Resources and tools for your WordPress website
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How do you know if you’re doing the best thing for the future of your business?
From the initial set up like buying a domain and setting hosting up to the constant changes in Search Engine Optimization, it can be easy to go down the wrong path.
If this is your first website, there will likely be a learning curve awaiting you. It’s natural for the nuts and bolts of setting up a website to be a little daunting at first.
The good news is that creating your website doesn’t have to be overly difficult and confusing. Follow the steps, resources and tools in this article and you’ll be up and running in no time.
Basics of setting up a WordPress Websites
Currently, it’s estimated 37% of all websites are powered by WordPress. There’s a reason why over 1/3 of the internet is run on WordPress – it’s the best content management system out there.
Setting up a website can be daunting. There are so many hosting options, themes, plugins, apps and the list goes on!
This article is assuming you want to run a WordPress website for profit. If you’re only ever going to blog as a hobby, these might not be the best fit for you, as they will cost money to get up and running.
This list covers everything to start a site, make it fast and user friendly.
If you’re new to website creation, there is a basic order to follow to help the process along smoothly.
- Define your niche, or the topics of your website
- Pick a name for your website – keeping in mind the social handle availability
- Buy your domain name and hosting
For this guide, we are going to focus on WordPress as there are a lot of options.
Here is a basic startup guide to creating a WordPress website. For anything not strictly an E-Commerce store, I recommend WordPress. There are plugins on WordPress (Shopify and WooCommerce) to make your site E-commerce friendly if you’re looking to sell a few things from your website.
Once you have decided on your Content Management System (CMS), things will begin to come together.
Best Tools for a WordPress Website
The best part about WordPress is the flexibility you gain. It’s “open source”, meaning the software is free and the customizability is almost endless.
The learning curve for WordPress is a little higher than other platforms, but your site speed, SEO and design options are all superior.
If you’re looking to get long term value from your site, WordPress is what you’re looking for.
If you’re running an E-Commerce site, you can install a plugin (an app that adds features to your site) to add that feature to WordPress.
Finally, make sure you perform a complete backup of your website (see Updraft Plus below) before messing with many of these plugins and features. Some functions may cause a website to break. You’ll want to have a backup to restore your site from if things go wrong (and they sometimes do).
Free Plugins for a WordPress Website
There are a number of useful plugins that cost nothing. If you’re looking to spend less money on the setup of your site, these Word Press plugins will work well.
Some of these tools do have premium options, but you’ll get great results with the free version. For each plugin, I’ve made it clear what the free version offers and the cost of the basic premium version (in CAD).
While some tools and resources below may seem a little steep, It’s likely because they have a devoted following at what they do. That said, you’ll need to know best practices for website creation and SEO to get the most out of them.
Setting Up With WordPress
Setting up your site doesn’t need to be difficult. After you’ve chosen your website name and brought your domain name (take your time deciding on this, as you can’t change it), you can then decide who to host your website through.
Best Budget Friendly Hosting
Typically, the more you spend on a hosting service the faster it will be. Site speed is an important factor in how a website ranks on search engines.
There are plenty of hosting options out there. These are 3 of my personal recommendations (with SiteGround being #1). Each option will have different tiers, meaning the more your spend per month will give you faster servers, more storage space and other benefits.
If you’re looking to have lots of visitors and make money from your website, this is an important step.
The best hosting service out there. You can choose a range of plans, from just $7 per month. On top of hosting and a simple back end interface, they have the best support I’ve experienced.
Site speed starts with great hosting!
Get hosted today.
If SiteGround is out of your budget, Host Gator is the hosting service I started with. Plans start as little as $3.50 a month. They may not be the fastest, but they might be an option when just starting out.
Beginner budget hosting!
Get budget friendly hosting.
If you have a lot of UK and European traffic, Lyrical is often regarded as unbeatable in value for money, support and speed. I’ve only ever heard great things. Plans start from $17 per month and go up from there.
A third option for solid hosting!
Get hosted today.
Best WordPress Themes
After your site is up and running it’s time to decide on a theme. This will the basic foundation of what your website looks like and how it functions.
Picking a fast and SEO optimized theme is important for site speed and user experience. Understanding the limitation of the theme you choose is important for making the right choice. Some themes are slow, others lack many features and some are tailored to specific niches.
One of the easiest WordPress themes to use and create a great looking website fast. Astra has a free version to use, but for more advanced features, the Pro upgrade starts at $75.
It’s fast, simple and SEO-friendly!
Create a great website easily.
Elementor Pro is an extension of the base version. You’ll have access to over 90 widgets, easy to use templates and a simple (and fast) drag and drop builder. $65 for a single site is a great deal.
Create your site easy and fast!
Create a great website easily.
Flatsome is another popular theme for WordPress. Flatsome is aimed at the E-Commerce style of website. It can be a little more challenging than other themes, but it’s fast and customizable. Buy Flatsome for $77.
Set up an E-Commerce store easily!
Start selling from WordPress.
WordPress PLugins for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you’re looking to create a successful website that gets traffic from a range of sources, Search Engine Optimization will be very important.
SEO (the acronym for Search Engine Optimization) is the process of writing content and ranking for certain keywords on search engines.
The point to take away from this is that you can’t expect results without a plan in place. Winging it and hoping for the best won’t work.
Luckily, there are options out there to make SEO easier for a beginner or just make the process less time-consuming.
You can also look at a complete list of SEO tools and resources here.
WordPress Plugins for SEO Maitence
Search Engine Optimization is something that is ongoing for a website. You can’t expect to maintain rankings without constant effort. Fresh and updated content, sending the right signals to search engines and keeping your website heathy are all important for ranking well in Google.
While there are benefits to the plugins below, they will help you with SEO, but you shouldn’t expect them to subsitute learning basic SEO.
Don’t install any of these plugins and expect your SEO will be top notch. They allow you to edit the basics search engines want to see, as well as create and maintain useful documents such as the sitemap and robots.txt files.
Yoast is the most well known of all these plugins. It provides the basic SEO framework for pages and posts on your website. Sometimes the keyword density traffic light leads to over-optimization of a keyword.
The free version is enough for most, but premium is $117 per year.
One SEO plugin that is gaining a popular following due to it’s solid SEO foundation and user friendly interface. Another point for Rankmath is the options in the free version – it’s very generours.
Currently, there isn’t a premium version of Rankmath.
Best WordPRess PLugins for Site Security
Site security is one of the most important considerations when building a website. One malicious login attempt could see a hacker gain access to your entire site and lose everything overnight.
It’s possible a harmful link might be left on a blog comment and any user that clicks on it might have their computer infected with malware. On top of a bad user experience, Google might identify this spam link as a threat and place a manual action on your website, destroying your search engine rankings overnight.
Hopefully this is enough to push this point of keep your website secure and the three plugins below will go a long way to improving your site security.
The best plugin to protect your website from spam comments. If you’re site gets comments that are garbage, this identifies and blocks most comments before they make it to your website.
Akismet has a “pay what you can” pricing structure.
UpDraft Plus is the best plugin for creating a website backup. Set it to auto backup easily! If you’re website loses information or is hacked, having a complete backup could save you plenty of frustrated hours.
The free version is enough for most, but premium begins at $93 per year.
Wordfence gives your website a bunch of handy security features, such as a firewall and malware scanner. This helps keep your website healthy and free from malicious content that can hurt rankings.
The free version is helpful for most and premium begins at $131 per year.
Fastest WordPress Cache Plugin
A website cache stores files and resources in a cache so that it can be accessed quickly when your site needs to be loaded for a user.
Having a fast and reliable cache is important in having a site that provides a great user experience.
There are both free and premium plugins for WordPress for a cache plugin. If you only buy one premium plugin for WordPress, make it WP Rocket – it does multiple website actions in one and is fantastic at what it does.
Starting at $64 per year for 1 website.
Make your website a rocket.
W3 Total Cace
W3 Total Cache is totally free for WordPress users.
Get your website fast for free.
WP Fastest Cache
WP Fastest Cache is a popular alternative to W3 Total Cache. Many website owners report better speed results with Fastest Cache instead. I suggest trying both of these free plugins to see which works better for your individual website.
WP Fastest Cache is totally free for WordPress users.
Get your website fast for free.
Best Image Compression Plugin
Image compression is another important consideration when building a fast website. By reducing uneeded data and quality of an image you can greatly reduce the size of the image file.
An image stores extra information known as metadata – compressing the image can reduce or remove this information.
Compressing an image can also reduce the quality of an image. While this can significantly reduce the file size, lossy compression can go too far and make the image blurry and bad quality. If you decide lossy compression is right for you (rather thank lossless) you need to identify the point where the image becomes too low of quality for your standards.
Luckily, most of these plugins are great at detecting the level of quality loss which won’t be noticeable to your readers.
Images are often one of the largest resources a website needs to load. Short Pixel is the best image compression tool available. There are different price points to suit your website, from monthly to a number of images.
The free plan compresses 100 images monthly, basic plan is $6.50 monthly.
Images loading faster than ever!
If you have plenty of images on site, re.Smush is a free plugin for images up to 5MB. This is is the best plugin if you’re looking for a great free plugin to help make your images load faster. It has gained a popular following for this reason.
Currently, this plugin is free for unlimited images under 5mb.
Speed up your site for free!
EWWW Image Optimizer
EWWW Image Optimizer is another option that is popular with WordPress website owners. Like the other plugins, this choice doesn’t have a file size restriction and has a number of other features, depending on what plan you choose.
An API key costs $0.002 cents an image, and monthly plans are $6-20.
Make your images load fast!
Best WordPress Plugins for customizations
Customizations on WordPress is one of the reasons why the platform is so popular. Being open-sourced software means there is plenty of options for customization features.
Below are a few popular options for customization in WordPress.
Social Media Sharing Plugins
Providing your readers an easy way to share your content over social media helps create a social following and valuable engagement for your website.
Social sharing plugins have come and gone, but there are a few that have created a stable following due to being a solid option for social sharing buttons.
Grow is a social sharing plugin created by Mediavine, a premium advertising outlet for website owners. There a whole bunch of free and premium versions that allow users to share content easily.
There is a free version of Grow but a premium version will cost $45 yearly.
Grow your social following!
Social Warfare is another very popular social sharing plugin for WordPress users. Once again, there is a free and paid version of the plugin that greatly increases the functions of the plugin.
The free version can be used for life, with the paid being $38 a year.
Engagement and Interaction PLugins
When building a website you should keep your reader in mind. Make it easy to explore other pages on your website, allow the reader to easy explore the current page and contact you easily are all important features.
Engagement and interaction of your site allows readers to become followers easier. If your site is hard to explore or not engaging, you’ll have a higher bounce rate and lower pageviews.
WP Forms is one of the easiest to use plugins. Install the form wherever you would like the option for a user to reach out and send you an email. You can customize on a free version or upgrade for more options.
The free version is fine for most, premium plans start at $52 yearly.
Content Views helps add internal page links with thumbnails so you can entice a user to click through to a related article. Often used in the side bar or after content. It’s a useful plugin to keep people on site.
This plugin is free and has a range of features to get started.
Lucky WP Table of COntents
If it takes someone too long to find the answer they are looking for, they might leave. A solid table of content links out to the important information. A great plugin for this.
This plugin is free and customizable.
Other Useful Plugins
WordPress has 1,000s of plugins that help users add functionality to a website. These plugins help do a range of things, from insert advertisements, HTML and other coding into a site.
Insert Header and Footer
Inserting HTML into headers and footers can be difficult, but this plugin makes that process simple. Inserting Google Analytics code into a header is easy , plus code won’t be deleted when changing themes.
This plugin is totally free.
Ad Inserter is handy for inserting code into specific pages. Often used to ad advertisements into a webpage but can have other functions as well. There are a number of different ways to create and insert the HTML into a page depending on what you’re looking for.
This plugin is free.
Best tools for a WordPRess site conclusion
There are too many plugins that do too many different things on WordPress. That can make it challenging, but it’s why this Content Management System has such a large chunk of the market – it’s versatile and flexible.
Depending on what you’re looking for out of your site, some of these plugins might not be the best fit for you, but they are often considered the best at what they do.
What plugin did I miss? Has something changed I’m not aware of? Leave a comment below and I’ll fix it right up. Also, if you have any questions, you can comment below or contact me via email/phone to get a quick and detailed answer.