Managing your website using WordPress

Managing your website using WordPress

By Luke on January 21, 2010

More and more web design companies are starting to use WordPress as a cost-effective method of creating a content management system (CMS) for their client’s websites. As well as being easy to use and setup, there are countless SEO advantages to using WordPress for your site. We have had written guidelines on how to use and get the most out of your WordPress site for a while now, that we normally provide to our clients following the handover and demo of the admin section. Regular computer users normally find the whole admin section intuitive and easy to use, but with some clients, I realise at the end of the meeting that I have completely blown their mind! Even if you’re familiar with WordPress this might prove a useful post as it contains hints and tips for getting the most out of your posts. Be aware that although this post might seem long, I’m really only touching the surface of the functionality – if you want to know more then get in touch or leave a comment below so everyone can see.

WordPress – Getting started

WordPress dashboard

When you login to WordPress you always start at the dashboard. Assuming that you’re leaving updates and the blog settings to your web designer, all you need to worry about is the top part of the quick links (Posts to Comments on the left hand side). In this post the sections we’re going to be focusing on are “Posts”, “Pages” and “Comments”.

Adding or editing pages in WordPress

To add a new page to your site, first of all make sure that your site is setup for this to work. As standard, you can add a page to your website and a link will automatically appear in the navigation. However sometimes the navigation is built using a separate PHP file in order to match the original design which means that although you can create the page, there won’t be a way to add it to the navigation. If this is enabled, using the quick links on the left select:

Pages > Add New

This will open the page editor, see image below:

Add new WordPress page

You can begin adding content to your page by typing your text into the large text field. You can do this in “visual” or “html” mode using the tab at the top right of the text field. Visual mode is a lot like using Microsoft word, whereas HTML mode allows you to style your text and add functionality by entering code into the page with your content. For example, in visual mode you can make text bold by clicking the “b” button in the editor controls. In HTML mode you would make the text bold by using the <strong> tags around your selection. Note that you can still use the buttons in the editor in HTML mode as well.

When writing your content, make sure that the title of the page is in what’s called a “heading 1” or “h1” tag, with subheadings ideally in a “h2” tag, then a “h3” etc. This makes sure that the page is structured correctly, and Google sees headings as important so they are a good place to add relevant keywords. To change text to a heading, select the text and then click the paragraph style (see image below). If this isn’t available, you might need to click the “kitchen sink” button which will make all the controls in the editor appear, not just the most commonly used.

Formatting titles in WordPress

Once you’re happy with the content in your post, you can make it live by clicking the publish button in the right hand column. Alternatively you might decide to schedule it in to go live at a chosen time (more likely this would be used for scheduling in regular news posts as opposed to pages). You can do this by clicking “edit” next to where it says “Publish immediately”. This will bring up a date and time which you can set, and once this has been done click “ok”. You will notice that this changes the publish button to “schedule”. You can also backdate pages. This won’t fool Google or the Search Engines, but human users won’t be able to tell, and this can be useful for certain circumstances.

Finally, you can also save the page as a draft in case you would like to finish it another time, or let someone else proof read it before it goes live. Easy, right?

If you want to edit a news post once it has gone live, simply click on “Pages” in the quick links which will bring up all saved pages (drafts and live pages). From here you can edit a page, preview a page (this shows how it will look when it’s live) or delete a page by clicking “Trash”.

Edit a WordPress page

Adding or editing news posts in WordPress

Writing a news/blog post is very similar to creating a new page, however, you need to consider a category for the page to go into. Normally when I’m about to write a new post, the first thing I do is select a category by clicking the relevant tick box in the right column. If there isn’t a suitable category, simply click on “Add New Category” and give it an appropriate name. Pay attention to the format of the other categories when you do this, i.e. is it a new parent category, is it a subcategory etc. Next, I write a name for the post in the title field (above the large text field), and I recommend making this succinct yet descriptive! Try to avoid long or obscure titles.

Writing your WordPress post

When writing your post, try to plan it out with a few bullet points before you start writing to make sure it has structure and you don’t forget to include anything. As a general rule, I try to make sure that I include 3-5 relevant keywords per post, and that I use those keywords with a reasonably high density (around 2-5% each). If you’re using any SEO plugins, then you have the opportunity to include these keywords in your title, description and keywords META. Finally, you can add tags to your post by typing them into the “Post Tags” section in the right column and clicking “Add”. Tags should be keywords that are relevant to the post but aren’t too specific so that they will be relevant for other posts. When a user clicks on a tag, it will bring up all the posts with that tag so you don’t want it bringing up 1 result at a time as this isn’t great for usability.

Adding images using WordPress Upload/Insert

Adding an image is easy. Click the cursor in the text field at the point where you would like the image to go, and then click on the “upload image” icon above the text editor controls:

Add an image to WordPress

As a general note about adding images, make sure that the image is suitable for putting online (i.e. 72 dpi and of a size that isn’t bigger than the width of the post area!) as I’m always amazed when people add really high-resolution images to blogs that overlap. Not only do they look bad but they take ages to load which makes your website look unprofessional and not very user-friendly!

On clicking the upload image icon, a popup should appear asking you how you want to add the image. You can link to another website and pull their image into your post, however, I recommend adding your own image by uploading it to your server. Not only is this much more respectful to other website owners, but it also ensures that the image will display i.e. the image could get blocked or their site could go down. To upload your image make sure that the “From Computer” tab is selected, and then click on “select files”.

WordPress add image popup

Select a file to upload using your file browser, and then click open. WordPress will begin uploading the file to your server which may take a while depending on the size of your image and your internet connection. Wait a moment while this takes place.

WordPress image crunching

Once the file has finished being uploaded you can add some details.

WordPress adding a description to images

Important things to consider are the Alternate text (this is what the user will see if the image does not load, and is also a description for the search engine robots and vision impaired users with screen readers). This should be as descriptive as possible and is a good opportunity to again include some of your keywords for your post. Caption and description fields will add some HTML text and a border around the image (style controlled via CSS) but I generally choose not to use these. Next, consider what size you want the image to be. If you have already set the size in photoshop to fit in the post, then select “Full Size”. Full size tends to be better in my opinion as it means the images looks sharper because it hasn’t been resized in PHP. However, a lot of people like to add the image as a thumbnail with a link to the full size image which will open in a new tab. Once you have filled in the information and decided how to add the image, simply click “insert into post” and voila! The image is now in your post.

Adding a video to WordPress

There are lots of ways of adding video, but for the purpose of this post, I’m going to show you how to add a YouTube video which is probably one of the easiest ways of adding this kind of content. First, go to YouTube and find a video that you want to add, and to the right of the video, you will see the option to embed the video. Click on the “cog” icon to the right of the video to bring up the customisation settings. Here you can customise how the player looks, as well as choosing a size of video most suitable for your blog (you can see a little preview version in the thumbnail underneath:

Customising the embed options of a YouTube video

Once you’re happy, click the embed code (this will automatically select all the code) and then copy the code. Within the editor of your WordPress admin, make sure that you are in “HTML mode” using the tabs in the top right corner and paste the code. Click Preview to check everything has worked and you should see the video in the post!

How to add links in the WordPress editor

You can add a link to an external site by selecting some text and clicking on the “chain icon” in the text editor controls. This will bring up a popup where you can add a web address. Enter the address and then click “insert” and you will see that the link has been added. To remove the link, select it and then click the “broken chain icon” which will change it back to normal text. Be careful linking out to other external sites unless they are trusted. Generally, I will edit links in “HTML mode” and add the following attribute, rel=”nofollow”. This tells the search engine robots not to follow this link.

The same functionality is available for internal linking, and this can be a very powerful technique for site if used correctly. For example, if I mention SEO in this post, I might make that a link to the SEO page of my website. This increases the usability of my website for human users, and if the correct anchor text is used it can help increase the site’s position in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Don’t go overboard though, try and limit yourself to just a few links per post.

Adding a quote – Blockquotes in WordPress

Ideally, all your content should be unique and all your own. However, sometimes it is good to use other peoples content as a reference to back up your own content or to show it as a quote. To do this, simply click on “Blockquote” in the text editor. You will notice that this tabs your cursor further inside the editor. Write or copy and paste your quote, and then click the Blockquote button again to close it off. Depending on the design or your website, this quote will look different for every site. The quote below is taken from Box Pro blog:

WordPress blockquote from the Box Pro site

Notes on removing pages / changing URLs

You have the option at any point to remove a post / page, or to simply change the URL (web address). Although this provides good flexibility you should minimise this where possible. One of the features of WordPress is that it will ping Google as soon as content is published, meaning that the post is normally cached within a few minutes of going live. If you change the address of a post once it has been cached, Google will see the page as missing. The best way to solve this issue is to setup a 301-redirect after changing the URL (a 301 redirect will tell Google that the page has permanently moved to a new location), but you will need your web developer to help you with this.

Moderating WordPress comments

When you write great content, other users or readers may wish to comment on it. You can moderate these comments, and this is something we recommend that you do regularly. When you go the dashboard, if you have any comments these will be shown as “Pending” and ready for you to edit or approve. If you’re using a plugin such as Akismet, then you will also have a Spam comments section.

WordPress spam comment notification

Although Akismet is great, it’s not always right so it’s worth double checking the comments. You can do this by clicking on the number next to where it says “Spam”. Doing so will open up a list of all the comments.

WordPress spam comment captured by Akismet

If the comment is clearly spam (like the one shown above!), click permanently delete button. If the comment is genuine, then click “Not Spam” which will add it to the “Pending” section ready for moderation. Be aware that sometimes a comment may appear genuine, but in fact contains links to dodgy sites as a way of building links to those pages. This can be quite damaging to your blog as if it links to “dodgy” websites you can lose domain trust from Google which will affect your search engine rankings.

Okay, so that is a really basic overview of using WordPress to manage the content on your website. AS previously mentioned, this really only scratches the surface but should be enough to get you up and running! Enjoy!

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