10 Tips For Utilizing WordPress To Start Your Website

September 26, 2013 5:00 am0 comments

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Stack Up Your Online Potential With These Building Blocks

Used properly, WordPress can be an extremely powerful tool and will let you create a professional blog or site for your business with minimal set-up time and cost. To get the most out of WordPress, here are some first-timer tips:

1. Sign Up!

If you’ve decided that WordPress is the platform for you, you’ll firstly need to go to WordPress.com and sign-up with a few basic details. Once you’ve entered your contact details, you can pick a name for your site. Don’t worry too much about picking your name as you can redirect the site to another URL at a later date.

This is also the point at which you can select either a free or upgraded package; for a first time user, free is probably the best option until you’re really ready to launch your site.

2. Get To Grips With the Admin Panel

When you’re logged into the administrative part of your WordPress site, you’re presented with the dashboard that shows you key statistics and features of your site. You can typically be accessed by appending your blog URL with the suffix “wp-admin”.

Once you’re in, you will see a left hand menu bar that lets you access key features such as your posts and the appearance of your pages. Take some time to explore all of these options and familiarize yourself with where everything sits.

3. Pick a Theme

WordPress Themes allow you to quickly overhaul the design of your site and ensures that you can have a professional and attractive looking site without any knowledge of HTML or CSS.

You can switch between themes whenever you like without losing content or running in to formatting issues. There are a number of free themes available, so you can experiment until you find the perfect one, though there are also a number of premium options which are generally around the £40 mark for a one-off purchase.

If you do have some programming skills, you can generally modify these themes, but be aware that you may need some knowledge of PHP.

4. Get Some Plugins

While the core of site will be very simple in nature, the rich variety of the 26,000 available plugins  will allow you to extend the functionality and customize your site to your specifications. Some allow you to integrate with social media, while others are for navigation and “widgets” that give you new content and features.

The free WordPress SEO plugin, which optimizes your content and helps you to rank better and be found more easily on search engines, comes highly recommended.

5. Create Pages

Pages allow you to create separate sections with different content about your site. You should consider the following as a minimum:

  • Homepage: A landing page which clearly states who you are, what services you offer, and where you are located
  • Contact Details: Including your email address, phone number, street address details, and links to any social media profiles

Once you have the basics, you may want to explore adding additional pages such as:

  • Client Testimonials: You can request these from existing clients to add credibility and authenticity to your site
  • Blog: A blog allows you to write original content about your specialty and cover stories relevant to existing and potential clients and peers
  • FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions about yourself, your business, and the area you operate in
  • Pricing: You may want to include prices if you have specific products, or even integrate a storefront if you wish to sell online
  • Videos: You may want to create short videos promoting your business

6. Navigation

Once you’ve got your content-rich pages sorted, you need to put a simple navigational system in place that can help your audience to access information in an intuitive manner.

The “menus” part of the appearance section is the way to control this, so consider what positioning and content you are going to link to and how. Make sure there are no broken links and that you can navigate to every page from every page. There should also be a quick way to return home.

7. Go Mobile

Whichever theme you pick, try to make sure that your site will render correctly on smartphones and tablets. In many cases, this will be taken care of, but if not, there are a number of plugins that you can install to make your site mobile-friendly. WPtouch is free  and delivers a fast, user-friendly version of your site to your mobile visitors without having to modify any code or change the desktop appearance.

8. Get Your Own Personalized Domain

Ensuring that your site is accessed through a personal, unique and easy-to-type domain name is essential to the professional persona of your practice.

Consider using the name if your practice such as “www.yourclinic.com”, but potentially also including your specialty or location if this is not available, i.e. “www.yourbusinessspeciality.com” or “www.yourbusinesslondon.com”.

The store part of the admin panel can allow you to purchase a domain and will handle all of the routing for you.

9. Set Up Google+ Authorship

Changes in the Google algorithm mean that sites will be given a higher ranking based on trust and authority. If you have a Google+ page, you can link to this from your WordPress site. The connection will be a favorable one and may help you to appear higher up in searches for your relevant keywords. Free plugins such as Google+ Author Information in search results can help you do this quickly and easily.

10. Ready, Set, Go!

There is always the temptation to start promoting your site before it is ready, but avoid putting it into the public eye until you’ve tackled all of the key points. Having no web presence initially may be better than a disorganized one that doesn’t represent yourself or your business.

Adding original content that changes regularly is a key tactic for SEO, so make time to update your site in response to feedback or any business changes.

Finally, it is also pivotal to understand that it will take time for your site to rank favorably in Google, so don’t expect top positioning straight away. Implement SEO best practice, encouraging linking and publish high quality content, and you will see your efforts pay off over time.

Image: iStockphoto

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Natalie Lines
Natalie Lines is one of the developers of WriteUpp, simple cloud-based practice management software for health and well-being professionals in small private practices. On the WriteUpp blog, she writes about technology and business advice for those setting up and running their own small businesses.
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