Starting your website or blog with WordPress as CMS
May 6, 2014
I recently watch a recorded Google+ hangout called Working With WordPress invited by Kristin Drysdale a friend whom I got to know on Google+ and who keeps me in the loop of great events on Google+. This is also what makes the network so special, the new people that you get to know and connect with on Google+
The informative presentation was hosted by Craig Chamberlin (whose Google+ profile has a stunning +128 Million views!) who chatted with Robert Ryan on the theme regarding working with WordPress. I took some notes of their discussions and Google+ always proves to be a great resource when it comes learning new techniques, tricks and tips from the pros. I still consider a one hour show worth it if even you learned something new that was revealed to you by something you didn’t know of but which took only maybe a minute.
On a whole I would say that this video is not a starting guide for beginners (but good for beginners to have a look at and re-watch 6 months later if you are starting your blog now!) who have no basic knowledge at all of how to install a website with WordPress. It does tackle a few definitions such as “What is WordPress” which I have covered below but the remaining shared discussion is good food for someone that has already used WordPress for a while and gives insights about various marketing techniques and a bunch of mistakes we all tend to do that should be avoided such as excessive tags and connecting a post with to many categories leading to duplicate content. Yet alone have I been doing quite a few mistakes for years on Google+ when it comes to sharing my posts to the right circles – one to often might assume to be doing the right thing but is actually doing it wrong. Learning and listening to other experts in the industry can be such an eye opener for improving what you do.
Their discussion gave me some inspiration to also write about my experience regarding WordPress.
How did I start using WordPress?
Several years ago I followed courses where I learned the basics of HTML, CSS, PHP, photo editing etc. I then used to make my websites from scratch and coded every page in a static format, page by page. Just like Craig mentioned, I also took weeks to make a small website. I was never happy with my results…
After a while you keep on discovering new tools and programs to manage your website. I then came across the term CMS: Content Management System. The popular once out there where Typo3 and Joomla! I didn’t get well along with any of these and was disappointed in not finding a CMS I can simply install and modify the template. I sticked to making websites by self coding for another round of years. Then I came across WordPress which I used to install only for Blogs. That was all I thought WordPress can do…
Then some years later again a friend of mine told me that you can do AWESOME things with WordPress! You just install the system and you can buy or modify the templates. There are so many nice templates out there for WordPress.
I started trying this out and loved it. I found it easy! Finally I found the tool with which I can do what I wanted to do like 8-9 years ago!
It did take me a while to get the logic of WordPress and how it structure works but once you are into it. Its easy to install templates and change the menus and have the website in forms that you like. You can also run a shop on WordPress and more! I really enjoy using this system and most of my websites I only use that. I basically stopped coding and I only edit small parts of the templates. The background knowledge does help to understand how things run on WordPress.
Easier to build a website!
As mentioned in the video, WordPress makes it easy to set up a website and Saves you time! On top the code WordPress generates is very neat and easy for spiders to crawl.
Getting started with WordPress
If you have no knowledge about getting your own domain name, hosting your website at a webhoster, or having your domain at a domain registrars you might want to first try WordPress as a free blog. I would recommend you though if you are planning to post a lot of content to dig into getting your own domain name, webhoster where you host your website and be the OWNER of what you post. Having your own domain name and owning your content has value. Maybe someday you might even live off that. There will be a lot of resources on the web regarding those topics. Don’t hurry! Take your time and study these areas carefully before you get started! It’s good to choose a serious reliable webhoster. These topics would also make up for another article which I’m not going to cover in this one but feel free to throw in questions in the comments section!
Find below my notes of the recorded Google+ hangout session which covers up a bit what they spoke about and my own: Working With WordPress.
What is WordPress?
It started as a blogging platform. Offers functions such as syndicating content, easy to use interface, at the base offers various tools to make life easier to publish your content online. WordPress has become more robust over the years. It is the platform of choice for many and merges SEO, Social Media, Web 2.0, AuthorRank etc. An amazing marketing tool!
It is also a development package that was designed specifically to improve the development experience for people who were not code savy. Build a website on modules. Change templates. Concentrate more on content.
I have used various comments system. In the end I have found it better to just use the WordPress comments system and I installed the antispam plugin: Antispam Bee
You shouldn’t rely only on just one Antispam plugin when it comes to the security of your blog. From this video I also learnt what security plugins Craig and Robert are using which are mentioned below. I did once have a WordPress based website hacked but till today its unclear to me if it was due to a cheap webhoster that was being used.
Niche / Shops
You can use WordPress to make your own online shop or provide information for certain niches. To get your products more attention you should write articles around your products if you are listing products to buy. Use internal links in your texts. These were some marketing tips from the video. I find it easier to write about something I’m passionate about. I offer on my website Isla-Mauricia holiday rentals in Mauritius and since I know a lot about the island and the beach villas that I market I find it a whole lot easier to blog about Mauritius. So it might be better if you choose a niche which is also an area that you have interest and knowledge about, else you might need to get people to write for you.
Have a few of them showing on the front page and links in the footer. Shows the search engine robots that your website is active and delivers fresh content on a regular basis. Depends also on how you are setting up your website. The WordPress system allows you to run your index page that is your main page as the Blog or you can have it show a static page and you can have your blog on another page and linked in the navigation. So it really depends on how you want to setup your website. When I discovered that WordPress can do this – this was for me one of the greatest discoveries because from that point I knew that I can use WordPress to make up websites just how I want them to be structured. This is what I love about WordPress! How about you? What made the click or turnaround happen where you suddenly knew: WordPress – this is my system!?
Tags and Categories
Don’t use to many tags and categories for a post. Considering that Google+ likes to highlight 3 tags try not to use to many, better you focus on the semantics what comes closely related to your article. Like many other bloggers I have in many of my past posts used to make a lot of tags and I have also started to switch off the tags cloud as I noticed that tags where showing in Google for search related keywords instead of the main article which I want to rank.
It’s ideal to have one category only where your post should fit in.
Great must have plugins
Recommended in the video and also listed here: http://robertryan.ie/working-wordpress-hoa-review/
Yoast SEO plugin
W3 Total Cache
User Role Editor – tick the box system allowing you to edit privileges of users within WordPress
WP Slim Stat – for WordPress stats and data
Login Lock Down – Security!
Flare for social sharing
MailPoet – email list set up which is completely contained within WordPress, possibly the best WordPress mailing list plugin
MCWP – MailChimp for WordPress, a great plugin for MailChimp Integration for WordPress
WP Security – robust security plugin for WordPress
Yoast Clicky Plugin – analytics curveball, real time tracking with heatmaps, very nice service
Limit Login Attempts – Security
Sharexy – for social sharing plugin on WordPress (and yes, Sharexy has Plus One functionality).
OptinMonster – pop ups to get people to sign up to your mailing.
Here is a list of my plugins that I find great:
In Depth Articles Generator
nrelate Most Popular
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
You can either Google those plugins or find them within your Worpress website in the plugins section. There are definitely some plugins suggested by Craig and Rob that I want to try, especially security related. If your blog is still new and unknown you might want to start setting up your security now as after a while you might only realise you should have done so after your website has been cracked. It’s also good to keep some backups of your database!
What makes a good WordPress website?
How well it is structured
Good use of titles and photos
Formatting / Visual
Easy to read
Decent word count for a post?
Focus more in having a complete post instead of just focusing just on the number of words.
What makes the WordPress System so great?
There are a lot of things the WordPress system can do for you. For example: Create an
updated XML Sitemap automatically, Schema, etc.
I currently have a big website whose design was made 8 years ago. Back then we didn’t think of making a design for mobile devices. Users can access the website and zoom in but it is not optimized for mobile or doesn’t have a responsive version to adapt. With WordPress you can install themes that are responsive and work well with the mobile phone format. As mentioned in the video, it is not WordPress but the theme that you will choose that depends if it will have a mobile phone format. So keep an eye on a responsive theme!
It is only after having been recommended long ago by a friend to check the templates of http://themeforest.net/ that I started to get fully into acquiring themes, adapting and installing them on WordPress and discovering more and more the potential of WordPress. I love to spend hours on Themeforest checking out awesome designs. On top they are not extremely priced!
Get to know the Hosts and what they are upto
Craig the Teacher
CRAIG CHAMBERLIN (THE TECH TEACHER) IS CREATING TECH TUTORIALS, VLOGS, LIVE STREAMS & COMMUNITY
Quoting from the website: “I create free tech help videos that help thousands of people every single day. People like you!”
His website “A WordPress Developer, social media management and SEO guy.”
One of his projects Womens Clothes from LadyUmbrella
This where you can download WordPress
Can you share us more of your experience with WordPress? Planning to get started? Questions? Did you watch the Hoa (Hangout on Air) Working with WordPress?
Also a link to have a look at http://recode.net/2014/05/05/wordpress-parent-automattic-has-raised-160-million-now-valued-at-1-16-billion-post-money/ so says the CEO “I want WordPress to be the best publishing platform in the world, bar none, including the best interface, authoring environment and design tools.”