As a business, being online should be a major component in your marketing toolset.
You can just go the cheap and easy way, or you can spend an absolute fortune, but the ultimate outcome is to be better than the competition.
This cheat-sheet will hopefully give you the advantage to getting yourself online, with a presence to be proud of that wins you more sales.
Read and act on the below and, if you’re stuck, need help or advice, of course, do not hesitate to get in touch.
Setting the foundations – domain name and hosting
Getting the right domain name and hosting is imperative in laying the foundations.
Using a crazy long, difficult to spell domain name on cheap hosting will be as useful as shutting up shop and going home.
Choose your domain name wisely ensuring it accurately reflects your brand identity, look for relevant alternatives and, if the main .com is already taken, maybe consider approaching the registrant to see if they will sell.
Naturally we have more tips on buying domain names.
Choosing a reliable host is excellent.
Your job is to run your business, not sit on the phone for hours on end trying to get your website back online because, once again, it’s been hacked.
We recommend using Siteground simply because they know what they are doing, have superb customer support and we’ve been using them for years.
Start the engines
There are various options to building a website, but, we always recommend WordPress due to its global reach, massive user base and ease of use.
Where WordPress on your own host is concerned, there are 2 options.
WordPress dot ORG is the self-hosted solution that you will be using.
Once your hosting account is set up, you can either download WordPress from the main wordpress.org website and install it yourself or you can use your hosts 1-click install.
Setting up a secure, SEO friendly and productive website can take some time but, here are a few crucial steps that should be undertaken immediately.
Log into your admin area and …
1, Set permalinks correctly.
Using WordPress allows you to have URLs that are relevant – much better to have mysite.com/contact than mysite.com/?id-234 etc.
To set permalinks, go to:
Settings > Permalinks and change accordingly.
2, De-uncategorised yourself.
By default the first post category is labelled ‘uncategorized’.
This looks rubbish and doesn’t help anyone when searching through your articles or blog posts of a specific category.
Rename it something more relevant, by clicking its title and editing.
3, Sort your plugins
Although WordPress can run totally plugin free from the off, there are a few issues we feel are necessary as a minimum.
Naturally the less plugins you use the better, but, this depends on what functions you need and how well built each plugin is.
If you buy a premium theme sometimes they recommend or insist you install certain plugins but, below is just our recommendations.
First off, remove the default plugins – Akismet and Hello Dolly.
Akismet is a paid for spam plugin and Hello Dolly is just a pointless vanity plugin pre-installed for no apparent reason.
Once you’ve cleaned these out, then I recommend the following:
– WordFence – for security
– Gravity Forms – user friendly form generation
– WPRocket – Super fast your website
– SEO Framework – Adds SEO options sitewide
Of course, there are nearly 55,000 WordPress plugins, you’ll not need all of them, depending on what you want to achieve.
4, Does my site look big in this?
By default WordPress comes with a free theme – the theme is what your visitors see when viewing your website in a browser. The free theme is OK, but not original.
The best option is to get an agency in to build you a bespoke WordPress theme, but, if you’re just starting out or are short on funds you can either try and build your own, download a free theme or buy a premium theme from places like ThemeForest.
Whatever you choose never buy from anywhere other than a legitimate vendor – like ThemeForest and, if you are looking for a free theme, always go to the WordPress repository.
In fact WordPress makes this very easy for you, as it’s built-in to the Admin area.
5, Delete the default post and pages
Once installed WordPress creates generic posts and pages.
Check them out to see how you can edit them then delete.
Google ‘sample page’ to see why!
5a, Add your own
Now you’re ready, with a clean website all ready to start building so, crack on and add your required posts and pages.
What’s the difference? Well, simply put, a post is constantly changing content, for example a blog post or an article, whereas a page is more for static content – About us, Contact us etc.
Now you’ve got the basics in place, it’s time to run through a few pre-launch requirements.
6, Content is king, don’t dethrone it
Get a few friends/ colleagues/ staff members to trawl through the website checking for spelling/ grammar mistakes. There’s nothing worse than trying to look professional when you’ve spilled wrong over the all palace.
If you’ve used images or videos make sure the license is 100% watertight. Don’t just grab something ‘off the internet’ and hope for the best as you will find a massive copyright bill landing in your inbox pretty sharpish.
Make sure you’ve included a way for users to contact you – address, email, contact form etc. Also, include things like company registration details, VAT number etc.
Test those contact details – do the forms send information to the right place? Does your phone number work when accessed on a mobile phone?
7, Tell everyone, then tell them again
You’ve spent a fair whack of your marketing time/ budget on getting your online presence right so now get out there and tell everyone. A few years ago it was a case of ‘build it and they’ll come’, now it’s a case of ‘build it and tell everyone to come’.
So, these are the very basics to getting started with a WordPress based website.
There’s another host of stuff you can and need to be doing going forward but, hopefully with the tips above you’ll at least be able to get you on the road to giving your online competition sleepless nights.
Of course, if you need further help, advice or guidance get in touch with Point and Stare today.