Top 10 Tips when Using WordPress for the First Time

Being a successful entrepreneur doesn’t always mean you have to reinvent the wheel; it usually means you know how to leverage existing technology so that you can make a better wheel. For example, while many budding entrepreneurs feel they have to build a new website completely from scratch, the smart ones save both time and money by building their websites on a platform like WordPress.

Although WordPress is a fairly intuitive platform, here are a few major pitfalls you’ll want to avoid when using WordPress for the first time.

WordPress bicycle

Pick the right server

When it comes to selecting the best web hosting server, brand recognition does not always imply quality. For example, most people are aware of GoDaddy’s web hosting services, but don’t know these services require a considerable number of add-ons in order to meet all your website’s needs. It’s also really expensive, which can be a strain on aspiring bootstrappers.

You would be better off hosting your website with Digital Ocean. That is what we use at ZipBooks. They are a newer service provider and are much less expensive. They carry standard many of the amenities you’d have to pay extra for with a different hosting provider.

Don’t buy a template

Buying a template for your website may seem like a good idea at first: it’s fast, it’s cheap, and most new templates actually look really good. But buying a template does come with plenty of disadvantages as well. First of all, what you see is what you get, or in other words, templates place huge limitations on customization. And if you select a template that you think looks stunning, chances are you’re not the only one. Finally, you’re in charge of all onsite optimization—SEO, images, etc.—so you’ll have to have some technical knowhow, or have access to someone who does.

Learn some PHP

Simply put, PHP is a scripting language that creates dynamic and interactive websites, and is heavily used by WordPress. The platform employs a PHP pre-processor that generates an HTML output on your screen.

Understanding basic PHP will also allow you to add some more customization to your site, such as the dynamic copyright date that appears at the bottom of web pages. While learning some basic PHP is not prerequisite for WordPress users, it can certainly come in handy when you’re trying to develop your own site themes, which will go a long way in helping your website stand out.

Develop your own themes

WordPress web design

Speaking of building custom themes on your WordPress site—do it! Creating your own theme effectively puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to all the front end styling of your website—the layout, colors, fonts, widgets, and more.

There are plenty of online tutorials available on how to either build new themes, or update existing ones on your WordPress site. This may seem counterintuitive for someone just starting off but creating a basic theme from scratch, even if you don’t end up using it, will go a long way in teaching you how to use WordPress and will save you a ton of money because you won’t have to hire out website changes.

Pay someone to do your SEO

Ideally you know someone already that is a SEO guru, or someone that comes highly recommended from someone you trust. SEO is a constantly changing field, and not all agencies are exactly ethical.

For example, you should be skeptical of any SEO agency that guarantees rankings in a set amount of time, or that buys hundreds (if not thousands) of links to your site. These tactics are considered “black hat” and Google can easily flag or blacklist your site if it finds you’re building too many unnatural links too quickly.

If you don’t know someone in SEO and have to consult an agency, make sure you get as much information beforehand as possible. Get case studies and read up on sound SEO practices yourself.

Speed up your site with a CDN

CDN is short for content delivery network. A CDN employs a network of distributed services that sends your web pages and content to users based on their geographical location. CDNs provide several advantages: first, they increase the speed of your WordPress site because your static files are located on several servers. Faster websites lead to greater conversions rates and lower bounce rates. CDNs are also surprisingly inexpensive to use you can read more about those servicers here.

Upgrade to PHP 7

If you’re familiar with PHP, chances are you’ve already heard about PHP 7. The most significant advantage of PHP 7 is speed—PHP 7 makes your site up to 50% faster!

Write 10 blog posts before you publish your site

Writing blog post on WordPress CMS

As WordPress was originally designed to be a blogging platform, not taking advantage of its great blogging features would be foolish. Before you publish your site, make sure to have a healthy backlog in place (at least 10 really well-written blog posts on your area of expertise). Uploading and backlogging these posts will give your site fresh, engaging content and will also put a check in place against a flash in the pan idea that doesn’t have staying power. Simply put, if you don’t have 10 blog posts to write about a subject, you may not have enough passion and expertise to make a go at the website.

Watch people use your site

If you’re new to webdesign and online marketing, make sure to get a few additional pairs of eyes on your WordPress site before you publish it. No matter how innovative or lucrative your business idea may be, if your website usability is poor, you’ll have a hard time getting people to buy in.

The worst thing you can do is get approval from your friends and family; rather, your learnings will be so much more valuable—and your site so much better—if you can get people you don’t know (preferably experts or members of your target audience) to test drive your site before it goes live.

Optimize your site for Local SEO

One of the major tenets of local search SEO is making sure your business’s contact information—your business name, address, phone number, email address, and social media handles—is clearly displayed on every page.

This is the information that will show up in your Google search results, making it so much easier for people to find you. To make sure this information appears in a consistent place on every page of your WordPress site, placing it in a static footer, or some other global site feature is the easiest way to go.

Closing thought

While building your website on WordPress is relative simple and straightforward, there are several additional details to be aware of and steps you can take to really take full advantage of what WordPress has to offer. You might need to pay a little extra to make it happen, but having a fully functional and optimized website in place will free you up to focus on actually running your business.