What’s so great about WordPress?
If you’re running a business, you’re busy, or you should be. If you’re not busily, actively engaged in the thing you’ve chosen to do, you should be busy investing your resources – time & money both, perhaps – to find customers who want your product or service, and want it from you.
There is so much to do that it can be hard to keep up. One of the things that often fall by the wayside is website maintenance. Although it’s one of your most powerful marketing tools, it can seem a daunting prospect to keep your website fresh. It may be difficult to update yourself; you may have lost touch with your web developer or just can’t afford to pay someone for the time to make those changes on your behalf.
No matter how tech savvy you are (or not), it’s possible to have a relevant, up-to-date website while spending neither a fortune, nor ages doing it yourself. WordPress to the rescue! It’s an ideal platform for hands-on control of your site, and it’s fun to use into the bargain.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is the world’s most popular blogging platform, but it’s also one of the most popular Content Management Systems (CMS) in the world, too. A CMS is a platform for building a website and, for my money, WordPress wins the prize for being the most accessible CMS around. In fact, it’s free, Open Source software and anyone can use it.
The core product is stable, search engine friendly and straightforward to use. In addition, there is a vibrant community of developers who devote themselves to WordPress, many of whom write add-on utilities, called plugins, which massively extend the core functionality of WordPress, which gives you the opportunity to really shine on the web, even on a limited budget.
If all this stuff is free, how does this “vibrant community” make a living?
While the software is free, a developer’s time and expertise has a cost. Many people don’t choose to take the time to find a domain, set up a web host, install WordPress, learn all about it and build a website, so they hire someone like me to do that for them. For those who would like something more complicated than a font-based header, it may be an advantage to hire a graphic designer, too, to create a logo, web banner or a whole new “branding” package.
I build websites in WordPress and sometimes that means doing everything from beginning to end, and then training my clients to use their new sites to whatever degree they feel they’ll want to.
In other cases, I’ve had clients who have wanted to work alongside me and start using their site right away – even while I’m still building it. The opportunity for collaboration is fantastic; and the more I can involve a customer during the build stage, the more he or she typically feels able to carry on with keeping that site up-to-date.
Plugins…what do they do exactly?
The folks at WordPress maintain that the most important thing to them is to keep WordPress simple, reliable and stable. The core product is lean, but still enough for a pleasing aesthetic and a blog page to enable you to continue adding content to your site.
Perhaps you want to do more? There are all sorts of things to choose from. Want to run events? There’s a plugin for that. Want to control some of your content, and drip-feed it to your paid members? Or offer a recipe of the month, a soundtrack to your latest studio recording or sell from an online shop? Yup. It’s all there.
Most of what you need will likely be free to download to your site. Often, plugin developers will do both free and premium (paid) versions of their add-on software, in the hopes that user satisfaction with the “lite” version will tempt some people to pay for a larger set of features.
SEO + WordPress = a winning combination!
WordPress is good for SEO. With it’s clean coding and simple structure, it’s already search engine friendly, but there are ways you can make it even better. As I said in my previous article about SEO, the best thing you can do is make sure you provide high quality content in the form of a minimum 300 words of natural, relevant language on each page.
Once you’ve done that, you can use an SEO plugin to assess how well you’ve done and, provided you understand the rules, make enormous improvements using its guidance. Think about your target audience – remember, it’s important to choose keywords that would come naturally to your ideal customers – and throw in a little of that homework you did on the keywords that your top competitors are using to get to page one of Google’s search results.
Blogging can be really helpful to you, too. 300 words are not so many to write, but each time you write a post on a WordPress site, you are effectively adding another page. So, your basic 5-page site, with one bit of news added every other month, becomes an 11-page site at the end of your first year.
When is a blog not a blog?
Maybe you don’t like the idea of having a blog. There is plenty of awful, rambling nonsense out there, no doubt about it. But because blogging is great for SEO, you should think about doing it. You have a lot of options. Did I mention that every time you write a new post on your blog, your SEO tool is going to re-submit your whole sitemap to Google and the other major search engines? (It will, so get going.)
Your blog doesn’t have to be a diary. You can write about a special offer on a product or treatment, post a recipe of the month based on what’s in season, talk about a new piece of employment legislation if you’re an HR consultant or even use the blogging functionality to add projects to your portfolio if you’re an artist, builder or landscaper, for example.
Ready to give it a try?
WordPress is powerful, popular and cost-effective. Whether you choose to build your site or have it done for you, using WordPress as your CMS gives you an unparalleled opportunity to keep your website fresh, up-to-date and under your own control.