8 WordPress Tips and Tricks for Beginners

July 13, 2020
By Forge and Smith

You want to keep your newly crafted business website running smoothly and earning traffic for the long term, but you’re no WordPress or SEO expert. Who has time for that right now? As Jacks and Janes of all trades, our team is aware of the need for content management to be quick and efficient – hence our love of WordPress! Here are our favourite basic WordPress tips to keep your website healthy while you focus on your real job.

WordPress Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Easy-Peasy, Lemon WSYWIGy

While the WSYWIG (aka the ‘what you see is what you get’ content block) may be the most fun WordPress element to say out loud, its user-friendly backend can lead to unexpected trip-ups on the front end.

screenshot showing the WYSIWYG editor in WordPress

When cutting and pasting from elsewhere, hidden code or tags can linger during the copy transfer. Those unexpected visitors can make a beautifully crafted text box look wonky, and waste your valuable time trying to figure out why all those words have mutated.

Click ‘paste as text,’ and what you see is what you’ll actually get on the front end. You can then add code, formatting, or tags back in as needed – all while keeping it organized in the back end.

screenshot showing the paste as text option in WordPress

Name Your Files, Don’t Shame Your Files

When it comes to WordPress tips, we can’t overemphasize the importance of your images. Who wants to be known as staff_alt93.jpeg anyway? Name your files appropriately before uploading them. To grab more of that sweet SEO boost, name images and logos with appropriate keywords.

When naming images or items that are important to your organization, accuracy is essential: staff_alt93.jpeg deserves to be known as Genevieve Garcia, Salesperson Of The Year, in life and on Google.

screenshot of team member photos in a Mac folder

On the other hand, some images are there to evoke a feeling for your site visitors, and that includes those with impaired vision. A site reader will read your meta image descriptions out loud. Your image ALT text the place to forget about SEO keywords and focus on an accurate description. “A bright yellow umbrella stands out among a sea of grey umbrellas” will convey your message better than “yellow umbrella vancouver where to buy yellow umbrella sale.”

screenshot showing how to edit the ALT text in WordPress

Customize Your URLs

WordPress automatically sets a URL for every blog post, but it’s easy to customize with a shortened, SEO-friendly slug prior to publishing.

screenshot showing how to customize your URL using WOrdPress

There’s a caveat here, though: beware of modifying it after you’ve published and the blog post is live. If you do, you must create a redirect for the old URL, because people can still find it elsewhere through the Internet in searches, or old social media posts and emails.

Even the coolest 404 page is still a lousy user experience. If you absolutely must rename a URL after publishing, we recommend a plugin like Redirection, which allows you to create redirects in seconds, sending all traffic the old URL gets straight to the new one.

Open Links in New Tabs

Why have a website if all those helpful links just drive traffic away? When you tell WordPress to open a link in another tab, you can direct folks elsewhere and still keep them on your website – exactly where you want them.

screenshot showing how to set links to open in a new tab using WordPress

Keeping your site waiting for them in another tab can give you more opportunities for engagement, because there’s now a significantly higher chance that the reader will return after checking out the site you referenced. And if you have this option selected for links within your own website, visitors can easily return to finish reading that first piece of content, now with the added context you linked.

Stuck on what to even publish on your business blog? Read 20 Awesome Blog Content Ideas to get started!

Plugins Galore

No WordPress tips would be complete without talking about plugins. They’re our BFFs, and WordPress is even better with friends! With over 50,000 plugins available to extend your website’s functionality, there will be an option for almost any task you want to accomplish. They’re quick to install, and can almost instantly improve your user experience.

Just like a party, though, crowding together too many together can lead to a less-than-optimal experience. Installing all the coolest looking plugins at once is the party equivalent of a crowded snack table, running out of ice, and a fistfight on the back porch at the same time. Think of plugins as balancing a table at a dinner party: you want all the guests at the table to be compatible, so things run smoothly.

On that note, plugins with limited testing, low reviews, or no regular updates are like having a reckless stranger crash the party. Things might get broken or stolen – so be careful with your guest list, and have a trusted web developer bounce nefarious visitors at the door.

Yoast of the Town

Speaking of plugins… There are myriad options for optimization, but we want you to be able to navigate your website without a degree in SEO. The Yoast SEO plugin is the magic wand to wave over your WordPress site for meta descriptions (search engine blurbs), keyword checking, readability, and custom social media sharing options.

screenshot showing Yoast analysis results in WordPress

It gives you the ability to appease the almighty Lord Go’Ogle, and all you have to do is follow the checklist and say Hocus Pocus! (Incantation optional.)

Make Friends with Google Analytics

And speaking of the omnipotent Google – its Analytics tool gives you tons of valuable data about your website traffic and visitor behaviour, for free! It can help you understand who your visitors are, which channels bring them to your site, and how they engage with your content.

Knowledge is power, and you can use that power to plan future content and make adjustments to copy or page layouts. That way each page is useful to your audience, and is driving people to a conversion.

Speaking of which, make sure you’ve set up goals in Google Analytics! Goals help you understand how your content works, or doesn’t, at driving conversions. Read more about basic Google Analytics tips from the Forge and Smith blog.

Applying these basics will create a solid foundation and keep your fresh content looking fantastic!

Forge and Smith

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