Setting up a WordPress blog is a relatively straightforward task, but as with getting anything right, the devil is usually in the details. Here are 5 things you probably hadn’t considered when setting up your first WordPress blog. Learn from them, so next time you start a new blog, you’ll know better.
Security Is Key
WordPress is one of the top 3 CMS systems in the world, with around 50% of all websites using it. This means it represents a big target for hackers. As there are a such a huge number of websites using it, there are a huge number of targets for intrusion. Even if you believe your website may not be a suitable target for invasion, hackers can often be indiscriminate in who they target, or target websites with vulnerabilities in bulk using automated tools.
The default WP installation is not secure precisely because so many websites use it, and therefore it’s easy to crack. One quick win you can take advantage of right away to beef up your WP security, is to name your ‘admin’ username something other than ‘admin’. This will add a simple layer of security right away to prevent brute force attacks on your site.
Other steps you should take include installing security plugins like WordFence and WP Login Limit Attempts, consider using two step authentication, and ensuring that all plugins and WordPress themes are either up to date or deleted from your site.
Building Your Audience Via Email
Social media has had the most hype for years now. There’s a huge amount of content on using social media to grow your business and audience, however what this content fails to mention is that email is still king.
Unlike on Facebook where only a tiny percentage of users will actually see your content (due to continued changes and evolution of Facebook’s Edgerank and content algorithms), email continues to boast strong delivery and open rates. Not only this, but it’s hugely measurable if you use tools like Mailchimp. Social media platforms like Facebook continue to become harder to actually reach the people who want to hear from you, as they focus on making page owners pay for almost any kind of engagement.
Email also has the huge added benefit of empowering you to continuously reach your audience with fresh content. There’s no guarantee your Facebook content will ‘reach’ your entire audience or even portions of it. With email, you can measure how many people you reach per email, how many open the email and the actions they take within the email if you have configured your tracking correctly.
WordPress Themes Can Have A Big Impact On SEO
WordPress themes are fantastic for people with no coding ability, as they empower them to customise the look and feel of their site via the CMS system and preset options built into the theme.
However, your WordPress theme can also have a big impact on your SEO and visibility within search engines. Choosing the right theme is critical, it’s no good having a decent looking site if the theme has been created by a web developer with no sound understanding of SEO. Some themes are coded by web developers who don’t take basic SEO factors into consideration for example not tagging page this can really harm your ability to appear organically in search results.
Make sure you educate yourself on the basics of SEO and do your theme research accordingly.
Themes Can Be Very Hard To Customise
Many themes come with built in WYSIWYG page builders that allow their users to create page templates using simple blocks of content and formatting. The problem with this is that it can be a very fiddly and time consuming process, and in fact generally does require a basic knowledge of coding to make the site look good.
Most theme developer produce demo sites to showcase the capability of their theme. Usually the themes have been specifically designed to look like this, which makes customising the theme difficult. Often the options to get your site looking how you want are not there. There are two lessons to be learnt here:
- If you want to save money and have a cursory understanding of web development – pick a theme that has a demo site you love, download and import the demo site and fit your content around it exactly.
- If you want anything custom, it’s easier to direct a web developer than mess around with page builders.
Plugin Updates Are Essential For Security, But Can Break Stuff
You need to keep your plugins updated regularly to prevent security loopholes in your site. However, these updates can often alter the code of the site in such a way that it causes something else to break.
For example, a client of ours recently updated a plugin causing an email opt in form to display incorrectly, this was due to a conflict in the code of the two plugins. We were happy to resolve this issue, but the point here is that you need to make sure you test and review your site following any big updates or if you update plugins that haven’t been updated for some time.