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How to Create a WordPress Website: The Ultimate Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Building a WordPress Website

Part 1 – Getting a Website Up

Getting a Website Up

If you’ve decided to use WordPress to power your website – you’ve made a great call. WordPress is affordable, reliable and scalable, and there’s a lot of other “-able” adjectives that can be added to it. It can power any sort of website, and it’s beginner-friendly, so if making websites is not something you do for a living, it makes the perfect choice. It’s an equally great tool for professionals who build websites for clients – the flexibility and scalability is what makes WordPress so special.

Before You Begin

First things first – when we say “WordPress,” what do we actually mean? There are two versions of the platform, and a lot of people confuse the two. WordPress.org is the “proper” WordPress, the platform that allows you to create any sort of website – from the smallest blog to the biggest eCommerce shop or an enterprise website.

Check the article linked below regarding WordPress.com. For the purposes of this guide, from this point on by “WordPress” we will mean the .org version.

Hosting

Since we’ve opted for WordPress.org, our next step is to take care of the hosting, i.e. pick a hosting provider or service. Unless you have your own hosting resources (a server), you will need to sign up for a plan with a service that will host your website for you.

In addition to traditional hosting providers (BlueHost, Hostinger, GoDaddy, HostGator and so on), more and more users opt for cloud hosting, which is especially suitable for smaller websites that don’t expect tremendous traffic.

Domain Name

Now, if your hosting plan doesn’t include domain name, you will need to take care of that, too. There are services that only work with domain names – these are called domain registrars. Oftentimes, a user will purchase and register a domain name (especially if it’s a good name) and “park” it until he’s ready to use it. The domain name can then be transferred to your hosting plan.

A domain name is a unique and human-readable address that identifies a website on the internet. It serves as a key component of a website’s online presence, facilitating navigation and establishing a distinct online identity for businesses, organizations, and individuals.

Right now, you’re reading this on a website with a domain name “qodeinteractive.com.” The /magazine part of the URL indicates the subdirectory of that domain.

Installing WordPress

WordPress is known for great ease of use. Basically anyone can download and install it, and there are plenty of tutorials from the developers that can guide you through it.

We’ve covered the process in this handy video so make sure to check it out before you start, and perhaps leave it open in one tab so you can consult it along the way.

Before you begin, you will need a couple of things:

  • A web browser, which you surely already have
  • An FTP client (which you can download from the web, and many of them are free)
  • Database access (your hosting provider will probably take care of this for you)

First, you’ll need to create a database on the server, using cPanel from your hosting provider. Next, you’ll need to download the latest version of WordPress from the official website. When you unzip the folder you’ve downloaded, you will need to connect the files inside it to your database on the server, using cPanel or FTP. This is an intuitive step-by-step process, especially if you’re using an FTP client like FileZilla, but you will need the credentials from your hosting provider (username, password, host) so make sure you have them on hand. After the files have uploaded, go to your website’s URL, where you will find the WordPress installation screen.

This is a very straightforward process as WordPress guides you through the installation step by step.

If everything went well, it’s time to take care of your website’s looks and functionality.

Choosing a WordPress Theme

A WordPress theme is a collection of files that work together to determine the overall design and functionality of a WordPress website. It provides a template for how the website should look and function, including the layout, color scheme, typography, and other visual elements.

Themes allow WordPress users to change the appearance of their websites without altering the underlying content. They provide a quick and efficient way to customize the design and style of a website, making it easy to create a professional and visually appealing site without extensive coding knowledge.

WordPress themes consist of various template files written in PHP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Don’t worry! That’s just what’s “under the hood” of your theme. You don’t need to be skilled in any of these in order to work with your theme. Most WordPress themes are based on the principle of “WYSIWYG” – What You See Is What You Get. However, it’s good to know that these files define the structure and presentation of different parts of the website, such as the header, footer, sidebar, and individual page layouts. Themes also include options for customization, allowing users to modify settings such as logo placement, color schemes, widget areas, and more.

In a nutshell, a WordPress theme helps you get a professional-looking website up and running without having to hire a web designer.

When choosing a theme, you first need to ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • Do I want a free theme or a premium one?

It’s often said that WordPress allows people to create websites for free. The platform software is free, and there are free themes, both from WordPress itself, and from theme developers, that can be used to create highly functional websites. Many of those free themes, like Qi Theme, are simply remarkable. However, you need to be very lucky to find a free WordPress theme that both looks and works great. Oftentimes, free themes are rather basic in its features, come with limited design and customization options, and generally lack that special something that will make your website stand out. Also, free themes often come with very limited support options.

Premium themes, on the other hand, being more expensive, obviously have more effort, care and extras invested and instilled into them. For instance, many premium themes come with built-in premium plugins, like Slider Revolution and others. Sometimes they even come with premium images included, which means you can keep them and use them on your pages without paying extra.

So it all boils down to your personal choice and your budget. If you come across a premium theme that fits your needs like a glove and offers a range of useful functionalities, you should consider investing in it. On the other hand, it may just happen that you’ll find a free theme that suits your needs just fine.

  • What page builder do I want to use?

WordPress currently comes with the Gutenberg site editor out of the box. It is a block editor that allows you to quickly and easily create website pages by combining integral elements called blocks. Being extremely user-friendly, versatile and customizable, Gutenberg is one of the most popular solutions for WordPress site creation. In addition to the basic blocks you get by default, you can also purchase block collections, like Qi Blocks for Gutenberg, that give you advanced functionalities, from showcase and creative ones (interactive elements, advanced typography, complex sliders and galleries) to business (various infographics, tables, client carousels, etc) and eCommerce ones (advanced cart functionalities, product galleries, etc).

Another popular page builder is Elementor. Similarly to blocks, it uses elements that can be mixed and matched to create any sort of page you like. Again, addons are available for this editor, like Qi Addons, that further extend its functionality.

There are other popular page builders out there, like Divi, SeedProd, BeaverBuilder, Oxygen, etc.

WPBakery (formerly known as Visual Composer) used to be the single most widely used builder, but it has recently seen a huge decline in popularity.

You may wonder why it matters which page builder you will be using. Well, this decision also influences the choice of your WordPress theme. Some themes are built on/for Elementor, some on/for Divi, etc.

In short, when you decide which builder to use, you will search for appropriate themes.

Note that the best premium themes come in several versions. For instance, Qode Interactive themes are available both for Gutenberg and for Elementor, and there are WPBakery themes too.

  • Do I want a niche theme or a multipurpose one?

This depends on what you want to do with your website. If you’re going to start a food blog, you should probably get a food blog theme. The same with travel blogging, or fashion, and it’s particularly true for listings, directories and real estate websites. This is because these themes come with a specific set of functionalities that you’re probably going to need. For instance, the best food blogging themes will have recipe modules allowing you to create lovely and convenient recipe cards, with nutritional info, prep time, etc. Travel and tourism themes usually come with premade destination pages, beautiful galleries for travel photography, and booking modules. Restaurant websites should always be equipped with booking forms, menu pages, maps, etc, which are features that all good restaurant themes have.

On the other hand, multipurpose themes can also be quite feature-rich, as they usually contain a number of niche-specific demos. These themes are great if your future website doesn’t fall strictly into any specific niche and you want to have the ability to experiment and combine different elements.

Installing Your Theme

If you opted for a free theme, or if you still haven’t made up your mind and want to shop around directly from your WordPress admin, you can use the theme search by navigating to Appearance>Themes.

Click on Add New and browse by categories. If you know the name of the theme, you can type it in the search bar.

When you find the theme you want, simply click on Install under its thumbnail. After the theme is installed, you will be prompted to Activate it.

For premium (paid) themes, the process is somewhat different. After completing the purchase, you will get your theme files in a zipped folder, and you will probably get the activation key. You need to upload the zipped theme to your website. To do that, go to Appearance>Themes and click on Add New. A new page will load, with the Upload Theme button at the top. Click on it and upload the zipped theme. After the theme has uploaded, click on Activate to complete the process.

A theme can also be installed using FTP. To learn more about this method, check out our guide on how to install a WordPress theme, linked below.

Installing the Plugins

Plugins play a very important role in the WordPress ecosystem. They are pieces of software that are added (“plugged in”) to your WordPress installation. Their purpose is to extend or expand the functionality of your website, making it richer, more functional and useful both for you and for your visitors.

As you grow your website, you will probably add more and more plugins as needed. For instance, if at some point you decide you want a Nutrition Facts card for your recipes, you will find a plugin that will help you do that easily and quickly. Or you’ll want to add a chatbot, a booking form, a cool scrolling effect, a caching or security plugin, and so on.

A lot of plugins you can add for free. There are currently over 60k free plugins at the official WordPress plugin repository. There are also premium plugins of all sorts, and there are plugins that represent entire collections, like Qi Addons for Elementor or Qi Blocks for Gutenberg.

As we said, you will probably add a lot of plugins as you go. However, some plugins you’ll want to install right after you install WordPress and your theme, because they are essential plugins that every website should probably have.

These include:

  • WooCommerce (in case you’ll be having an online shop)
  • Elementor, or other page builder of your choice, in case you don’t want to use Gutenberg

Plugins are extremely easy to install from your Dashboard, by navigating to Plugins>Add New and then browsing or searching for the plugin you need. When you find it, simply click on Install and then on Activate. If the plugin you need is not in the plugin directory, you can download it from its developer and upload the zipfile you get after purchase.

Note that having too many plugins can cause conflicts or slow down your website. Only install plugins that you really need and perform occasional cleanups to remove the ones you no longer use, or the ones that are not adequately supported or updated by their developer.

Part 2 – Customizing Your WordPress Website

Customizing Your WordPress Website

The great thing about the WordPress themes is that you can set them up just the way you like. You don’t have to leave the adjustments as they are. Of course, you will change the placeholder content with your own. Even if you import all the demo content, you will want to make the website your own.

Customization is performed on two levels – global options affect the entire website, while page options only affect that particular page.

After you’ve installed a theme, you will probably first want to take care of the site identity – change the logo, the website name and tagline, the favicon, and so on.

Adding Your Own Logo, Site Title and Headline

To take care of these, head over to Appearance>Customize. This will get you to the Theme Customizer, where the first option will be Site Identity. Here you can update your logo, set your site name and tagline (or choose not to display them at all) and add the site icon, a.k.a the favicon. Some themes go the extra mile and offer additional settings for the logo, which are usually found in global options.

Creating, Customizing, Adding and Removing Menus

Menus play an important role in any website. They are the most important navigational element, and, as such, they are also crucial for UX.

When you install a theme, it will probably have several pre-created menus that you can simply adjust to your needs.

To check the available menus, in your Dashboard menu, go to Appearance>Menus. Here you can select the menu you want to edit or create a new one. When you select a menu, in the left section of the screen you will see the available pages you can add as your menu items. In addition to pages, you can also set posts, categories, tags or custom menu items. To the right, under Menu Structure, you can easily rearrange the menu items and change their order.

Note that you can do all this in the Theme Customizer, too, under the Menus option.

If you want to use different menus for desktop and mobile navigation, you can set that up, too.

Note that there are many different types of menus. Some themes have hidden menus, mega menus, some have vertical or sidebar menus, sticky or floating menus, and so on. Feel free to play around with different types that your theme allows until you find the one that fits your website style and purpose the best.

Setting the Homepage

Another thing you will want to take care of before you launch your website is what sort of homepage you want to have. The homepage is the page where your visitors land when navigating to your domain, whether through a link or by typing in the URL. It’s the entry point of your website and its main navigational hub.

There are two types of homepages in WordPress: static and dynamic. A static page is always the same, while the dynamic one displays your latest posts. Because WordPress was originally conceived as a blogging platform, this is still the default type of homepage, so you will probably want to change that to static by navigating to Settings>Reading in your Dashboard menu and making the change there. If you opt for a static homepage, here you will also have to pick the page you want to set as your homepage.

Changing the Colors and the Fonts

When you pick a theme, you probably pick it based not just on the functionalities, but on the visual aspects, too – the color scheme, the typography, the style (minimalist, cluttered, brutalist, retro, romantic, etc). However, along the way you may want to tweak a thing or two regarding the appearance.

The location of the options depends on the theme you’re using. Older WordPress themes still have this feature in the Theme Customizer. With full site editing themes, like the latest WordPress default theme, you get to pick among a series of preset styles and color variations, and you can also customize them additionally in the Editor menu and then the Styles option for each page, template or template part.

The same goes for typography. Depending on the theme you’re using, you can change the fonts globally (for the entire site) or for specific pages. The default full site editing theme has template parts that you can customize, including header and footer.

Note that many theme authors offer their own styling options and these may be located in other sections of the backend.

In general, WordPress themes are always extremely customizable, and you can basically change anything you like, especially if you know your way around CSS. Custom CSS can be inserted to provide additional styling options that are perhaps not available by default.

Adding or Removing the Widgets

In WordPress, widgets are little blocks or elements or pieces of layout, essentially tools that add extra functionality. Some come with WordPress by default, some come with the theme, and others can be added through plugins, like the Qi Addons for Elementor.

Widgets can’t be just added anywhere – they can only be added to designated widget areas. These, again, depend on the theme you’re using. The most common widget area is the sidebar, and also the footer. Commonly added widgets are social links, blog categories, product categories, shopping cart, Instagram feed, etc.

If your theme doesn’t come with a widget or a widget area you’d like to use, you can easily add them. Go to Appearance>Widgets and you’ll see the list of available widget areas. In the default WordPress theme, you can add widgets as blocks. In other themes, you will probably see a display of available widgets on one side, and widget areas on the other. Simply drag and drop them where you want.

If there are widgets you’d like to remove from a widget area, you can just as easily do so. Depending on the theme, click on the X above the widget, or on three dots and then select Remove.

It’s also possible to have certain widgets on certain pages, and not have them on others.

Part 3 – Creating Pages and Posts

Creating Pages and Posts

Now that your website is up and you’ve made the essential customizations, it’s time to fill it with content.

Every website contains a number of pages. Sure, there are one-page websites, in which all content is located on a single page. In most cases, these are actually landing pages created for specific purposes and designed to convert. A website such as a portfolio, online shop, online community, business website etc, will in most cases have many different pages.

Some pages come with a WordPress installation by default. Some pages come with the theme you’re using. You can remove all the pages you don’t plan on using, and also add new ones very easily. Bear in mind, though, that there are certain pages every website should have, such as the Error 404 page, Contact page, and so on.

Adding or Removing a WordPress Page

In your WordPress admin, find Pages in the Dashboard menu. Here you’ll have the option of viewing all the existing pages, or adding a new one. The process will slightly depend on the page builder you’re using (Elementor, Gutenberg, etc). For instance, in Gutenberg, you will add page elements by adding blocks to it and then rearranging them and customizing them. In Elementor, you will add elements. Either way, you will have the option of setting the page visibility (public, private password-protected), editing the publishing date, the author, etc. You will also be able to preview the page at any time before publishing it.

If you add new pages, don’t forget to put them in your navigation menu so the visitors can find it.

Removing a page is just as simple: click on Pages in your dashboard menu, and then check the box next to the page you want to delete. In the Bulk Actions menu, click on Move to trash and that’s it. You can also delete the page while editing it, by clicking the Move to trash button in the right-hand side menu. FInally, a page can be deleted using the quick actions which appear under each page’s title when you hover over it.

Essential Pages

As we said above, the decision on the pages is all up to you but best practices dictate that every WordPress website, regardless of the kind, should have certain essential pages. Ideally, these should be linked to in your main navigation menu. These pages include:

  • About Me/Us page – This is the page where you share information about yourself, your business or brand. The page should be clear and concise and in line with your branding.
  • Contact page – Even if you include your contact info in the footer, you should still have a contact page, with a contact form so that your visitors can write to you, your address and preferably a Google map for easier orientation, as well as your phone number and email address. This is a page where you’ll also want to add any of your social media links.
  • Archive page – Again, you can link to your blog archive in your sidebar using a widget, but you may also want to have a separate page where all the blog posts are arranged and organized neatly, whether in a chronological, alphabetical or contextual order.
  • Error 404 page – This is a page that shouldn’t be linked to in the menu but should exist nonetheless. It’s a page your visitors see when they enter or click a broken link or a URL that has changed and is no longer valid.
  • Blog, Shop or Services page – Depending on the nature of your website, you will need one or more of these pages so that your visitors can find what they came for quickly and easily.
  • Privacy Policy and Terms of Service pages – Whatever policy, legal disclaimer and terms of use you want (or actually have to) display, it needs to have a separate page that can easily be reached and consulted.
  • Coming Soon page – This is a page you’ll need in the initial phases of your website, or during expansion and scaling up. It’s a page that lets people know the URL they entered or the link they followed is good, but you’re not ready for them just yet.

Customizing the Header and Footer

The settings for these parts of the page are defined by the theme you’re using. Customization of these parts will depend on the theme, as well as on the page builder. For example, if you want to change the content and the appearance of your header and footer in Gutenberg site editor using the Twenty Twenty-Three theme, you will need to head over to Appearance>Editor, where you will select the part you want to edit from Template Parts.

In many themes, including our own Qi Theme, you can set different styling and customization on the level of individual pages – you can set the header, footer and sidebar you want and style it the way you like. You can even turn off the header and/or footer for certain pages.

Themes usually come with preset header and footer styles to pick from, but if none of them work for you, you can tweak them to your liking.

Some of the best practices tell us that the header shouldn’t be too big and imposing and it should contain the logo, page title or subtitle, and the main menu.

As for the footer, that’s where we usually find contact information, copyright info, social links and, oftentimes, another menu.

Adding Multimedia (Images, Galleries, Videos)

Whatever page builder or editor you’re using, you’ll find that adding multimedia content to your pages and posts is extremely simple. All you have to do is add an appropriate block (in Gutenberg) or element (in Elementor). For single images, you will need the Image block/element, and for a gallery you will search for the Gallery block/element.

Video, VideoPress and YouTube are blocks that come by default and that you can use to add videos to your posts or pages just as easily as you do with images.

If you have enriched your editing capabilities with a block/widget collection plugin, you will also have advanced elements to combine – carousels, animated galleries, sliders, various gallery layouts, video players, etc. Of course, you can also use single plugins for this, but it’s more convenient to use a good collection, like Qi Addons or Qi Blocks.

The multimedia content that you want to display is added through the Media Library.

Making Sure Your Website is Responsive/Mobile Friendly

As more and more people use primarily their hand-held devices (mobile phones, tablets…) to access the internet, it has become vital to have a website that’s optimized to look good on various screen sizes.

Mobile-friendly design means that a website is adapted to smaller screens, but not completely. This sort of design is today almost obsolete. Mobile-optimized or mobile-first means that design allows the users on mobile to access information, content and design with no effort and in a complete manner. Responsive design makes sure this happens by default – it is design that adapts automatically to various screen sizes and viewports.

Most WordPress themes these days are responsive. They scale to the screen they’re viewed on automatically, both design and content. In most cases, users don’t have to worry about this part at all. Still, additional responsiveness settings can be found in page editors/builders, and they can be adjusted, if needed, for individual sections, elements, pages, etc.

Part 4 – Adding eCommerce Features

Adding eCommerce Features

You don’t need to run a well-established business or to be a big company in order to sell things online through your website. That’s one of the beauties of WordPress: it allows users to create all sorts of websites with ease, including websites meant for profit.

Whether your main focus is to run an online store, or you simply want to add a basic shop page to sell a few of your products or services, you’ll be glad to hear they’re both quite easy to accomplish, thanks to a little thing called WooCommerce.

WooCommerce is the best and the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress. It is a free plugin that comes with a wonderful set of functionalities out of the box, from product-related options, to cart and checkout functionalities, shipping, inventory, taxes and everything in between.

Once your shop is up and running, you can make use of the range of free and premium addons and plugins to add advanced functionality to your eCommerce website.

Now, we won’t get into step-by-step instructions for setting up an online shop, as it requires a separate tutorial and we’ve already written about it extensively – check out the links in the “Further reading” section.

We will tell you though that, if your primary intention is to run an online shop, your best bet is to use one of the premium eCommerce themes. These themes come with premade shop pages, attractive product lists, sliders, carousels and galleries, cart and checkout pages, so you don’t have to create any specific pages yourself.

After picking one such theme, you will need to install WooCommerce and set it up. There’s a setup wizard to guide you through the process and it’s really very simple and quick.

So, theme plus WooCommerce plus plugins or addons of your choice, and you’ve got yourself an online shop. The physical part of the business – the products, the logistics, etc – is up to you to take care of.

Part 5 – Taking Care of Security and Performance

Taking Care of Security and Performance

In order for your beautifully set-up website to grow and prosper, you have to assure that all the essential security and performance features are in place. Online threats, attacks, downtime… there’s a lot that can compromise your website and cost your valuable traffic.

How to Keep Your WordPress Website Safe and Secure?

The protection you introduce to your website should have two goals – one is to keep it safe for your visitors, and the other is to keep the website itself safe from outside threats.

WordPress generally has a stable and safe structure, but there are still things you can and should do to build up on that. Your hosting provider will play an important part, too – a lot of protection comes from the server side, so you have to make sure your plan comes with some form of DDoS protection, firewall, regular backups, potentially IP ban feature, encryption, etc.

Next, your login procedure should be secure, possibly with two-factor authentication that protects both you and your visitors. Adding CAPTCHA and introducing login attempt limits is also useful.

Good security practices also include keeping your website backed up at all times, and regularly updating to the latest version of WordPress. The same goes for the theme you’re using, and all the plugins you have installed.

Occasional plugin cleanup is also recommended – over time, we tend to install quite a lot of them, so it’s a good idea to delete the ones no longer in use.

For securing the connection between the site and the browser, it is essential to have a valid SSL certificate, as well as SFTP.

Finally, if you have multiple people logging into the website (authors, editors, etc), you may want to manage and control user roles. Not everyone needs access to just anything in your backend.

Of course, on top of all that, and perhaps even before all that, you need security plugins. These plugins monitor your core files integrity, watch for suspicious activity, provide additional firewalls, scan your website and filter for spam. And the great thing is that a lot of these plugins are free! To learn more, check out the “Further reading” section.

How to Optimize Your Website Performance?

A great part of your website performance will depend on your hosting plan. The bandwidth is one of the major factors, as it allows your website to work well during traffic peaks. Together with the type of hard drive and the RAM you get with the package, it defines the speed (page load speed, that is) of your website and obviously has a great impact on the UX of your site.

Another thing that affects performance on the hosting side of the issue is uptime. As we mentioned earlier, always choose a provider that guarantees 99.9% uptime.

On your part, there are certainly things you can do to make sure your website performs well. Again, regular backups are crucial as they protect you from loss in case something goes wrong.

Database management is also important. An occasional cleanup can help you delete unused or superfluous files that could be clogging your database. Of course, whatever you do with your database, don’t forget to back it up first.

Uninstalling the plugins you no longer use will also help lighten up your website and keep it fast.

Lazy-loading images, image optimization, code optimization, caching and using a CDN are also important practices for optimizing website performance.

Part 6 – Growing Your Audience – Marketing and SEO

Growing Your Audience - Marketing and SEO

So, you’re finally here – you’ve installed WordPress, the theme and the plugins. You’ve added all the pages you need and started posting content. Everything works and looks great, and now it’s time to get your website out there, get more visitors, more clicks, more traffic. In short – it’s time to promote it and grow your audience and your reach. Whatever the purpose of your website, if it’s online and it’s public, your goal is most likely to get as many visitors as possible.

For this, you need to create two crucial strategies: a marketing strategy and an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy. Both these subjects merit a full guide on their own, but let’s just quickly touch on some of the most vital aspects.

Creating an SEO Strategy

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it represents a set of practices aimed at helping your website rank better in SERP (Search Engine Results Pages), gain more visibility and more traffic.

SEO can roughly be divided into two segments:

On-Page SEO:

This set of practices includes your content keywords, meta titles and descriptions, headers and title tags, URLs, internal and external links, Schema Markup, images, and everything else that is actually done on a website’s page.

Off-Page SEO:

This part of your SEO strategy involves content marketing, link building, social media, reviews, etc.

There are also technical aspects of SEO, and these include optimizing the page speed, using structural data, XML sitemaps, canonicalization, Hreflang, and more.

A good SEO strategy needs to include all these vital aspects. If you focus just on a few and neglect the rest, your efforts will be in vain. It is advisable to hire or periodically outsource an SEO expert to take care of all these things for you. However, since brand new websites rarely have the budget for it, you can also do all of this by yourself, by following guidelines and tutorials, many of which you will find in the “Further reading” section.

Remember that SEO is an ongoing effort and something that needs to be revisited and revised on a regular basis. The internet is a very fast-changing environment, and there’s also the fact that Google itself frequently changes its SERP rules and algorithms.

Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing represents a particularly important part of both your SEO strategy and your overall marketing strategy. It is a set of procedures, techniques and approaches that involves producing and distributing highly relevant website content to your targeted audience. Its main goal is to help you grow your audience, increase your reach and build authority.

In WordPress, content marketing mainly involves writing blog posts, as well as whitepapers, case studies, video tutorials, podcasts and so on. The strategy should involve setting an area of interest relevant to your industry and niche, and creating content that addresses issues pertaining to that area. In short, if you’re a B2B company or an app developer, your content marketing strategy will not include travel, food or health topics. Conversely, if you’re selling beauty products, your content will not include topics like politics or tech.

Keyword research and related strategies play a particularly important part in content marketing. Keywords allow you to target the audience most likely to convert – those that are interested in what you have to say, and their search intent (what they search for to get to your content).

Your content needs to meet several criteria: it needs to be relevant, informative and helpful. In addition to search intent and keyword research, it should also be based on competitor analysis. Needless to say, the writing has to be impeccable in terms of grammar and spelling, it needs to be engaging and captivating, and – 100% unique. Anything less than that won’t get you far in SERPs and might even get you penalized by Google.

Creating a Social Media Marketing Strategy

In this day and age, no brand, business or website can survive without a strong social media presence. It seems that, depending on the demographics, almost everyone is on one social media platform or the other. The younger demographic is on TikTok and Instagram, the middle aged and senior audience is on Facebook, professionals are on LinkedIn, and so on. Depending on your industry and niche, you definitely want to pick one or more of the most popular platforms to promote your website.

This is particularly important for eCommerce and service-based businesses. If your conversions take place on your checkout pages, your website contact forms and download pages, you need to get the crowd from social media to your website.

Conversely, in order to grow and expand your overall digital presence, the visitors of your website need to be directed to your social media profiles, as well. Coupled with physical locations (if you have any), this is the basis for a powerful omnichannel marketing strategy.

Fortunately, WordPress offers plenty of tools by default (plus a great many in the form of plugins and extensions) to help you connect your website and your socials, and to develop a social strategy that grows your audience and reach. Social media buttons, dynamic Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds, Facebook likes on blog posts – these are just some of the solutions you can leverage.

Leveraging Paid Ads and Affiliate Marketing

Once your website has grown and developed, you’ll probably start thinking about monetizing it, especially if your traffic keeps showing an upward trend. In addition to selling products and services using WooCommerce or another solution, you can also make (some, or a lot of) money through paid ads and affiliate marketing.

Displaying Ads in WordPress

One of the easiest ways to make money through your WordPress website is through paid ads. This essentially means displaying other people’s ads on your pages. Google Ads are your best bet and to monetize from the ad views it’s best to use Google AdSense, the search engine’s huge advertising platform. You display ads on your pages and earn a percentage from each ad view.

Not all websites are approved for AdSense, so before you apply, make sure your website has solid traffic, good structure and follows the best SEO practices.

There’s a number of AdSense plugins for WordPress that you can use to add and manage ads on your website.

Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to AdSense. There are several other major ad platforms you can work with, and there are Amazon ads, too.

Using WordPress for Affiliate Marketing

Another way you can earn money passively through WordPress is through affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is a setup between a merchant and an affiliate. The affiliate usually displays a link or an ad on their website and every time a desired action is performed (click, signup, sale…) the affiliate receives a commission. Directing your visitors to your partner’s website or landing page is called a referral.

Not all websites make good candidates for an affiliate program. Some types of websites make a better choice – specifically, blog and content websites, review websites, online communities, coupon websites and so on. In addition, you need to have a solid audience and traffic, and it’s best if you’re working within a specific niche.

Tracking Performance Through Analytics

When growing, developing and tweaking your website, you can’t just do it in the dark, without any insights into how it’s actually doing. To steer it in the right direction, you have to gain insight into a number of metrics that tell you about the people who come to your website: who they are, where they come from, what they look for, how they behave on your website, how long they stay, at which point they decide to leave, and so on.

For this, you need to perform website analytics. The most widely used, most trusted and most reliable tool for that is Google Analytics. It’s a free tool and you don’t need to be an expert to use it, but it does come with a somewhat steep learning curve, so before you dive into it, make sure to check out our tutorial linked below.

Analytics is something that needs to be performed regularly. Trends change, and so do algorithms, and the only way to stay afloat is to make analytics a regular task. Whenever you notice a change, especially if it’s a drop in traffic, analytics will help you identify the problem so you can work on fixing it.

Part 7 – Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Can a beginner create a WordPress website?

Absolutely, yes. WordPress was first developed with the idea of providing everyone with a user-friendly blogging platform. The fact that it later developed into a CMS that allows you to create any sort of website you like, from small to enterprise, doesn’t change the fact it’s very beginner-friendly.

Even if you don’t know much about it, you can easily solve almost any WordPress problem using a myriad of tutorials you can find online, like the ones in your own Magazine. Plus, it’s worth mentioning that WordPress has an incredibly active community of users, developers and designers. It’s an open-source platform and solidarity, knowledge sharing and helping are part of its ethos.

  • Can I create a WordPress website for free?

Yes, to an extent. WordPress itself is free, you can use the default theme or one of the free themes you can find online, as well as free plugins. However, good hosting is rarely free, and you will have to pay for the domain, too. The website itself can be created with little to no investment, but you will have some expenses if you choose premium solutions, plus for the annual hosting plan.

  • Which is better: WordPress or Wix?

We’re probably partial but we have to say – WordPress. Wix is definitely a more all-inclusive option, and it does come with great design solutions. However, WordPress provides much more flexibility. It’s an open-source platform and the ecosystem of themes and plugins is incredibly rich. WordPress also provides you with more control, it’s easier to scale up and overall gives you more ownership of your website.

  • Do I need to know how to code to use WordPress?

No. It certainly helps if you know how to code, so that you can have more liberty in customizing your website just the way you want, without having to rely on plugins and other solutions. However, you can build and maintain your WordPress website perfectly well with absolutely zero coding knowledge.

  • Is WordPress enough to become a web developer?

It depends on the definition of “web developer.” WordPress is written in PHP and uses the MySQL database. Working with it also includes JavaScript, CSS and HTML. Therefore, a person who knows how to alter the WordPress source code and to create new functionalities using these tools is basically a WordPress developer, and therefore a type of web developer. A WordPress developer writes code for the platform, and can become a developer in the broader sense of the term by expanding the skillset to other scripts and languages, too.

  • Do I need to know CSS for WordPress?

Again, it’s a plus, not a requirement. CSS helps you customize the appearance of your website according to your needs in situations when the available options are not enough. WordPress has a designated location for entering custom CSS so if you know how, you can use it to very easily adjust whatever you like.

  • Will learning WordPress help me get a job?

Yes, and not just if you’re a developer or a designer. The knowledge of WordPress is considered a plus in many industries, from marketing to publishing. A lot of businesses use WordPress as a CMS for their online presence so if you’re applying for a job related to the website, the knowledge of WordPress, at least the basic one, will be a major plus, perhaps even a necessity.

  • Is WordPress free forever?

WordPress developers promise that the platform, at least its core, will remain free forever for all its users. Now, as we said, WordPress is not 100% free (we’re talking about the .org version here) so if you’re paying zero dollars now for your website it doesn’t mean you won’t be having to spend some money on it in the future – for a premium theme, if you decide to change it, for upgrades to premium plugins, add-ons, etc. But the core will stay free and you will never be charged for a WordPress installation.

  • What can’t be done with WordPress?

WordPress itself doesn’t come with limitations of this kind. Like we reiterated throughout this guide, WordPress can be used for basically any sort of website. The real question is, should it be used just for any kind of website? Here, the answer is probably: no.

You probably don’t want to use WordPress for eCommerce on a really big scale. You can sell products, and many of them, too. But WordPress can’t help you make the next Amazon or eBay.

The same goes for social media websites. There are plugins you can use to add social functionalities to a site, but it won’t even come close to Facebook and the likes.

Finally, if during your WordPress experience you often find yourself in need to work with PHP and change things there, or to have someone do it for you, then WordPress probably isn’t fit for your needs.

  • Are WordPress skills in demand?

Yes. Because so many businesses, especially startups, choose WordPress as the platform for their website, there is a high demand for professionals who are able to use it in one capacity or another – as an author, editor, designer or developer.

  • How to get a job in WordPress?

First of all, define the option you want to go for, according to your skills and interests. You can become a designer, a plugin or theme developer, an admin, you can do content marketing or blogging. Next, make sure your skills are relevant and up to date. For this, you can use one of the many available online courses and tutorials, and you can – and should – frequently turn to the WordPress community itself, both on the official website and on other relevant forums, such as Stack Exchange. Finally, you need to take a deep dive into the job market, using “WordPress” as a keyword followed by the career option you’re pursuing. You’ll find that there are many companies looking for WordPress professionals these days.

  • How can I earn by learning WordPress?

There are many ways to monetize your WordPress knowledge. You can set up websites for clients, for instance. A lot of people simply purchase a theme, and then, after taking care of hosting and everything else, they customize the theme (either using page builders or, more frequently, custom code) to make the website unique and true to the client’s brand. You can also create template designs or animations for WordPress websites and themes. You can work as a WordPress website admin, or a WordPress content marketer, and you can, of course, use WordPress to power your own business through an extensive online presence.

Part 8 – Additional Resources

We’ve created a series of video tutorials on how to make the most common types of websites using WordPress, along with other useful tips and how-tos. The tutorials are beginner-friendly, rich in information but very easy to follow, so make sure to check them out:

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