There are a lot of user-friendly options out there for getting your small business online. Different options are best suited to different needs. This is why WordPress might fit the bill for your business’s online presence:
1. Your website needs to manage content (pages).
WordPress excels as a content management system. Originally it was a ‘blogging’ software, which means that it has always had a strong relationship with the database that holds the content. If you need to manage content on your website, with WordPress you don’t need an expensive developer to:
- mange your content,
- organize it in any number of ways,
- query it and
- display it.
2. Your website has evergreen content.
WordPress comes with a feature called “Pages” already built in (notice the capital “P”). Pages can be organized using a hierarchy of parent Pages and child Pages. For example, if you have 3 product lines, it is easy to create three Pages to introduce them – Product Line A, Product Line B and so on. Then for each product under Line A, you can easily create child Pages.
The benefit here is that WordPress has worked out the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for you. A child Page in WordPress will, by default have the permalink:
This way a search engine is more likely to know what that Page is about because you will have included key terms in the Page titles.
3. Your website has relevant content.
The nature of content marketing is to create content that is always relevant to your end users. To accommodate these types of content, WordPress has “posts” built in. Posts are what most think of as blogs. However, posts are simply a type of content that is easily organized and included by default in every WordPress installation.
All your relevant content, time-sensitive content, or any thing that you would like to organize by topic, should be placed in posts.
…. candy for search engines…
Posts are organized by categories and tags. For example, if you had some relevant information for maintaining Product A, you would write several posts and tag them with your keywords. Then you would want to produce a “Landing Page” – just another type of Page (see #2) where you list an introduction to all this great information, and link to each post. These types of pages not only help your readers find the valuable information they need, but also are candy for search engines.
4. Built in Taxonomies: Tags, Categories, Links
You’ll find each of these taxonomies valuable for different reasons.
Tags are gold for adding key words and searches to your site. Any word at all that is linked as a tag, can be used to serve up a feed on that particular topic for that reader. Tags are not hierarchical, and are generally not included in the permalinks.
A tag feed will look like this: www.mysite.com/tag/tag-name/feed
The downside is that the archive template (discussed below) will display ALL posts related to that tag, whether you’ve included other tags or categories.
Categories are useful because unlike tags, they can be hierarchical. A link on your home page to all posts for using Product XYZ, can be like this:
And you’ll be able to use all those rich keyword terms that search engines need to know what that page is about. And an archive template (discussed below) can easily include either all the content under the top level category, or just the content from the sub-category – you decide!
Categories also have feeds built in and use the same structure as tags.
Link Categories are for, well, organizing your links. Personally I think this is a bit of a leftover from the days when WordPress was primarily used for bloggers who wanted to list all their friends’ blogs. However, if you want a list of links, with all the relevant information stored neatly in the database (feed, link, meta data, relationship), then the link categories are just the thing for you.
5. Your reputation depends on reliability.
I can be 99.9% sure that WordPress will exist in a year from now. It belongs to a category of software known as “open source”. This has so many benefits that I’m just myself beginning to appreciate them all. The bottom line is that the software code is not locked away with a private company owning the keys. Thus, the code itself is ‘open’. And there are hundreds of very smart developers that contribute to it on each new re-iteration. So if you want software for your website that can keep up with the incredibly fast-paced changes online, WordPress fits the bill.
I’d recommend WordPress even if it was a very expensive piece of software. Don’t let the fact that its free deceive you into thinking it isn’t valuable!
6. You can’t afford the time and damaged reputation from a hacked website.
Because of its Open Source status, there are some great, passionate and talented developers on this project. But because of its size every now and then, it becomes a target for hackers. On the flip side, because it is so well known, and there are so many developers who work with it, most security flaws are fixed before they ever become public or harm anyone.
The real security dangers lay in the use and installation of WordPress. Although its free and easy to do, I strongly recommend obtaining advice from a trusted friend or WordPress professional before installing it on your server or installing any new themes or plugins.
7. You expect to be able to easily manage a website without a full time developer.
You would be right, with all of today’s technology to expect a basic website that is easy to use without a developer on staff. If you can use Microsoft Word, you should be able to add content to your site.
There are still a few areas where WordPress hasn’t caught up with a truly What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get interface. It is the same areas that all website software struggles with, for good reason. WordPress (or whatever software you use) needs to take what you type, and make it readable for any size screen, in any computer, in any language, anywhere in the world. That is a tall order, even for today’s technology.
For example, without a tutorial or custom plugin, adding an image frame, or a chart or a background image to your content is difficult.
Even so, WordPress doesn’t forgo best practices and accessibility standards to make your content look good to you. Despite the pressure to just ‘make it look right’, the forward thinking webmaster must take into account your audience, their devices, preferences, accessibility and search-engine readability.
I recommend creating a budget for:
- special types of content (your media kit, portfolio, etc), usually a one-time fee
- a professional design (you really get what you pay for in this category)
- search engine optimization basics and tutorials
- management and security monitoring
Then you’ll need to add your own:
- targeted and optimized key content
- content marketing landing pages with relevant content
- evergreen content (contact page, home, what you do and how it matters to your customer)
- tested and optimized call to action on each page
8. Your business website serves a purpose.
Assuming you actually want your business website to serve a purpose, it will need to be found and indexed by search engines. WordPress is search-engine friendly out of the box. For example – permalinks, feeds, archives, meta information and clean code.
Your content needs to be organized in such a way that search engines can find and index it – see taxonomies and the content types above. If you use best practices with interlinking your pages, and using strong researched keywords on your pages you’ll be a step ahead.
Author archives are also included by default, in WordPress so that your Google Plus profiles can be seen and optimized for search too.
Your content needs to be readable by search engines – see #7, the compromise between easy to use and still machine-readable.
There are other software packages that do other things really well. For the items mentioned above, WordPress is your answer, hands-down, unequivocally, without-a-doubt, unabashedly and only a teeny bit biased.