Are You Using WordPress to Its Full Potential?

WordPress has become one of the leading content management systems, touted for its easy site design and publication tools, from home bloggers to big businesses.

Using WordPress to Its Full Potential

More than 26 percent of Web sites are using WordPress — giving it a 59.4 percent market share.

With a wide variety of theme options from designers around the world, an easy-to-use dashboard that helps users get their Web sites up and running, and an extensive list of apps and plugins, Web site administrators are finding that uploading and updating their site is quick and efficient.

WordPress 101

What you might not realize, though, is that WordPress has a number of lesser-known capabilities and functionalities that will enhance your Web site, increase traffic, and give your visitors a better experience.

WordPress 101

In 2001, b2/cafelog was launched, as a “a classy news/weblog tool (aka logware).” The site made building blogs easy for users of all capabilities. Bloggers could type their posts, click on “blog this” and, within seconds, see their writing on the Internet. A MySQL database dynamically generated the pages, allow for faster searching and templates.

This was a popular option for many bloggers, with the developer, Michel Valdrighi, estimating that about 2,000 blogs were running b2. People appreciated the ease of use and the community that was created, in addition to the opportunity for interested bloggers to quickly develop their pages. After a while, though, the updates stopped.

Different developers forked the structure of b2, including Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg, who released WordPress in 2003.

open source content management system launched

The free, open source content management system launched with version .7, giving bloggers slightly more options following b2’s last update, which stopped at .6. The site has grown from its initial blogging background to being the software of choice for many different companies, including The New York Times, GM, Best Buy and Mashable, to name a few of the more than 76.5 million blogs running WordPress. The current stable version was just released in August, although version 4.7 is expected to come out in December.

Each update that has been made removes bugs from previous versions, while improving the usability, from improving support for new plug-ins and compatibilities to recent developments adding support for emojis, responsive images and previews and formatting shortcuts.

With the stability and autonomy, users can host many different WordPress sites on installation, and have a great deal of choice when it comes to their design. For many, though, the biggest draw is that WordPress, being open source, is completely free. Downloading the software doesn’t cost anything, and users can install, run, study and modify it as they desire. In addition, many themes and plugins are also free. The only thing needed is a Web site host.

 

WordPress Essentials

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5 Ways to Make the Most of Your WordPress Site

1. Plug-ins – With tens of thousands of plugins available, picking the right one can be difficult.

Wordpress Plugins

Plug-ins have been created to do everything from invoicing and calendars to back-end support, security, and usability. When looking for plug-ins, check out the number of reviews — but more importantly, look at the number of active installs. A higher number indicates a more stable, user-friendly, functioning plug-in.

Here are a few of my favorites:

WordPress Website Embedder – Live Composer Add-on

Front-end editor: WordPress Website Embedder – Live Composer Add-on – This plugin allows you to preview your content, and even write your content, in real-time on the live version.

WordPress Website Embedder

This plugin allows you to preview your content, and even write your content, in real-time on the live version. It takes away the time spent flipping between your dashboard and the preview button to check that the page looks the way you’d envisioned, and lets you focus on the content itself.

Contact form: Contact Form 7

Contact form: Contact Form 7 – You could build your own contact form WordPress plugin.

Contact Form 7

You could use this plug-in. It’s extremely easy to use, highly adaptable to meet a variety of different needs, and is regularly updated, with the newest modification released in August bringing a label element to label the forms.

SEO: All in One SEO Pack

All in One SEO Pack – This plug-in has more than 30 million downloads, making it the most downloaded WordPress plugin.

All in One SEO Pack

It optimizes your site for SEO by supporting XML Sitemap, Google Analytics, integration for eCommerce sites, and automatically generates META tags, in addition to a variety of other turnkey options.

2. Themes

Your theme is the template and design structure that you’ll be using for your WordPress site. Developers from the around the world are taking their designs and putting them on the screen, which can give you what feels like limitless options, a benefit that can leave you stymied when trying to pick your favorite.

Keep these tricks in mind when picking your theme, and you’ll see your WordPress site reach more visitors, increase traffic, and reach its fullest potential.

Think about your audience. Users and search engines alike prefer quick, light Web sites with short load times. Simple themes can often be the most elegant and user-friendly, with logical navigation options and just enough content depth.

Guarantee your theme is responsive, which means that across all devices, the site is functional and usable. This means that menus might shrink or move on a cell phone, and the site formatting will change for a tablet.

Most developers are making their sites responsive, but if you’re not sure, check out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, which will analyze the design and give you feedback on your site. You should also make sure your site runs a variety of browsers, or you could lose many visitors.

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

Easy-to-use page builders. There are many new themes being developed that give administrators a drag-and-drop feature that gives even greater customization. Look at the theme and consider the coding experience of the page designer; if you can’t find a theme you like but want to change it, make sure it’s something that is within your reach, or consider hiring a designer to help with the change.

3. Blogging

WordPress was created for bloggers, and still makes it easy for both individuals and corporations to create and share their expertise, knowledge, and opinions.

Blogging with Wordress

From picking a theme that is highly readable, with lots of white space and a clean design, to finding the best plug-ins, the sky is the limit with your WordPress blog.

  • Consider adding social shares. There are plugins for locked content, which means once a user pays a certain amount, they can see the content. With a social lock, the user needs a certain number of shares or likes before they can access your piece. This provides social proof that your content is valuable, provides you with a greater number of qualified leads, and helps to grow your presence and authority.
  • Understand how keywords and permalinks are relevant. When you are titling your pages, remember that Google places a higher weight on the first four words. WordPress has a few great tools to improve your experience creating your name. The one we like the best allows you to automatically generate the title based on your headline.

Say your post’s title is “The Best Ways to Reach Your WordPress Web Site’s Full Potential.” The page’s permalink then includes those words. If you decide to change your title mid-post, though, you can just click the edit button next to the address, and then hit ok, which will regenerate the address with the current title.

4. eCommerce

Automattic, the company launched by WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, purchased WooCommerce in 2015, which will help make the plug-in even more compatible with WordPress.

WooCommerce On WordPress

There are plenty of themes designed around selling, but many WordPress users still found hesitation in jumping in when compared to some of the leading sales platforms, like Shopify and Squarespace.

There are many different plug-ins, and that will continue, with Mullenweg pointing out that WooCommerce won’t be automatically built into WordPress until some additional work is done on the plug-in.

WooCommerce Settings

 

If you’ll be selling products on your site, one of the best ways you can maximize your WordPress site’s capabilities is by using Google’s free Analytics Content Experiments tool, which will help you test and optimize the steps you’re taking to reach your goals.

5. Growth and Duplication

While it’s not a new feature, Multisite has been growing in popularity since its launch in 2010.

Growth and Duplication

. By adding one simple line of coding  in the wp-config.php file, you can create multiple sites that can all be managed from one installation. You’ll be able to log in with one username and password, and manage all of your sites. You can still allow each site to have its own admins with their own capabilities, on their individual sites, but you’ll be able manage updates, plugins, and themes much faster.

This is a great option for companies that have similar but distinct departments, like a magazine publishing house that wants to create uniformity between distinct brands, organizations with multiple locations where each spot will have its own unique site with a common theme, or a network of blogs across many subdomains.

Codex has a great run-down on the three easy steps to follow, which include temporarily deactivating active plugins, making sure that that Pretty Permalinks works on your site, and defining multisite in the php file.

Codex

Refresh the browser, and then install your network, and your multiset network will be ready to go.

Start making efforts today to improve your WordPress Web site and in no time, your Web site will reach its fullest potential, generating traffic, converting leads, and helping your business grow.

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