WordPress has become the blog of choice for businesses with big brands using the platform including CNN, Pepsi, Sony, Spotify and Volkswagen. Many small businesses have followed suit, using WordPress for their own professional website and blog. Most users will begin using the excellent free version, but after a while realise that they want to customise and integrate their businesses blog into their own professional website and get it ‘on brand’ and consistent with their other web properties.
One of the best ways to do this is by using a web hosting package that includes WordPress. At Names.co.uk we work with small businesses every day, looking to use our hosting packages with WordPress. Recently we’ve worked with one of our customers, Blogger James Taylor and designer for http://www.juice-e.co.uk/ to explain his experience with using WordPress in his professional site. Today, we’re lucky enough to take you through his key tips and tricks so you can follow in James’ footsteps and integrate your WordPress blog into your website.
With over 15 years collective experience in designing and developing websites, James and his team are seasoned professionals in producing e-learning that is interactive and informative, which means he is the ideal person to speak about what the professionals use themselves. Finding that most people want a professional website, but lack the team of web designers and the budget to back them up, James’ experience and advice is incredibly helpful to learn from.
Free vs. Hosted WordPress
You will find the free version of WordPress a fantastic way to get your website up and running in no time, but according to James, the main problem with this model is the lack of ‘wiggle-room’. This means you are limited to the free themes supplied and cannot add any additional plug-ins – be them free, paid or custom. James explains: “You are also very limited to WordPress’ own templates making it that much harder to give your blog the right look. From a branding point of view this could be a critical reason to move over to a more customisable version.”
Although self-hosted WordPress might sound difficult and advanced to the new user, it really does not take a technical genius to use and will save you problems keeping your blog going in the long run. In fact users might even find that both WordPress and self-hosted WordPress are essentially the same to understand and implement.
James found that when working with self-hosted WordPress you suddenly become king of the castle. He noted: “You are no longer restricted to the WordPress rules of drawing within the lines and now have the ability to use whatever theme you see fit and customise or modify anything you like! On top of this, plug-ins are now completely open for you to use within your site. Think of it this way”¦ your site, your rules.”
James’ 10 Top Tips To Running a Self-hosted WordPress Blog
- Theme: Make sure you have a quality theme. “You want to think about what looks clean to users as well as keeping it easy for search engines to read your content.”
- SEO: Search Engine Optimisation is important so that your site comes up in searches, and depending on the strategy you take, can help you appear nearer the top on a Google search.
- Permalinks: Make sure you link to fellow blogs using permalinks and your plug for that blog will often appear on their blogs – boosting your profile and earning you traffic in return.
- Alt Tags: Search engines tend to only look at your written content, which means when you upload images you can tag them as an added level for search.
- Plugins: Plugins allow you to add further functionality to your website/blog, for instance you may want to add a contact email form, picture slideshow or an ecommerce shop. James explains you have to tread a line though: “You do not want to go overboard with plugins as they will slow down your site.”
- Social media: Ensure all the social media platforms you use: e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn all link to your website/blog and vice versa. This will drive traffic to your website, again there are plugins for this.
- Interaction: Comments are a good thing on your blog as they show interaction between you and your visitors, however it is always a good idea to moderate comments before they show up. To enable this, choose “settings > discussion” and then check ‘An administrator must always approve the comment.’
- Tracking: Google analytics is a free service by Google that lets you monitor your website traffic – ensure you have signed up to Google analytics and have placed the tracking code into your website/blog to view statistics such as the number of visits, where your visitors are from and how long they spend on your website. You can even install a Google analytics plugin so that you can view the information in the WordPress control panel.
- Updates: Ensure you have the latest version of WordPress as it updates regularly to provide improved features and security updates.
- Safety: Once you have created your WordPress site make a backup! All written content can be quickly backed-up in the export menu. Keeping everything from your design notes to the images you’ve used is key to keeping a good back-up, according to James.
Free WordPress is nothing to sniff at. You have access to some amazing ideas and the ability to build a site fast, but sooner or later you will find yourself wanting to add some additions to make it cleaner, more efficient, more creative and generally more suited to how you have grown. Because of this, self-hosting WordPress tends to be the best option, and thankfully is just as easy to get to grips with.
By understanding the basic WordPress rules and tips, users will be able to build a successful blog for their small business, one that has a clean design, great user interaction and ranks highly on search engines.
Using WordPress with hosting is an incredibly powerful online tool for small businesses and James found this to be no exception: “I was amazed at how uncomplicated WordPress was to use, it has totally changed the way I create websites, and with it I can get my website live in less than a day without the need to hand-code any of the website. Furthermore, its ease of use means it’s always improving with additional plug-ins and themes available from WordPress and third parties.”
Setting up your own WordPress is easy with our award winning Names.co.uk Hosting packages. Our starter package includes 1-Click installs for over 160 blogs, wikis and polls and includes al the functionality to get WordPress set up easily. Currently we’re offering 1/3 off – which works out to 4 months free – perfect for getting your small business blog up and running.
About the Author:
This article is written by Sally Tomkotowicz, Customer Acquisition Marketing Manager, Names.co.uk.
Names.co.uk provides professional online services for businesses and individuals including Web Hosting, Domain Name Registration, Email services, Ecommerce solutions and Business Servers. Names.co.uk has over 15 years’ experience in the Internet industry and employs a team of nearly 200 expertly trained individuals across the UK.
Names.co.uk is part of the Dada Group, an international group of companies who specialise in providing professional Internet services. As a group, they currently have over 1.8million domains registered in over 250 extensions, 500,000 websites hosted on our platforms and over 490,000 clients using their products and services.