When I embarked on my WordPress adventure around 5 years ago I had no idea what I was jumping into. While WordPress is the best and the most popular website building platform, there’s a lot of tips and tricks that you only learn with time.
At this point in my journey, I have amassed a wealth of little tips that make building and managing a WordPress website a lot easier! Making mistakes is always the best way to learn and after making a few and learning along the way I thought I’d share my 4 top WordPress tips.
1. Always secure your site.
A lesson you only learn the hard way, but one that is vitally important. Around 40% of all websites are built using WordPress. That’s over 450 million WordPress websites and makes for quite a target for some malicious people.
There are around 12 different ways that people could target or hack your WordPress website. The most common, and most effective, are due to people using insecure login credentials or not keeping things up to date.
In our blog post 4 Top Tips for WordPress Login Security, we covered the ways you can prevent unauthorised people from logging into your website. With strong usernames and passwords, login limits, 2FA authentification and by hiding your login page, you can take big steps towards keeping the bad guys out.
Keeping your login page secure isn’t enough, often plugins and themes are targeted for code injections. It would be quite hard for the average WordPress site admin to spot when they’ve been compromised. With a WordPress security plugin, such as Wordfence, you can have your website routinely scanned for changes to core, theme and plugin files. If anything unusual is found, Wordfence can help you eliminate the malicious code.
I have had a website targeted by code injection and it is very frustrating to deal with, not as frustrating as it would be if I was oblivious.
With Wordfence you can have those routine scans run on your website. Wordfence is also part of the login security I recommend. Their plugin can limit the number of failed attempts someone can make and help you ban their IP address permanently.
However, none of these steps are 100% perfect. You do also need to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
2. Backup before updating
One of the most awful moments of owning or managing a WordPress website is when something goes wrong. A hack to your website or an update messes up your site, it’s an awful experience.
As awful as it is, that feeling is only temporary when you know you have website backups available.
Using a backup plugin is a bit of a thorny issue in the WordPress community. All good hosting companies provide regular website backups, so for many people, they see extra backups as unnecessary bloat. Great hosting companies, such as Cloudways, makes it really easy to schedule regular backups and run one-off backups before changes.
However, sometimes it’s a lot quicker and easier to use an additional WordPress backup plugin. Plugins, such as WP Reset and WPVivid Pro will automatically take a backup of your entire website before any core, theme or plugin updates are run. As good as having hosting or server backups are, if you forget to take a manual backup before running updates, you have to roll back to a backup from hours ago. With fast-changing websites, it can be quite a pain to update content after restoring a backup.
Great all-round, free WordPress backup plugins, such as UpdraftPlus, can take regular backups automatically and send the files to cloud storage. This means that if anything were to dramatically go wrong with your website and the hosting, you have a stored copy that is kept away from your hosting.
Just 24 hours ago I had to use WP Reset to roll back a website. After running updates on our White Label Websites site there was a small issue with the menu. With a couple of clicks, I was able to roll back the website to how it looked a few seconds ago before I ran the update.
With Cloudways’ cloning and staging, I was able to diagnose what the problem was and fix it. Creating a staging version of a website to test updates on could also be a top tip, one I wish I had remembered before running the updates yesterday!
3. Write your content for your audience
Securing your content is incredibly important. Once you have it secured and backed up, we can then think about the content itself.
It might seem like an obvious point, but when it comes to written content you need to make sure you write it to attract and interest your audience.
As obvious as it may seem, it is a multi-faceted task. Firstly, you need to make sure you know who your audience is. Secondly, you need to write content that would help you rank and be found on Google. Finally, the content needs to interest the human reader, not just the Googlebot!
The first step is to decide who your audience is. It took me a while with Tiny Blue Rocket to be certain who we were targeting. In fact, the usual audience has shifted over time! As a business that builds websites for small businesses using WordPress and Elementor, our audience is now quite focused. Small business owners, people who have an existing WordPress and often Elementor website and other agencies and designers are our audience. All of our work now is either helping small businesses get a first or new website, helping people improve their Elementor website or doing white-label work for other designers.
By knowing exactly who our audience is we can make sure all of the written content is focused on small businesses and Elementor. Then with a sprinkling of white-label-specific posts and pages, we are hitting those targets.
If you are struggling to get started writing content, it can help to create a persona. Have a clear idea in your head of your typical or ideal client/customer and write as if you are talking directly to them. When recording our podcasts I do imagine I’m talking to a prospective client in front of me, it’s weird but it does help.
Getting found online is the next important step. Make sure your pages, blog posts and even sections within your pages and posts are using keywords or phrases that people would search for online. With SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, you can find which keywords people regularly search for online and tailor your content to use the most impactful keywords.
However, my top tip when it comes to writing for SEO is to always remember that you ultimately want humans to read the content. Google doesn’t like the old tactics of stuffing keywords or writing to rank. Instead, Google cares more about how long people spend dwelling on your content. The longer people spend reading clearly the better the content is and it deserves to rank well!
Write for people. Know who your audience is, know what they search for and then write to be found and dwelt on!
4. Images matter, a lot!
Now that you’ve written that excellent copy for your website, you need to interest the reader. After all, we need them to dwell!
After writing for nine paragraphs about the importance of great words, actually, when it comes to keeping people on your website, words aren’t enough.
Around 90% of the information transmitted to our brain is visual and our brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. If you’ve ever scrolled through social media platforms like TikTok, you’ll know that you can make a decision about content faster before you even listen or read anything around it.
So, it’s crucial to use visual images throughout your website. Just make sure the images are legal and relevant.
If you have your own photos of your business, that should be your first priority. Many businesses rely on using stock images to emphasise and enhance their content. The best way to find stock images is with stock image websites. The main reason why is that all of the content on these websites are freely and legally available to use. Google image search is often a bad place to find images that you are allowed to use.
Free stock image websites, such as Unsplash and Pexels, are the best place to start downloading stock images. As good as their images are, sometimes paying can give you more choice. Paid, subscription-based sites, such as Freepik, Adobe Stock and Shutterstock provide a huge repository of excellent stock images.
Wherever you choose to download your stock images, make sure they present the right impression.
If you’re writing about a shoe shop, a picture of a puppy might not be relevant, unless they are in or around shoes. Images that don’t make sense often jar with people. Make sure the images are relevant to the content they’re near and aren’t too heavily used elsewhere online.
Also, think about the ethics and staging of these images. Using people from differing ethnic and gender groups can help more people feel included in your business. I have also seen a fair few stock images of men standing over women talking with a somewhat aggressive posture. Images that are cliched and represent inappropriate stereotypes should be avoided. If our brains can process images 60,000 times faster, make sure that quick impression is representative of your business.
Finally, once you’ve found the best images, make sure you optimise the images so they don’t bloat and slow down your website. Our recent blog post about site speed, in our fifth point, can talk you through the laborious but important steps to optimise your images.
Having a website built using WordPress provides you with access to thousands of great themes and plugins. With WordPress, you have a platform where you can build a wonderful website.
However, WordPress can be a tricky platform to master. Along the way, I have made mistakes and learnt some vital tips. By prioritising security and your content you are on the way to having a really powerful and impactful site.
If you need help or would like to find out more about how we can help you get your perfect website, feel free to get in touch today!