A business website is essential to remain competitive in the market. WordPress is designed to take the complexities out of the way, and even a novice can set up a website using WordPress within a few hours.
If you’re not familiar at all with using WordPress, start with our step by step guide, and then come back here to learn some powerful, time saving WordPress tips and tricks from business experts.
Here are the top 25 WordPress tips and tricks from the pros:
George Brown, Chicago WordPress Expert
I find that the most difficult thing for most businesses is taking the first step. They are worried about getting it wrong. A great thing about WordPress is that it just takes about 15 minutes to install. I tell my students, mess up your site at least 5 times the first day. It will do 2 great things. First, it will teach you how to uninstall and reinstall WordPress so you are not afraid of it. Second, it will teach you that no matter what you do, you can always start again. And most of the time, the next iteration of your website will be better.
David Gafford, Fusion Creative
WordPress (WP) can be a fabulous platform to design your next website, and success is largely determined by the theme that you choose for your layout. In choosing a WordPress theme, we recommend taking a look at the Avada theme or Divi theme for those who are looking to get started with their first website. If a sales funnel and lead capture is important for your business, Thrive themes are hard to beat. Whatever theme you decide to go with, make sure you take the time to do the research to find which one best meets your needs. You’ll not only need a theme with great features, but one that has rock-solid support and will be around for many years to come.
Read Fit Small Business’ roundup of the 15 best WP themes for beginners.
Tom Todd, t2websites.com
Be certain you have a WordPress theme that looks good on smartphones. More people are viewing websites on mobile devices today versus desktops by more than 10%. Many free WordPress themes that are responsive have formatting issues in the mobile view. If your mobile view doesn’t look good, consider using a WordPress mobile plugin. WPtouch Pro is considered one of the best plugins because you can create a dedicated mobile site using one of seven customizable themes.
Nate Finch, Finch Professional Services
One of the reasons WordPress is so popular is its accessibility and proven ease of use. You can be up and running in 5 minutes, and if you are quick with the keyboard, you can have your first blog post or “About Us” page up in another five minutes. The WordPress admin area is pretty intuitive, but after the first hour, you might find yourself asking more, “How do I…?” questions. This is normal and natural, and you need to know where to go to get the best, up-to- date advice.
If you like structure, you should look at WP 101. It’s paid, but well worth the cost. They keep their courses updated with the latest versions of WordPress, and there are several different levels you can jump into: Basics (if you’re just using WordPress for an informational website), Standard (if you want to dig into Yoast or WooCommerce), or Ultimate (if you want to dig into customizing your theme with Beaver Builder or setting up Gravity Forms). WPBeginner is another great resource if you’re just getting started. It is free, and you can check out their WordPress Basics playlist here.
Ilya Poltavets, OnlineMoneyz.com
WordPress can seem very complicated when you’re just starting out, so it’s important to keep it simple. There are so many plugins, themes, and cool features available that you might feel like you’re missing out, but ask yourself this: “Will this cool new thing help me move my business forward?”
Most often, the answer to that is no. Instead, focus on getting the basics right:
- Get a well-made, optimized theme that looks good on both desktop and mobile. I like Divi, Thrive Themes, or anything from the Genesis theme guys.
- Install the minimum number of plugins needed to make your site work well:
- Yoast SEO – all your SEO needs
- Some sort of caching plugin. I recommend WP Super Cache, but all of them work fine.
- Akismet Anti-Spam if you’re going to have comments on your site.
- And Jetpack by WordPress.com for all of your other needs. (This one can be a bit bulky so turn off all of the features you don’t use).
Jordan Harling, Roman Blinds Direct
Before you start your WordPress site, you need to understand the basics of on-page search engine optimization (SEO), usability, and links. If you don’t, then you’re going to have a major headache down the line. Each of these can be easily edited through WordPress, but you may also want to install the Yoast plugin to make the process a little more streamlined.
- Slugs – This is the bit at the end of your page (or post) URL which follows your website name and structure. Make sure this represents what your page is about and avoid any “stop words” (a, and, the, of, etc.). You want your URL to look as clean and enticing as possible.
- Links – Anchor text is the text that’s actually linked, you want to make sure this is relevant to the page you’re linking to as this information is used by search engines. Don’t use “to view more blinds click here”. Link the words you want to rank for in Google, such as your brand name or your products – “View more Roman Blinds.”
- Meta Descriptions – When your site comes up in a Google search, this is the little snippet of text that appears under your listing. Make it unique, enticing, and relevant for your page, so people are encouraged to click.
- Alt Text – When you upload an image, you’ll see the ‘Alt text’ option. This is where you can enter text that will be shown if your image cannot (for instance, if a browser has images disabled). Sites with completed alt text are favored by the search engines and rank higher in searches.
Doing these few steps will go a long way towards helping your site rank in Google.
Cassie Bottorff, Fit Small Business
For the most part, formatting your pages and posts can be easily done in WordPress’s Visual Editor (or your theme’s equivalent). But what about when you need to delve into the technical side of things, and tweak some HTML/CSS? You may find that there are certain bits of code you use often, and memorizing them in their entirety–not to mention accurately typing them every time–can be quite tedious. I’ve saved a lot of time by creating a simple Google Doc with a list of my most frequently used strings of code, templates for tables, etc. Doing this helps ensure that the code is accurate again and again, making your site clean and consistent over time.
Donna Duncan, B-SeenOnTop LLC
It can be wise to consult an SEO specialist before any coding begins.
A reputable SEO specialist can work with you to determine the best website structure, WordPress theme (template), plugins (added features / functionality), and web hosting company to ensure your website, once built and launched, is robust, secure, fast, scalable, and optimizable without unnecessary rework or expense. You can save a lot of time and frustration by ensuring these decisions are made in the planning phase with the understanding of how search engines work.
Travis Bennett, Studio Digita
One of the most important steps with your website is having an effective backup. If you’re making changes to a live site, you can use a tool like UpdraftPlus to take a backup within your dashboard, and restore the changes in one click. I also recommend setting up BackWPup to take an off-site backup on a regular schedule. That way, if you ever lose access to your backend, you’ve got everything you need to restore your website.
Ahmed Khalifa, IgniteRock
The Yoast SEO plugin is a popular WordPress tool that takes care of all your website’s technical optimization needs. It is designed to let you know what you need to do so your website performs well in searches. Many people get paranoid about getting the little green light when using the Yoast SEO plugin. But don’t, because:
1) It depends on your ‘Focus Keyword.’ Choosing the wrong one can mislead the “traffic lights” symbol.
2) You should only follow the recommendations by Yoast as a guideline rather than a must have. If you end up following every single point just to get the green light, you could end up having content not making any sense because you were writing for the machine (Google) and not what matters…the users.
Marcus Miller, Bowler Hat
One of the best tips I can give any WordPress user is to use a professional WordPress hosting platform. Platforms like WP Engine will provide a fast, secure hosting environment with a staging site and automated backup and point-and-click restore. This is 90% of your WordPress headaches taken care of.
If you have to self-host, then there are some key considerations: maintenance updates of WordPress, plugins and themes; daily backups and a disaster recovery and restore process; security monitoring; speed and performance monitoring; and of course, SEO and how your site is available and understandable by search engines.
As a small business owner, you need to focus on running your business – WordPress headaches are the last thing you want to deal with, so use a good quality hosting environment that will help with security, maintenance, and SEO. Outsourcing these essential areas to the pros will save you untold time and headaches and likely cost less than your coffee bill per month.
Gregory Golinski, YourParkingSpace
A very good tip for WordPress users is to add a polls and quizzes plugin to your website (my favorite is Social Polls by OpinionStage). It lets you create fun little quizzes that can pop up on your website. People love quizzes and polls, and it’s a great way to let visitors interact with your website.
This plugin also offers different options to receive Facebook Likes or gain Twitter followers, or to sign up for your email newsletter. For example, you can set it up so that your visitors must sign up with their email to see a quiz or poll’s results. This type of plugin is very useful because if your visitors interact with your website and enjoy it, they’ll come back for more. Polls are also a great way to learn more about your customers’ needs and habits.
Ben Taylor, HomeWorkingClub.com
You can tell when there are updates available from the icon at the top of your WordPress dashboard. Updates for plugins are released very regularly and are often specifically to patch new security vulnerabilities. Hackers can and do attack sites that haven’t been updated – but thankfully the process of installing them is almost effortless – just make sure you have backups and that you check your site functions properly afterwards.
Sam Warren, RankPay
Instead of a particular tool or process, I’d recommend the following for any newcomer to WordPress.
Get your hands on a website that’s already been setup and installed on WP. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just a simple templated site will serve your purposes. You should be able to buy a site through Flippa for around $20.
Then dive in and start tinkering. By experimenting with an existing site, you can quickly learn what each feature and function performs in WordPress. You can see what tweaks help, which ones throw a monkey wrench into the works, etc.
Nothing can match hands on learning. So roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty before building your first WP site.
Christine Kilbride, Sagefrog Marketing Group
Removing pages or changing URLs without applying a redirect is a common mistake amongst people new to using a content management system. Enter the Eggplant 301 Redirect plugin. This tool is easy to use for WordPress beginners and a quick way to prevent pesky 404 errors (that’s the error page you see when visiting a broken URL). Just enter the URL extension of the old or unwanted page, and then enter the URL of the page you would rather direct to. If you make a mistake, simply hit the “X” next to the redirect you wish to eliminate.
Another important tip is to understand the structure of your site template. Typically, people confuse “posts” and “pages.” For example, blog templates typically have both. The page should remain the same, while blog updates should be uploaded in the form of a post.
William Gadea, IdeaRocket LLC
If you have a WordPress site, various kinds of pixels and tracking codes will let you collect data on how your website is performing – things like conversion data, number of visitors, etc. To do this effectively, it’s smart to use a plugin like Tracking Code Manager. Rather than mucking about in multiple pages of code (and risk messing something up), this plugin lets you add your code in one place, and it will populate to all your pages. It’s really a must-have!
James Stoney Burks, Full Funnel Digital Marketing
Image sliders/image carousels – Don’t use them! You cannot count on users to click through the slides or be patient enough to wait for the carousel to run through all the slides. In addition, these elements can slow page load times, which not only make for a poor user experience but also negatively impact conversions, lowers the average time on page, and tends to increase bounce rates.
All of these metrics factor into search engine algorithms, so pages with sliders tend to rank lower in search engine results, making it harder for your audience to find your business. If you absolutely cannot avoid using sliders/carousels, try to limit them to three slides, as studies show user interaction severely drops off after this number.
Alex Shultz, BMarko Structures
When you’re building a website, security should be your #1 priority. It’s an unfortunate truth that there are malicious people out there. This means that no matter how much traffic your website gets, at some point, someone will try to hack it.
Generally speaking, WordPress is a safe and secure platform. So how do hackers gain access to your site? The answer is simple: human error. Too many WordPress admins choose insecure passwords, and they end up paying for it when their site is hacked.
Instead of using a single word or phrase, make sure that your password has numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and special symbols (like %, $, &, etc.) Then, use Password Safe to encrypt your password and keep it safe from hackers.
Andrew Graham, The Kratom Connection
Using Yoast’s bulk editor, you can quickly update title tags and meta descriptions for all your pages or blog posts. The alternative is going page by page updating them. This tip will save you A LOT of time.
From the main navigation in the backend of WordPress (on the left), click SEO>Tools>Bulk Editor. From here, you can filter through pages and posts quickly by copy/pasting or writing in the new title tags or meta descriptions for each page on your website.
William Swift, Ohmatress.com
My tip is about protecting your WordPress site from spam comments. Not long after I built my WordPress websites, they were soon ruined by thousands of spam comments that rushed daily to my site. Adjusting “Comment Settings” to “must be manually approved” did help but not much as it was still very annoying to delete thousands of pending spam comments every day. I tried using a few anti spam plugins on my WordPress blog and ended up with one named ‘Anti-spam.’ It’s simple, clean, and free. Just install and activate it, and you won’t see a single spam comment again. Highly recommended!
Sophia Lemon, Photography for Ridiculously Happy People
As a small business owner, I haven’t trusted another platform to support my business other than WordPress. I’ve been very lucky to have worked in web development before starting my photography business which has allowed me to run my website 100% on my own. I have a few simple tips which will help small business owners look totally put together online. Here they are:
- Get a professionally developed theme like Enfold. Use their templates as a wireframe for your website and fill it with your own images and text to make it look like a completely customized website. A great theme like Enfold is responsive, which means your website will appear perfectly on mobile as well as a desktop computer. You can find more professionally developed themes for totally reasonable prices at ThemeForest.
- Use a plugin like Pretty Links to create short, branded URLs which you can use in your social campaigns. https://wordpress.org/plugins/pretty-link/
- Each of your well-developed plugins and WordPress themes will have an option to export your settings. When you have your website set up the way you like it, export those settings and save them in a folder for later. If your website should ever crash you’ll have an easy backup of those settings which will save you a considerable headache!
Pooja Krishna, Maroon Oak LLC
One of the best WordPress tips is to keep your site user friendly – A key success factor is that the user should be able to navigate your website intuitively. So ask users of different technical capabilities to try it out first. A well designed website invites visitors to click on multiple pages, but also lets them find the answers they seek right away. Rule of thumb – any page or important link should be reached in 2 clicks or less!
Showcase your main message ‘above the fold’ – most users don’t scroll beyond the top screen on a phone or desktop, so ensure that your key content is housed right upfront. When there’s more content, put in page jumps (just a simple code). Say you offer a lot of choices on a page, like multiple blog posts or 50 product pictures. Ensure that you create link shortcuts right on top (i.e. articles by category or alarm clocks by function, etc.).
Plugins can make your life easier if done right, but on the other hand, unnecessary plugins can ruin your website with just one click. This can be easily avoided by following a few simple rules. Before installing any plugin, make sure that it has a good rating with plenty of reviews and once installed, don’t forget to activate it. Then, check for conflicts between plugins and even your theme as these issues can significantly slow down your site’s loading time. In some serious cases, conflicts can easily crash your WordPress Core Files and sometimes, even the site itself.If this happens, the best solution is to deactivate the new plugin or all of them if the errors appear right after installing a new version of WordPress. If you start reactivating one by one, it will make it easier for you to identify which plugin is causing the issue.
The images you add to your website can go beyond just being pretty pictures. WordPress allows you to add a title tag with its image title field that appears when your audience hovers on the image, and an alternate text tag is generated when you make use of the alternate text fields. This latter feature displays the text in cases where your images are unavailable or when your audience uses an assistive device for viewing webpages. Both the title tag and alt text are great opportunities for SEO. Make sure that the keywords you use compliment your business brand and help explain to your readers what your site is all about.
Over to You
We’d like to thank all our experts who took time to contribute to this article. Now, it’s your turn!
Did we miss out on any WordPress tips that have worked for you? Share with us by leaving your comment below.