How to Make & Optimize a WordPress Site

WordPress is the most popular free content management system, used by many people for everything from blogging and information sites to e-commerce. While it's not particularly well suited for e-commerce it is an excellent platform for a blog, news, or information site. Many web hosts have "one click install" features where you can install WordPress with a single click. This is a great option for someone who knows nothing about HTML code, but wants to get a site up fast.

WordPress Themes

WordPress comes with a number of pre-designed themes. Picking and installing one is as simple as choosing the theme and clicking "activate". Your website or company name will automatically be inserted into the header of your blog in the vast majority of themes, and any theme can be edited and customized assuming you're familiar with HTML and CSS code. While editing WordPress code is more challenging than the simple code you'd have with a static site, it's often easier to implement cool bells and whistles with free plugins.

WordPress Plugins

Free WordPress plugins allow you to make your blog even better. There are plugins to filter spam comments so you don't have to, to speed up your site, to automatically redirect pages if you change the structure of your URLs, and much more. They're very easy to install, with just a single click. Here are a few plugins you should strongly consider using:

  • Akismet - This plugin is excellent for catching comment spam, which can become a major hassle without such a filter.
  • WordPress SEO - This excellent plugin by Yoast takes care of all your SEO needs, with a single plugin, from custom titles and descriptions to noindexing unnecessary pages.
  • Sociable - This plugin will add the social networking buttons of your choice to your blog posts and pages.
  • WP Security Scan - This is a nice plugin that scans your WP installation to check for security issues. It highlights issues and tells you how to fix them.
  • File Monitor Plus - Another security plugin, this one lets you know when files in your WP folders have been changed, so you know if something has been hacked.
  • Dofollow - Blog comment links are automatically "nofollowed" in WordPress, meaning your comment links don't pass value. If you've got Akismet installed you might want to install the Dofollow plugin to spread the love.
  • Flash Video Player - A great free video player if you've got flash video you'd like to play on your blog.

You can find thousands more great WordPress plugins here.

Installation

If you choose a host with a one click install for WordPress you really don't have to do anything other than click the install button and follow the directions in the welcome email. If your host doesn't have an automatic installation option WordPress can seem like a challenge for a beginner to install. It's not as hard as it looks though, and we'll guide you through it with our WordPress Installation Tutorial.

Regardless of how you install WordPress, you'll want to go in and change at least one setting once it's up and running:

Permalinks

It's better for users and for search engine optimization for your URLs to include your post names rather than something like ?=123. In order to change the way your URLs appear, when you enter the admin section of your blog click on "Settings", choose "Permalinks", select "Custom Structure", and type /%postname%/ in the box. Then click "save changes", and you've optimized your URLs.

Security

Security is also a real issue with WordPress, as hackers create automated programs to search and exploit WP vulnerabilities. But there's a lot you can do to stop them, and if you follow the steps in our WordPress Security section, you'll probably never get hacked.

Nice Wordpress Customizations

For more on maximizing your Wordpress site: