WordPress is fast becoming the tool of choice for creating websites. It’s first major advantage is that it is free. The second major advantage is that it is well supported – there are add-ons (called plug-ins) that can transform your website into almost anything you want. Thirdly there are lots of different themes that you can use to adjust the look and feel of your website at a whim.
Of course, just because all that is available doesn’t mean that your WordPress website will be the bees knees automatically.
That’s where the skill of either you or your website developer comes into play.
Using WordPress like a pro isn’t difficult but like all good things in life there is a learning curve involved.
The initial installation of WordPress leaves a lot to be desired. There are a bunch of links that are automatically installed – they’re pretty much the first thing I delete when I do a new install of WordPress.
Once you’ve deleted those blogroll links and also the default “hello world” post then there are a few things you need to do to turn your WordPress installation from a boring one into a professional website.
If you stay with one of the built-in themes then you need to change the header image. This is a simple matter of getting an image created (either by yourself or on a site like Fiverr if you’re design challenged) and uploading it. That will transform the look of your website immediately. Or you can choose one of the thousands of available themes if you want your site to look more distinctive.
Next you need to go into the Widgets area of the Appearance tab. Again, the default WordPress installation isn’t great here. Drag and drop a few widgets into the right hand bar of your website so that you don’t have all the default “meta” and other options there. I tend to use the Search box and recent posts as my default on a new site. If I’m aiming for signups to a newsletter I’ll also add a text box and use that to house the newsletter signup code.
Page names are another thing that separate the WordPress pro from the people who just go with the standard installation. These are set in the Permalinks section of settings and are well worth changing from the start. I choose the custom option and use this code:
so that the title of the post appears as the URL. This helps with your WordPress SEO.
There are various plugins that I recommend you use with WordPress to keep your site at its best:
Limit login attempts – this thwarts would-be hackers by limiting the amount of times they can try to guess your password before they get locked out.
Yoast’s WordPress SEO – this is the best plugin I’ve found to keep your on-site search engine optimisation tweaked.
A contact form plugin to make it easy for your website visitors to contact you.
Some kind of social media plugin – there are lots available which will allow your visitors to Tweet about your site, like it on Facebook, pin it on Pinterest, etc. I haven’t got a particular favourite on these but I do aim to use one on each of my WordPress blogs.
Follow these tips and you’ll soon be using WordPress like a pro!
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a set of optimization strategies and techniques for websites, blogs and web pages with the aim of improving organic positioning in search engines such as Google by generating traffic and digital authority.