It’s natural to seek out WordPress tips when you’re building your first website. WordPress may make that process easier, but it doesn’t do all of the work for you.
Not all WordPress tips are created equal, though. When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. What you’re looking for are WordPress tips that apply to you. That is to say that you want WordPress tips that will help you establish a foundation for what is to come. Simply put, you need WordPress tips that will help you get started and truly understand what you’re doing.
That’s what we’re focusing on today. The following WordPress tips will not offer everything you need to know about WordPress. They won’t even help you build your site from start to finish. What these WordPress tips will do, though, is help you feel like you’re on your way to designing something great.
Here are 15 essential WordPress tips for the beginners (and maybe some veterans) out there.
Get the Best Host You Can Afford
Your website host is the foundation of your WordPress site. That may sound obvious, but the truth is that many people overlook the importance of choosing the right host.
The fact of the matter is that you need the best hose you can afford. Premium hosts usually offer better security, enhanced reliability, and more features.
The best hosts will offer you peace of mind in an otherwise uncertain world.
Research Your Theme As Much as Possible
You also can’t afford to underestimate the value of your theme. Yes, your theme dictates the visual design of your site, but there’s also a good chance you’re going to be sticking with it for a while.
That means you can’t afford to simply change your mind about your theme unless you’re prepared to do a lot of work. Your chosen theme has to look good, be responsive, and offer room for plenty of growth. Settling on a theme is never a good option.
You don’t have to stress about minute theme differences, but you need to spend quite a bit of time looking for the right theme.
Don’t Use Too Many Plugins
Plugins are a way to expand the functionality of your WordPress site. They allow you to do everything from auto-moderated comments to analyze the success of your posts. Simply put, they’re a good thing.
However, too many plugins can be a bad thing. If you have too many plugins on your site you run the risk of significantly slowing down its performance. All the features in the world won’t make up for a slow website.
The point is that you need to prioritize plugins and monitor when they begin to affect your overall performance.
Prioritize SEO Plugins
So which plugins should you prioritize? Answers to that question will vary, but most everyone can agree that you need a great SEO plugin.
Search engine optimization will determine how the vast majority of users find your website. The right suite of SEO plugins will ensure that you have the tools needed to ensure your site it optimized without having to constantly manually manage it.
You should always reserve space on your site for the best SEO plugins available for WordPress.
Optimize Your Mobile Design
Many people will build their site on their desktop or laptops. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but it’s important to realize that a lot of possible visitors aren’t going to see your site like that.
The increasing number of mobile users in the world means that you need to ensure your website runs well on mobile devices. For the most part, that means making sure that your site generally runs well and that your chosen theme is optimized for mobile support.
As is usually the case, optimized mobile support also means keeping up with new design trends and ensuring that you utilize as many as possible.
Focus on Your Front Page
A website can be a complicated and constantly evolving thing. Needless to say, that can make them quite overwhelming to the average site builder.
If you’re looking to prioritize your initial time investment, though, then you really need to focus on your front page. Your front page is not only structurally important, but it’s also the first impression you send out to the world.
As such, you need to ensure that your front page instantly hooks viewers. Generally speaking, this means constant testing, experimentation, and refinement as you upload new content.
Start Mapping Your Site Early
A site map should be a clean way to see how your front page flows into every other page and how every other page leads to other parts of your website. It should be clean and concise. However, it rarely is.
To help avoid that common pitfall, you should start mapping your site early. Generally speaking, that means establishing a simple siteflow that every new piece of content adheres to.
By establishing your site map early, you’ll save yourself a lot of potential catch-up work down the line.
Republish Your Posts
The idea of republishing old content may seem…odd. After all, shouldn’t you be constantly pushing for new content?
Well, yes, but that’s not quite the point here. The point is that some content lasts longer than other content in terms of its relevance. However, just because you were ahead of the game by publishing that content early isn’t always a guarantee that you will benefit from it in the long term.
As such, you may need to regularly update your best evergreen content and republish it. Just be sure to study the latest SEO requirements for republished content.
Monitor Dead Information
Dead information on your website typically takes the form of broken links, deactivated accounts, missing images, and even just outdated information on semi-popular posts. It’s everything that is no longer relevant, accurate, or functional.
All of that dead information needs to go. There are some plugins that can help you clean up images, links, and accounts, but you may need to manually monitor some of your content in order to ensure that it stays up-to-date.
That may sound like a lot of work and…well…it is. However, it’s a vital part of running a successful site.
Images, Images, Images
It’s as simple as this: your site’s images matter. They not only make your site look better, but they can greatly improve your SEO ranking.
Interestingly, though, images can also tank your SEO ranking and even slow your site down to a crawl. It’s all about how you source them, update them, and format them. That means that you need to be up-to-date on image rules and regulations.
Again, some plugins can help with the bulk of the work in this respect, but most of the work revolves around ensuring your images are properly formatted the first time around.
Keep Up With the “Health” of Your Site
The health of your website accounts for several different elements. For our purposes, though, the focus should be on the SEO optimization of each post, the current version of your theme, its response time, and the state of your comments section.
By focusing on these elements and making sure they are up-to-date, you can take care of most of the work that goes into maintaining your website’s overall health.
Granted, that’s not all that your website’s “health” entails, but regularly checking and maintaining those aspects will ensure that you’re well on your way to a healthy overall WordPress site.
This is another one of those simple pieces of advice that must be said anyway just in case there is anyone out there who doubts its significance.
To make it clear, though, yes, you need to ensure the security of your website. Again, this is partially accomplished via downloading the right plugins, but it’s also about your own vigilance. You’ve got to monitor for phishing attempts. You have to keep your passwords strong. Most importantly, you’ve got to stay up-to-date.
Security is a big responsibility, but with a little effort, you can help ensure that your WordPress site remains safe.
Assume Others Will Use Your WP Admin Site
Unless you’re hiring help, you’re most likely going to be the only person using your WP site during the set-up process. That means that you’re going to be more familiar than anyone when it comes to the ins-and-outs of its functionality.
That’s a good thing, but you may reach a point when others are going to contribute to your site via the backend. What that means is that you need to make sure the admin side of your site is as clean and intuitive as possible.
Besides just being a good piece of advice, cutting down on things like clutter, janky plugins, and overdue notifications will make it that much easier for others to eventually add to your content library.
Balance What’s Pleasing to The Eye and What’s Pleasing to Search Engines
This is one of the trickiest (but most essential) things you can do for your WordPress site.
See, there are certain things you do to make your website grab the “attention” of search engines. For instance, you might put your article keyword at the start of your headline. However, this can sometimes result in headlines that are more appealing to search engines than they are to the people you’re trying to get to click on the post.
SEO management is absolutely essential, but never forget that people (not bots) also read your site. Make sure your content and format decisions will please both sides as much as possible.
Learn the Difference Between Categories and Tags
Categories and tags are two of the most important elements of SEO management. They help search engines grab your articles, and they help you manage your website’s structure.
However, categories and tags are not the same thing. Tags are generally more for SEO purposes, while categories are typically used to help group content on your site and improve your site map. It may sound like a subtle distinction, but using the proper categories and tags really can make all the difference.
As such, it’s vital to understand when a certain phrase should be a category and when it should be a tag. As always, it’s also important to remain up-to-date on the rules for both and to establish good practices early on.