WordPress is a great platform for creating websites. It is easy to use and with a bit of knowledge one can customize it almost indefinitely. But no matter how experienced we might be, there is always something new to learn or perhaps, something so basic that we have already forgotten.
This article shows you some of the key points that increase the performance, safety and efficiency of your website. Even if you think you are knowledgeable with WordPress, please remember that sometimes the new things are simply long forgotten old things which just needed to be remembered.
1. WordPress Is Not Meant Only For Blogging
WordPress started as software designed for creating blogs but over time it has developed so much that it can be used for website content management in general. Now it is a kind of publishing platform which allows you to publish very different types of websites, not only blogs. For example, you can create your online store or a representative website by using WordPress. There are countless government and corporate sites that are also using WordPress.
2. Back Up Your Website
There are countless reasons why your site might get damaged. You might have a defective installation, an incompatible plugin or your website might even get hacked. That is why it is important to create a backup of your site regularly. There are several ways to effectively backup and restore your data. You can use an easy-to-use and free software called phpMyAdmin or choose a WordPress plugin from one of the WordPress plugin repositories.
3. Use Various Plugins
There are thousands of different WordPress plugins that add amazing functionality to your site. You don’t need all of them, but some will definitely help you manage your website. There are plugins that will help you with the website SEO (search engine optimization) by offering SEO analysis, keyword research tools and many more. Caching plugins will significantly decrease the load time of your website. There are also plugins for managing content such as image galleries, creating calendars, allowing your page to be liked on Facebook and many, many more useful features.
4. Update Your WordPress Installation
WordPress is releasing new updates on a regular basis. Updates improve the efficiency of WordPress, but more importantly they can include bug fixes which are essential for the stability of your website. You can setup your WordPress to update automatically by going to Tools → Upgrade, and then choose Update Automatically. It is as easy as that. There is a myth that WordPress might crash or cause problems with new updates, but the risk of this is insignificant. If you want, you can always create a backup of your website and update WordPress manually.
5. Use Caching
WordPress is a dynamic content managing system that is sometimes dealing with a lot of files. This can cause your website to load slowly. When visitors request information from a database, that content is used to create HTML markup. The creation of HTML markup can be skipped by caching. Caching means to store away data in cache memory for future use and it can decrease loading time for your website. There are some good plugins created for caching such as WP Super Cache. You can get plugins online in the WordPress plugin repository.
6. Utilize Content Delivery Network
There is no need to use only one server if a huge system of servers is available. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) can significantly improve a visitor’s experience. Research different CDNs such as Amazon CloudFront or Limelight Networks and then copy your content to different mirror servers on different places in the world. This will make it easier for your guests to view your website no matter where they come from by decreasing the load time since not all requests will be sent to one server.
7. Don’t Keep ‘Admin’ As Administrator
The default username of a WordPress administrator is ‘admin’. If you keep this username, it will be much easier for hackers to determine which user has all administration rights. Then it would be only a matter of guessing the password to get in and damage your site. Also, it is advised not to use the administrator account to post content for the same reasons. You can create an author or contributor account that doesn’t have administration rights for publishing new posts.
8. Use Blog Authoring Tools
When posting remember that you are not limited to the default WordPress dashboard with its restricted options. There are some tools that allow you to create posts offline and add more formatting and editing possibilities. An example of a reliable blog authoring tool is Windows Live Writer which has a built in spell check allows manipulation of images and performs many more useful functions.
9. Use Webmaster Tools
In order to get traffic to your website you have to make sure that your pages are indexed. To make the search engines crawl deeper you should submit XML Sitemaps to webmaster services such as Google Webmaster and Bing Webmaster. A XML Sitemap is a list of pages on your website. You can use XML Sitemaps to allow your metadata (such as images, video and audio files) to be found by the biggest search engines. You can use one of the many tools available online to create a XML Sitemap or you can create one manually.
10. Don’t Create Too Many Categories Instead of Tags
It is very easy to create a new category and simply put your posts in there; however, if that is done too much, the category structure can become very cluttered. At first it might seem to be just a matter of organization but it often goes deeper than that. The architecture of website can influence many other things such as load times, SEO or the time a guest spends on your site. That is why organization is so important. Categories are used for dividing your content into general sections, while tags are meant for subsections. Remember to use these accordingly.
11. Don’t Use Default Permalink Structure
If you use default permalinks, a link to your post will look like http://www,example.com/?p-123 which is not friendly for search engines. If you add keywords to the permalink your site will get more traffic because it will be recognized by search engines. In order to add your post name to your permalink go to your administration panel and choose Options → Permalinks. In the Custom Text box enter
/%category%/%postname%/%post_id%/. This will display your permalinks by showing the category, the post title and the id.
12. Use Gravatar
Gravatar is short for globally recognized avatar. Gravatar is a small image with which you can represent yourself on the internet. If your website has Gravatar enabled, this little image will be shown next to most of your activities such as posts and comments. Gravatars attract more attention and give you credibility. You can get a free Gravatar account at Gravatar.com.
13. Change the Default Favicon
Favicon is a small (16×16 pixels) icon that represents your website. Browsers that support favicon show it next to the page title in a tab and also in the list of bookmarks. Favicons add a personal touch of and professionalism to your website. There are several free favicon generators such as favicongenerator.com. You can create your own custom favicon and replace the favicon.ico file in the images part of your theme.
14. Avoid Having Too Much Information on the Sidebar
The best way to present information is by keeping it simple. A good sidebar should attract attention and encourage interaction but not distract from the main content. Make sure your sidebar has enough vital information but don’t add too many widgets, ads or links to it as it can end up distracting and confusing your reader. It may even make them turn away from your message on the page. If there is too much flashy information on the sidebar it can also make the website load slower. Keep these things in mind when designing your sidebar.
15. Use FTP Clients for File Transfers
FTP clients might seem to be confusing at first for an inexperienced WordPress user, but they offer significant improvement to the alternatives. File transfers are much easier with FTP software such as Filezilla. Other file managers may have interfaces that are not friendly to users; they crash often especially if you are doing multiple file transfers. There are a lot of FTP clients to choose from that will make uploading and downloading files very easy.
16. Use an Effective Theme
There are some things to keep in mind when you are looking for a WordPress theme. Some themes are built for certain versions of WordPress and might generate errors if they are applied to another version. This is one thing to keep in mind when choosing a theme. Other things to keep in mind when looking for a theme is to check the plugins it supports. Once you are sure that the theme of your choice is compatible with your WordPress version and plugins you want to use check what type of websites it was made for and how easy it is to use. There are very different types of websites such as simple blogs, video or photo blogs, corporate websites, online magazines and many more. Make sure your theme is good for the type of website you want to create. Other things that are good to keep an eye out for is if the theme has support available as well as if it has a SEO (search engine optimization) friendly structure.
17. Create Your Website Friendly for Mobile Users
A huge part of your website visitors will be accessing it through mobile devices. Keep this in mind when creating your website. Depending on how much of your site will be access by mobile visitors, you can use a theme that is either mobile responsive or optimized for mobile devices. Mobile responsive WordPress themes appear on mobile devices the same as they appear on desktops and laptops. These themes scale automatically, depending on what type of device is used for access. They are the easiest way how to make your website easily accessible to multiple device types. Mobile optimized themes are made for mobile devices and might not look so nice on a large screen. Sometimes themes have specific parts that are mobile optimized for certain purposes. Familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of a theme for potential mobile visitors.
18. Use Google Authorship Widget for Author Rank
If you have a Google+ account you can connect your WordPress website to Google through the Google Authorship Widget which you can download from the WordPress website. When you have entered your name and other details to the Google+ profile this plugin will inform Google that the contents are owned by you. Your Google+ profile will also show up in search results that has your content. Being connected with Google in this way will also make you a part of their Author Rank program that sorts content created by certain authors. If you create great content on one site, Google will remember you when you have authorship on another.
19. Use a Good Hosting Company
You don’t have to choose the first hosting company you see. The cheapest companies rarely mean the best because they might have fewer options and often offer a support system that isn’t really supportive. Take a look around for different options to find the best solution for a good price.
20. Managing WordPress Installations Are Easier Than You Think
If you host your WordPress core, themes and plugins in different places it can seem confusing and feel like too much of a hassle to deal with. But there are two solutions to this problem. One is multisite network that allows you to manage and keep all your WordPress websites in one place. The drawback of this method is that it needs careful planning and all your websites should ideally be hosted on the same server. Another method is a plugin ManageWP which contains information about all your websites in one place.
21. Use Monitoring Tools like Pingdom
No matter how great the company that hosts your website prides itself to be, there will likely be times when it simply doesn’t work. Sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances your website might go down for a long time and cause you loss in both traffic and earnings if your website is monetized. In moments like these it is helpful to always be kept informed as to whether your website is up and running smoothly, even if you are not actively managing it. There are plugins designed to check the uptime of your website and even send you a SMS to inform you in the event that your website goes down. Pingdom is one of the most popular plugins in this field.
22. Burn Feeds with Google Feedburner
Google Feedburner does all the things that RSS feeds do such as allow your fans to look at the updates in your blog through e-mail, but it also has a lot of interesting features that convert a simple feed into something much more than a feed management tool that keeps your readers up to date. With Google Feedburner you can allow people to subscribe to your blog and keep track of them; it also offers to add advertisements to your feed allowing you to earn a little bit more.
23. Use Analytics For Monitoring Traffic
Website Analytics Programs keep track of your traffic and can often provide you with detailed information about your visitors like which countries they are visiting your website from, what type of devices they use (stationary or mobile), how much time they spend on your website and more. You can use tracking programs like Google Analytics or Clicky to see what keywords lead to your website. Such analytics are very helpful when choosing or changing keywords.
24. Be Very Careful When Customizing WordPress Themes on Your Own
WordPress is open source software in which everyone can edit contents outside of WordPress core contents. That means everyone can create their own themes, widgets and plugins. Very often inexperienced WordPress users tinker with the code and eventually make some code errors that make the website dysfunction or crash. For this reason, it is suggested to create a copy of a theme or create a theme separately from others when working on it instead of directly altering an existing theme.
25. Remember WordPress Support
Although a lot of WordPress themes or widgets are made by casual web developers that don’t provide support, don’t allow yourself to believe that there is no support if you encounter a problem, error or bug when using WordPress. There are a lot of options you can use to try to fix the problem. WordPress Codex, an online manual for WordPress covers a lot of topics. WordPress.org has forums where you can ask for help. There are also a lot of e-mail lists for WordPress communities which you can join and send e-mails to. These mailing lists are also great for gaining more knowledge about WordPress.
We hope you enjoyed this tour into website building with WordPress. Now armed with new knowledge and inspiration you can start creating your own website that is functional, safe and attracts traffic. Good luck to you!