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Why I like WordPress….

Maybe I’m biased, maybe I’m tight, but I like things that are free.

Stylized WordPress Logo

The thing I like even more, are things that are free and good. WordPress is used by those trying to start a side-hustle on a shoestring right up to multi-national companies. I love that; I love that it is open-source and a collaboration of minds. I like that there are well-built plugins which add nearly every functionality you could think of and often they too are free! If only all the world could be this generous!

A choice of themes, once again a vast selection of free themes. I should explain that while plugins add function, themes govern the look of a website. A free theme often will do the job. They nearly all have a pro-version and sometimes it is worth the upgrade for enhanced features or access to support but (it’s so good I will say it again) a free theme is usually up to the job, not a trailer, or a taster, it will do the job. Once again so generous!

The website is built. Build it and they will come, that is what they say isn’t it? Well no, work has to be put into promoting your website and optimising it so it can be found by search engines (SEO). Guess what though, WordPress already does lots of the SEO so you don’t have to. Guess what it else…it does it for free as you go along!

Love WordPress.

Static Homepage v’s Your Latest Posts for Blogs and Small Business

Easy navigation is important
Don’t lose your audience in chronological listings.

I am a ‘Static Homepage’  girl who occassionally dabbles with a  ‘Your Latest Posts’ Homepage. I always felt I was bucking the trend and I suppose I have been a little, but it seems the ‘Static Homepage’ might be coming into its own!

WordPress was born in 2003, it was the offspring of existing blogging software ‘b2/cafelog’ .  Through it’s infancy and childhood WordPress existed for bloggers and it is only more recently that it was picked up as a web building tool in it’s own right.

Historically, I mainly build websites for small businesses, this is what has lead me down the ‘static’ path. Businesses want their homepage to display the most important and relevant information on the homepage. It makes sense. It makes sense for blogs too and I would recommend making the switch over.

As WordPress has been evolving so have websites and blogs. The website which is built and remains the same until you have a big overhaul is now a rare thing. We are expected to keep it looking fresh, current, up-to-date, have a ‘latest news’ page. Blogs on the other hand are evolving from being a chronological diary in the format of ‘Your latest posts’ to an information resource which needs to be quickly and easily navigated. Where you are guiding your user and moulding the user experience. They no longer have to search back through the archives or rely on the search bar.

Still not convinced? What if I tell you that Google have noticed this trend? Having your content organised and easily navigable is always going to be good for SEO but it would seem this has also become a priority for Google in their May 2021 algorithm update so could have a very direct influence on traffic.

‘Google My Business’: A Must for Local Businesses

Google My Business is sometimes overlooked. It isn’t quite social media, it isn’t quite a website, it isn’t quite SEO, but it does do a bit of all three. If location is relevant to your product or service, ‘Google My Business’ is a must!

‘Google My Business’ can be a real game changer for a small business selling  or providing a service locally.

It is estimated 92% of people in the UK who use search engines, use Google. Therefore everyone is trying to get ranked on the first page of Google and the easiest way to do this is to use ‘Google My Business’.

I did a search for ‘Barbers Gloucester’, look what came up:

Google My Business - Listing for Barbers in Gloucester

I searched for a business (Barbers) and location (Gloucester) so Google provided me with a nice list on page 1 of the search results. The way Google chooses to list them seems to be firstly by how closed they are to the location and then it is down to ranking, how many stars do you have and from how many reviews.

The barbers with the most high ranking reviews closest to the  location you chose  will be listed first. This is a seam of gold in the SEO world, just waiting for you to mine it. And how do I do that I hear you ask?

First of all you need to get yourself set up on ‘Google My Business’. This can be done by searching for it, or downloading the app for your phone. There is quite a tedious verification process, but stick with it, it is worthwhile.

Once you are set up it’s all about getting as many good reviews listed as you can. How you go about this is up to you. I have seen a polite request at the bottom of an invoice or sometimes if a client expresses their satisfaction you can just ask whether they would mind leaving you a review.

What is Hosting? Hosting, Domains and URLs explained.

When I think of hosting, I imagine a hard disk floating in the sky connected to lots of computers. On this hard disk a little area of storage is lit up; this bit of space belongs to me; it is where my website or ‘online presence’ lives. I ‘rent’ this space from the host the same way I would rent an apartment from a landlord. My hosting is where my website is stored, it is my online presence or dot in the ‘World Wide Web’.

The idea of hosting being a dot on a world wide web
My hosting is where my website is stored, it is my online presence or dot in the ‘World Wide Web’.

What is Hosting?

Let’s say you are working on your computer. It’s an old-fashioned computer. No internet, no cloud storage. At this time you would have probably had two floppy-disk drives A: and B: and then your hard-disk C:, hence sometimes called your C Drive.

If we imagine you have been typing out your CV in Word or something similar. Well now you want to save it so you make a folder (on your Hard disk or C Drive) called ‘CV’ and you save your file cv.doc into it. That document is saved on that computer. It is not connected to any other computer so no one else can see it. If you connect a printer you can print it. When you connect another computer you can make it so that two computers can see it. Should you connect let’s say ten computers, you have made your computer a server a because it is holding the information and it is serving the information to the other computers on the network.

Now, (bare with me, the ah ha moment is not far off) the internet (or world wide web) is a giant network of computers and your website is a file , or a few files which you want to be available to anyone in the world. So we pay for someone to provide us with somewhere for it to live, for hosting it. They have a computer which has been made into a server and has all the right software and connections. We rent some storage, or a bit of space on their hard disk and put our website there, now the website is available to anyone with a computer / mobile phone and an internet connection, 24/7.

I am hearing a lot about lyrical hosting particularly for bloggers.

What’s a URL / Domain?

Now when our website visitor wants to go and visit our website they need an address to find it. We can’t say its computer number 5067 on the 20th floor of a skyscraper in New York. Instead we need something simple and easy to remember. We need a URL (Uniform Resource Locator), this is your web address for example ‘https://www.mywebsite.com’. The interesting part of the URL, the piece which is really unique to you is called the domain. In our example of ‘https://www.mywebsite.com‘ the domain is the ‘mywebsite.com‘ part. It is the part of the URL which is your website’s name.

Buying your domain

You have to buy your domain name, usually you own it for a period of time and then have to renew it.Your details of ownership are registered with nominet and this is the place to look if you want to find out who owns a domain or you have any issues over ownership. Domain names can vary in price dramatically. Sometimes they are given away free with hosting, with very popular domain names they will have been bought as an investment and you may have to go through a broker to negotiate a price! Remember you don’t have to buy your domain through your host you can find the best deal and buy it separately, you then have to go through an extra step of redirecting the ‘name servers to your hosting’. This sounds scarier than it actually is!

Places to look for domain names and try them on for size include www.123reg.com, www.namecheap.com

Where does e-mail fit into all this?

Email is related to this because many website owners, businesses or bloggers might want their email address to be something like ‘info@mywebsite.com‘, to reflect their brand. In order to do this you would need to add a ‘mailbox’ to your hosting so that your email is stored with your website. Some hosts charge extra for this and some don’t. There is a growing trend of avoiding this by using a free email for example ‘gmail.com’ and opening a business account for mywebsite@gmail.com. It is not for everyone but it is a usable workround.

Not all hosting is of equal quality and choosing the right hosting provider, comes down to more than just cost. Look out for a post regarding this!

Why #Hashtag?

Most people have heard of hashtags. The phrase ‘to hashtag’ began with twitter so has banded around for well over 10 years.

It revolves around putting a hash and some words. But why? And which words? Is it still cool to hashtag?

Hashtags enable people to find content. So your hashtag should contain the words someone might use if they were searching for your post (or article). If more that one word, you would put # then string the words together with no spaces. To make it more readable it is common practice to capitalise the first letter of each word.

For example suitable hashtags for this post would be:

#HowDoIHashtag (notice you can’t put punctuation in a hastag)
#WhyHashtag
#NoQuestionMarkInMyHashtag
#StillGoodToHashtag

The skill of writing a hashtag is to anticipate the terms others would use to refer to your content.

But where to Hashtag?

Hashtagging is widely used across social media. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc. if you’re not sure it doesn’t hurt. Sometimes it even makes the jump into common language, for example the #MeToo movement. It also works to make a point quickly in graphics or printed media.

Is it still relevant? Worth the effort?

Yes, if you hashtag your posts they will be more visible. They will be seen by people who do not follow your posts normally. They allow your posts to be found. The are vital.

JOS Medical Beauty

JOS Medical Beauty went live just before Christmas.

Take a look at http://josmedicalbeauty.co.uk/ to find out more about the Botox, Derma Fillers and Facial Aesthetics on offer.

The website is a simple 5 page WordPress site. We have also designed the JOS Medical Beauty Logo and branding.

The idea of the simple site is that Jess who runs JOS Medical Beauty is now in the perfect position going forwards to add to her site herself using the easy wordpress editor and keep it up to date with all her latest news.

We fine the more our clients become involved with the administration of the website, adding content regularly the better the website. Google in turn rewards good quality content and the site is listed higher in the rankings.

Bark ‘n’ Bubbles goes live!

Very pleased to introduce my latest site www.barknbubblesdoggrooming.com built using WordPress.

Lesley was a dream client as she knew exactly what she wanted.

She began by showing me the logo she had just had designed. Lesley was over the moon with it. She wanted purple, silver and pink as her colours and she wanted just the right amount of glitz and glamour. The designer had nailed it.

This made my life very easy. The logo told me so much of what she wanted. We needed a black background to make the logo and photos stand out. I needed to come up with a way of mimicking the glitz of the logo so I took some of the silver sparkle and added it behind the black background.

 

It happened that a lot of Lesley’s photos had a pink background so I used this to bring the pink in and used the purple for the writing. Lesley had also done her homework and had prepared the photos and the written content. She knew what pages she wanted and how she wanted to present herself.

Lesley already had a very successful facebook page which meant there was a wealth of information we could draw on. We were able to create an Instagram account so that Lesley can photo the dogs and upload them to instagram from her phone. By using a wordpress plugin it would automatically update the gallery, keeping things current and up-to-date. It also would post to Facebook, giving Lesley less work.

I also set up a google business page so the business would be listed in Google Maps.