A website is a must-have asset for all businesses and I have recently received a lot of questions about WordPress and it’s benefits. It is my #1 recommendation for a website platform and I am not alone. In fact, according to information compiled by W3techs, WordPress is the most used CMS with a 61.8% market share. So why is WordPress so popular and what are some basics YOU need to know?
Before we get started, let’s address the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
The key difference is who’s actually hosting your website. With WordPress.org, you host your own site. I recommend this because it is more professional. WordPress.com is a hosted blogging service run by a company called Automattic. It provides less freedom in site design and your URL includes wordpress.com. (Learn more about this here.) In this article, I am talking about WordPress.or.
Benefits of a WordPress Website
Fast and Easy Website Setup
In the time it takes to finish your morning coffee, you can have a website created and live on the Internet using WordPress. Most hosting companies offer “one-click installs” for WordPress, meaning it will take only about 5 minutes to create your website. From there, it’s a matter of choosing a theme and adding content.
Even if you’re not technically inclined, WordPress is simple to use. And with a huge, helpful community of users, you can quickly find the answer for everything from “how do I install WordPress” to “how can I create a membership site” with just a Google search.
Your Site, Your Style
There are literally thousands of themes out there, and many of them are free. This makes it easy to find a look that’s just right for your brand and business.
One easy way to begin finding a theme is to simply visit WordPress, http://wordpress.org/themes/. Want something more customized? Many themes offer easy, drag-and-drop editing of layouts, colors and more, but if you want something designed just for you, there are thousands of capable developers to build you a custom design.
For premium themes, you can visit any one of the notable theme developers like:
- ThemeForest – http://themeforest.net/
- WooThemes – http://www.woothemes.com/
- StudioPress – http://studiopress.com/
Within these theme developer catalogs, there are numerous website themes that have the foundational elements you need to build a strong site. All of these themes provide you with a good starting point.
When you’re reviewing a potential theme remember to consider your needs.
- Does the theme have the proper widget areas?
- Does the theme provide the various features you need?
- Finally, does it help you create a site that supports your goals?
Plugins Add Greater Flexibility
The Plugin Directory currently lists over 54,000 plugins with 1.5 billion total downloads. So as you can see if you run into a problem or you need a solution “there’s a plugin for that”.
The combination of themes and plugins make the possibilities nearly endless, so no matter what you need a website to do, chances are good that WordPress can handle it.
What you need to know to keep your WordPress site secure
While WordPress sites do get hacked, they are no more dangerous than other websites. The problem is that WordPress is open-source, which means that anyone can read the code—even the bad guys who spend all their time looking for vulnerabilities they can exploit. Couple that with the enormous popularity of WordPress, and it’s easy to see why you hear about hacks on a regular basis.
But that doesn’t mean WordPress is unsafe. By implementing just a few security best practices, you can greatly reduce your risk of being hacked.
Keep Your Site Up to Date
This is by far the biggest risk when it comes to security. New vulnerabilities are discovered in WordPress and its plugins and themes on a regular basis, and if your site is out of date, it is at risk. Hackers actively search for outdated websites they can attack, so make it a point to keep your site up to date. That includes plugins, themes, and the WordPress software itself. This is easily done with a few clicks and a great task to delegate to your virtual assistant.
Use Strong Passwords
Second only to out-of-date installations when it comes to inviting hackers, weak passwords are regularly exploited. This can be easily avoided simply by choosing good passwords. Ideally, your passwords should:
- Be longer than 12 characters
- Contain upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols
- Never be used for more than one site
Be Smart About Your Hosting
Unlimited domains! Unlimited space! Unlimited bandwidth! And all for around $ 8 per month. You’ve probably seen the claims and may even have a hosting account with one of these companies.
Here’s the problem. This type of shared hosting is inexpensive only because they overload their servers with thousands of websites. Just as close proximity in crowded classrooms allows human viruses to quickly spread, close proximity of websites on a shared server means one infected site is a risk to all the others.
Rather than looking for the least expensive (and riskiest) hosting option, choose a host that allows you to isolate each site on its own cPanel. Doing so will greatly improve the security of your website. My recommendation is Bluehost.
In the end, the safety and security of your site and its data is entirely up to you. Keep your software up to date, use good passwords, and choose a secure hosting environment, and you’ll be well ahead of the curve on this.
SEO Tips for WordPress Sites
The former head of Google’s webspam team, Matt Cutts, said that “sites built with WordPress are capable of ranking higher in search results because the CMS takes care of 80-90% of Google’s crawling issues.” So WordPress is already SEO friendly!
Basic SEO boils down to this: Build a site that’s easy to navigate, easy for search spiders to crawl, and which uses good keywords in the places Google (and other search engines) are most likely to find them.
Just by using WordPress’ built-in menu function and accompanying widgets, you’ve built an easy-to-navigate site.
Your site navigation refers to your top-level pages, like your home page, your about page, your contact page, etc. You probably have your pages listed in your navigation bar, and maybe also in your sidebar, so readers can instantly find what they’re looking for.
This refers to the code behind your website. It should be clean, fast-loading, easy to read, and compliant with the latest HTML version. Again, WordPress will almost always keep you in good stead here, unless you’re using a theme that is out of date or poorly written.
You know you have to use your keyword on the page if you want Google to know what your page is about. The question is, where and how often should you use it? To start, you will want to use your keyword:
- In the title
- In some (but not necessarily all) sub-headings
- In the first paragraph
- In your image alt tags
- In your meta description
Besides your chosen keyword, though, you want to also be sure to sprinkle in some synonyms. Google has become really good at understanding what a page is about based not only on the chosen keyword (which is easily gamed), but also by looking at closely related words.
That’s it! Even if your not a web designer you can build a nice site with WordPress.