WordPress Guide Outline
Your WordPress Blog Guide
WordPress has become the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world, and it’s easy to see why. It’s simple, straightforward user interface alongside the huge functionality it offers with it’s themes and plugins makes WordPress the go-to choice for many starting a new blog.
It can be easy to forget however, just how intimidating it is to start a new blog. While WordPress is relatively easy to use, there can be so many different factors to think about when building a blog. Especially when themes, plugins, and settings are considered.
With that in mind, we wanted to make a simple guide showing you how you can set up, manage, and secure your WordPress blog.
Chapter 1: What is a WordPress Blog?
A bit of WordPress History.
WordPress is the CMS behind millions of websites, and forms the backbone of many of your favourite blogs.
The most powerful CMS.
At its core, WordPress is a tool that simplifies the creation, modification, and publishing of website content. WordPress allows end users to craft professional looking websites without any programming knowledge.
Building a website is more accessible than ever before – you don’t have to be a developer to get started!
Originally starting in 2003 as a tool primarily aimed at creating blogs, WordPress has since grown to accommodate any type of website.
You’ll find that thanks to the massive selection of themes and plugins available, you can use WordPress for anything imaginable.
Due to the open-source GPL licensing that WordPress uses, anyone can modify or use the software completely free of charge. Paving the way for massive amounts of customisation.
Over 35% of the websites on the internet are powered by WordPress. This includes some of the big names that you’ll undoubtedly recognize such as Microsoft, The White House, and The Rolling Stones!
WordPress is easy to install and requires very little in terms of underlying hardware. So you don’t need a whole IT department to manage your website!
It’s easy to understand why WordPress is so widely used, but it’s also easy to miss just how versatile WordPress is.
Nearly every kind of website can be run on WordPress, including (but not limited to):
- eCommerce stores
- Membership sites
- Social networks
WordPress is structured in a way that content can be easily organised in a natural manner, eliminating any of the difficult administration and management associated with running a traditional website.
How is WordPress structured?
Any WordPress website will organise all content in the same essential taxonomies:
- Posts – Posts are ideal for timely content such as news articles, press releases, and general blog posts relevant to that time period.
- Pages – Pages are generally used for static web pages to be displayed on your website such as a home page or contact us page.
- Categories – WordPress posts are organised into hierarchical categories, so that you can easily arrange each post by the topic matter
- Tags – Tags are words that you can use to group together articles; if a user clicks on a tag in an article, they’ll be shown other posts which use that tag.
Alongside this, there are another 2 essential aspects that make up a WordPress website – Themes, and Plugins.
WordPress Themes and Plugins
Themes are the design style that each WordPress website is based on. A theme defines the visual look, style, and feel of the website design. Themes are ready-made layouts you can install from the WordPress dashboard in just a few clicks, with templates and stylesheets that determine the website’s appearance and display. There are thousands of themes available, to suit any kind of website you can think of.
Plugins are the final piece of the puzzle, the stand out feature that WordPress is perhaps best known for. As the name suggests, they are pieces of software containing a group of functions which can be added to a WordPress site. Plugins typically add extra functionality and features to a website, such as contact forms, widgets, and Captchas.
Chapter 2 : How to Set Up a WordPress Blog?
Choose a WordPress Hosting Provider.
Before setting up your WordPress website, you’re going to need to choose a hosting provider.
A hosting provider is a company that controls the servers where websites are stored. When choosing a hosting provider, it’s important to make an informed decision.
If you need help choosing a hosting provider, check out our guide.
Choose the perfect Domain Name.
The other thing you need before starting a WordPress blog is a Domain Name.
Your domain name is essentially going to be what people type in their browser to get to your website. It’s your website’s address. Google.com, or auhost4u.com for example, are domain names.
Domain names can be purchased from a hosting provider, just like your hosting plan. You’ll want to spend some time deciding the right domain name for you. As it’ll be your website’s online identifier that everyone will associate with your business.
Check our guide on how to choose the perfect domain name here.
After choosing your hosting plan and domain name, you can finally move on to actually installing WordPress on your website.
Depending on your hosting provider, you may already have WordPress automatically installed on your website! If not, don’t worry it’s usually very straightforward and can be carried out in just a few clicks.
At AUHost4u we use Softaculous Apps Installer in cPanel to install WordPress. Just click on the WordPress icon in cPanel to begin installing WordPress.
Simply fill out the details required for your WordPress installation, such as the administrator password, the theme you’d like to use, and the backup schedule. And click Install Now.
Softaculous will then install WordPress on your website within a few minutes. You’ll be presented with login information for your WordPress dashboard where you can manage your WordPress site.
Now that WordPress is fully installed and configured, you can begin customizing your WordPress installation through the administration dashboard.
Choose your theme.
One of the first things you’re going to want to do is choose a better looking theme for your WordPress site. Sure, the default themes do the job, but chances are you’ll be looking for something a bit more attractive.
Themes can be downloaded right through the WordPress dashboard in a few clicks. Just go to Appearance > Themes, and you’ll be taken to the theme library. Here you can search for a theme or browse through the library. You’ll find that there are themes for nearly every type of website.
There are also a number of third party websites offering various themes which you can install manually. When downloading a third party theme, you should receive a .zip file which you can then upload through the WordPress dashboard. Just be careful not to use any dodgy websites for installing themes!
The next thing you’re probably going to want to do is install some plugins for your WordPress website. While you’ll probably find yourself adding plugins along the way, you may also need a few installed from the get-go. It entirely depends on the type of website you have.
Most plugins can be installed straight through the WordPress administration dashboard. Just go to Plugins > Add New, which will take you to the WordPress plugin library. Just like the theme library, here you can find a huge number of legitimate WordPress plugins which you can use to extend the functionality of your website.
Also, just like with themes, a number of websites will provide third party plugins which you can download and install through the WordPress dashboard. Plugins are usually in .zip archives, and can also be uploaded straight through the WordPress dashboard. We don’t need to tell you twice to be wary of third party software!
Chapter 3: How to Secure your WordPress blog?
In this day and age, WordPress exploits are becoming increasingly common with hackers being able to more easily gain access to the backend of your website. This can spell disaster, especially if you rely on your website for business!
While it is common for WordPress websites to be exploited. If you take a few straightforward steps to secure your WordPress website, you’ll be protected from most vulnerabilities.
Fear not – you don’t need to spend hours programming or messing with configuration files to secure your website!
Let’s go over some of the best ways to secure your WordPress blog and give yourself the best protection against hackers.
Keep everything updated!
Perhaps the most important thing to always remember when managing your WordPress website is that you should always keep everything updated to the latest version.
WordPress exploits are almost always only present in older versions of WordPress, where hackers have identified software vulnerabilities that usually give them a back door to the WordPress installation.
You should always keep your core WordPress installation updated to the latest version. If possible, ensure that automatic updates are enabled for your WordPress site so that you don’t forget about manually updating!
Having your WordPress website updated to the latest version means that you have the best chance of being protected against any vulnerabilities. When exploits are discovered, they are usually fixed by WordPress staff very quickly with a new update.
This rule also applies to the themes and plugins you’re using on your website. Outdated themes and plugins are the most common point of entry for hackers, especially with third party plugins that aren’t on the plugin library.
Keeping everything up to date gives you the best protection against any exploits or vulnerabilities. So make sure to always update to the latest version!
Use a Web Application Firewall (WAF)
Another great way to secure your WordPress website is to make use of a Web Application Firewall.
A WAF is a piece of software which protects your website by monitoring all web traffic. Then filtering or blocking malicious HTTP traffic based on a specific rule set. Web Application Firewalls will usually protect WordPress websites against most of the key vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection.
WAFs can usually be added to your WordPress installation in the form of a plugin. Thankfully there are many trustworthy plugins which you can choose from.
One of the best WAFs around is Wordfence. Wordfence is one of the most popular security plugins. It provides comprehensive protection against nearly any security vulnerability, exploit, or malware.
Wordfence can be installed straight through the WordPress dashboard in just a few clicks. We highly recommend installing it for any WordPress website!
Use Strong Passwords and Restrict User Roles
It’s always good practice to use strong passwords for all your user accounts. But it’s especially important with WordPress due to the abundance of brute force attacks. You should also make sure to heavily restrict access to your WordPress dashboard – for obvious reasons!
Stolen passwords make up a majority of all hacking attempts. Therefore it’s crucial that you create strong, unique passwords for all of your user accounts. This applies to logins for any control panels, FTP accounts, email accounts etc. Password generators take the hassle out of this for you by creating complex passwords at the click of a button.
Alongside this, you should also make an effort to understand the user roles and their associated permissions within the WordPress admin dashboard.
It’s good practice to never give the login details for your admin account to anyone, unless absolutely necessary. Administrator accounts have full control over the WordPress website. If these login details fall into the wrong hands, it can spell disaster for your website.
If you have a large team or you need to delegate access for certain areas of the WordPress site for someone. Then you can add the user and assign them the relevant user role. For example, someone uploading a new article would only the need the Author role, rather than the full Administrator role.
Chapter 4: How to Optimise Your WordPress Blog?
Craft the perfect blog.
In this day and age, installing WordPress and publishing a post simply isn’t enough to guarantee that you’ll reach your intended audience. Gone are the days where keyword stuffing and paid links would guarantee results.
Before publishing any content you’re going to want to make sure that you have optimized your blog for Google’s search algorithm. In other words – you need to make sure your WordPress content is SEO friendly.
This means not only adhering to good SEO practices with published content and site structure, but also configuring your WordPress website to be as well optimized as possible for Google’s algorithms.
SEO for WordPress is a huge topic in itself, so here we will just go over some of the basics you should be aware of.
Use an SEO Plugin
WordPress plugins can help take a lot of the work out of optimizing your website for SEO. Thankfully there are many effective SEO plugins available to use.
One of the most popular and well known SEO plugins available is Yoast. Yoast provides a comprehensive, all-in-one optimisation suite to help you get your content to the top of the search results.
Yoast includes many SEO features such as (but certainly not limited to): text optimisation for keywords and keyphrases, readability checks, internal linking suggestions, content insights, redirect management, and much more.
There are also a number of other SEO plugins which can help you achieve similar results, including:
Optimise your Website Content
Perhaps the most important aspect of SEO you should make sure to cover is the website content itself.
If you’re using an SEO plugin then you’ll find that it will help you with this, but you will still need to put in some work yourself!
First and foremost, always make sure to add a title and description to all of your blog posts and pages. Ensure that the title and description is relevant to the content you’re publishing. Ideally you want them to be engaging in order to draw your audience in.
You should also make an effort to choose a focus keyword. Choose a focus keyphrase, that is also relevant to the content you’re publishing. Try and naturally include this into your text, although don’t overuse keywords. This is called keyword stuffing, and will negatively affect your website’s SEO!
Optimize your Site Structure
Another important area you shouldn’t forget about when it comes to WordPress SEO is your site’s URL structure.
The default URL structure in WordPress isn’t great for SEO these days, and it’s also not the most readable format. One of the first things you should do before posting is to change the default URL structure to something more SEO friendly.
In the WordPress dashboard you can alter your URL structure by going to Settings > Permalink Settings. Select Post Name or Custom Structure. Try setting your URL structure to something clean and simple, to both avoid confusion and help with search engine rankings.
Individual post URLs can also be edited, allowing you to change the “slug” field for some SEO fine-tuning. Make sure to include your focus keywords!
Chapter 5: How to Create Your First WordPress Blog Post?
Design your first WordPress Post
Finally, you’ve setup, secured, and optimised your WordPress website. You can finally start writing your content and get publishing your blog posts!
Creating a WordPress post can be done from the WordPress dashboard. Navigate to Posts > Add New, which will then create a new blank post and open the WordPress editor.
This is where you’ll find most of your time when creating content for your WordPress website. The editor allows you to enter and arrange content for your upcoming blog post easily and efficiently.
First you’ll want to enter the title in the top area. If you’re using an SEO plugin, this can also usually be edited further down the page.
Write your post
To begin writing text, just click the prompt to add a new block, or click the + symbol at the top left and choose the text block from the available options.
You can choose from many different types of content block such as text, image, video, table, list, etc…
These blocks are what makes up your WordPress post. Blocks can be rearranged by dragging the block to the desired area, so it’s easy to organise content as you see fit.
Once you get yourself familiar with the editor, creating blog posts is very straightforward and intuitive. More advanced content can be added without much hassle, with plugins available to help facilitate any extra functionality you might require.
After you’ve finished writing your blog post, you want to check the document options before going live with your post.
Review and Categorize your post
In the document options on the left hand side you’ll see several options such as author, visibility, and enabling comments. For the most part these are self-explanatory. What you should pay attention to is the Category option, and the Tags option.
You should always make sure that your blog post is added to a relevant category – this not only helps organise your content more easily, it also helps users find the articles they’re looking for more quickly.
Tags are something that you may want to add too. While not as imperative as categories, it can further help visitors find the content they’re looking for. Tags allow you to describe very specific topics or focus areas for the blog content, compared to the broad categories option.
Chapter 6: How to Measure your WordPress Blog Post’s Performance?
How to monitor your post achievements?
So, you’ve set your WordPress blog up, and published your first post. You may be thinking to yourself – time to sit back and relax. Well, you’d be wrong!
After posting content on your WordPress blog, it’s important that you monitor the performance of your posts. How else are you going to know if your blog post has reached your intended audience, and been read by many people?
Measuring your blog’s performance can’t be done by eye, and you can’t really tell how successful your blog post is just by googling it. Additionally, WordPress won’t make you aware of how many people are seeing your post.
Unless you install a plugin or use a third-party tool, that is!
There are many, many different tools and methods of measuring your blog performance. You’ll find dozens (or hundreds!) of companies offering expensive tools or packages showing you how well your posts are doing and how you can improve.
The truth is, you don’t need to fork out lots of money for pricey analytic software. You can easily get by using one of the many free tools available!
So, let’s go over some of the best tools and metrics you can use to easily measure your WordPress website’s performance.
Tools You Can Use
- Google Analytics: The popular tool is available for free from Google and provides a comprehensive overview of all visitor data for your website. GA (Google Analytics) offers perhaps the most detailed look at every aspect of your website’s traffic – such as demographics, traffic source, time spent on page, and conversion rates.
- Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools): Another popular tool from Google, Search Console helps website administrators understand how Google reads and understands their website. This tool provides information on how your site is performing on search engines, as well as tips on how you can optimise your site.
- Ahrefs: AHRefs has become one of the most popular tools with SEO experts due to it’s advanced keyword research tools and outreach facilities. While the free tools are more limited, it can still provide you with extra knowledge you can use to further optimise your content and pursue opportunities.
Metrics To Measure
Regardless of what tool you’re using, without knowing what information to pay attention to, there’s a good chance you’ll be totally lost!
When measuring your website’s analytics, you should make sure to keep an eye on the following metrics to give you the best understanding of your website’s performance:
- Visits: As you may have guessed, this is how many visitors have arrived on your website at any given time.
- Traffic Sources: This metric will show you the different sources of your website’s traffic. A traffic source is another website, or search engine, which a visitor has clicked through to your website from. So if someone clicked on your website through a Google search, then Google would be the traffic source.
- Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of people that have navigated away from your website after viewing only one page. Bounce rate can sometimes give you a good indication of customer engagement on certain areas of your website.
- Time Spent on Site: As it sounds, this metric shows you the average time that each website visitor spent browsing your website in one session.
- Pages Per Visit: This metric shows you the average number of pages that a website visitor views on your website before leaving. Metrics like this can help you understand which pages need improvements, to increase engagement.
- Backlinks: Backlinks is one of the most important metrics to keep an eye on. This metric shows you exactly how many websites and webpages link back to your website or webpage. Most SEO strategies focus on building links, because having more backlinks will greatly improve your SEO performance and allow more people to find your website easily.
- Social Media Shares: Social media shares represents the number of times your website content has been shared by someone across any social media platform such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This is another great metric for understanding engagement with your content.
To conclude this guide.
WordPress has never been easier to setup, manage, and optimise. Remaining the most popular platform in the world for hosting nearly any kind of website, it’s easy to see why millions of people use WordPress every day.
At AUHost4u we aim to make the job of setting up your first WordPress website as simple as possible. Our WordPress hosting plans offer unparalleled performance, security, and availability – at affordable prices.
Our helpful team is always at hand to help with any issues or queries you may have. Contact us at any time via live chat, our support portal, or telephone.