Truth be told, when I first started out with WordPress, it seemed daunting at first. However, I was soon surprised by its gentle learning curve and quickly got the hang of things.
WordPress is the easiest content management platforms to start a blog. Some of the reasons WordPress is so widely used and loved by site owners are as follows:
- Extremely easy to deploy – to deploy a basic WordPress website, one needs to have no knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP or other coding skills
- Free – The WordPress platform is free to use and so are the majority of its themes and plugins.
- Excellent support – WordPress has excellent support. One can get support and have any question answered from the main support website at org, or from the many WordPress forums and blogs on the Internet.
- Thousands of plugins and themes – plugins are software programs which improve your blog’s functionality. A theme or template, on the other hand, contains coded instructions that determine how content is displayed on your blog, for example, 3-columns, 2 columns, slide show on the home page etc.
The following are the steps that an absolute beginner needs to follow to start a WordPress blog.
Step 1: Installation
I recommend you self host your WP blog. This will cost you about $10 per year for the domain name e.g. yourdomain.com and $5 to $10 per month for hosting. Most hosting providers have a One Click install solution, a software script that automates the process of installing common web applications such as WordPress. On the installation page, you will need to enter some basic admin login data and create a base configuration. If you have any problems with installation, raise a support ticket with your hosting provider and they should be able to sort you out.
Step 2: Install an SEO ready theme
WordPress comes with a pre-installed theme. Depending on your requirements, you may want to change the default theme. If you want to use a free theme, navigate to wordpress.org/extend/themes/ and select a theme. Download it to a location on your computer (make sure you remember where) and then upload it. WordPress themes are in ZIP format. This means that the various files which you will upload to your server are normally in a zipped folder and have the .zip extension (the file name ends with .zip). Make sure the theme is SEO friendly. SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization which simply means that the theme has conformed to design standards that allow the site to be found easily and indexed by search engines such as Google. Check to see if it states “responsive” in the description and also reading up on the theme reviews. If you can afford it, purchase a premium theme that’s guaranteed to be SEO ready from one of the leading WordPress developers.
Step 3: Install plugins
As already mentioned, plugins extend the functionality of WordPress. There are thousands of free plugins in the WordPress plugin directory. One of the first plugins you should install is an SEO plugin. An SEO plugin helps you get your on-page SEO right when you start creating content. Avoid the temptation of installing too many plugins. While plugins are good for extending functionality, they also slow down your site which is bad for SEO.
Step 4: Write your first post
Your content will be a page or a post. A page is usually static and rarely changes, for example, an About Me page or a Contact page. Posts are periodic content and are what you publish most of the time. To create a new post, navigate to Posts > Add New in the sidebar.Type in your post in the WordPress editor. Use the SEO plugin you installed step three to tweak your heading, title tags and descriptions so that they are focused on the post’s keyword. For the best SEO, ensure you create great content that your readers will feel compelled to link to and share widely.
Step 5: Create an about and contact page
A page about yourself and a contact page give you legitimacy and trustworthiness. Write a fairly detailed description about yourself. Include a contact form and social media profiles on your contact page in case a reader would like to contact you.
Step 6: Work on off-page SEO
Your blog will not be complete unless you work on off-page SEO. Off-page refers to any SEO activities that you undertake away from the site. The main off-page SEO I’m referring to is creating links back to your site. Backlinks from reputable sites improve your blog’s ranking in Google. To get backlinks, look for other blogs that accept guest posts and allow you to link to your site. Write great guest posts and include a link to your site in the resource section.
These six steps comprise the bare minimum for a complete beginner. But, it doesn’t end here, there is much more. Once you have gone through these six steps, continue experimenting with WordPress. Learn as much as you can about social sharing, site analytics, comments and much more. When you become an expert at using WordPress, the sky is the limit to what you can achieve.