Redesigning a Business Web Site in Eight Hours, Using WordPress – Halfway In

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We are in the process of a complete business web site redesign using WordPress. So far, we have selected our host, signed up for a hosting plan, registered the domain name, installed WordPress and selected a theme. Since the steps and processes covered here could be taken in any order desired, the title refers to this as “Halfway in,” meaning hours two to four. The theme used for this article is “spacious” and we are starting with the basic, unmodified, theme. By the end of this article, we will be able to set up our pages, add and set up plugins, upload and utilize media plus other steps to be included in the early stages of setting up a site in WordPress. The starting design of the “spacious” theme is shown below.

Spacious theme startup screen wordpress site designThe first thing to do is add some plugins. One plugin that provides a large amount of functionality is called “Jetpack.” Another highly useful plugin is called “WordPress SEO by Yoast.” Although there are a huge number of useful plugins that fit specific needs, we will install only two more – “Google XML Sitemaps” and “Captcha.” Install these now by going to Dashboard-plugins-Add New and “Install Now” for each of these.

Now that we have the plugins installed, let’s set them up. We will start with what I consider to be the most important plugin available for WordPress – Jetpack. This plugin installs many different types of functionality. Some of these are mobile theme, contact form, socialization of your blogs and many more. First, connect Jetpack using your WordPress.com account. If you don’t have one, registration is free.

Next, you may want to activate some of the features within Jetpack. Click on Settings and activate additional options and/or deactivate some that are enabled by default. Although not complete, I definitely recommend Spelling and Grammar, publicize (social postings) and mobile theme. A screenshot is shown below with many of these options listed. Those showing the bar to the left are active.Wordpress Jetpack plugin optionsLet’s move on to the next important – search engine optimization. This is enabled by the “WordPress SEO” plugin and the settings can be accessed by quite a few methods. Since you have the screen shot above, we will use the SEO button – click on that to open the many settings available. Since the SEO subject and implementation of search engine solutions can get very deep and consume entire books, setup of WordPress SEO will not be covered, although you are heavily advised to learn as much as possible about search engines and use that information in setting up your WordPress SEO module.

Next, let’s cover a useful security feature – Captcha. If you have run a blog before, or have participated in discussions or form submissions, you have experienced the Captcha security feature. The basic functionality is to require a question to be answered to login, post, comment and even submit forms. This feature will help greatly in controlling the automated bots that want to use your blog to spread their spam.wordpress plugin captch security web designNotice the title typed in the field. I used “Real user verification required.” Depending on the settings selected at the top of this screen, all activity on your site can be protected by Captcha. Let’s move on to the final, though definitely not least important, plugin covered here – Google XML Sitemaps.

wordpress plugin google xml sitemaps screenshotWhat you see in this screenshot is the basic, default, settings. Although you could apply the specifics learned for the WordPress SEO plugin, the default settings will probably be quite effective.

Now that we have the plugins installed and set up, let’s move on to creating pages for our WordPress small business site. In the Dashboard menu, click on Pages and then Add New.wordpress home page sample screenshotNotice the body text that we have typed and the graphic inserted using the Add Media button. Also notice the fact that we will be setting this as the default page for our site. When inserting a graphic, be sure to add appropriate alt text. This alternate text will help with search engine optimization of your post. For appearance purposes, you will be able to select different sizes of your image – be sure to select an image that fits well in your desired format.

We will set this as the home page, but that is accomplished outside of the page itself. Let’s move on to optimizing this blog post for search engines. See the screenshot below for an illustration of the SEO analysis before optimization.

wordpress seo screenshot prior to optimizationThis doesn’t look so good, but we can fix that. Let’s change the title to something more appropriate for the intended search term – “home page web site.” Maybe “Setting up web site home page in wordpress” is a better title and “web site home page” is a better search term. Now we have a YES on both article heading and page title.

Two more easy changes are Page Url and Meta description. Click Edit near the top of your page beside of Permalink. This will allow changing of the URL used for the blog post. Change it to “web-site-home-page-in-wordpress.” You will also enter these words, among others, in the Meta description box near the bottom of your page. How does it look now?

wordpress seo optimization changes being madeWe have made quite a few changes and improved some in the focus keyword area, but the overall SEO ranking is still Poor. We can start at the top and fix just a few reported issue sto greatly affect our ranking. Since this test article will not have 300 words, I will copy some “lorem ipsum” text into the article. By merely making two changes – adding 300 words or more to the article and modifying the first paragraph to contain the search phrase, we have obtained a green dot and a rating of “Good” in our SEO ranking. When you are satisfied with the page layout and SEO, click Publish.

Now let’s set this as the home page. On your Dashboard, elect the Appearance area and then Customize. Select Static Front Page and choose “A Static Page” and select the page that you have just Published. Now all visitors will see this page when they visit your site.

We have glanced over the detailed subject of search engine optimization. There is a principle to keep in mind when creating SEO-friendly blogs and pages – the statistics and suggestions only apply to the keywords currently selected. If someone chooses to search using a modified keyword string, they can completely miss your site or it may appear much lower than intended. Select your targeted keywords carefully and customize the page or article to cover as many keywords as possible. This article claims three hours of time to cover the items discussed. The truth to that is that “the basics” can be covered in three hours. Proper SEO for a single page or blog post can consume many hours.

In our first article and this one, we have covered many details in setting up your own small business web site using WordPress. There will be two more articles covering the remaining four hours of our eight hour period. These will appear soon and will cover topics such as site title and tagline, background image, widgets and many other important topics related to small business web sites.

Related Article:
Part 3

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