With time comes experience, and this translates into knowledge. Today I’d like to share my accumulated knowledge as it relates to blogging, and specifically to my favorite WordPress tips and tricks.
It’s one thing to have great ideas, and another to put those ideas on paper. Over the years, I’ve shared a lot of my wisdom on blogging, including how to pick your niche, keep up with content, and make money. However, I’ve talked much less about the back end of blogging, because it takes less strategy. Nonetheless, there’s a trick to using the most popular website development platform: WordPress.
Why is WordPress so important to bloggers? For starters, it’s easy to use even if you don’t have a development or IT background. However, WordPress is also important because of its overall popularity. Both bloggers and regular website owners love it. Maybe that’s why it is said that 36% of the Internet was built on WordPress. To that end, I’d like to share some of the best WordPress tips and tricks.
Note: This post contains affiliate links which help me maintain this blog, but I am a fan and actual user of every link I promote.
1) Choose Fast WordPress Web Hosting
If you’re like most Web users, you hate waiting around for a site to load. Really hate it. In fact, many of us will navigate away from websites that don’t load in an efficient manner. To avoid having your site be the one that people leave, you should have a fast Web hosting provider.
What’s a fast provider? One that has enough capacity that your website loads quickly. While the amount of data on each page will always affect load times, you need a Web host that allows fast loading when this is taken into account. In other words, a stripped-down website will always load a bit faster than the graphics-heavy one on the same hosting service.
My choice is BigScoots. Not only are they fast, but the service includes fast response times when your site goes down or needs attention. Better yet, they have WordPress optimized service options for better performance. And they have a deep integration with two of my favorite tools to speed up websites, Cloudfare CDN and WP Rocket (more below).
2) Use a Gutenberg Premium WordPress Theme with Robust Theme Customizer
There are two things I like about this approach. Gutenberg is a WordPress editing plugin that makes creating new pages a snap. Especially with a text-heavy website format like blogs, this is really important. In addition, your “theme” determines how the website will look. If you have significant customization options, then there’s more room for branding.
Finally, what do I mean by premium? A premium theme lets you make a lot more changes, but it also has lots of features. You’ll have to pay to use these themes, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Being a cheapskate doesn’t work well once your site is growing. Sometimes WordPress tips and tricks involve spending a bit extra, within reason.
I recently recreated my site using the Blocksy theme together with its premium add on, so if you like the look and feel and performance of this site, you will LOVE Blocksy!
3) Find the WordPress Plugins and Themes Your Competitors Use
Do you like what you see on your competitor’s website? Don’t ask them what they’re doing. Spy on them! Sort of. One of the easiest ways to find out what plugins and themes they’re using is by viewing the source code. In Google Chrome, this can be found by right clicking on the page, then selecting “view page source.” You can also get this by pressing ctrl+U. Chrome will give you another tab with all the HTML code for that website.
From here, you can see what the competition is doing differently. In some situations, you might discover that they’ve found an awesome new plugin. Or, it could be that the theme is better suited for your niche. Either way, you will learn their WordPress tips and tricks and a way to do things better than before.
4) Use Reusable Blocks in Gutenberg WordPress Editor
Not everything that is part of your consistent page design is included in your theme. For instance, I always recommend including social media buttons on your website. However, you might also need some text blocks which say the same thing, or a graphic that’s always included. Entering these manually every time you create a new page takes time.
Fortunately, there’s another option in most editors, including Gutenberg. These are called “reusable blocks,” and they’re essentially a shortcut that saves time. What you can do is go into the “block” section of your page editor and select “reusable blocks. WordPress has a good guide on how these can be used. Remember, when time is money, saving time also saves money.
5) Use Google Tag Manager instead of separate Plugins
Did you know it’s possible to have too many plugins? While it can be fun to add cool stuff to your blog, at some point all this functionality will slow your website down. And slow loading sites tend to have fewer visitors. For that reason, you should use enough plugins to run efficiently without overloading the site. One of my WordPress tips and tricks is cutting down on plugin use with Google Tag Manager. This has the functionality of several plugins, including Google Analytics, all in one place. This is much easier than managing multiple plugins, too.
6) Show Featured Image in Your RSS Feed
Tired of your ugly RSS feed thumbnails? Would you rather include the featured image you’ve chosen for the blog to show up instead? If that’s your situation, use the Featured Images in RSS for Mailchimp & More WordPress plugin. This is a plugin with a lot of features: not only will it add your featured image to RSS, but it supports integrations with your email program. This way, you can add people to your email list with ease.
7) Add a Sticky Sidebar Widget
One of the features of certain well-run blogs is a sticky sidebar. This allows readers to easily navigate your site, even when they’ve scrolled to the bottom of a blog post. That’s because sticky sidebars are intended to always show up on whichever side of the screen you choose. Sticky sidebars are especially useful if you write long posts or have several appear on the same page. If this is something you want to try, I recommend you use the Q2W3 Fixed Widget WordPress plugin.
8) Revise Your Category or Tag Pages to Make Them Cornerstone Content
Category and tag pages have a tendency to become the backwater of any blogging site. One of the reasons for this is that they aren’t pure content pages that people typically seek out. However, especially if your niche is more technical or business based, people might want to quickly find what you’ve written on a subject. To that end, you should consider making these pages into cornerstone content.
In other words, most WordPress sites will automatically generate a page for each of your categories and tags, but did you know that these pages are editable inside WordPress? If you want to rank for a keyword that is also the name of your category, you should make these pages cornerstone ones.
9) Use Contact Forms That Connect to Email Marketing Software
If you’re like me, you use contact forms on your website to allow people who want to ask you questions – or do business with you – to contact you. Once they fill out a form you get a notification and then respond to them when you see the email in your Inbox.
What if you could automate a response by having an auto-responder sent to them once they fill out the contact form? Or add them to your email list for follow-up once they contact you (in a GDRP-compliant way, of course!)?
The trick is to use a contact form that offers integration with your email marketing software. Most of the free contact form plugins have little if any integration with email marketing platforms. Many paid options are available for each, depending on compatibility and your preferences. On my site, I use the Everest Forms WordPress plugin and connect it to ConvertKit. I recommend you do something similar yourself so you don’t miss out on a golden opportunity!
10) Republish Posts
Who said that you have to publish a new post all the time? For most of us, taking breaks is sometimes necessary. In addition, there are always the “oldie but goodie” posts that people read again and again. Some need updating, while others are simply evergreen content that don’t really have an expiration date. Unfortunately, as these posts get older, they tend not to do as well for SEO or ability to pop up in site search.
How can you fix these problems? By republishing older posts. As bloggers with businesses or a job, though, the time it takes to republish manually can be a burden. Luckily, with the right plugin you can republish posts much more easily. My favorite is the Publish Press Revisions WordPress plugin.
11) Bulk Edit Blog Post Titles and Descriptions
One of the hardest things about blogging is picking your topics. After all, we bloggers are either experts in our field or passionate about our chosen niche for another reason. When you have a lot of ideas in your head, it’s hard to figure out what to do next-or understand what your audience needs to hear next. Content calendars are a great way to map out what to publish each week.
However, there’s more to this problem than the topics. For each topic, you need titles and descriptions. Titles should grab the attention, while descriptions need to fairly represent what’s in each post. At the same time, this information should help place your content in search engines. My recommended plugin is Yoast SEO. With Yoast, you get titles and descriptions, but you also are given search engine optimization help. You do want your content to show up in Google, right?
12) Automatically Compress Images for Faster Load Times
When browsing the Web, many of us get impatient waiting for site pages to load. While this problem can relate to a slow hosting service or too many plugins, images are another common cause. To avoid having people give up and switch to a competitor, you need to ensure that images load quickly. By far, the easiest way to do this is by compressing the images to require less bandwidth.
For effective image compression, you need a plugin. My favorite is the ShortPixel Image Optimizer WordPress plugin. This is a freemium tool that not only compresses your images, but your PDF files as well. Best of all, it works in the background without your doing anything.
13) Optimize Your Site Speed
While faster is usually better, there are situations where a page can load too fast. For instance, fast loading can sometimes erode customer experience. If something loads quickly, but looks sloppy, then it can backfire. The same thing goes for junk search results. On the other hand, waiting too long for something can make people run the other direction. For most web pages, there’s a happy medium.
To help maintain this happy medium, use WP Rocket WordPress caching plugin to decrease loading times and optimize various files. You want the page to load as quickly as possible without compromising on the quality of your content. One of the better WordPress tips and tricks is optimizing the load speed, and you’ll get much better results by following it.
14) Create Internal Links on Your Website
One of the best ways to keep people interested in your blog is to create engaging content. But how are they going to find the best content when all they see is the latest postings? Luckily, this problem is easy to solve by creating internal links. These links are often to related content, but they can also be to category pages. You can create internal links by finding that content during the writing process. Another method is to use a plugin like Link Whisper for WordPress. Both approaches are useful, depending on context.
15) Use WordPress Maintenance Services
While it might be tempting to save money any way you can, it’s important to make sure your website is in tip-top shape. As you work with WordPress, you’ll get used to the basic features. Later, you’ll learn to do some high-level troubleshooting. However, there are some issues which most bloggers can’t solve themselves. For instance, there can be hosting issues, coding failures, and outages while you’re offline. All of these can cost you some clicks.
For that reason, one of the best WordPress tips and tricks is investing in a WordPress maintenance service. Depending on your site specs and needs, there are many options available. Your best bet is to figure out which ones give you the service you need at an affordable price. Not only will this save time, but it’ll help increase readership. I have a list of these services on my website.
16) Create a Custom 404 Page
What’s worse than browsing a page and getting a broken link? Landing on those ugly 404 pages that don’t even admit you’ve landed in the right place. While you should always try to ensure that pages and their links remain accurate, things do happen. And in some cases, you might have to remove a particular page. When that happens, there should be a custom 404 page that is consistent with your branding. It won’t sting as much when your readers see it. For mine, I use the 404Page plugin.
17) Use a Redirect Plugin
Not every URL on your website is easy to remember. In fact, for many of us the address gets quite long. This can be a disadvantage in several situations, such as when you are using social media to drive site traffic. Some social networks limit the number of characters that you can include in your postings, so you’re wasting space by using the entire URL. Even with unlimited length, though, long URLs can cause a lot of problems for viewers.
Luckily, my WordPress tips and tricks include a way to work around the problem. By far, the easiest way is using a redirect plugin. These plugins shorten your URL, similarly to what you see on bit.ly and other third-party services. However, with a plugin the redirect links are custom. My favorite is the Short Links plugin. The redirect links generated reflect your own domain name and are intended to be memorable.
Learning to use WordPress can be challenging to the beginning blogger. There are so many plugins and other customization options out there that even knowing where to start can be difficult. Fortunately, by following these WordPress tips and tricks your blog will get off to a good start.
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