1. Choose The Right Platform
Before you can start using WordPress for your blog and business, you need to decide on whether you want to host your WordPress site yourself or whether you want to use WordPress.com.
Unfortunately not all blog posts on WordPress tips are clear about this, but please host your WordPress site yourself!
Yes, hosting your site with WordPress.com is free. But you’ll very soon experience limitations in the usability.
You’ll pay for good looking premium themes just as you would when you host WordPress yourself. The same is true for plugins.
Most WordPress tips also don’t mention the scalability of your site in the future.
What if you decide that you need a custom developed plugin to grow your business? You better host your WordPress site yourself in order to use custom plugins!
Here's a list of the plugins I'm using on this blog (just for inspiration):
And you don’t want to move your site when you already have traffic on it, it’s a pain.
Baseline: choose a high quality web host like Cloudways and go with the cheapest plan in the beginning. If you’re not willing to spend $5 per month for high quality hosting, how serious are you about building an online business?
You can always scale your web hosting account, but you’ll have a hard time moving your site away from WordPress.com.
2. Know Your Audience
This isn’t a true WordPress tip, yet it sets the foundation for EVERYTHING you do with your WordPress site.
You want to know as much about your readers and potential customers as possible so that you can build a WordPress site they love.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Who is regularly visiting and commenting on your blog? If you don’t have readers, who would you love to read your site
- What challenges do your readers regularly face?
- How can you make life easier for your audience?
- What’s their demographics and interests?
- How do people in your audience feel before coming to your site, and how do you want them to feel when leaving your site?
Please see these questions only as starting point. Get in touch with your audience, and create a customer avatar.
This knowledge is the foundation for all the important decisions related to your WordPress site:
- What theme should I use? (Hint: your audience needs to like it)
- What topics should I write about? (Hint: they should make the lives of your readers better)
- What products can I sell on my WordPress site? (Hint: make them about your target audience!)
- and so on.
I think you get the idea, knowing who you are building your WordPress site for is one of the most important tips you can get.
My personal preference is to take a few pieces of paper and a pen. I then go to a quiet place and jot down all information about my audience that come to my mind.
3. Create a branding concept
This WordPress tip again is bigger than just WordPress. Building a brand is crucial to experience success in any form, because your brand decides whether your business resonates with your audience or not.
To convey your branding concept, you need to remember the insights from point 2 in this list of WordPress tips, the details about your audience.
Your brand defines:
- The colors, fonts, and imagery you can use on your WordPress site.
- The tagline that clearly states what you do for your audience.
- Which hooks you can use to catch the attention of your audience.
- How people talk about you, when you’re not in the room (original quote from Jeff Bezos)
This quote sums it up:
Too many companies want their brand to reflect some idealized, perfect image of themselves. As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character. Sir Richard Branson.
This post on branding will help you get started with developing your brand.
4. Create a content plan
Oh boy, I can’t even count how often I created a content plan for my blog and then fell off the wagon.
You might already know that creating content consistently is important to rank high and to build a strong relationship with your audience.
But what if you have nothing to say?
Let me share the results of not having a content plan:
For the first months in business, I blogged twice a week. It wasn’t the best content, yet it was authentic and my readers liked it.
My traffic grew to 150+ unique visitors a day within months, before switching my domain from mygreatonlinebusiness.com to jkoch.me it even was at around 350 uniques a day.
But I fell off the wagon and didn’t publish as regularly. In some periods I didn’t publish for two months.
Now my traffic is down to 50 - unique visitors a day. Bummer!
It’ll be a lot of work to get the traffic back up. There’s a reason why so many WordPress tips include having a content plan!
Don’t know how to create a content plan? No worries, this post explains how I created mine.
5. Choose a theme that fits your brand
WordPress gives you the flexibility to choose between countless themes, free and premium ones.
I do believe that too many WordPress users obsess with themes when it’s not necessary.
Are you starting out?
The best WordPress tip related to themes is to pick a professional looking one and get started with content creation!
Want to be more serious about themes? Here are some tips to choose the right ones:
- Make sure the theme is responsive and presents the most important contents prominently.
- Select a theme that makes it easy to customize layouts, colors, and fonts.
- Test the theme support and monitor their response times. Check what others say about the theme and its vendor.
- Go with popular themes in the beginning. Choose what’s already working and customize it later.
- Make sure your contents are the main focus of your blog. Images kill conversions (quote from Oli Gardner from Unbounce).
6. Update the standard site title & tagline
This is one of the basic WordPress tips in this post, yet it sometimes is too obvious to notice.
If you haven’t already, go to “Settings” -> “General” and update your site title and tagline.
You don’t want your tagline to say “another WordPress blog”, do you?
Change those items to fit your brand statement.
7. Add your own favicon
A favicon is the small icon that loads in the title bar of the browser. On this page you see a blue square with my logo in it.
If you don’t upload your favicon, some web hosts will place their logo in the title bar of YOUR page.
I don’t want my page to display the logo of my web host, do you?
Here's a free tool you can use to create your favicon: favicon-generator.org
And installing a favicon on your site is pretty easy using this plugin: All in One Favicon
8. Install an SEO plugin
I would say that 99% of all WordPress users aim to get organic traffic from search engines (read: Google).
On-site SEO is very important to get that free traffic, and luckily there’s an amazing WordPress plugin called WordPress SEO by YoaST.
I use that plugin on all of my websites because it’s that powerful.
The YoaST SEO plugin is one of the most powerful WordPress tips I can give because it:
- Lets you define all the metadata that’s important for Google
- Helps you optimize your content for certain keywords
- Makes configuring Open Graph data for social shares incredibly easy
Also, I highly recommend reading their blog to stay updated on SEO news and strategies.
I can’t think of many plugins that are more important than YoaST.
Only the plugins I’m about to share with you are at least as important as WordPress SEO by YoaST.
9. Install a caching plugin
A caching plugin speeds up your website by avoiding database requests when a user comes to your site.
Yes, this is a bit technical, but luckily there are good WordPress plugins that do the job for you.
My personal favorite is W3 Total Cache (click on the graphic to open a great tutorial by WP Beginner).
I bet that at least 30% of all WordPress tips you came across were related to loading speed, and that is for a good reason.
In our distracted age of smartphones everywhere, we’re less passionate when websites take a long time to load.
When was the last time you waited more than 5 seconds for a website to load? You probably don’t even wait 3-4 seconds.
I certainly don’t.
Your web host is a really important factor influencing your loading speed (another reason I recommend Cloudways!), images on your site also affect the loading speed.
And caching does help as well.
My tip for now is to bookmark this post, download and install W3 Total Cache, configure it accordingly to the tutorial I linked to above, and then come back to this post to read the next 32 WordPress tips.
10. Install a backup plugin
Are you back from installing W3 Total Cache?
Great, let’s talk about data-loss:
How would you feel if your WordPress site stopped working over night and all your blog posts were gone?
I can’t tell how you’d feel, but I’d be devastated to lose 100+ posts. You probably don’t have that many yet, but you will have over time (if you follow the content plan from tip 4).
That’s why I install BackWPup Free on most of my sites (despite for this blog, which is backed up by WP Engine automatically).
I recorded a tutorial for you on automating WordPress backups using BackWPup Free:
I also recorded a video on restoring a backup made with BackWPup Free:
If you can pay attention to only one WordPress tip in this post, focus on this one!
11. Install a security plugin
Do you think your WordPress site is too small to get hacked?
Then you’re sadly a member of the majority that is deadly wrong.
WordPress is the perfect target for hackers because almost 25% of all (!) websites use it.
That’s why most hacks are completely automated these days.
Bots and scripts analyze your website, and once they find a security issue, they’ll hack it.
Installing tools like WordFence can help to protect your site.
It protects your login form (yourdomain.com/wp-login.php), it monitors file changes, it blocks certain traffic, and it can enable two-factor authentication.
It’s Falcon Engine also serves as a caching service, but since I didn’t test it yet I don’t have any thoughts on it (other than what their marketing wants me to think).
12. Install A Content Creation Plugin
Remember #4 in this list, *create a content plan*?
Again, I can’t emphasize enough how important having a content plan is.
I use Evernote to keep track of all ideas for my blog posts, and inside WordPress I use Editorial Calendar to manage and schedule my posts.
It presents the posts in a nice calendar view, which makes it ridiculously easy to stay on top of my schedule.
Now I just need to stick to that schedule and to write all the posts 😉
13. Create Content Upfront
Speaking of content creation, this WordPress tip probably is a bit off topic again - yet it’s important.
Create your content before you need to publish it!
My personal tip:
Have at least two weeks of content ready to be published automatically.
Inside WordPress you can schedule posts, which then go live to the specified day and time - rather than publishing them directly.
This gives you more freedom and flexibility in thinking about the bigger vision for your WordPress site and online business.
Pro tip: I use a distraction-free writing tool called iA Writer Pro for content creation. On Windows you can use similar tools like WriteMonkey.
Here’s a great post about efficient blogging workflows.
14. Connect social media to your blog
Social media marketing was one of the biggest drivers of attendees for my WP Summit.
I started conversations about the interviews and had the speakers share the links to the event.
WordPress offers some great ways to integrate social media into your blog.
First off all, make sure to edit the Open Graph data, which is described in #8 of this tips list.
The next step is to have social sharing tools on your WordPress blog.
I prefer Flare by Filament because it looks great and is incredibly easy to use (and because I’m friends with the product director at digital-telepathy).
Flare can be placed in several locations on your website, and its design can be fully adapted to your branding.
Another great social sharing tool is Floating Social Bar.
Find out which tool you like most and then go with it, getting social shares can be a game changer when your content goes viral.
15. Create useful (info-) graphics
You might wonder how this WordPress tip fits into this post as I just ditched featured images on my blog.
The thing is:
I don’t believe featured images are useful.
At least in my old design they didn’t contribute to the content.
Yes, on some blogs they really look amazing. But they also take up space and distract from your content.
Infographics and images inside posts however are mandatory. Images help your readers to take a break while reading long posts.
This one is at 2,4k words already and I’m not even halfway through.
I’ll add another image here for your eyes to rest.
Infographics have a slightly different purpose. They can drive massive amounts of traffic because people LOVE to share infographics.
You need to make it easy for others to embed the graphic in their website because doing so makes them look smart.
And we all want to look smart, right?
Here’s a great tool that will get you started with creating infographics: PiktoChart.
16. Build relationships with other bloggers.
Some of the WordPress tips in this post are technical, other tips are highly social.
Like this one:
You can’t win in building online businesses if you’re doing it on your own.
The markets are so crowded these days that you need to build relationships with other bloggers, editors on bigger blogs and influencers.
Have them understand your mission and help you spread the word. You might build a relationship with them on Twitter, on their blogs, and by contributing to their conversations.
That’s exactly how I got featured on SEMrush, I built a relationship with one of their editors during their #SEMrushchat on Twitter.
17. Automate your social media (to a certain degree)
Having social media automated had a very bad image in the past. You aren’t truly social if you use tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, or Edgar.
Or are you?
My take on this is that automating social media to a certain degree is perfectly fine, as long as you respond to comments yourself and also share some status updates yourself.
I need to get better about this myself. Currently I’m just adding contents to my social media tools every other day.
What contents should you share?
Quotes, contents from other people, personal stories, and obviously your blog contents.
You need to have a good mix in your social contents to build an audience.
Social Media expert Francesca Alexander shared amazing Twitter strategies during her WP Summit interview; you might want to get your All Access Pass to see it.
18. Build a Facebook group around your topic
This is a strategy I learned from Mark Bowness during our interview for the WP Summit.
He grew a Facebook group from 0 - 5000 members within 12 months and sold $150k worth of products to that group.
Obviously he needs to deliver a lot of value to the group members for free and to make his products super helpful too.
But I see this working for myself.
I started building the Facebook group: I USE WORDPRESS
I’m growing it slowly to not raise any flags for WordPress, but I can already see an amazing community forming in it.
This tip again is not directly related to WordPress, but building a raving Facebook group has several benefits for your business:
- You already have an audience that’s waiting for your products
- You steadily get social traffic when you share your posts to it
- You position yourself as authority in this group
- You get in touch with your audience closely, which helps you identify their pain points
19. Start building a list from day 1
List building is one of the most common WordPress tips you come across over and over again.
And for a reason:
I totally neglected building my list until 1.5 years into running my blog.
I launched the WP Summit with a list of ~180 subscribers.
And the summit grew it by 600%. Now I’m focusing on list building way more, and it became a major item in the new website redesign process.
Here’s a post on how to start building your list.
As for the mailing list provider, please don’t get caught up in the selection process.
Aweber and Mailchimp aren’t that different when looking at the functionality, but their design and usability is different.
Choose the mailing list provider that feels comfortable to you and go with it!
20. Use landing page tools
Building landing pages in WordPress is important to build your list, to sell digital products, or to promote an event.
There are countless WordPress themes allowing you to build a landing page with ease; my good friend and designer Heidi reviewed a few of them.
You’ll want to have landing pages for:
- your optin forms to build your list
- any guest post or podcast interview, so that you can drive traffic from the post/interview to that landing page
- your sales funnel
You can also build landing pages outside WordPress, which in some cases even might be easier than using a theme.
These are my favorite tools for building landing pages:
The WP Summit interview with Tim Paige from LeadPages is one of the three interviews I give away for free. Click here to get it.
When you’re just starting out using WordPress, see this tip as a guideline for the future when you release your first product.
For now, set up a landing page to collect email addresses and build your list!
21. Use split-testing tools
Split-testing is an advanced WordPress tip, yet it can yield massive results.
It means that you have two versions of the same website. 50% of your visitors see version A, 50% see version B. (That’s why it’s also called A/B testing).
The idea behind split-testing is to find out which website converts better in terms of optins, sales, or whatever metric you’re tracking.
The tools I shared above in WordPress tip #20 all have split-testing embedded.
Here are some pages you might want to split-test:
- Landing pages
- Pages inside automated funnels
- High-traffic pages on your blog
To find those high-traffic pages, go into your Google Analytics account, and then open "Behavior" -> "Overview". Here's a screenshot of this looks for me:
22. Hook Up And Leverage Google Analytics
This is one of the most important WordPress tips one can get, yet so many WordPress users don’t really pay attention to Google Analytics.
You can use a plugin like “Google Analytics by YoaST” to connect your Google Analytics profile to your WordPress site.
This will give you very detailed metrics on how your website performs, what drives the most traffic, what pages resonate most with your audience, and who your audience really is.
The thing is that it takes time to understand all the metrics and to get the right insights from them.
I added checking Google Analytics to my monthly schedule, especially after redesigning my website.
Checking it more often is interesting, yet I doubt that it makes sense to check it every week (if it’s a regular week).
Increasing your traffic takes time, seeing results from an updated content plan (see WordPress tip #4) does as well.
And the visitor flow on your website probably won’t change drastically from one day to another.
A great follow-up resource on this topic is Neil Patel’s guide on leveraging Google Analytics.
I don’t recommend to read it now, as I have more great WordPress tips to come, but bookmark the guide (and this post) for future reference.
23. Install Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools go hand-in-hand with Google Analytics. It’s a free service from Google to help you build better WordPress sites that rank.
You can connect your site here: Google Webmaster Tools
Google then allows you to submit your XML sitemap so that you can get your site indexed faster.
It will also tell you about errors on your site, and problems you better solve to increase your rankings.
24. Monitor Your Competitors
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” - Sun Tzu
While we’re not in a war here, it’s important to know what your competitors are doing.
Here are two tools that you can use to examine your competitors:
Where do they get most traffic from?
What backlinks do they have?
Who shares their content on social media?
And most importantly:
Which topics resonate most with their audience and can you leverage those topics yourself?
I’m not saying you should rip-off your competitors!
But you can use what's working for them in your favor.
For example in the screenshot above you can see the posts that currently rank for "WordPress tips".
Of course those are highly compatible websites, with a lot of authority and backlinks.
But neither of these comes close to this in-depth content (I checked them).
And since people are sharing those articles a lot, I thought it might be a good idea to write this post.
Who knows, maybe I'll rank for that term over time!
25. Learn Copywriting Or Hire A Copywriter
When you’re leveraging WordPress, you at least need to know about the basic principles of copywriting.
It’s the art of conveying a message on a website and getting your visitors to take a certain action like signing up for your email list.
You might struggle with copywriting in the beginning, I certainly did.
But that’s ok, it’s something we need to learn and get used to.
Copyblogger has released amazing eBooks about copywriting, my friend Liston Witherill from GoodFunnel also has some amazing blog posts about copywriting.
I’d say the most important copywriting skills are:
- writing great headlines
- structuring your blog posts so that they get read
- writing effective Call-to-Actions
My recommendation is to start learning about copywriting when you have at least 50+ visitors a day.
Say 2% of them subscribe to your email list right now, which is one subscriber a day.
How would you feel if you could convert more people into subscribers?
26. Build The Blogging Routine
Blogging needs to be a routine if you want to create content consistently and follow up on the WordPress tips #4 and #5 from this post.
Try to set apart a certain amount of time EVERY DAY to create content for your blog.
And during that time focus on nothing else but blogging.
For me, it works best to have this time in the morning when my girlfriend either is asleep or already on the early shift.
I don’t feel like spending hours in front of the Mac when she’s awake, I’d rather spend time with her then. That’s why I get up early.
This timing might be totally off for you, or not possible due to your job. When I started my blog on the side of my job, I wrote at nights.
It’s SO IMPORTANT to publish content regularly; that’s why having the blogging routine is a simple yet powerful WordPress tip.
Tools like Coach.me or Pavlok (for the hard people) will help you integrate blogging into your daily routine.
Social pressure helps as well 😉
27. Focus on one strategy until you see success
A BIG mistake I made in the past is trying too many different strategies.
My first idea was to make money with affiliate marketing, which didn’t work at all (maybe because I had no idea what I was doing).
Then I came across Spencer Haws and tried to build niche sites.
Those generated a little money, yet I would have needed 50+ of them to make a good income.
Then I tried drop shipping. And miserably failed at it.
I burned a lot of money in those trials, but I got some interesting insights.
Now I focus on one thing:
Leveraging the WP Summit in the long term, and building a highly effective sales funnel around it.
My blog supports that strategy, as it targets the same audience as my WP Summit.
I will probably write another post only on this topic, but for now, please FOCUS on one strategy and don’t let other people distract you.
When distractions hit you, think of John Lee Dumas’ definition of focus: Follow On Course Until Success.
28. Find Productivity Routines That Work For You
Another WordPress tip that’s not directly related to WordPress?!
No WordPress site can grow big if the host is caught up watching the latest episode of Breaking Bad, Daredevil, or whatever.
We all find ways to waste time instead of implementing the tips shared in this post. And we need to be aware of it.
Did you ask yourself how guys like Gary Vaynerchuk or Tim Ferriss get so much done, when they just have 24 hours a day, just like we all have?
They are insanely productive in what they do!
They only focus on the task at hand and don’t spend their time on tasks that don’t matter.
Here are my favorite productive hacks for WordPress users:
- Install the Editorial Calendar plugin to manage your content
- Use a distraction-free writing software
- Create content upfront
- Have your friends set up Twitterfeed for your site (and do the same for theirs)
- Get some good headphones and listen to music when writing
- Place yourself in a quiet place when working
Do whatever it takes to get into productive mode regularly.
29. Set goals (Work Backward)
Working backwards is a strategy I learned inside Internet Business Mastery, one of the best online business trainings I ever bought.
Nowadays I’m working backward.
I define goals that I want to reach, like hitting $10,000 in monthly revenue.
To get to that level of income, I’ll need to sell 68 All Access Passes to my WP Summit (given I only have one product to offer).
To sell 68 All Access Passes, and estimating a conversion rate from email subscribers to customers of 5% (which would be pretty good!), I’ll need 1,360 new subscribers to the WP Summit every month.
That’s roughly 45 new subscribers per day.
I’m not at that level, but now I know that in order to achieve my goal, I need to:
- drive roughly 200-250 daily visitors to the WP Summit website (based on the current conversion rate)
- have an automated sales funnel in place that educates them about the WP Summit
- tweak that sales funnel until it converts at 5%
- open a bottle of champaign when I got those 5%!
Do I need $10k / month to live a good life?
Of course not.
$5k are totally sufficient to pay all bills and afford a nice car.
But you know how humans are, they tend to strive for bigger goals.
And I’ll take you with me until I achieve mine.
30. Establish routines to monitor your progress
How do you know if your WordPress site is on track towards reaching your goals?
By monitoring your metrics:
I already touched upon Google Analytics in WordPress tip #22.
But there are more metrics that indicate whether you’re on track:
- the growth of your email list
- the conversion rates of your funnels
- the engagement of your email list
- the money in your bank account (this is the ultimate indicator)
I use Cyfe to keep track of all important metrics in one dashboard.
And as I said earlier, I review these metrics at least once a month to make sure the growth of my business is on track.
31. Build a great About Page
The About page is one of the most important pages on your website.
Say you’re visiting a website for the first time, maybe because you saw a shared blog post on Facebook.
As you start to read that post, you soon get to like the writing style and the contents. And the site looks pretty solid too.
So what is your next natural intention?
You want to learn more about the host of the blog or the author of the blog post itself.
And where do you go for that? Right, to the About page.
However, often WordPress users neglect their About page. They create it once and then forget about it.
I certainly made this mistake myself (and I’m not proud of it).
Now for the redesign I wrote a completely new text for my About page. From scratch.
When you’re reading it, you’ll notice that it’s not about me though.
You might be surprised, but the About page needs to be all about your readers (in the first place).
They open your About page to see why they should stay on your blog and visit it regularly.
Getting to know you most often only is the second most important reason to open your About page.
Here's a great article to get you started with writing a great About page: How to write an About page
32. Update the permalink structure
The flexible permalink structure is a great WordPress feature, and it’s important for SEO and usability.
In “Settings” -> “Permalinks” you can define the basic linking structure for your pages and posts.
Leaving this at the default settings is a major bummer for SEO, as the links won’t include any keywords or the post title.
Google won’t like these URLs.
However, switching the permalinks will help you to optimize your URLs for SEO.
This is the setting I use on all my sites:
This little tweak forces WordPress to use your post titles in the URL for the post (and you can edit them just as you like).
And since your titles should always include the main keyword you’re targeting for a post, this will be beneficial for SEO.
If you have more questions about on-site SEO, please refer to WordPress tip #8.
33. Install WordPress Updates
Alright, this WordPress tip goes hand-in-hand with WordPress tip #11.
Installing WordPress updates is mandatory to protect your WordPress site from hackers.
Just recently, there was a major security issue discovered, that impacted highly distributed plugins like WordPress SEO by YoaST, Jetpack, Gravity Forms, and others.
You bet that these big vendors released security updates almost immediately.
My WordPress site showed 4 updates within the hour I read the blog post about the vulnerability. And all updates fixed that exact issue.
This example shows that installing WordPress updates is mandatory these days.
And I could share countless other examples.
Get your backup routine in place (see WordPress tip #10) and then install updates as soon as they are available.
In the past updates could break a WordPress site, but this happens very rarely these days.
And if it does, you got your backup in place.
34. Optimize Your Images
Images have a massive impact on the loading time of your website.
Their dimensions are measured in pixels, and themes can only display images in certain dimensions (depending on the theme).
Say you’re uploading an image to your latest blog post and the width of the area displaying the post is 800px.
Ideally the image you upload is exactly 800px wide.
It can be narrower of course, but it doesn’t make sense to upload a wider version than your theme can display.
Makes sense so far?
The bigger the image, the bigger the file size is. The bigger the file size is, the longer the image takes to load.
So the first tip is actually to upload images in the right dimensions. You can use PicResize to resize your images online.
To identify the exact width you need, I recommend getting in touch with your theme developer.
That’s why one point on my 30-point theme checklist is to make sure a theme is well supported.
You can get that checklist in my WP Workbook 101.
Alright, say you’ve resized your image to the appropriate dimensions and are ready to upload it to your WordPress site.
Did you know there are WordPress plugins that can reduce the file size of your uploaded images automatically?
A free plugin for this purpose is EWWW Image Optimizer.
My personal preference, however, is Kraken.io, as they provide a better performance.
To summarize this WordPress tip:
- Optimize your images by uploading them in the right dimensions
- Utilize WordPress plugins to reduce the file size even more
35. Clean Up Your Sidebar
In most WordPress themes, the sidebar shows up alongside blog posts, archive pages, and the blog page itself.
Your sidebar is a great place to have an optin form to build your email list, share information about yourself, list the most popular contents, and so on.
If you want to take it to the next level like Chris Ducker or Pat Flynn, you can have a developer create contents that appear when your sidebar scrolls out of the viewport.
For my new WordPress theme, I’ll very soon have these elements done, but for now I wanted to get it out to the world.
So, what’s the purpose of a sidebar:
- It gives your visitors interesting information alongside to the main content
- It allows visitors to sign up for your email list
- It gives quick access to the most important contents
- It can give social media links and profiles to grow your following (but be aware when you’re directing your readers from your site to your social profile!)
36. Leverage a Content Delivery Network
I already said in several WordPress tips that the loading speed of your website is crucial for being successful (whatever that means for you).
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) helps your website load faster because it delivers static resources faster to your visitors.
Understanding CDNs is a bit techy, but let me try to explain it in plain English:
Your website consists of files, which need to be transferred to your visitors when they open your site.
Some files can be transferred faster when delivered through a CDN instead of being delivered through your website.
This makes your website load faster for your visitors.
Still with me?
Great, because you can use a CDN free of charge!
Cloudflare is one of the biggest CDNs there are, and they offer a free plan to get started!
I will very soon record a tutorial on integrating them with your WordPress site, but for now here’s a great tutorial.
37. Don’t Use The Admin User
This is a very basic security-related tip for WordPress users, yet it’s extremely important.
As I said in tip #11, most hacks are automated by bots and scripts these days.
And guess which user is the most popular target for these automated attacks?!
Right, the “admin” user.
In case you’re using the “admin” user, here’s how you get rid of it:
- Create a backup of your site. (Did you follow WordPress tip #10?)
- Create a new user with administrative privileges and an email address you own.
- Set a password for that user that is not in a dictionary and has at least 12 characters (LastPass is a great tool for this!).
- Make sure to write down that password and to enter the right email address.
- Log out as admin user and login with the new administrative user.
- Go to “Users” and delete the admin user. Make sure to attribute all its contents to the new user!
If you want to learn more about security, you should check out the WP Summit! I interviewed Tony Perez (CEO of Sucuri), Pere Hospital (CTO of Cloudways), and Akshat Choudhary (CEO of Blogvault) on WordPress security.
And you can bet they shared some valuable nuggets that even the most non-technical WordPress users can leverage to enhance their website's security.
The guys over at The Best VPN also contacted me about their guide on managing passwords. I highly recommend you check it out if you want to learn more about secure passwords that aren't a chore.
38. Spark A Conversation On Your Blog
Do you have readers on your blog, but struggle with getting a conversation going with the comments?
I have an idea for you:
Ask for comments. Ask for shares. Simply ask your readers to engage.
Nothing is more frustrating than putting hours and hours into a blog post and then not seeing any engagement on it.
I get it; I’ve been there.
In fact, this blog still doesn’t see the engagement I’m aiming for (but we’re getting there!).
At the end of every blog post and sometimes throughout it I ask my readers (read: you) for feedback, ideas, and thoughts.
I have Disqus enabled on this site because I only want high-quality comments. It is a bit more work to comment using Disqus, yet this leads to only passionate people commenting.
I’d rather have fewer comments but better ones!
Another approach is to shut off the comments on your blog, like Chris Brogan recently did.
They want their readers to engage in social media, which is an approach I like (and that might be a good fit for your brand).
39. Be Proud Of Your Blog And Share It
Every once in a while I hear WordPress users talking negatively about their sites.
They don’t feel confident talking about their site because they don’t have a premium theme, don’t have a good content strategy, don’t have this, or don’t have that.
As a matter of fact, you should ALWAYS be proud of your site and feel confident to share it.
The reason is simple:
It’s YOUR site.
If you don’t feel confident about it, how do you expect others to build up trust to your contents?
In order for others to like your site, and to come back to it, you need to believe 100% in what you’re doing with your WordPress.
See your site as a growing and breathing organism. It grows just as you and your business grow.
Nothing on your site is set in stone; you can always tweak, change, add, and remove things.
Your website solves two purposes:
- To get your message out to the world.
- To attract the right people and help them make their lives better.
Heck, have a look at socialtriggers.com.
It’s not the most beautiful website on our planet.
But Derek publishes incredible content and has hundreds of thousands of raving fans.
What does that have to do with his template?
Focus on producing content that simplifies the lives of your readers, and they’ll love you.
(I hope I achieve this at least a little bit with my posts!)
40. Link To Categories Or Tags
This is a WordPress tip I got from WP Engine founder Jason Cohen.
In our interview for the WP Summit, he mentioned that he sometimes links to category and tag archive pages, instead of single posts.
This is smart, and the moment he said it, it was painfully obvious to me. I never thought about this option.
Here’s why I love that strategy:
Say you’re writing about a very broad topic, take this post for example.
41 WordPress tips are a lot of value on different topics.
And covering each of these extensively would force me to write a book (this post is almost 7,000 words already!).
Sometimes I need to link to other pages and posts giving you more information.
And instead of just linking to a single post, I can then link to categories of posts or tag archives.
And YOU, the reader, select, which post you want to read next.
41. Test, Test, Test
I want to close this list of WordPress tips with a fundamental principle I truly believe in.
Test, test, test.
Focus on content creation until you have 100+ daily visitors.
As soon as you reach this level, start testing the most important elements on your website.
Test different headlines using KingSumo Headlines.
Test different page layouts on landing pages using Unbounce, LeadPages, or Clickfunnel.
Test every single element that is related to either growing your list or selling a product or service.
Only when you test, you can improve!
This post turned out quite long, 6,851 words to be exact.
It’s my gift to you for my birthday, as I think it sums up the most important points when using WordPress.
Please let me know how you like this post and what tips you’re about to implement on your WordPress site! (See how I follow my advice from tip #38?)