This article is part of a larger series on Small Business Websites.
If your business website relies on WordPress’ content management system (CMS), these WordPress tips and tricks can help you take your site to the next level. Learn how to get the most out of WordPress, from finding the best way to build a WordPress site to ensuring your business’ website is as secure and as search-mobile- and user-experience-friendly as possible.
Pro tip: If you’re looking for the best way to build a WordPress website, we recommend Bluehost. It’s a WordPress-recommended hosting company and is on our list of the best web hosting companies for including a free WordPress site builder in hosting plans and its ecommerce-ready WordPress hosting and site builder packages.
5 WordPress Tips to Get Off to the Best Start
These first five WordPress tips will set you up for success when creating a WordPress website. They cover web hosting and what to look for in a WordPress hosting solution. In addition, there are options for easier page building using themes, page builders, or full WordPress site building solutions, two important settings to check in your dashboard, and how to set up performance tracking with Google Analytics and Search Console.
Get Dedicated WordPress Website Hosting
For true beginners, today’s all-in-one website builders offer an easier way to create a startup or small business website. But we get it—sometimes WordPress is the best answer, especially when you want the customization and functionality that is hard to match outside of WordPress. The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice the ease of use you could get with a site builder when building a WordPress site anymore.
For example, DreamHost offers WordPress hosting that comes with a WordPress site builder. This eliminates some of the learning curve needed to build a WordPress website and includes WordPress pre-installed, web hosting, a free domain, a free SSL certificate, and unlimited email accounts (if you choose the Unlimited plan, which costs $2.95 per month for the first year).
Likewise, Bluehost offers WordPress hosting with many of the same perks and offers first-year pricing at $2.75 per month. In addition to hosting with a free WordPress site builder, it also has ecommerce-ready offerings that make it a top choice if you want an ecommerce WordPress website.
You also get CloudFlare content delivery network (CDN) free with Bluehost. Enabling this in your cPanel will improve site loading time by distributing to data centers so that your site’s files can be served up to a site visitor from a server nearer to their location.
Both providers are on our list of the best web hosting services for small businesses. Some of the factors we considered (and you should too) when choosing WordPress hosting are inclusions like free domains and SSL certificates, CDNs and speed boosters, and whether you get emails for your domain. Opt for dedicated WordPress plans with generous storage and unlimited bandwidth—if bandwidth is limited, that also limits the amount of traffic to your website.
In addition to these essentials, look for hosts that include distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and malware protection. WordPress websites are extremely vulnerable to hackers unless your web hosting provider takes extra measures to secure the servers and your web files from hacking and malware. Finally, find out whether the hosting provider includes automated backups and site restoration services in case something goes wrong.
Choose a Theme (or Site Builder)
Priced from free to hundreds of dollars each, WordPress themes abound. Choosing the right theme can make creating and managing your website much easier, so take some time to shop around, check user reviews, and take advantage of free demo versions to see if ease of use and versatility support the hype.
While you can use a free WordPress theme, you will find that your ability to customize your site’s design is severely curtailed with free themes. With a premium theme, you’ll get to customize many more elements, including easily changing your site’s colors, fonts, and site-wide design settings (e.g., buttons and other elements).
Alternatively, if you chose web hosting that included a website builder, you may already have access to premade templates that will speed up your process immensely. You won’t need to spend extra money and time to purchase and install a premium WordPress theme since the site builder and its templates allow you to build and customize your site quickly.
Use a WordPress Page Builder
Similar to the site builders referenced above, purchasing and installing a WordPress page builder can preclude the need to buy a theme. Page builders like Elementor provide more design freedom than preset themes and are often easier to use.
They come with prebuilt sections, widgets, and elements like sliders, galleries, and web forms you can plug and play. You can also purchase page builders that come with one or more themes to speed up the design process.
Configure These Two WordPress Settings
Two important WordPress settings to configure are for permalinks and search engine indexing. Permalinks are the format your site’s page and blog post URLs will be in. The default setting is “Plain,” which assigns a number to the URL when you publish a new page or blog post. These numbers have no search engine optimization (SEO) value, so it’s better for the URL to include the page or article title.
In the dashboard, go to Settings → Permalinks and change the setting to “Custom Structure,” which should already be populated with /%postname%. This ensures that when you publish a new page or blog article, the title you assign to the page or article will be part of the URL, which is important for site visitor experience and SEO. Choosing this option also keeps your URLs shorter than some other options, which is also good for both visitors and SEO.
The second thing to ensure in settings is enabling your site for search engine indexing. By default, the box to discourage indexing will not be checked. However, if for some reason it is, this discourages search engines like Google from indexing your website and displaying its content in relevant search results. To make sure your site will be indexed, go to Settings → Reading and make sure that the box to discourage search engines from indexing is not checked.
Add Google Analytics & Set Up Search Console
To measure the traffic to your website and determine where the traffic comes from (e.g., online search, advertising, email marketing, social media, and so on), you want to add your Google Analytics tracking code to the header of your WordPress website. This will also entail adding a plugin to add header and footer code.
After you add the code and verify it’s working, you can then link it to your website’s data in Google Search Console. SEMRush has a good guide listing how to add Google Analytics to your WordPress site and another one showing how to connect Google Search Console to Analytics.
Both Google Analytics and Search Console provide somewhat different data. At the most basic level, Google Analytics offers extensive data about your website’s traffic, while Search Console gives you insights to improve your SEO efforts and online rankings.
Alternatively, you can use a plugin to provide site analytics and even connect via your Google Analytics tracking ID number. You won’t have access to all of the data available in Google Analytics or Search Console, but you might have enough basic data about your website to start with. You can then plan to expand into more robust metrics tracking and analysis down the road.
6 WordPress Tips for Security & Site Visitor Safety
Even if your web host offers a high level of protection against malware, hackers, and DDoS attacks, you still need to add more security to your site. The next few WordPress tips include advice for beefing up your website’s security to make it safer for site visitors and better protect this important business asset.
Don’t Launch Your Site Without SSL Site Security
SSL (or secure sockets layer) security encrypts data submitted to or from your website so that in the event of a data breach, the data is rendered useless to the hacker by being encrypted. It’s critical for your site as it’s a search ranking factor and also affects site visitors’ perception of your website’s credibility and safety.
If you purchased hosting through a provider like Bluehost or DreamHost, a free SSL certificate might have been part of the deal. However, you may still need to add it to your domain in order to activate it. After that, you will need to configure your WordPress settings so that site visitors are automatically sent to the https:// version of your site.
If you purchased a domain through your web host and added an SSL certificate before installing WordPress, the configuration might be automatic when you install WordPress. If not, it entails both a change to Settings in the dashboard and in code in your site’s “.htaccess” file. Unless you have coding experience, we highly recommend you don’t try this yourself.
If you need help setting up your SSL certificate and forwarding visitors to the https:// version, your web hosting support team may be able to help. Another resource to check is the knowledge base of your hosting provider. Alternatively, you can hire an experienced, reputable Fiverr freelancer to set this up for you for as little as $5.
Add a Security Plugin
The next thing to do is add a WordPress security plugin. There are free plugins available, however, to get the most protection for your website, you will probably want to spend some money on a premium plugin supported by a team of website security experts. HubSpot’s list of the best WordPress security plugins is topped by Wordfence Security. There is a free version you can try, and paid plans are affordable for small businesses, starting at $99 for one year.
Add a Custom Login Page
By default, every new WordPress installation places a login page at the same URL configuration, e.g., https://yoursitename.com/wp-login. This makes it incredibly easy for hackers to find your site’s login form and try to gain access to your site’s data and files.
You should download and install a free or premium custom login page plugin to change the location of your administrative login form. Many also have settings to limit the number of login attempts and set up lockouts or block malicious intruders, further fortifying your WordPress website.
As a bonus, creating a custom login page also gives you a chance to show off your brand. This makes for a branded and more custom-feeling site visitor experience if you have a membership site or multicontributor site, such as a blog.
Add Google reCAPTCHA to All Web Forms
Google reCAPTCHA is a free service that adds another layer of security to your website. It protects your online forms from being filled out by bots and spammers. This reduces the likelihood that a hacker could get malicious code in through your webforms and reduces the amount of spam comments and incoming emails you and your team will receive.
Many WordPress security plugins come with settings to add your reCAPTCHA code. Likewise, many plugins for contact forms, such as industry leader Gravity Forms, include these settings so that you can easily add reCAPTCHA to all of your web forms.
Back Up Your Site
In addition to any automated backups provided by the web hosting company you chose when getting started with WordPress, you should add a plugin that allows you to manually and automatically back up your website. For example, when updating WordPress or plugins, it’s advisable to create a backup of your website should something go wrong.
This is another area where “free” might not be best in terms of WordPress plugins. Most free versions don’t allow full backups or automated backups. Be sure you have a robust backup system in place, including off-site storage, so that you can restore your files in the event of a problem.
Double-check Your Plugins for Signs of Life
WordPress is a free, open-source CMS. As such, plugins are created by any number of third parties, and while some develop popularity and are maintained over time, others are left to fend for themselves. Whether choosing a plugin to install or maintaining your site over time, checking your plugins for signs of life is critical.
Outdated plugins that developers don’t properly maintain quickly become susceptible to hackers. This offers another way for a bad actor to take your website down or even gain access to your files and data.
When considering a WordPress plugin (and there are more than 55,000), check its compatibility with the latest version of WordPress. In addition, make sure it has high (and recent) user reviews and has been updated recently, at least once within the past few months. The number of times a plugin has been installed is also an indication that it’s reliable and is being properly updated by the developer.
Pro tip: You can eliminate nearly all of the hassle of updating plugins and site maintenance by opting to use one of the top drag-and-drop website builders instead of WordPress. All-in-one site builders offer the fastest and easiest way to build a website for your business in a matter of hours compared to days (or even weeks or months) with WordPress.
3 Behind-the-Scenes SEO WordPress Tips & Tricks
Below are three WordPress tips for plugins and tactics you can use to achieve best practices for search engine optimization (SEO). While your site visitor will never see these elements on the page, they are essential to optimizing your small business’ website and its content to make it as search-friendly as possible.
Make SEO Easy With the Yoast SEO Plugin
The Yoast SEO plugin is a must for WordPress websites. It’s the easiest way to improve your content when adding new pages or articles to your website and has nifty built-ins such as an XML site generator. The XML site generator, in turn, supports Google indexing as you can add it in the Google Search Console to ensure Google is fully indexing your website and all its content.
Once installed, whenever you add a new page or blog post to your site, you can scroll to the bottom of the page to find the Yoast widget. Here you can set a custom page title, change your page’s slug (the part of the URL that comes after the root domain and extension), add a keyword-optimized meta description, and know whether your title or meta description needs to be longer or shorter for SEO.
If you input your target keyword, the Yoast plugin will also analyze the content and let you know of ways you can improve it. For example, it will tell you if you need to have your keyword in the title or more times in the article, or if you’ve over-optimized your content by including the keyword too many times.
Compress Your Images
While we can’t cover everything that could slow down your site in this article, we can speak to the need for speed. Site load speed is a big factor in Google search rankings because (rightly so) Google knows that slow site load times equate to poor site visitor experience. This became doubly important when the number of searches via mobile devices first surpassed desktop searches.
Large images can take several seconds to load. One thing you can do to reduce this is by using software like Adobe Photoshop to size your images for use online. In addition, using image compression plugins or a WordPress theme that comes with image compression software ensures that the gorgeous images you chose for your website won’t slow your site down—but will still look beautiful.
Pro tip: If you want to see how fast your site loads, try Pingdom. Pingdom services include monitoring your website’s performance, and you can use the web speed tester free simply by inputting a URL.
Use CSS & Reduce Script-loading
For the same reason we just noted in the WordPress tip above, when choosing a theme for your website, look into the ways it improves site speed by eliminating unneeded scripts and loading only essential elements. The more files and scripts a page calls for when loading, the slower the load time will be.
Pro tip: If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work it takes to build a WordPress site and leverage it effectively to grow your business, reach out to the team at Hibu. Hibu offers complete solutions for growing an online presence, including custom web design and development, listings and reviews management, and more.
8 WordPress Tips & Tricks for SEO Content Marketing
If you are new to SEO content marketing, read our article showing how to implement a content marketing strategy before reading these WordPress tips regarding content SEO. In a nutshell, an SEO content marketing strategy is a systematic approach to ensuring your website’s content can rank with Google and other search engines, so that your business is discovered by prospective customers in online search.
Use Keyword Research to Outline a Site Structure Strategy
Imagine your site’s structure laid out like an organizational chart, with your home page at the top, main product or service landing pages below that, and then subpages and blog articles supporting each of those. As part of your site’s structure strategy, every page of your website, including your blog articles, should have a unique target keyword, from the home page down.
Otherwise, you could end up creating several pieces of content that are all trying to compete for the same keywords or have content that isn’t optimized for keywords at all. Either can hurt your rankings in online search and are detrimental to your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
You can use a free keyword generator like Ahrefs to research keywords and look for ideas. For example, suppose you have a restaurant in Louisville. In that case, Ahrefs will show you whether there is search volume for “louisville restaurants” as well as close matches, and the “KD” (keyword difficulty), which pertains to how hard it will be to rank for the keyword. From there, lay out a site structure strategy that includes assigning a unique keyword to each page.
Create a Repeatable On-page SEO Formula
Following a checklist based on SEO best practices ensures your content is organized in such a way that search engines are more likely to index it and include it in search engine results pages, or SERPs. Some of the repeatable steps to take include:
- Adding the page’s keyword to the title and page URL
- Featuring the keyword early in the article, preferably in the introductory paragraph
- Including the keyword in the meta description
- Ensuring that at least one subheading (an H2 or H3 heading) and at least one image alt-tag includes an exact match to your keyword
- Using the keyword two or three more times in the article
With that said, it’s also possible to over-optimize an article for the keyword, and you want to avoid that. Google has long penalized sites for keyword stuffing, which is the practice of using the keyword too many times. The Yoast plugin is great for this, as it will analyze your content based on your target keyword and let you know how you can better optimize it for online search.
Keep Titles & URLs Short
In WordPress, your page URL is automatically generated based on the title you give a page or blog article (as long as you have set up the custom structure from the WordPress tip in the first section). If you assign a long title, all of those words end up in the slug portion of the URL. It’s not the best for SEO or site visitor experience.
If you are using the previously recommended Yoast SEO plugin, it’s easy to manage this in the Yoast SEO section below your page or article content. Here you can change the SEO title and slug, ensuring that they are short but still descriptive enough to let search engines and site visitors know what the page is about.
Make Navigating Your Site as Easy as Possible
Employ Strategic Internal Linking Strategies
Set Up Cookie Notifications
Add a Custom Privacy Page
As with cookie notifications, every website should have a privacy page that explains what type of data the site collects, whether cookies are used, how data is used, who can access it, and so on. It must also provide contact information that any site visitor can contact to ask that all their data be deleted.
Create a Custom 404 Error Page With Options
If a site visitor hits a dead-end URL, meaning the page or article URL they tried to load doesn’t exist on your site, you want them to have options so they don’t simply leave. The best way to do this is to create a 404 error page and include options, such as a short navigation menu or a widget with a search bar, so they can find the content they were looking for.
8 WordPress Tips to Take Your Site to the Next Level
Creating a website isn’t the end—it’s the beginning. The following WordPress tips and tricks show you how to rank higher, increase sales and conversions, and increase engagement through reviews, social media, and by publishing content. There are also tips for how to best maintain your website and improve the site visitor experience (or at least prevent a bad one).
Publish Citeable Content
While many business owners are passionate about their company, the web content they publish about products or services may not automatically earn backlinks and shares. Citeable content, on the other hand, is more likely to be linked to from other websites and shared on social media. Examples include idea and example listicles, statistics, case studies, e-books and other downloads, inspirational video content, and high-impact visuals, like infographics.
Develop a Strategy for Earning Backlinks
Integrate Other Business Software
Integrating your billing or accounting software with WordPress ecommerce or online ordering plugins can save you a lot of time and reduce errors that can occur when transferring data digitally or manually. Connecting these systems makes even more sense when you use them in conjunction with email marketing and sales software, as you can automatically update customer records and send emails confirming orders or issuing invoices.
Integrating customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing software enables data syncing to streamline workflows. For example, if you embed HubSpot CRM or Mailchimp webforms onto your website, any time a form is submitted, the data is automatically transmitted. This enables you to set up automations such as email drip campaigns for lead nurturing or lead assignment to a sales agent for follow-up.
Get Google Business Profile Reviews
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the top dog in online search (Google) factors in business reviews when determining the best options to deliver up in search engine results pages (SERPs). Plus, consumers check online reviews before purchasing, especially before purchasing locally. According to Oberlo, eight out of 10 consumers check online reviews for local businesses.
To help you create a strategy, read our article listing 11 ways to get more Google reviews.
Connect Your Social Media Accounts
Publish Content Frequently & Share It
Perform Regular Maintenance to Your WordPress Website
Neglecting the maintenance of your site can lead to all kinds of problems, from outdated information being displayed to site visitors to vulnerabilities from aging plugins or old versions of software, including WordPress and WordPress themes. Decide on the best schedule to review and perform maintenance on your site’s:
- Business-related content: At a minimum, make sure you review and update business information such as your hours of operation, pricing, contact information, and policies and procedures regularly. When you do make changes, be sure to update other sites as well, such as your Google Business Profile, social media profile pages, directory listings, and so on.
- Plugins: There is no set schedule as to when a developer might update plugin software, thereby making a new or updated version available to you. So plan to check your site’s admin panel at least monthly to check whether updates are available for plugins. The best way to check this is by clicking on Plugins on the left-side dashboard list to go to the Plugins page.
- WordPress: If you have managed WordPress hosting, updates may be performed for you; alternatively, only core or security updates might be automatically applied, or none at all. The WordPress dashboard will display an announcement when a new version is ready or you’ll also see it displayed when you go to the plugins page. These updates are important and major. Make sure you create a backup of your site before updating WordPress or your WordPress theme just in case something goes wrong.
- WordPress theme: Like plugins, themes are software that are generally updated by developers over time. Some themes allow you to set up automatic updates; however, you may have to manage these updates manually. To get to your theme’s information, from the dashboard, choose Appearance → Themes from the left side menu.
Use 301 Redirects
It’s only natural that over time, your website will change. For example, you may discontinue a product or service or even completely revise your site structure as it becomes larger. When this happens, it generally results in site visitors trying to reach pages that have been deleted or moved, sending them to a 404 error page.
You can prevent this by adding a plugin for 301 redirects. Any time you delete or change the URL of a page on your site, you can set up an automatic redirect. The redirect will either take the site visitor to the updated URL or to another page, such as an alternate product or service, or a page offering information about why the content is no longer available.
Best Resources & Support for WordPress Websites
If reading these WordPress tips and tricks has led you to conclude that building and managing a WordPress website is no joke, you’re not alone. The good news is that there are resources to help, from professional WordPress web design and site builders to libraries of stock imagery, SEO and copywriting services, and tools to streamline your workflows.
In addition to the WordPress tips above, here are some top resources for WordPress websites:
- Fiverr: Hire freelance professionals to set up your hosting, install WordPress, attach your SSL certificate, design and build your site, write SEO copy, and more. On Fiverr you can hire one provider for multiple solutions or outsource specific parts of your WordPress website creation and maintenance. Project-based pricing starts as low as $5.
- Hibu: Forgo project-based outsourcing and get a full digital marketing solution, including web design, site optimization, social media, and online ad management services. Find out more about Hibu and get more options on our list of the best digital marketing agencies for small businesses. Hibu pricing is customized for each client.
- Envato Market: From WordPress themes, templates, and plugins to the images and artwork you need to create the WordPress site your business needs, Envato Market has it all. Costs range from a couple of dollars for images or graphics to $70-plus for premium themes and plugins.
- Envato Elements: Envato Elements is a subscription-based service that costs less than $20 per month. In return, you get full access to its vast library of stock images, graphics, and videos needed for ongoing content marketing as well as WordPress themes, templates, and plugins—with unlimited downloads.
- Free Images and Graphics: If your budget won’t allow you to purchase stock images and graphics for your website and content marketing efforts, there are free resources available. You can customize graphics on Canva’s online editor for free, including premade templates and images, and then download them for use on your site. Freepik is another popular site for downloading royalty-free stock images for use on your website, social media, and other marketing materials. However, keep in mind that you will need to check to make sure that you can use materials from these sites for commercial purposes to avoid copyright infringement.
- Mailchimp: Build web forms on Mailchimp and integrate them into your website and landing pages, such as email newsletter sign-ups, landing page forms, product or service inquiries, and more.
- HubSpot Marketing: HubSpot’s WordPress plugin makes it easy to connect HubSpot’s sales and marketing software to your website. Create landing pages, sync data to your other business software apps, streamline workflows, and speed up your sales processes. Start with HubSpot Marketing and download the free WordPress app to connect your site.
- Ahrefs: As we showed above, you can use Ahrefs free keyword generator tool to discover the best keywords to use to get your WordPress site on the map, search engine-wise.
- SEMRush: Take keyword research to the next level with a paid SEMRush subscription. In addition to in-depth search engine results page (SERP) analysis for keywords, you can see what keywords your site’s pages rank for, how your rankings change over time, and check out how your competitors are doing regarding content and keyword rankings and online advertising.
- Trello: Easily create a publishing calendar for your content marketing strategy with premade templates from Trello. You’ll be able to visualize your process, assign projects to multiple writers, and manage your editorial publishing calendar from beginning to end, with pricing starting from free.
Best WordPress Alternatives
If you’re a web design beginner, using WordPress will present a steep learning curve. You can tell this based on the sheer number of WordPress tips that are essential to success with the WordPress CMS, from safety and security to the myriad of plugins needed for even basic small business websites. We would be remiss if we didn’t suggest a few top WordPress alternatives for you to consider and what each is best for.
What It Is
All-in-one hosting, domain, SSL certificate, and website builder
All-in-one hosting, SSL certificate, and website builder
All-in-one hosting, SSL certificate, domain (with paid plans), and website builder
Beginners wanting to quickly build a modern website for their startup or small business
Absolute beginners wanting the easiest way to build a professional website and businesses needing online booking tools
Beginners wanting a super-custom website and access to lots of third-party apps to extend functionality
Priced Starting From
$14 per month
Built-in Goodies From Day One (Even in Free Versions)
Find Out More
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- Learn how to set up WooCommerce to start selling on your WordPress site.