By Doug Ramsay

How to Pick the Best Wordpress Theme

How to Pick the Best WordPress Theme for Your Business

Here we’ll cover how to pick the best WordPress theme for your business.

Once you start shopping for themes, it can be a little bit overwhelming. There are thousands of options to choose from, and a zillion different functionalities that the various themes possess.

To get a better idea of what you might want in your WordPress theme, I suggest you start looking at some other businesses in your field. What types of sites do they have? Are there things in particular that you like or don’t like? These are all good questions to mull over as you begin your quest for finding a theme for your site. If you absolutely can’t wait, go ahead and head over to the theme marketplace at Themeforest.

Why you should get a premium theme versus a free theme

Yes, there are a ton of free options for WordPress themes, and some of them are actually quite attractive. However, even if you’re bootstrapping your business I recommend you

How to Create a Wordpress Website

How to Make a WordPress Website

Once you’ve bought your domain and set up hosting, then it’s time to get rocking and make a Wordpress website, which is really quite easy.

Most quality hosting companies come with a cPanel which will include a one-click install of WordPress option through something like Softaculous or Fantastico.

 

Once you install WordPress, then it’s time to get your site set-up. With WordPress, there are both Pages and Posts. Pages are what you use for static content – things that aren’t getting updated very often. For instance, your Services, About, and Contact pages. Posts are what you should do for your blog posts or articles.

In addition to creating a few of your main pages, you also want to make the page and post URLs more SEO friendly. To do this, you want to go to Settings >> Permalinks and select the %postname% option. This will change a post like marketingbeast.com/?p=123 to something like marketing beast.com/how-to-make-a-wordpress-website. Since keywords are in the URL, search engines have a better idea as to what the content is about.

WordPress Plugins

Plugins are a way to extend the capabilities of your WordPress site—an add-on, if you will. Whenever I set up a new website, I install the following plugins, which are all free:

  • WordPress SEO by Yoast: This is the premier plugin for SEO settings which cover things like meta-tags, site-maps, etc.
  • JetPack: This plugin by Automattic, Matt Mullenweg’s company (he founded WordPress), allows you access to a whole slew of abilities. To use the JetPack plugin, you’ll need to register with WordPress.com which is totally worthwhile.
  • Analytics by Yoast: Installing Google Analytics is the best way to monitor your website traffic, trends, and opportunities. Yoast’s plugin allows for easy integration with Google Analytics and even pulls in some of the data to the WordPress dashboard.
  • SumoMe by AppSumo: This is an all-in-one social sharing and lead capturing plugin that does a whole bunch of great things. It provides share buttons for posts and pages, adds a lead capture pop-up box to pages, offers heat maps, and more. While there is a paid version, the free version will more than get you off the ground.

WordPress Themes

One of the great things about WordPress is that there are quite literally thousands of themes available, both free and paid. While free themes are almost certainly enough to get you going, I recommend going with a paid theme for a few reasons, such as the fact that they often provide better support and their developers are incentivized to keep their themes up to date and bug free. One of the largest marketplaces for WordPress themes is called Themeforest. When searching for the best WordPress theme for your business, I recommend looking for one that is responsive, has lots of great reviews, and has been downloaded hundreds of times. More customers usually mean a better supported theme.

What is Web Hosting

What is Web Hosting?

So what is web hosting anyway?

If you read my post on how to create a website, you know that I highly recommend using WordPress to build out your little nook on the web. To use WordPress, however, you need a web host. (There is a version of WordPress that is hosted by the company behind WordPress, but this offers less flexibility, so I don’t recommend it)

A web hosting service basically stores your website and makes it accessible through the Internet. They do this by keeping your website on a special type of computer called a server which is always online. Read more

How to Create a Website

How to Create a Website

Alright, grab your cup ‘o joe and let’s talk about how to create a website for your grand idea or business.

Ah, how exciting…and so many choices. It’s really quite amazing how many website builders are now on the market, allowing just about anyone to get online without any technical expertise whatsoever.

That’s actually how I got my start. I bought into a website builder with a company called SBI (which I can no longer recommend) and I used it to build up a travel website which got over six-thousand visitors at it’s peak.

Along the way, I taught myself the basics of HTML and CSS (for non-nerds, you can think of those two things as structure and style, respectively).

Don’t worry though, you don’t have to get that technical if you don’t want to…and if it’s not of interest, all the more power to you. Good business owners know what their strengths are and focus on those.

Your Options: Site Builders or WordPress

Website builders are blowing up these days, and with some of them even launching commercials.

Website builders offer the following features:

  • Site hosting
  • Drag-and-drop design interfaces
  • Blog
  • Ecommerce capabilities
  • Mobile optimized (but this isn’t that impressive anymore, should be the default)
  • Support teams

Some of the major players in the website builder space are:

  • Weebly
  • Wix
  • SquareSpace
  • Web.com
  • GoDaddy’s Website builder
  • And many, many more…

There are lots of places that make learning how to make a website easy, however, I still don’t recommend them and prefer WordPress.

Brief Description of WordPress and Why Should You Use it to Create Your Website

WordPress is a free, open-source software that has grown up from a pure blogging platform to a full-featured Content Management System (CMS). What’s great about it being open-source is that it means that it is free to use. It’s also hugely popular – in fact, it’s estimated that 18.9% of all websites on the internet are powered by WordPress. That’s astounding.

Unlike the website builders above, WordPress doesn’t have the monthly fee to use it. All you need to pay for is monthly hosting, which can be super cheap. And if you ever decide that you don’t like a host, or you find a cheaper hosting company, you can actually switch from one to another.

Also, since WordPress is open-source, anyone can develop for it. There is a huge community that support WordPress and extend its capabilities through plugins. Think of plugins like accessories for your site. They add new capabilities.

On this site I have an SEO plugin, a contact form plugin, a Social Sharing plugin…you get the idea.

While many website builders have these capabilities, you don’t have any choice in the matter. With WordPress, I have the option of choosing among thousands of plugins. This way I can decide which of the dozens of SEO plugins, for instance, best meet my needs. While some premium plugins cost money, the vast majority of them are free.

WordPress Themes – Turn-Key Design

The great thing about WordPress is that there are so many thousands of themes available for styling your website. Once you learn the basics, these themes make it easy to get a professional looking website in a relatively short period of time. I admit that there is a slightly steeper learning curve with WordPress versus one of the aforementioned website builders, but I assure you it’s worth it.

Social Media Name Check

Social Media Name Check

So you’ve picked out your domain name and you’re getting ready to buy it.

Not so fast, ke-mo sah-bee (← yes that’s the proper spelling, and yes I had to look it up).

You may want to check on the availability of social media names first – especially if it is something that you think will be super-brandable.

In the case that your domain name and company name are kind of generic, you may have to settle for some sort of modification like @AcmeBiz or similar.

But if you’re looking to start an empire around the name Donglebitz, it behooves you to check around a bit.

Checking Social Names

Actually this process is quite painless with resources like KnowEm.

Sites like these go out and check with the major social media sites to see if a particular name is available for use. The ones that you want to pay the most attention to are Facebook and Twitter. If your business is particularly visual, then you might also want to check on Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr as those are also major sites.

Regardless of whether or not you plan on posting to any of the dozens of sites available, it can still be beneficial to register with many of them as they are a free and easy backlink to your site, which can be helpful SEO wise. Not huge, but every little bit helps.

What if Your Name is Gone

Well, if the name you wanted is gone, dry your tears. It’s not the end of the world. It’s just time to try some alternatives.

For instance, MarketingBeast was already taken on Facebook, but I liked the domain so much it didn’t bother me. Instead I went with http://www.facebook.com/marketingbeastpage.

Another thing is that it can be good to register the same name across all your social media profiles. This just makes it easier for your fans to find you as they can just go directly to a site and type in slash [name].

Happy tweeter/liker/hashtageroni!