Whether you’re looking to build a website for your business, redesign your existing site, or start a blog, you may be overwhelmed deciding where to begin – especially if you don’t know a thing about coding. You may have all of your ideas mapped out but aren’t sure how to execute. If you’ve done any research, it’s likely you came across a popular content management system (CMS) called WordPress.
WordPress is an extremely viable option for a website or blog; in fact, it’s reported that 37% of all websites are WordPress.
There are many benefits that accompany a WordPress site, likely the reason it’s the most popular web build. WordPress is customizable, intuitive, and with clean coding and metadata options, search engines love them. However, before you dive right in, there are some key essentials to setting up a new WordPress site that you should know.
Choosing the Right WordPress Theme
An easy way to get Google (and your visitors) to love your page is to ensure your WordPress site is mobile friendly and lightweight. With more than half of all internet usage consumed by smartphones, it is vitally important that your website is mobile-friendly. Users also want very fast load times. In fact, 47% of people expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. If you choose a theme full of unnecessary features, it can cause your site to become bloated and weighed down with unused styling and functionality. These unused elements encumber your site, resulting in a slow load time.
It is best to pick the theme that is most specific to the type of site you want to create so you get only what you need. If you pick the incorrect theme, it may take a lot of work to trim all the fat of the site. It’s beneficial to choose to right theme in the beginning. The good thing about all of the WordPress themes is they are typically very mobile friendly, so you shouldn’t have to change too much style-wise.
Clearing the Cache on WordPress
In practice, using the cache is a good thing. Users get to see their desired website faster because you are serving them a copy of the website. However, this cache can get in the way if your website is regularly updated with new information. You do not want users to see an older version and miss out on valuable new content.
There are a few ways to remedy this problem, but the easiest way is to use WordPress plugins. Once you decide you want to use a cache for your website, the next thing is to find the appropriate plugin. Some of the top cache plugins are:
- WP Super Cache
- W3 Total Cache
- WP Rocket
All of these cache plugins allow server-side caching for your website that increases your page load time immensely.
These three plugins all have buttons to manually flush the cache, so your users always get the newest content. Having the cache is necessary for page load time, but as long as you are conscious about managing your cache, your website will never be stale.
Compress Images on WordPress
Imagine this scenario. You are trying to access a website that has all the answers to your questions, but it takes an eternity to load up. This is likely due to huge image files and videos displaying on the first initial load. To avoid this nightmare for your users, the solution is to use a compression plugin on WordPress to compress all your images.
There are plenty of compression plugins available to use, such as:
- Compress JPEG & PNG by TinyPNG
Before adding these large images to the website, upload your images and allow the compression plugins to work their magic. If you are lucky, they will cut the size without sacrificing image quality.
Importance of Good SEO for WordPress
What is the point of having a new WordPress site if no one can find it? This is where the need for SEO becomes apparent. A first step is doing some keyword research. Find out what your audience is typing into search engines to find their answers. You can then edit your content around their search queries.
You could also attempt to add in the proper structure to the page to make it friendlier to the search engines. A better solution to this would be to download a SEO plugin, such as Yoast, to help boost your page ranking. Yoast can assist you in optimizing your content for search by allowing you to edit the meta data directly from the WordPress admin portal. It allows you to adjust the metadata and, most importantly, the title of your page. Anyone with basic SEO knowledge can give their website a fighting chance.
Using an SSL Plugin on WordPress
A very important thing for users to see on your site, especially if they are using Chrome, is the lock icon in the left corner of the URL bar. If your users see the “Not Secure” flag or “Warning: Not Secure” page, it could be a deterrent to using your site altogether. Why is this so important? First, Chrome is the most widely used browser to date. Second, Google does not favor websites that aren’t secured via the HTTPS protocol. To fix this security issue, you need to set up SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, to set a secure connection between the user of the site and your WordPress site.
To achieve this, you can use something such as the Really Simple SSL plugin for WordPress. Other than this plugin, you will need to either buy or acquire a free SSL. Without a valid SSL certificate, you cannot move your site to HTTPS. Once SSL is configured, your website will proudly fly the secure site lock when viewing it on Chrome.
The primary benefit of an SSL certificate is that it encrypts information during data transfer so any personal information, such as credit card info, first and last name, email, etc. cannot be stolen.
While WordPress is very secure, it has a lot of traffic. You never know when the day could come where someone decides to harm your site. For this reason, it is always a good idea to give yourself some extra protection from malicious attacks.
How can you secure your WordPress site? There are a few ways to do this. One of the first ways to secure your website is, as discussed previously, installing an SSL certificate on your website. The next step is to allow your WordPress site the ability to perform an automatic backup. You want to back up your site regularly. In the case of a critical failure, you have a copy of your website that you can just republish. The backups can be done through multiple plugins, and it is common to back the site up every time you make a major change.
WordPress is a secure site and does their best to keep your website safe, but nothing is impenetrable, so it does not hurt to add a tool that adds firewalls and extra security monitoring to your site. You can use a plugin, such as WordFence, which includes an endpoint firewall and a security scanner. SSL and WordFence are two tools that can stop attacks on your website and protect against malicious sign-ins and many other worst case scenarios.
Some websites may store client data. In this case, you will need some type of WordPress database to keep it safe. You could use MySQL Workbench to be able to easily backup your database so nothing gets lost. These different tools can all work in unison to protect your website and not allow anything to derail your page’s success.
Code Authority is Here to Help!
Whether you are looking to build a new website or redesign your current one, be sure to implement the essential tools outlined in this blog. If you need help, Code Authority has several expert WordPress developers to assist you on your website. Code Authority also houses an entire digital marketing department that is sure to get your SEO on the right track. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation for your website or digital marketing needs.