We’ve had a busy week here at Outerbridge, working on lots of different projects and answering lots of questions about WordPress. We’ve been helping people to transfer their website hosting, developing a new WordPress plugin (GoCardless for WooCommerce), planning a new website for a great new client in Devon, helping someone with their affiliate links and working on some advanced Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
On Tuesday, we held a drop-in WordPress Clinic in Torquay, answering questions about WordPress. We love getting out of the office and helping people to really get the most out of WordPress and we really enjoyed the great welcome from our hosts (PierPoint restaurant and bar, which has the most fantastic view over Torbay). Remember, no question is a stupid question at our clinics, so feel free to ask whatever you like!
We will be holding another of our drop-in WordPress Clinics soon, but for those that couldn’t make it this time, I thought I’d cover the top three questions about WordPress that we get asked at the clinics:
1. My site is slow, how can I speed it up?
There are several things that we recommend to speed up a slow website, including:
a) using a better hosting company;
b) reviewing the code to make sure things are loading in the right order and that the code is generally well-written;
c) adding a caching plugin to your website (like W3 Total Cache);
d) using a content delivery network (CDN).
There are various tools you can use to check the speed of your site. Try Google Page Speed Insights to find some useful pointers and statistics about your website speed.
2. What’s the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org?
WordPress.org is the open source (i.e. free) content management system (CMS) software that powers about 25 per cent of all websites, including this one.
WordPress.com is a commercial website where you can host a free site with lots of limitations. With wordpress.com, the web hosting is provided and is generally free! That’s the good news.
However, you cannot modify the PHP source code (even beginners usually want to make a few changes). Although there are some plugins built into wordpress.com, wordpress.org has nearly 40,000 plugins which can help with all sorts of things including social media links, image galleries, sliders, site speed and search engine optimisation (SEO). Whilst you can choose from plenty of themes on wordpress.com, but you can’t upload your own, and the customisation possibilities are relatively limited. Importantly, themes cannot be transferred from WordPress.com if you later choose to go down the self-hosted route.
A generic domain name from wordpress.com will look very unprofessional (e.g. yourtenthchoiceofname.wordpress.com). WordPress.com forces you to allow third-party adverts on your website, and you get a limited amount of storage.
With wordpress.org, you need to purchase a domain name and website hosting. You set up a site using WordPress on your own hosting, and you have the freedom to do whatever you want with it.
For example, you can:
- Use any free or paid WordPress plugin;
- Use any free or premium WordPress theme;
- Add and edit files using whatever method your web host allows;
- Tweak WordPress files and server settings to improve the performance of your website;
- Have full control of your websites content – with no annoying ads.
3. How can I get my WordPress website to rank more highly in Google search results?
There are many things you can do to improve your website’s search engine optimisation (SEO). This is a complex area, and there are many people who will sell you SEO services, but you need to be very careful that you are employing a genuine expert so that you do not waste your money. If you want to work on SEO yourself, we recommend:
- Regularly updating your site with relevant, quality content. Having a blog is a great way of doing this;
- Making sure you have links to your website from other reputable sites (e.g. Twitter, Google+ and Facebook);
- Checking that your site works properly (e.g. are all links working, does all the content look right?);
- Using an SEO plugin (we recommend the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin) and optimising every individual post and page with keywords etc.;
- Read The Beginners Guide to SEO by Moz;
- Consider using Google Analytics to measure your website’s performance.
Don’t forget to look out for the next drop-in WordPress Clinic from Outerbridge, coming soon to Devon.