogging Software – I put both web hosting and blogging software in the same paragraph because these days they often come bundled together. WordPress is the blogging software you want to use. Any $5 per month web hosting service should be adequate for your needs, as long as they include WordPress as a simple installation (they might call it a “one-click” installation, meaning you press a button and it’s installed automatically).
3. WordPress Plugins – I use several WordPress plugins, including XML Sitemap, Subscribe to Comments, Post Notification, Feedburner, and Robots Meta. However, the most important plugin is going to be the All in One SEO plugin for WordPress. More than any other plugin this will aid in getting your blog up there in the search engines.
4. WordPress Settings – Some other settings are important to get right in WordPress. All in One SEO takes care of a lot of them, but another you’ll want to get right is Permalinks. You want to choose “Custom Structure” for your Permalink setting, and insert the code “/%category%/%postname%.html” (without quotes) into the field. Then, in the Category Base field, put a single period, that is “.” without the quotes. Then save your settings. This will ensure that your categories and posts are logically organized in a way that’s optimal for search engines.
There are a lot of other things I might recommend, but these are some of the most critical if you want your blog to rank well. I fear many people are under the impression that they can just go to blogger.com and set up a blog there, but that might mean getting 5 visits per month vs. 200 like my blog is getting.
More important than getting the technology right is having something to write about. If you don’t like writing, and you’re just going to siphon content from other websites, then blogging probably isn’t for you. However, if you love writing and think you could churn out a few pages per week, then a blog might be a great idea. The nice thing is that it’s fairly easy to set up and cheap to run.
If you’re serious about blogging to defend the Mormon faith but need additional help getting set up, contact me and if I can I’ll assist you in getting things set up the right way.