WordPress SEO by YOAST for Beginners

WordPress SEO by YOAST for BeginnersThis is the fifth blog post in this series on how to build a Self-Hosted WordPress site and focuses on WordPress SEO by YOAST, for beginners. This short post is not intended to cover any part of WordPress SEO in detail, just enough so that it is set up so you can use it. There are plenty of YouTube videos that go into far more detail. That said, here goes.

WordPress SEO by YOAST for Beginners - Yoast SEO DashboardWordPress SEO by YOAST for Beginners - Yoast SEO XML SitemapsWordPress SEO by YOAST for Beginners - Breadcrumbs

The first page is the SEO Dashboard. I did watch a bit of the tour, so when you do that option disappears. On the dashboard page, I have set ‘Allow tracking of this WordPress install’s anonymous data’ and ‘Disable the Advanced part of the WordPress SEO meta box’ to be checked (on). Save the changes. The second settings page is Titles & Metas, with five tabs. Only one change here, on the General Tab, the Sitewide Meta Setting for ‘Noindex subpages of archives’. Set this checked (on) and save. I make no changes to the Social settings – these you may wish to change as and when you set that up for your site. (more…)

Build a Self-Hosted WordPress Site – Part 4

In the third blog post in this series on how to build a Self-Hosted WordPress site, I explained how to to set up the optional list of plugins that I recommended. Now it’s time to configure WordPress itself. I will take you through this running down the left hand admin menu. The Dashboard is first. There is a ‘Welcome to WordPress!’ banner. At the top right you can dismiss this.

Build a Self-Hosted WordPress Site - Part 4 - Hide WelcomeBuild a Self-Hosted WordPress Site - Part 4 - General SettingsBuild a Self-Hosted WordPress Site - Part 4 - General Settings

Now we go to Settings => General. Your tagline is really important for Search Engines, so make it count. Right now it says ‘Just another WordPress site’. Not ideal. In fact, when the Google bot sees this, it demotes you because it thinks the site is in development. For example, our site says ‘Photography Studio Equipment suppliers of stands, umbrellas, triggers and other associated equipment’. A lot of key search words in a concise sentence. Further down that same page (and the third screenshot above shows this bottom half of the settings page), it is also a good idea to make sure Membership is unchecked, so no-one can register. Your Timezone should be set to suit your location. Note that your server also has timezone settings, which I cover in a separate blog post. Similarly, you may wish to set Date and Time formats that suit where you are located. There is a link to a help page about this on the settings page. Settings for the week starts on and language again need to match your local needs. Nothing on the Writing Settings needs changing for now, and we covered the Reading Settings in Build a Self-Hosted WordPress Site – Part 2. (more…)

Build a Self-Hosted WordPress Site – Part 3

In the second blog post in this series on how to build a Self-Hosted WordPress site, I explained how to fix some basic error messages that arose when you installed the initial list of plugins and also how to configure the most important of the plugins. Now it’s time to configure the rest of those plugins. These plugins need no further changes at this time:

avatar-manager
block-bad-queries
broken-link-checker
category-tag-pages
easy-pie-maintenance-mode
enhanced-media-library
media-item-url
menu-customizer
post-types-order
quick-cache
remove-query-strings-from-static-resources
system-snapshot-report
tinymce-advanced

[In the remainder of this post, all plugin settings will be found under the Settings menu, unless otherwise advised] (more…)

Build a Self-Hosted WordPress Site – Part 2

Build a Self-Hosted WordPress Site - Part 2 - Quick Cache SettingsBuild a Self-Hosted WordPress Site Part 2 - Cache SettingsBuild a Self-Hosted WordPress Site - Part 2 - Quick Cache On

In the first blog post in this series on how to build a Self-Hosted WordPress site, I explained how to get the basic plugins installed. Now it’s time to configure those plugins. First we will  look at Quick Cache. This will work best with the appropriate supporting software on your server, which I will cover in a separate series of posts focusing on server configuration. At the top in orange you can see Quick Cache is off. A few paragraphs down, it tells how you can test if Quick Cache is working. Using Firefox, all you need do is open a Private Tab or Window and open your site in that, and view the source. If the code isn’t there, go back to plugins and select Drop-ins at the top. You will see you need to check if the WordPress wp-config.php has the line define(‘WP_CACHE’, true); in it. If it does not, you will need to make a manual edit of the file to add that line. See my separate guide on editing the wp-config.php file. Anyway, you simply switch Quick Cache on (the big yellow option) and save the settings at the bottom of the page. After I have checked that it IS working, I go back and select the ‘No, I don’t want the source code to contain any of these notes.’ I have tested Quick Cache against 6 other cache plugins, and this was a long way the fastest, with my home page loading in the Pingdom tests at about 0.35 seconds!! Before I did any fine tuning of my website, that was typically 12-15 seconds! (more…)

Build a Self-Hosted WordPress Site

Build Your Self-Hosted WordPress SiteIn the next few blog posts I am going explain how to build a Self-Hosted WordPress site. Yes, that’s right. No debate over which Content Management Software (CMS) to use. It’s WordPress. Sorry if that offends you, but I have been doing web design far too long to be bothered with anything else. For 99% of users, WordPress is fine and dandy. For the purposes of these blog posts, I am going to skim over some of the really basic stuff (I might come back and add a bit of detail). I know that you can develop a site on your local PC or Mac, but the first time you get stuck, anybody who tries to help you will want to see what you have, and that means you need a web server. Unless you want to do a simple blog, forget the WordPress.com hosting packages, and become a self-hosted site.

Build Your Self-Hosted WordPress SiteThat means you should get a domain. I use GoDaddy. I can see no reason why you shouldn’t do the same. Priced in US Dollars and no sales tax, they are usually cheap and effective. You need a web server. There are hundreds of cheap ‘WordPress Specialist’ web hosts. Forget them. Forget all the special ‘free’ hosting deals. The bottom line is, less than US$40 per month is cheap – if you pay annually you can often get a discount on this, sometimes as much as 25% off. I have been through all manner of web hosts and deals over the years, so you might be wise to avoid all that heartache. My preference is for what is called a cloud web server. But, beware, my experience over the last year makes me wary of Cloud Servers that use OnApp for management of the server; my sites used to ave this and it often crashed, leaving me offline for a day or more each time. On a budget look for OpenVZ and for performance at a price use KVM, here is a comparison.

With a Cloud Server, this means that your site does not reside on one machine, but shares its resources across a lot of physical machines. This is a much faster and more reliable solution. Different hosts may use a different name for this type of package, but this is what you need. Unless you have a big web site in mind, you will want to start with a Virtual Private Server (VPS) with a Unix operating System (such as Centos), Apache, MySQL and PHP. To make managing it easy, you will want WHM, cPanel and EasyApache installed. Most importantly, you will want a Managed Service. That means, when it goes wrong, you get help. If you can persuade the host to do it for you, installing nginx as a reverse proxy server for Apache will speed things up, but make things a bit more difficult to manage.

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