A WordPress website theme is one of those words that, along with “plugin”, can evoke an involuntary shudder from many a website owner. It may not come as a surprise but for those who are uninitiated, a website theme is not exactly ‘plug and play’, despite what the developer says. To a certain extent, they need tweaking to fit a brand, to add a function, or to perform a certain way. On top of that, there are thousands of themes to choose from with different features and designs. With such a wide scope, what are the things that one must know about using themes? Here is 5 quick pointers from our tech team:
1. Don’t Use Themes Out of the Box
Usually when you first install a website theme, it will most probably look like the sample- albeit, with some of your content spread across the page. You would NOT want this. Using a theme as it is means that some elements of the theme like images could be the same as EVERY other website using the theme. To avoid that, it’s best to customise it further to suit your needs. You wouldn’t want your site to look like a sample page. Find some new images from your photo library (or stock sites like pixabay.com)
2. Choose Themes that are Relevant to Your Business
It’s all there in the title. If you own a restaurant, there are multiple customisable themes that you can use with the right plugins and features that you need. Although in principle any theme can be used to fit any business this is usually beyond most website owners. Don’t download a website theme meant for mortgage advice when all you really want to do is sell your delicious spaghetti bolognaise.
3. Pretty Themes are Cool but Functionality is Better
We’ve all come across websites with lots of nice things going on- a dynamic page that changes images every few seconds to showcase different products, video and music that stream automatically. It’s all great until they slow down your website – especially on mobile. Always choose a theme that’s simple and straight to the point. Your users will appreciate faster loading times more than that fancy splash page.
4. Keep Things Updated With Your Website Theme
Just because you’ve used a complete theme does not mean that you don’t have to maintain it. Chances are, your theme came with widgets or plug-ins that allow your website to work. Updating them ensures that your website runs smoothly and efficiently. Keeping them up to date also lessens compatibility and security issues.
5. Be Cautious When Modifying Your Theme’s Shortcodes
Essentially, themes are just blocks of code that work very well together. Known as shortcodes, these prebuilt sections can be dropped in to any page. Edit them at your own risk as you can easily break your site. Be very careful. If you need help, ask from someone who knows how to.
Being the world’s most popular website content management system (CMS), many small businesses use WordPress as their go-to platform for their website. The power of plugins and open-source licencing has created a vast and rich ecosystem to allow for almost anything to be easily built.
In this short article, we’ll go through essentials of what you need to know to create a WordPress small business website.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source content management system that allows you to create and manage your website online. It’s easy to use and offers an impressive library of plug-ins that add functionality to the websites being created. From simple blogs to full-blown e-commerce sites, any scenario you can think of could be built using a combination of plugins and custom development.
Name your website and choose your hosting
WordPress needs to be hosted and installed on a server for it work. Now is a good time to search for reliable web hosting services. This is an area it’s best to pay a little bit more for – slow hosting will kill your site. We use and recommend SiteGround.
Build your WordPress small business website using custom design or a pre-built theme?
Once you’ve chosen a web hosting service, the next thing to do is start building your website. You can create the website from scratch (custom design) or you can use many of themes for WordPress.
If you have no coding knowledge, you can hire a web designer / developer to create the site for you. As a bespoke offering this can take a while and prices may vary depending on the complexity of your site and its design.
If you opt to use themes, you can download and install it in less than an hour and you’ll have a working website. However, it’s always best to edit the theme you just installed to give it a little personal flair – or hire a developer to do this for you.
Extend your website’s functionality by adding plugins
Plugins are what make WordPress websites work efficiently. There are plugins that help with loading speeds. Some help you create contact forms. Other plugins add new functions to your website.
Installing a plugin is very easy. You can search for plugins within WordPress itself and install from there.
Quick tip: Keep a list of features you want your website to have. Use that to guide you on your plugin search.
At this stage, you already have a working website but it’s far from finished. In fact, it’s just the beginning. You need to manage the site and its plugins, make sure that it is updated regularly. WordPress security is dependant on you keeping your site updated. Think about SEO and content to increase traffic, too.
Tomorrow we’ll talk more about using WordPress themes to create your small business website.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is essential for any small business owner. SEO works to make your website become more effective at promoting your products or services by ensuring its visibility in search results. Whether it’s for your restaurant business or hosting your products, having your website optimised for search engines will help more people find it, increase traffic, and even help convert the visit into a sale. With all these benefits, basic SEO is just common sense for any small business website.
How do you improve SEO?
There are many factors that can affect your SEO and these can all make or break your website. The best case scenario is having each one of them work together to achieve your goals. While these may seem daunting to do at first, it becomes easier as you slowly work your way up.
1. Quality Content
Content is King! This phrase is nearly as old as a the web and remains true to this day. It is no surprise that having quality content is top of our list. Your content is what defines your site. It’s what people are after when they first click on that search result link. Good content simply means that your business pages, blog posts, product pages or any other page found on your site has all the relevant information that a potential visitor would like to see. Format also affects the quality of the post. In a nutshell, your pages should be comprehensive, readable, and interesting.
Keywords remain one of the factors that affect SEO too. SEO keywords are words or phrases that people often use to search for things in search engines. Imagine yourself looking for something on Google— the words and the phrases you type into the search bar is collected by the tech giant and then analysed along with millions of other searches that are similar to yours. They then come up with a set of keywords for that specific search. That’s the reason why google can come up with a search suggestion before you even finish typing.
When a website uses keywords in its content, it makes it easier for google to put the page on the search results. However, just putting random keywords on a page without it being relevant to the content negatively affects SEO instead.
3. Backlinks, Outbound Links, and Interlinks
Another one of the more important factors that affect SEO are links and they can be three types. These are:
Backlinks (links TO your website from an external one)
Outbound links (links to external pages from your page)
Interlinks (links from one page to another within your own site)
While this bit might be confusing at first, this should not deter you from using links effectively.
Backlinks: Try and get your site linked to from external sites where possible. Common sources are social media accounts, industry membership / professional bodies and business directories. Comments on forums and blog posts work well if that is relevant to your business.
Outbound links: Adding external links to an article you wish to publish on a page already affects your SEO score— for as long as the link is relevant and it comes from a reputable source, you should be fine. WARNING: A quick google will turn up lots of offers from people to do this on your behalf – but there is a real risk they will use unscrupulous methods to do so and attract penalties from Google – which is the exact opposite of what we are trying to achieve. Take the time to do this yourself or outsource this to a reputable company only.
Interlinks: For those who have blogs or stories in their websites, linking old posts with new ones also improves your score. Existing articles that you have that are relevant to your new posts give your website a boost in credibility and make a better user experience – which adds to visitor time onsite.
4. Mobile Site Optimisation
Because of the trends in mobile technology, Google has made a shift toinclude mobile versions of websites as a factor for SEO. This means that having your website optimised for viewing on smaller screens helps google recommend your site to potential visitors. The key here is that Google wants their users to experience only the best. Whether they be on a desktop or mobile phone, website visitors should be able to access the best content optimised for the device that they are currently using.
As a small business, competition for media mileage and exposure is tough but it doesn’t have to remain that way. The use of mobile phones to access websites have grown in recent years and developing a mobile version of your site is an investment that will not only help your business but improve SEO as well.
5. Fast Web-page Loading Times
It’s not new that loading times affect user experience when visiting a webpage.Kissmetrics has illustrated that websites that load longer are often abandoned by visitors. 25% of users abandon a site at 4 seconds and abandonment increases with each passing second. For businesses, this could be devastating because of two things: you lose potential customers and your site won’t be optimised for search engine results.
6. It’s All In The Tags
Tags come in various forms – header tags, title tags and meta tags, Of these, Header tags and title tags are relevant.
To differentiate, title tags are html tags that give the user a brief description of what the webpage is about. Header tags are html tags that differentiate content through headings and levels. While gone are the days where header and title tags were very strong factors for improving SEO, having relevant title tags and effectively using header tags in posts still have a place. Title and header tags improve click rates while highlighting the relevance of your page.
7. HTTPS Encryption and Security
In this article, we included the importance of HTTPs in SEO ranking. Google’s stance on using HTTPs has been firm over the years. With its browser (and other majors ones) flagging websites not using HTTPs as unsafe, a conversion should be due. Businesses, in particular, benefit from using the more secure HTTPs as it protects customer’s information from being used elsewhere. Your customers will thank you for using a more secure connection for their payments and transfers.
8. Social Media Sharing
People are social creatures whether it be in real life or online. We love our social networks and the existence of many platforms to maintain our social connections is a testament that we will be this way for many eons to come. It would be common sense by now to use social media to share your interests or your business. Building a good social following and an online presence improves SEO. And while there is an ongoing debate about backlinks from social media platforms, engagement means more people visiting your site. That is always a good thing– especially for a small business.
Wrapping Things Up
The world of SEO is ever changing with new algorithms and procedures to further improve user experience when searching for products and content on the internet. Though it may seem like there is no end to keeping up with the trends, there will always be factors that matter most. By investing in any of the above, you’ll work your way up. Optimising your site to improve discoverability through SEO doesn’t have to be hard and you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Find yourself a good team to help you improve your site’s SEO.
If you have any enquiries about how you can start improving your website for SEO, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d be glad to help you.
As we’ve written about here and here already – If you’re using Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or any of the popular web browsers to surf the net and visit websites, chances are, you have probably come across a website that has been flagged as ‘unsecured’. It could be a warning pop-up on Firefox or a not secure icon and text on Chrome’s address bar. Find out what these things mean, why should you care about your website’s security and why you need an HTTPS website in 2018.
How does HTTPS work?
Websites that have log-ins, contact forms or fields that require personal information such as credit or debit card details need some form of security measure to keep these information safe from hackers and wrong doers.
The first line of defence against these villains lies in the form of a protocol called Secure Sockets Layer or SSL installed in websites. When you visit a supported site, it will send an SSL certificate to your device to create a special safe and secure connection. Once it has been established, all information will be encrypted.
3 Major benefits of having a secure website?
1. You And Your Visitors Are More Secure
AnSSL certificate encrypts your website visitors information whenever they log in or input sensitive information such as bank details, PINs, and the like. To ensure that no one else is privy to all those details, the certificate generates a random key that your website uses to decrypt information sent from your visitors.
The cool thing is, all these technical bits happen in the background. With an SSL certificate installed, there is no need to worry about your website visitors information being leaked into other parts of the internet.
2. Consumers Trust A Safe Website
We now live in a world where online transactions seem to be the norm for most people. According to asurvey completed in December 2016, 87% of UK internet users have made at least a single purchase online. This trend is expected to rise as more people are discovering the joys of making online purchases.
People are more likely to make purchases from a safe and secure website. You’ll miss out on the fun if your website is flagged as unsecured. Google, through their browser, has supported using HTTPS and has rolled out versions of its browser that indicate whether a site is secured or not. Mozilla Firefox has also implemented a similar feature.
Google and other search engines love secure websites as it protects their own users from being redirected to fraudulent and unsecured sites. If your website is secure, you might boost your rankings against similar websites who are left unsecured. The company has confirmed thatHTTPS is an important factor in its rankings.
We’ll help you become secure
At GorillaHub, we are committed to helping everyone use the internet more securely and will be launching a low-cost website conversion service for small business websites in January. If you have any questions on SSL certificates / HTTPS or how you can get your site converted, please get in touch