As you may know, WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) on the planet—by far. In fact, it powers over 75 million sites, according to http://en.wordpress.com/stats/. And that’s just at WordPress.com; that figure doesn’t even factor in all the self-hosted WordPress sites!
You would think, then, that there would be a set way in which to set up WordPress and create posts. But there isn’t. The methods are as varied as the people who build them. In this post, guest author Bill Davis will give you his quick primer on setting up and using WordPress.
WordPress Installation and Security
First off, don’t believe the “WordPress experts” who will tell you to install WP the manual way (i.e., not the simple one-click script way). It really makes no difference how you install WordPress, so long as you follow a few best practices.
Of primary importance is using hard-to-guess login credentials. This means setting up your Administrator account with a user name that is NOT “admin” (c’mon, make it very hard to guess) and a very long and complicated password. You can use a login manager like LastPass to not only keep your logins safe and secure but also to generate very complex text strings that can serve as your username and password.
Next, change the WordPress table prefix. Its default value is “wp_” and all the hackers know this. That is one of many ways that hackers exploit to inject malicious code into a WordPress site. So change it to something—again—hard to guess.
Finally, lock down your critical files using a capable plugin, like Bulletproof Security.
Breaking into a WordPress site isn’t that difficult because everybody messes up those things mentioned above. As long as you are better than 95 percent of your fellow WordPress enthusiasts, you aren’t an easy target.
As SCUBA divers say, “I don’t have to outswim the shark—I just have to outswim YOU!”
Next up is to install Wordfence, another WP plugin. This one has tons of features, but the most critical ones are the firewall and malware detection and login lockouts. I won’t go into how to set them up (both plugins mentioned have very good “non-Geekspeak” documentation and tutorials), but suffice it to say that configuring each is a breeze and locks down your site pretty tight.
Wordfence has been especially useful in light of the rise in “Brute Force Attacks” (BFA) that’s occurred recently because its “limit logins” functionality is so effective. You can set various parameters on login attempts and if something goes awry (for example, “somebody” tried to login in more than 5 times in a 5-minute window, you can lock them out for a specific period of time, say, 1 hour). This feature is extremely important and effective.
Using WordPress Best Practices
Now, onto actually using WordPress! If you can type up an email, you can use WordPress. Seriously. It’s quite easy. The end.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Content is king”? Well, it is, so you better make sure you create awesome content that is both enjoyable and informative to read by real people as well as showing search engine bots what your content is all about. This requires a little finesse.
If you do it right, you will delight your visitors and make the search bots happy.
Stop thinking in terms of “keywords”. Keywords are so last decade. Think, instead, in terms of “topics”. That is to say, what will your post cover? What is the main point you’re trying to get across to your readers? Pull out that old-fashioned Roget’s Thesaurus (or go online) and pick some tasty synonyms.
Let’s start with one of the—if not THE—most important components of content, your Title. Make sure your topic is covered in your title AND that the title is eye-catching. Some really effective titles, aka headlines, are “X Ways to do Y”. For example, if the topic of your post is “blog traffic”, your title could be “25 Ways to Supercharge Your Blog Traffic”.
Next comes your actual content. While I won’t write an entire blog post for you, let me just say that the post referenced above is a good example. Note that the topic of the post was blog traffic. Notice how I used words and phrases like “blog traffic”, “traffic to your blog”, “web traffic”, and “drive traffic”? Those are all basically the same concept, using different words. Google and the other Search Engines are getting better at determining search intent, to the extent that they are nearly as good as real humans are!
Literally use a thesaurus, if you must. You can find all sorts of synonyms for your topic and assemble them in different combinations to show both humans and bots what your content is all about.
It is also very important to link out to authority sites. Again, if you follow the example of this very post that you’re reading right now, you will see that I’ve linked out to authoritative and relevant sites. This is crucial, for two reasons (and really, it’s just one reason):
- You will be providing a valuable link to your readers that will give them more information about a certain concept, thus enhancing their user experience.
- You will make the search bots happy, too, because they want to see you making the effort of giving your visitors a great user experience.
(See how those two things really are the same thing?)
Also, make sure that your URL (or “permalink”) contains your topic.
One thing I will stress: Don’t overdo your topic. Always vary the words you’re using to convey that topic; never “overly repeat” the same phrase. It looks like “web spam” to Google and its search bot brethren.
Tags or Categories? Or both? Maybe neither?
WordPress comes out of the box with tags and categories enabled. There’s a reason for that—use them!
Some “SEO experts” may tell you to use one or the other, but I will tell you it won’t hurt you a bit to use both. In fact, it will help you. Just make sure that your categories don’t use the same words as your tags. Remember your post concept from up above.
This question always comes up: “How often should I post?” My answer always is, “More is better” with one caveat: As long as your post quality does not suffer and you continue to publish relevant posts that are useful to your readers.
In other words, don’t post just to post. That’s stupid and a waste of time and will eventually hurt you more than help you.
Quality always trumps quantity. Remember that.
I certainly hope you take these WordPress pointers to heart! Let me know what you think. I can be reached at http://internet-marketing-muscle.com/support if you have any questions.