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by Andrew Tonks on 17th June 2011
A few weeks ago I took it upon myself to set my very own website up using WordPress. Whilst my background is more in line with promoting websites instead of building them, I thought the exercise would be beneficial to my skillset and would be something enjoyable to do in my spare time. So I set myself a budget of £200 set off on my endeavour.
I am pleased to say the process went off without a hitch and I found the exercise quite rewarding and interesting. In light of this I thought I would share my experience and put together a ten step plan on how you too can set your own WordPress website from scratch.
10 Steps To Follow To Set Up A WordPress Site:
1. Keyword Research
Being from an SEO background this was a natural starting point for me. Using Google’s free Keyword Tool, I spent the best part of a morning simply researching for different ways I thought people might query Google for the service my proposed website would offer.
Once you have an idea on what and how people are searching, you can begin to make more informed decisions during the set up process.
2. Site Structure & Proposition
Looking at my keyword research, my next step was to decide on how I was going to structure the site. Having a homepage, about us and contact us pages were a given, but my keyword research helped me map out what I was going to promote and what to call my pages.
3. Domain Name Selection
As I did not actually own a company, selecting a domain name again was partly dictated by my keyword research. If I had owned a company, I would have simply purchased the domain name most closely relating to my company’s name.
Looking at the more searched for keywords, I looked to see what domains were available that contained the terms people were searching for, finally deciding on a keyword with fairly high search volume but at the same time less than 100,000 competing results in Google UK.
Next I needed a hosting provider, seeing as I was building a WordPress site I thought I would see what people were saying on WordPress’ own forums. A number of providers also offer 1-Click Auto Install for WordPress, meaning they pretty much do the whole process for you.
WordPress recommended hosting partners: http://wordpress.org/hosting/
Next I set up Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics accounts for the site and incorporated the relevant tracking codes in the newly set up WordPress account. This is fairly straightforward in WordPress through the use of plugins, details of the ones I used are:
Google Webmaster Tools Plugin: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/official-google-site-verification-plugin/
Google Analytics Plugin: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-analytics-for-wordpress/
Finally I verified the sites with Google and tracking could begin.
One of the greatest challenges I had was getting the site to look professional. As I said in the intro, I am not a web designer and to be honest I don’t really have the desire to be one. Luckily there are a load of companies that offer WordPress templates either for free or for a small fee.
I am a big advocate of you get what you pay for so I went down the paid route. A simple search in Google for “Paid WordPress Themes” returned numerous companies offering professional looking theme for as little as US$50. Looking through I found a theme I liked, joined the applicable site, downloaded the theme and installed via my WordPress account.
Most of the themes also offer customisation solutions, meaning you can add a bit of individuality to the theme and your site. If I am honest this was the most time consuming part of the process, but still wasn’t particularly difficult. Most of the site’s have support forums where you can post ‘How To’ questions if you get stuck or would like to know how to customise a particular aspect of the theme.
The biggest piece of advice I can give is allow yourself time, use the forums, ask questions and experiment. Like me, I’m sure you’ll be surprised how far you can get with a bit of patience.
The site I used for the themes was: http://www.elegantthemes.com/
7. Content & Images
Next I had to write the copy and source images for the site. As I had no quality images readily available, I looked around for a number of image download site that would allow me to source a whole range of images.
8. Plugins & Social Media
As I was writing a blog, I wanted to make it as easy as possible offer visitors the opportunity to share my content through social media platforms. Luckily WordPress offers a number of plugins that will allow you to incorporate Twitter and Facebook buttons as well as social book marking into the site fairly easily.
9. Testing & Publishing
Once my content was ready, images sourced and uploaded I decided to test the site. I got a number of people to just simply interact with the site to give me their feedback as well as proof it independently. I also tested the site in a number of popular browsers to ensure all was expected and there were no cross browser incompatibility issues.
Regarding browser compatibility, the majority of the companies selling themes guarantee their themes are compatible with all browsers so this was not really an issue.
10. Promotion & Link Building
Finally I wanted to get my name out there, I wrote a few press releases, Tweeted about the site, submitted to DMOZ and a few other choice directories. In the end promotion and link building is an ongoing process so these sort’s of things I expect to do over the lifetime of the site.
Setting up your own WordPress website has numerous advantages. Whilst it can seem a bit daunting at first, it can be a highly rewarding experience, help broaden your skillset and save you a fair bit of money.
For reference, my costs setting up the site were:
1. Domain Name: £9.99 for 2 years
2. Hosting: £120.00 for 2 years
3. Theme £29.99
4. Images £25.00