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A Guide to Getting Started with WordPress

Web.com Team
Unsplash image of man at a desk

A new decade is right around the corner. As we head into 2020, consumers expect to be able to find your business online. 

Not having a website means you’re missing valuable opportunities to give your business more credibility, provide customers 24/7 access to information about your company and save time by answering common questions customers may have.

Building a website or an eCommerce store is now easier than ever. With the technology available today, you don’t need to be a tech wiz to attempt to do it yourself.

WordPress is a popular website Content Management System (CMS) powering 34 percent of all sites on the Internet, and it’s a great way to get your website online quickly and easily. Here’s everything you need to know about building a WordPress website. 

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a CMS designed to help you build and manage your website. This tool enables you to organize and publish your content with ease. It acts as a foundation for your content and allows you to install plugins that add new functionality and design elements to your website.  You’ll be able to customize your site to meet your exact needs and those of your site’s visitors. 

Using a WordPress CMS differs from using a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) website builder in that it offers more flexibility and control over your site and content. 

You might be tempted to work with WYSIWYG website builders because of how easy they are to use. However, they tend to be limited in their features and often tie you into hosting with a specific company. With WordPress, you can continuously refresh your website’s design, content and functionality.

Why is a WordPress Website Suitable for SMBs?

WordPress is Easy to Use

Getting started with WordPress is easy and anyone wishing to create a website can do so. The skills required to build a website are within reach for many small business owners. 

The WordPress Community is There to Help

With the popularity of WordPress, there's never a shortage of resources available to ensure you can achieve your website goals. Plus, SMBs can tap into a massive community of designers if they need assistance with creating or updating their website.

It’s Flexible Enough to Meet Your Needs

WordPress offers a high level of flexibility and control over creating and updating your website. As Kenneth Shutt, Web.com’s product manager explains, “With WordPress, you can start simple, and then it has the ability for you to customize and add features to it. So you could really go from just getting started to having a much larger, more functional, more dynamic, presence after that.” 

It’s a Mobile-Friendly Tool

WordPress allows you to create a professional website that’s compatible with most mobile devices. Mobile accounts for nearly half of all web traffic worldwide, so there’s a good chance your customers are accessing your website on a mobile device. 

Having a mobile-ready website is critical for businesses that want to be found online. As more people use mobile devices to search for products and services, Google has started prioritizing websites that can be displayed on mobile. 

Getting Started With WordPress

There are many ways to get started with WordPress, but there’s no reason to fear the learning curve or feel overwhelmed by your choices. 

One of the upsides of working with WordPress is that it’s cost-effective. In theory, all you need is a hosting package to host your files, so there isn’t anything stopping you from working with this easy-to-use software.

Installing WordPress is Easy

WordPress itself is free, open-source software that you can download from the Internet and then upload to your website hosting account. If you’ve ever downloaded a document or picture and uploaded it to your email or a social media account, you’ll find downloading and uploading WordPress is just as easy. In most cases, in fact, it’s even easier.

Yes, you can download WordPress directly from WordPress.org, but many hosting packages provide the ability to install it directly from within your account with a few simple clicks. If you use a managed WordPress hosting account, it comes with the software already installed. 

Find a WordPress Hosting Package

We recommend finding a package that provides the flexibility of hosting and is optimized for WordPress. According to Kenneth, “Most popular hosting packages can accommodate WordPress, but your best option would be to look for hosting that’s created for WordPress.” 

Hosting packages that are tailored specifically for WordPress are designed to remove a lot of the complexity of getting it up and running. Plus, many of these packages include additional features and related products to help protect or enhance your site. 
  
Set up Your Website

Once you’ve picked your WordPress hosting package, you’ll then take the necessary steps to set up your website.

First, you’ll need to choose a domain name. Your domain or website name is the address where Internet users can access your website. (For example, Web.com is our domain name.) You can purchase your domain name from a web hosting company, or it may come with your hosting package.

Next, you’ll need to complete the installation. The WordPress hosting package you chose will typically provide instructions on how to install it, which requires either downloading and uploading the software or using a quick installation method within your account. Again, if you select a managed WordPress hosting account, it will come with the software already installed and ready to go.

After you’ve installed and activated WordPress on your hosting account, you should be able to see a starter website on your domain.
  
Your next step will be to select a theme, which is a kind of website template. It’s a WordPress website design layout set that allows you to change the look of your site. Once you’ve installed your theme, you may add plugins to enhance and customize your site.

After getting your website set up, you’ll be free to add your content and start creating.

Building and Keeping Your WordPress Website Updated

Most hosting packages include an easy installation tool. If you have a managed WordPress hosting package, the software is already installed.

Once WordPress is installed, you’ll log into a dashboard. All of the website construction and customization happens here. It’s where you'll find everything you need to publish content and manage your site. 

Choosing a WordPress Theme

There are thousands of free or low-cost WordPress themes from which to choose. Even premium WordPress themes are affordable for SMBs, and the reasonable added expense can save you tons of time and effort.

Choose a theme that already has the look and feel of the website you want to create. Once you install it, you simply need to add images and text to share your company’s brand and messaging. 

Many premium themes work like website builders. They allow you to change the look and design of your site easily and dramatically without the help of a developer. They come with a library of prepackaged layouts and the ability to make edits and tweaks by changing a few settings in your dashboard or by using a drag and drop visual editor. 

Customize Your Website With Plugins

A plugin is a piece of software easily added to your WordPress site to extend its functionality or add new features. Think of using a plugin as being like adding an app to your smartphone. 

Plugins are one of the best features of WordPress because you don’t have to write any code to add a range of features, such as an image slider, custom form or photo gallery. 

Developers in the WordPress community are creating new and improved plugins all the time. It’s likely that if you want to do something with your website, someone has already created a plugin for it.

Before you install a plugin, check to see how many people are using it, how it’s rated and how recently it’s been updated. All of this information is readily available when you look for plugins in WordPress. You’ll want to avoid using new or unpopular plugins. Try to use only the ones that are well-tested and up to date. The more times the plugin has been installed and the higher its rating is, the more stable and secure it is likely to be once installed.

Wordpress plugin screenshot

Protect Against Security Risks

Outdated or unsupported themes and plugins could pose a security risk and enable hackers to access your website for malicious purposes.

Web.com’s managed WordPress hosting solution removes the risk and makes it easy for our customers to manage their businesses. With a managed WordPress hosting account, you don’t have to worry about outdated or unsupported plugins. We make sure everything is up to date from a security perspective, giving you peace of mind.

Search Engine Optimization and Mobile Responsiveness with WordPress 

One of the key aspects of having an effective website is making sure you’ve taken whatever steps you can to ensure your website is easily found online.

Not only is WordPress optimized for search engines right out of the box, but it’s also built in such a way that makes it a breeze for you to keep your website updated. WordPress allows you to easily add and regularly update content with keywords your customers use to find your products and services.

“By keeping your site up to date, you’re signaling to Google that your site is active. That helps you get ranked higher in search,” says Kenneth. 

Mobile responsiveness should also be a top priority for any website. Most people use Google to find websites. When Google sends you to a site, they're trying to send you to the best match for your search. Google has built-in algorithms that dictate which websites they direct your customers toward. They don't want to send you to a website that doesn't work on your mobile device.

There are many other factors that will help boost your search engine rankings. For example, having an SSL certificate installed properly is critical. Your domain name should come up in the browser address bar with the “HTTPS:” in front of it. The “S” in “HTTPS” stands for “Secure.” If your site isn’t secure, Google will typically warn people when they visit your site, and it can hurt your search engine rankings.

It’s also important to ensure all the links on your website are working because broken links negatively affect your ranking. You can add a plugin that checks for broken links and redirects them accordingly. You’ll also want to claim your Google My Business (GMB) page, which you can integrate into your site using a plugin.

Why Choose a Web.com WordPress Hosting Plan

At Web.com, our WordPress hosting packages are designed specifically for WordPress with performance in mind. WordPress is fairly basic out of the box. Once you start adding in some plugins and features, however, it can start to cause slowdowns on your site. 

According to Kenneth, “Web.com’s platform minimizes slowdowns so that your website performs at the highest level possible.” 

Plus, we've included some additional features that our customers find useful, such as site staging. This means you have the ability to build a website that isn't published online yet, giving you the option to play around and explore different designs and features before you're ready to publish. 

Select a WordPress Hosting Package to Meet Your Needs

Web.com offers three variations of WordPress Hosting for those that want to build their own website. WordPress sites built using our packages offer faster load times, and you can get support from our experts when you need it. Plus, you'll have access to a variety of approximately 30 free pre-installed themes and over 50,000 plugins available from the WordPress plugin library.


The package a business chooses will depend on their specific needs, but you’ll find that all of Web.com’s WordPress hosting packages include free domain name registration and plenty of storage for your website. 

New businesses can get online with a package that provides 10 email boxes and 50 GB of storage for their files for as little as $7.99 a month. 

Growing businesses may opt for Web.com’s mid-level WordPress hosting package. That package provides 25 email boxes, can host up to three websites and will store up to 100 GB. This package also includes an SSL to make sure your website is secure and to help improve your organic search engine rankings. This package is only $13.98 a month. 

Thriving businesses may opt for the high-end WordPress hosting package. This package can host up to five different websites, comes with 200 GB of storage, an SSL certificate and 50 email boxes for only $18.98 a month.

Web.com WordPress hosting packages can be upgraded at any time and are designed so that you can get the storage and services you need with no interruptions, even as your business grows.

Kenneth shared how easy it is to get up and running with a WordPress hosting package from Web.com. “As we’re focused on the SMB customer, we pre-install themes and plugins that are best suited to your needs. We save you the time and effort of figuring out how to get started, and then we make sure they’re updated on an ongoing basis so your site is stable and secure.” 

General Tips and Tricks for WordPress

Our best advice for getting started with WordPress is to take your time, dive into the builder’s features and familiarize yourself with its capabilities.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

There are themes and plugins that give you some drag and drop capabilities to make it easier to build your website. Before you start installing a variety of plugins, familiarize yourself with the WordPress control panel.

Practice creating a few pages and setting up the website navigation. Then, select and install only the plugins you’ll need to achieve your required functionality. Keep in mind that too many plugins will bog down your website. If you have one of Web.com’s WordPress hosting packages, the best plugins will have been preselected for you.

Help Is Available When You Need It

One of the most helpful things about working with WordPress is its global community of users. You can find an endless supply of help documents and forums full of other people working with this tool who enjoy tackling challenges and are willing to assist you.

By choosing a WordPress hosting company with excellent customer support, such as Web.com, you get the advantage of having a helpful team of experts available to support you. 

At Web.com, we even offer WordPress design services, so if you get stuck or decide you don’t want to take the time to do it yourself, we can build your website for you.

Keep Your Site Secure

Never underestimate the importance of keeping your WordPress site secure. This is the biggest problem SMBs face if they’re not careful.

As Kenneth explains, “You need to make sure everything’s up to date from a security perspective. Hackers can take down your site and negatively impact your business at any time — and it happens more often than you may realize.” 

WordPress regularly releases updates to fix security vulnerabilities. With an average of more than one patch a month, it can be time-consuming to keep your website secure. Web.com’s managed WordPress is a product that does the work for you, ensuring you’re using the latest version, and your themes and plugins are updated. 

Using WordPress for Your Business 

Overall, building a website for your SMB is now easier than ever with the help of WordPress. You don’t need to be a tech wiz; if you can use internet applications or a smartphone, you can build a WordPress website. It just takes confidence, patience and a small cost to get started. 

Yes, there’s a learning curve, but it’s not as steep as you might think. By tapping into the worldwide WordPress community and choosing a hosting company like Web.com that’s committed to supporting SMBs, you’ll have your WordPress website built and online in no time.

IMAGE CREDITS

Featured Image: Unsplash/Fikret Tozak 

All screenshots taken by the author, November 2019
Image One: Via WordPress