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Episode 214 – Getting Started with WordPress

When I teach class, I always advise using WordPress because it gives small business a way to level the playing field. At Vertical Web we do a lot of things, but client advocacy is one of the biggest. We talk about why using a platform like Wix or Squarespace in my opinion does not allow websites to have the best chance to rank in Google and that should always be a priority.

I know we often hear well I just need to have it for credibility from small business owners. What they mean is having a website is a necessary evil but it doesn’t need to be more than a virtual business card.  And although that is one approach, the reality is that with the right vehicle and some mentorship you too can gain some traction on your website. It is in part why we offer this clinic and have for going on 20 years.  This should be a goal.

With this video and the use of starter templates, I think that creating a WordPress based website can be just as easy as creating a Squarespace website. Best of all this version will work much better to help bring clients to your become aware of your business through Google search.

I have always recognized that for a brand-new person that has no idea, a point-and-click solution may appear easier. But the long-term negative impact really makes it not as good of a deal. So what I did was take the build of WordPress we use and provide it to our clients. I also added the tools you would need to succeed in both search and in reaching business objectives including email distribution and social media scheduling. Basically, all the things we speak about in class are included.

What are the Most Essential WordPress Plugins

We view some plugins as essential and if you asked me that question, my go-to answer would be you need a backup plugin (BackupBuddy or WP-Staging). You also need a strong SEO plugin and we always recommend RankMath over Yoast now. You need a security plugin (We like Ithemes). Lastly, you need an optimization plugin for speed (we like WP Rocket).

Backup Software

It is critical to have backup software on your website. This can be handled in two ways, but that doesn’t mean it’s mutually exclusive whereas doing both is recommended. Daily backups are a must, and we recommend keeping them offsite like Dropbox, One Drive or Amazon’s Glacier. Through Vertical Web we provide Amazon Glacier for backup included in our WordPress hosting plans.  The secondary way, which is also optional is a staging site, meaning we are using a dev site and then when we are happy with the changes, they are pushed into the live site. This is always a safer way to make changes or try plugins. In the long run, this avoids problems before they affect a live site.

SEO Plugin

I’ve talked about the superiority of RankMath in the past and they continue to out-innovate Yoast in my opinion.  They provide a full set of tools that help make sure your website is properly buttoned up for Google.

Speed Optimization Plugins (caching plugins)

There are several speed optimization plugins that help your website pass Core Vitals. There are a few ways to handle all this. But we recommend WP Rocket in most cases. We have used Nitro Pack but it seems to have some consistency issues that it does not always improve the site 24×7. I’ve been in touch with their support with very little assistance although they did answer each of my tickets. But, frankly, you cannot have a product that does not deliver its result consistently. Therefore we provide WP Rocket with our WordPress hosting plans.

Design Tools

As for the design tools we recommend Elementor for various reasons and it is what I opted to do the demo with for the attached video. WP Bakery has not upped its game for core vitals which makes it far more difficult to succeed in the Core Vitals requirements. Divi Builder has been around for years and although many devs like it, I find it cumbersome. Elementor with the Astra Pro theme allows websites to work perfectly. It is easy to use and best of all it passes core vitals with no sweat.

At Vertical Web, we offer a predefined WordPress Hosting build that contains all the items in it that we talk about in this video. The licensing of all the plugins is free including the template system we demonstrate.

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