WordPress is by far the world’s most popular content management system (CMS). That’s in large part due to how easy it makes it for non-techie users to build a website on their own. With thousands of creative WordPress themes and plugins to choose from, it seems all so simple. However, creating a WordPress website is one thing—building a successful site is entirely another.
So before you consider your WordPress site as ready for launch, you must ascertain that it has all the key ingredients needed to make it a success. Here’s a look at these elements.
1. Reliable Hosting
If you are just creating a free WordPress blog, then hosting is not something you will need to think about as your blog will be hosted on WordPress. However, if you are building a fully-fledged website, your choice of hosting provider and plan can make or break your site.
A web host is like an Internet landlord and gives you the virtual location you need to run your business. If your hosting provider is unreliable, experiences frequent downtime, throttles traffic to your site without warning and doesn’t provide real-time support, your website will be doomed from the get-go.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
There are tens, hundreds or perhaps thousands of sites already on the world wide web serving the same or a similar purpose as yours. In this sea of competition, it’s easy for your voice to be drowned out no matter how good your product might be.
Most traffic to your site will originate from search engines (Google Search primarily). It’s therefore important that your web pages have high visibility on search engines. They should appear among the first set of results when someone searches for a given keyword on Google. SEO helps you do that.
SEO techniques range from making sure your web pages are optimized for the target keywords to having links from authority sites link back to your site. You can use WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO to check that the content on your site has all the right attributes that search engines look for to rank a page highly.
3. Analytics Tools
You cannot manage what you cannot measure. You could do everything right and by the book but how do you determine whether your efforts are delivering the desired results? Analytics tools are your answer.
They let you see the different aspects of visitor behavior including the sites they come from, the keywords they used, what pages they spend the most time on and what proportion of visitors follow through on your call to action. Among website analytics tools, Google Analytics is unrivaled. It’s not only free but, more importantly, it benefits from the enormous reach and data of search behemoth Google.
4. Mobile Friendly
It’s crucial that your WordPress website look great when viewed on a laptop or desktop computer. That, however, is no longer enough, thanks to the astonishing growth in smartphone use. You must ensure your site is as readable on mobile screens as it is on a desktop computer.
In 2016, mobile Internet users overtook desktop users for the first time. In addition, Google’s search algorithm considers responsive design as a factor in determining search results ranking. All other factors constant, the more responsive a website is, the higher it will appear on the search results.
It’s fairly easy to create a responsive WordPress website whose layout adjusts to conform to the size of the screen. Nevertheless, you have to test out your site on different screens just to be sure since certain WordPress plugins and themes may not be built with mobile use in mind.
While there’s no fixed or universally agreed rule on the format of a web page, certain designs have been widely adopted over the years. For example, if you are looking for the Contact Us form or details on a website, you’ll instinctively check the top right corner of the page. And if you want to return to the Home page, you’ll look at the leftmost menu item.
Nothing prevents you from switching the positions of the Home and Contact Us menus. However, doing so will only make it unnecessarily difficult for visitors to navigate your WordPress site. So while you don’t want your website to be indistinguishable from those of your competitors, you shouldn’t make it so unique that it leaves visitors confused.
6. Social Media Integration
According to SimilarWeb, 3 of the top 6 most popular websites in the world as in April 2019 were social networking sites. A quick look at the most downloaded apps on Google Play also shows social media dominating the top ranks (it isn’t too different over at the iOS App Store).
But perhaps most telling is the amount of time people spend on social media sites per day. That alone should be reason enough for WordPress website owners to ensure they are building sites that are well integrated with social media. Your social media accounts can be an invaluable and low-cost source of visitor traffic.
7. Shopping Carts and Payment Channels
If you intend to sell one or more items on your WordPress website, then you must have a reliable, navigable, secure and user-friendly shopping cart. This includes the ability to accept payment via the most popular online payment platforms like PayPal.
Given WordPress’ popularity, most e-commerce platforms integrate well with it and setting up a shopping cart doesn’t require too much time and effort.
No WordPress website is absolutely guaranteed success. However, by paying attention to the above elements, you can greatly increase the odds of your site realizing its objectives.