No matter who you are, or how experienced, improving your website can be tough work! First of all, it takes a commitment to continuous improvement. Secondly, it requires time. Precious time, that many busy web managers just don’t have. There are some things, however, that you can do to improve your website that don’t take up-front time away from higher priority tasks. This is just a sample of some tips for making immediate improvements to your website.
1. Start paying attention to your SEO!
Search Engine Optimization. Those words can be enough to strike fear into the hearts of even the most experienced web managers and bloggers! “How do I rank higher in search?” is one of the questions that we’ve all asked at one time or another.
It doesn’t need to be so hard! There’s an amazing tool out there that will help you improve your search engine optimization and teach out about SEO at the same time. That tool, my friends, is Yoast. Their tagline is “SEO for everyone” and they mean what they say.
The great thing about Yoast is that it teaches you about SEO as its making recommendations to improve your content and keywords. Soon, you’ll be picking up best practices, almost by osmosis. Need to have at least 300 words of content? Check! Is the focus keyword in the first paragraph of copy? Check! What about internal links, images, etc.? Yoast checks all of this for you and provides recommendations for improvement.
I can’t recommend them enough for web managers, and this is a completely unsolicited recommendation (I don’t get any benefit from this recommendation). If you’re not using Yoast, I strongly recommend that you check it out. The basic version is free and once you’ve worked with it a while, I know you’ll want to follow my advice in #3 below and purchase. Get it at https://yoast.com.
2. Stop Letting WordPress make your decisions for you!
WordPress is a great tool, and it has made creating and managing websites so much easier for non-technical people. One of the perceived benefits of using WordPress is that it makes set-up and publishing so incredibly simple! If you are a content editor, it can be a simple matter to write your content, press the publish button, and voila!
But that which is convenient can also be a detriment. WordPress can make decisions for you and if it’s one thing you want as a web manager or site owner, its control over when and how your content displays.
Some of the things that you should be deciding manually:
- The creation of your menus
- The order of your pages
- The sidebar content on each and every page
- Automatic responders. Please, for the love of all that is holy, customize your site’s automatic responses.
There are many other things that you can set manually, and I encourage you to explore and make decisions based on your specific needs, rather than letting the WordPress Gods determine your fate.
Small things like this are what set websites apart. It doesn’t take much effort and it lets your visitors know that you’re serious about the site.
Use paid versions of reputable plugins whenever possible.
I’m just going to say it. If you’re serious about your website, you’re using the best tools available. And let’s face it, friends, the best tools include support, frequent updates, and a sterling reputation.
These things aren’t always free, and they shouldn’t be. Almost all of my favorite plugins cost money annually: Yoast, Social Warfare, Wordfence, Akismet, etc.
The benefits of paying for a plugin far outweigh the small benefit of getting something for free:
- Often, the best features and functionality are only available in paid versions.
- Support services are vastly improved by paying for a plugin. And believe me, when you need support services, you’re going to be thrilled that there is someone available to help you.
- Paying for plugins allows the authors the ability to continually make improvements and updates. This is key in making sure that plugins are kept up-to-date and work properly with WordPress and other plugins that you may have installed.
Plugin costs are a part of your overall website costs and should always be considered when budgeting, these costs are a small price to pay to ensure that you have expert help available when you need it most.