Here are 10 top steps in creating a successful WordPress website, whether you are a rookie designer or experience WordPress developer.
If you need help figuring out how to make your WordPress website a successful install, you are not alone. There are web designers out there from newbees to professionals alike trying to figure out how to keep up with all the latest WordPress themes, plugins and maintenance issues month to month.
Maintaining and optimizing your website so that is looks good not only to your audience, but to the all major search engines including Google, can be quite a chore. From choosing an SEO-friendly theme to designing it for great UX (user experience) there has to be a plan, so you are not wasting time day after day keeping up with the latest Web Design trends.
Below we will discuss the top ten checklist of things that should be considered when developing a WordPress website.
The first step in launching a successful WordPress site is setting up the right web hosting, one that will allow you to have full control over the backend, cpanel, backups, and the domain DNS. If you have a slow server, then the site will load slow and you will lose potential customers.
One of the major things with Google when speaking in terms of SEO, is that the page must have quick loading times, slow and unresponsive doesn’t cut it if you want your business website to get listed on Page #1 of Google. Your page ranking points will suffer if you don’t take care of the page load times. This is all a reflection of how the web host has you set up.
There are many professional web hosting packages available on the market today. Here are a few of the top, most reliable web hosting companies:
NameCheap.com ( https://www.namecheap.com ) – Great domain registrar, reliable and affordable hosting services, free SSL.
GoDaddy.com ( https://ca.godaddy.com ) – One of the largest domain registrars, reputable hosting, lacks backups and affordable SSL certificates.
Bluehost.com ( https://www.bluehost.com ) – A little more expensive hosting but reliable web hosting comes with a free domain.
Dreamhost.com – ( https://www.dreamhost.com ) – Fair pricing, solid web hosting support, comes with a free domain.
Hostinger.com – ( https://www.hostinger.com ) – dependable cheap budget-friendly hosting, good uptime, free SSL Cert.
There are so many plugins to discuss here, but I want to discuss a few popular ones that will make or break how Google sees your site as well as how interactive it will be with your website visitors.
Here we discuss a few of the most popular WordPress plugins, in no particular order of importance, for those web designers just starting out to experienced WordPress designers alike.
Akismet – Akismet is a tool developed to automatically block spam comments
Jetpack – Jetpack is a multipurpose WordPress plugin tool that helps WordPress website owners with SEO, marketing, analytics, design, social sharing, and security.
Yoast – Yoast helps improve SEO in all areas of a WordPress website including categories, tags, titles, images alt tags, and other meta areas that help you improve the overall searchability and indexing of a site.
Wordfence – Wordfence is a security plugin that has a build in firewall that was created to keep your site safe from hackers, malware, and malicious attacks.
WooCommerce – WooCommerce is popular WordPress plugin that basically turns any website into an online store. It is great for business owners who want to start an online version of their physical store to sell either products or services.
Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a popular plugin that connects any WordPress website to your Google Analytics account in order to measure and report website traffic.
Elementor – Elenentor has become one of the most used WordPress “page builders” on the internet. It has a visual design interface that allows web designers with limited coding experience to build a website like a pro! Drag forms, sliders, images, text blocks right to your page and fully customized fonts, colors, and links right in one area. I highly recommend getting this plugin to speed up the design process of your WordPress site or blog.
WPForms – WPForms is great If you want to add a fully functioning contact plugin that looks fancy and professional. Create a user-friendly contact form without the need to hire an affordable web designer.
WP Mail SMTP – Unfortunately, WordPress uses the PHP mail function to send emails by default, which may result in users not receiving your email. WP Mail SMTP solves this email issue by properly configuring and sending WordPress emails using an SMTP mail server.
Meta Slider – MetaSlider is the most popular WordPress slider that allows the web developer to create stunning slideshows that are professional and simple to configure. Add photos, videos, and sliders with easy that are clickable taking the website visitor to other areas of the website like products, services or the contact page.
So, a CDN will cache all your static WordPress website content in the hopes of allowing your webpage to load faster with a much quicker response and load time. The ultimate goal here is to make sure you site loads quickly and thus rank higher in Google and other major search engines.
You might also want to explore using Caching plugins like W3 Total Cache, WPRocket and WP Super Cache as well at this time. It’s all about user experience at quick loading times at this stage.
WordPress is a virtual goldmine for SEO so pay attention to which theme you install. Take an extra half hour when starting out and pick the the right theme that will get you an instant page rank boost in the search engines.
Don’t just pick a theme that looks pretty, choose one that is SEO-friendly!
I must give full kudos to web developers, business owners, and students out there who go with the SEO-friendly theme. Sometimes you will find the odd free theme that has everything you need including a beautiful design and is search engine optimized, but not very often. You may have to purchase a premium WordPress theme to get all the bells and whistles, one that is SEO friendly (mobile friendly) and looks great!
Make sure the WordPress theme has clean and fast code! Clean code will decrease the load time of all the pages, and thus increase your page rank.
Schema Markups are another must have and will tell Google and other major search engines what the site is all about as well as providing an indication where the most relevant content will be on your website.
A User-friendly layout with great UX (user experience) will keep your visitors around a lot longer as they navigate amongst your products and services page. This is a win/win as you will get a higher page rank from Google as well as possibly leads and sales.
A few suggested SEO Friendly WordPress themes would be as follows:
DIVI – www.elegantthemes.com/gallery/divi
MH Magazine – mhthemes.com/themes/mh-magazine
Genesis – my.studiopress.com/themes/genesis
Astra – wpastra.com
Ultra – themify.me/themes/ultra
Avada – themeforest.net/item/avada-responsive-multipurpose-theme/2833226
Impreza – themeforest.net/item/impreza-retina-responsive-wordpress-theme/6434280
Total – themeforest.net/item/total-responsive-multipurpose-wordpress-theme/6339019
A responsive website is a must these days and must load correctly in all browsers and mobile devices. Without taking this into consideration, your WordPress site may suffer in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
First of all, choosing a mobile friendly website that is responsive to all device types will provide a better experience for your website visitors. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a good responsive mobile friendly plugin to use to make sure your site can be viewed on all browsers and devices on the internet.
Without getting into a whole gamut of mobile friendly plugins, perhaps an article for a future date, another multi-use WordPress plugin would be Jetpack.
The Jetpack plugin provides the WordPress designer with a wide range of features that can be configured right from the Jetpack admin panel.
Here are a few of the standard features of the Jetpack plugin will help WordPress website owners and developers alike:
Is your site mobile-friendly?
Let Google examine your WordPress website to tell you if it’s mobile friendly or now.
If you want to get an immediate boost in the search engines, then pay extra attention to setting up categories, tags, and image alt tags.
The categories basically tell search engines what the content (pages and posts) is all about. Whether you are writing about digital marketing, fishing, or web design, categories are like your table of contents that inform users and search engines alike how your site is organized.
It is suggested not to use more than one to two categories for each article and should represent the keywords in your post. Again, user experience and indexing of content is important at this stage.
Tags are also very important to consider when writing content for your site and should be limited to one, two or three tags at the most. Try to limit the tags as per the content you are writing about as the tags represent keywords that users may be searching for on Google.
WordPress Permalinks are great for structuring your URLs with keywords that users can find easily on the web and don’t have page numbers after the domain name.
Permalinks all you to create relatively short links that when submitted to search engines like Google, increase search rankings, and provide a better UX (user experience).
Bad Permalink Example: gosmartmedia.com/?p=1234
Good Permalink Example: gosmartmedia.com/free-seo-analysis
The permalink settings in the default WordPress them are not set correctly and must be updated to “post name”. That is my personal favorite and seems to work well with business sites and eCommerce sites, no matter how many pages there are on the website.
The benefits here are better indexing and search rankings as well as increased visits to your website by users searching for you content.
There are a couple plugins out there that handle meta titles, meta descriptions, and Sitemaps well for your content, namely Yoast and RankMath. They both seem to organize all important areas of a post like categories, tags, and keywords to make the content more SEO friendly.
Meta descriptions and titles have now proven to WordPress Developers that those who use RankMath SEO plugin or Yoast plugin, tend to have and substantial increase in website traffic as well as in visitor engagement.
Having a sitemap, that contains all your posts and pages in a list, on your WordPress website is necessary when it comes to creating an SEO friendly website. One of the first areas a Google bot searches on your website when crawling it is the sitemap.xml page.
Nowadays the robots.txt is included with most popular sitemap plugins and is essentially and is an essential file that tells Google what to basically look at and what not to look at on your WordPress website.
For example: One place that you don’t want Google indexing is the “wp-admin” login page, so in the robots.txt file you would have a piece of code that says “Disallow wp-admin”. That being said, most content, pages, and posts are usually indexed in the robots.txt file.
Once your website is complete and you are ready to go “live”, don’t forget to install a Google sitemap and then index all the pages and posts on the Google Search Console (formerly “webmaster tools”).
To make a WordPress truly SEO friendly don’t forget to add a few internal links and external links. Internal linking refers to pointing a keyword, keyword phrase, or CTA (call to action) to a specific page on your website. An External link would be a link that points to a page or post outside of your main website.
An internal link example for the words “contact us” may have an internal link pointing to the “Contact Us” page of your website.
An external link example for the words “connect on Facebook” may have this phrase linking to the business Facebook Page, one that takes the website visitor off the website to another site.
If you would like to know a little more about on-page SEO or off-page SEO there are many search engine optimization companies out there who will gladly answer your questions for free. Take some time to reach up on SEO yourself before choosing an SEO Agency.
Depending on your budget, it may be wise to hire a professional web design company or SEO company who knows how to design your site like a pro and get your site to the top of the search engine rankings quickly.
Before and after making changes to your WordPress website it is smart to do a full backup of the site including all the site files as well as the database (db.sql fie).
It is smart to back up your site either daily, weekly or monthly and depends on how many times you are in and out of the website making changes or creating posts. I recommend at least doing a weekly backup, a reference point that can be easily loaded the last time your site was working well.
Sometimes things go wrong between WordPress themes and plugins and they don’t play well. When a website breaks it can be devastating to the website owner. So doing regular backups should be performed at least once per week, to prevent extended downtime while you try to figure out the issue.
You can use cpanel to back up a WordPress site or a backup plugin, whichever is easier for you and makes more sense at the time.
Some of the popular backup plugins are as follows:
UpdraftPlus ( https://updraftplus.com ) – Probably the most popular free backup plugin for WordPress available today on the web.
BlogVault ( https://blogvault.net ) – One of the most trust WordPress backup plugins on the internet.
BackWPup ( https://backwpup.com ) – Schedule and store your backups locally on your computer or other areas like Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, etc.
Duplicator ( https://snapcreek.com/duplicator ) – WordPress site migration and backup plugin is used by thousands of WordPress webmasters.
So if you are a business owner looking for help to build a successful WordPress website, do your research and then find a local WordPress designer that is experienced and won’t over charge you for web services.
Choose a WordPress Design Agency that will create a great looking website and get you to the top Google fairly quickly and on budget – www.gosmartmedia.com