About Being Successful with WordPress
To succeed with a WordPress hosted website, you have to get quite a number of fundamentals right. This article highlights the key requirements for developing and hosting a WordPress website to make sure that you achieve success.
As with anything, being successful with WordPress hosting isn’t an overnight process. Specifically, you’ll need to be patient as some of the things that need to be done takes time. Thus expect a fair amount of investment in time. Building a great site can take anywhere from 10 to 100+ hours, depending on the complexity or amount of content. Additionally “waiting” for your site to rank in Google may take weeks or even months.
The beauty and power of WordPress however is numerous, for example the fact that the core product is free. WordPress has an amazing ecosystem which makes it very rich. Out of the box WordPress is very basic, which that means you’ll have to extend it to get the full functionality.
We’re breaking up successful WordPress hosting into these sections:
The Site Design / Theme / Template
Probably the most important decision you’ll be taking is what theme to use. There are tens of thousands of WordPress themes out there and the theme will be part of your website for very long time. Think of the theme and home page as the customer’s very first impression. If you fail to impress at this point you stand very little chance. Having a great home page and theme isn’t only critical, but once you start doing paid-for-advertising, it could mean the difference between conversion and a waste of money.
Just because a template looks fantastic from the outside doesn’t mean it’s going to be comfortable to be working with on the inside. The ideal situation is that you want to be able to install and or thoroughly test a theme before you commit to it.
The architecture of WordPress allows you to change the theme after you’ve installed it. So although it’s possible to change theme, once you have committed it’s not always practical without a ton of work. Re-learning all the workflows, menus, and CSS tricks will slow you down if you have to change.
If you plan on getting the services of a web or graphics designer, it’s also going to be important share with them which theme you plan on using. Some designers might have a preference and by all means try to go with their suggestion as they might end up doing most of the non-content related work.
Our favourite themes are the following:
Still not sure which theme to get? Try this trick. Google “x versus y”, e.g. google “enfold versus avada”. Your results will include review sites and communities comparing themes which may help you in choosing the correct one for your website. Not all themes were made for all sites. For example, a theme made for a software company might not be the same as a theme made for classifieds. Some of the best themes cater for multiple scenarios. By reading reviews you’ll be able to narrow down your requirements. So spend as much time as possible in evaluating what is the right theme for you.
Should I be Using a Free Theme?
As there are free versus paid themes, the question here not if it’s free, but rather how many resources you are willing to commit to building a website. Always remember:
TIME = MONEY
Rates for professional design can vary from R200 to R950 per hour, so take that into consideration. Decide or work out what your time is worth. If you’re unsure how to work it out, take the last paying job you had, divide it by 22.5 working days in the month, and then by 8 hours of possible work. So say your last paying job was R30000 per month. That’s means you’re spending about R166 per hour working on your site. If you spend two hours looking for a free template, you’ve spent about R320. If you take another 6 hours to fiddle with it and get it working, you’ve spent another R 1000. So now your talley is now over R1320. If you have loads of time, go for it. If you want to save yourself loads of time, rather look for a paid-for theme than a free one. The best templates have a free tier and then if you pay you get enhanced functionality or support.
Pro tip: To find only paid-for themes, google ‘premium wordpress theme’ instead of just ‘wordpress theme’.
Should I be paying for other WordPress stuff?
The WordPress Ecosystem is huge, so there is a lot of free stuff. It’s also very competitive. Many people make their money by offering something free, and then having another tier that is paid for. This seems to be the standard model.
But there is a point here that really there is no such thing as free. Someone or a team of people spent a huge amount of time, effort, and resources on figuring something out, and then how to build it. Developers won’t keep on doing it if they are not rewarded.
So by all means, get the free stuff. But one day when you need it, and you are looking for support, and you don’t have it, you might be sorry. Support for what you’re using could mean the difference between 1 hour and 3 days of waiting, lots of frustration, versus almost none. You can’t google yourself to death every time there is an issue. Also, try and give back to the businesses that give you something free.
Content and SEO
Not everyone is a wordsmith. Not everyone is a copywriter. Yet content is going to be one of the most important things you produce for your new digital business venture. Solicit help where needed. Do not copy / paste, Google has a way of figuring out it’s duplicated content and will penalise you if that’s the case. Create rich and relevant content. SPELL CHECK. Grammar check. Check with your friends, spouse, colleagues etc. before you publish. Get into the habit of creating high quality content, always.
SEO and content is closely related, because, the most important item for your digital business is relevant content. It sounds obvious, because it is. Here is a pro list of the key requirements for great SEO:
- Great professional high quality content
- Great page titles
- Fantastic URL structure
- Beautiful imagery and photos. Alt tags
- A well put together website that is good on the eye. Colours that match
- Intuitive, simple and easy to understand navigation
Remember that if you start renaming or moving pages Google wants to know about it by way of a 301 redirect. Google and other search doesn’t like if you just move stuff around without telling them where to find it the next time. To help with moving stuff around, Yoast SEO Premium has such a tool, or you can use this free alternative.
Analyse your Metrics
Analyse your metrics by asking yourself questions. So you’ve created the perfect website? Now it’s time to start analysing. Are you getting hits? Where are you getting hits from? Is your SEO working?
The tools you might use to measure analytics is Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Ads Manager in case you are doing paid for advertisements. There are other tools as well, but the Google ones are pretty standard and should be used. We have more tips below for using social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Choose a great WordPress Host
Once you have finalised your site you will have to host it. A reliable host is key to your success. Do they offer backups? Do they have friendly responsive technical support? Are their servers fast? Do they have experience in WordPress Hosting?
Summary of What is Needed to get Up and Running
The list here under is quite exhaustive, so work with the principle of KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. Instead of going all out, do the minimum that you can build on. Remember, it’s easier to add in small parts and build up, then it is to break down and start again. Sure, option 2 is possible, but you will spend a lot more time. Building in the digital world is somewhat the same as the brick-and-mortar world – start small with the basic building blocks, and then take it from there.
- Get a great WordPress Host
- Install WordPress
- Google ‘wordpress theme’ or even better ‘wordpress premium themes’
- Try out the theme, or ask your designer to try it out
- Install the theme
- Figure out what your business is all about and brainstorm
- Make shortlists of keywords
- ‘Best soap in New York’
- ‘Finest wines in France’
- ‘How to become a rock star’
- Make shortlists of keywords
- Start producing content or collect high quality content
- Make sure your page titles are 100%
- Make sure you’re URL structures are 100%
- Add high quality photos and imagery
- Activate Google Analytics
- Install Yoast
- Link Google Search Console to your website
- Create your Facebook page
- If your business has photos or other imagery, create an Instagram page
- If you have a personality that lends itself to ‘broadcasting’ what you’re doing, set up Twitter and start tweeting
You have now laid the foundation for your new Digital Business. In our experience, if you spend about 20 hours a week, you can get the above done in about 80 hours, depending on the content and complexity of your business. Remember our basic math just now? At R166 per hour of your own time you’re looking at around R14K for your digital asset, and about a month’s worth of time. If you’re using a professional developer you’re looking at maybe 5 times that amount. Don’t scoff at the amount. Surely the aim is to make money. Imagine you’re building a shop. Are you going to build a shop on the high street, or in the back alley? Are you going to put in good fittings, or will everything be done cheaply? Do you think your prospective customers will notice?
Also remember to do SEO. Building a website on the internet without taking SEO into consideration would be the same as building a business in the middle of the Sahara without any signage. People just ain’t gonna find it.
Ongoing maintenance for your new business
The internet is big, and very few businesses don’t have competitors. Information and technology are not static, so you’ll have to keep it up. Here are some ideas to keep your business fresh:
Keep on producing content. Google is going to love your website if you produce constant fresh content around your core offering. Selling drill bits? Another great article or reference on how to work with Drill Bits will keep your site new and Google happy. Rankings change on a daily basis, so be prepared to sit it out to see what results you are getting. But don’t just wait! Keep on producing content so that the world (and Google) can see that you are an expert in your domain and that you care by building more relevant content.
Actively market your Facebook. The secret with Facebook business, in case you don’t know, is that none of your business page activities will get any traction unless you pay. The inverse is true with personal pages – one nice post with a photo and all your friends know about it. Not so with Facebook Business pages.
With Facebook Business pages it’s all about using their paid-for advertisement system to get the word out. We’re not talking big bucks here – start small to get to know the ropes first. Once you get the hang of their advertising manager and start getting traction, refine your targets and up the amount.
What amount to start off with? We’ve found that you can literally start off with the absolute minimum and build it up from there. As Storm always says, get your skin in the game first.
Should you get some traction with Facebook, reach out to your audience. Always respond to requests and comments timeously. Great and fast communication in business is an absolute must. Did I say spell and grammar check already?
Instagram. If you have a product or service that is rich in visual imagery, post on Instagram. Reach out to other Instagram users and especially influencers. The single most important thing with Instagram is extremely high quality photos. If anyone comments on your page, be sure to respond just like you’re doing on Facebook. Instagram is fantastic because you’re not limited to your friends (and their friends) like you are on Facebook. We love Facebook but if you prefer random, give Instagram a go.
Twitter. If you have a broadcasting type of personality, tweet regularly. Tweet as much as you can, but make sure it’s quality tweets.
Golden tip: Wait 5 minutes before you tweet something so that you don’t regret it afterwards.
Social media marketing takes discipline. Try to get a routine going. The best tweeters have figured out how to constantly keep it up and by doing so they keep their audiences interested.
My brother and I have been hosting and designing websites for over 20 years. We’ve advised 100s of companies on how to achieve success. We’ve lived through the dot-com boom-bust, the rise of Google. We started with Joomla, became experts at Drupal, and now it’s all about WordPress. We’ve seen how websites and technology changes all the time.
We would love to help you achieve success in your next WordPress Website adventure.
Our exceptional hosting platform is based on our 20+ years of experience building and hosting websites. Our WordPress Hosting package is exceptionally competitively priced and backed up by a super fast network and amazing support. To round it all off, we offer a 30 day money back guarantee on all hosting packages.