I speak to a lot of people who think that creating a website is all you need to do to have a presence on the Internet.
They think that simply having a site out there, preferably one built on WordPress and using a great theme and some plugins to make it even better, will help them to reach a huge online audience and connect with more people or make more sales.
Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as that. Once you’ve created and launched your site, you can give yourself a quick pat on the back, but you really mustn’t rest on your laurels. This is only the start of the ongoing task of managing your sites content and keeping it up-to-date, relevant and interesting.
Managing your site isn’t difficult. Millions of website owners do it and there are plenty of tools out there to help you, some of which I’ll mention here. But it can be hard work, especially if you want a site with high levels of traffic, as you’ll not only need to attract the visitors you want, but also ensure your security measures keep out those you don’t.
Managing Your Site Content
Managing and updating content is pretty easy with WordPress: it is a content management system after all. But WordPress won’t do the hard work for you: you have to create your content, share it with a wide audience and engage with the people who are reading it and commenting on it. By doing these things you’ll create a site which encourages people to come back regularly and which gets found by search engines.
The three main areas you need to think about are:
- Publishing regularly
- Sharing content
- Managing subscribers and comments
Publishing to Your Site Regularly
In the early days of working on your site, the chances are you’ll have lots of adrenalin and write new content fairly frequently. As time passes you’ll get distracted by other things, you’ll lose your enthusiasm and start publishing less and less frequently. In time you may stop publishing altogether.
If you want people to keep visiting your site and the search engines to keep finding it, this can’t happen. So you need to define a publishing schedule that you can stick to from the outset. If you’ve got loads of ideas at the beginning, by all means start working on them, but don’t publish them yet: save them as drafts or in note form and publish them at a later date when you haven’t got so many ideas or so much time.
Here are some tips for creating and sticking to a regular publishing schedule:
- Identify how frequently your site visitors will expect you to post new content. This will depend on your site and your audience, and is likely to be higher if you want to make money from the site.
- Be honest with yourself: can you realistically write, edit and publish content at this pace? If you can’t do it yourself, you may need to rethink your plans or hire other people to help you.
- Create a publishing schedule with details of when you’ll publish and what type of content you’ll publish when: for example you might post different types of posts on different days of the week.
- As you come up with ideas, allocate them to dates in the future. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time before publication to allow time for writing, editing and creating or sourcing assets.
- Take time to edit your posts. After drafting something, don’t hit ‘Publish’. Save it as a draft and then come back to it another day to make edits, or (even better) ask someone else to.
- If you’re not going to be around on the days when you normally publish content, use the WordPress scheduling feature. In the publishing pane, you can select a future date for publication and then hit ‘Schedule’. WordPress will automatically publish the post for you when you tell it to.
Spreading the Word
Once you’ve got content, you need to tell people about it. Even established sites with audiences in the millions adopt strategies to let people know what they’re publishing. You’ve got a few tools available to help you with this:
- Subscription – If you can entice people to subscribe to your site (maybe with a freebie such as a free e-book or report), then you have a captive audience. You can use plugins like MailPoet or our Subscribe by Email to automatically notify your subscribers when you post new content, or to send them a daily or weekly digest of new posts.
- RSS Feeds – WordPress will automatically create an RSS feed for you, but you can make things easier for your readers by using a widget to help them subscribe to it.
- Social media – If your content is public, then social media really is the best way to raise awareness of it. But don’t go hammering all the social media platforms: you’ll spend way too much time on it and you’ll get diminishing returns. Identify what social media platforms your target audience use and build your presence on those. Identify when your audience are on social media and make sure you post at those times. A tool like Hootsuite can help you with scheduling posts.
- Social media plugins – Plugins like Ultimate Facebook, WP to Twitter and Add Link to Facebook will help you automatically post new content to your social media accounts when you publish it on your blog. Plugins like Ultimate Facebook and ShareThis will also encourage your readers to share your content via their own social media accounts, too.
As well as engaging with your readers on social media, you’ll need to consider whether and how you’re going to use comments to let your readers voice their opinions and ask questions – and how you’ll respond.
You don’t have to enable comments; on some sites it may not be necessary, but if you’re launching a blog or community site it will help your readers feel that you care about what they think, give you a chance to understand what they think of your content, and make it more likely that they’ll keep coming back.
Here are some questions you might ask yourself:
- Will you allow anyone to post comments, or will you approve them first?
- If someone has already had a comment approved, will you let them comment without you having to approve in future?
- Will people have to sign in to comment?
- Will you use a third party tool to manage comments, or let readers use their social media accounts?
- How often will you read comments?
- To what sort of comments will you reply? Will you reply to everyone or have a set of criteria?
The first thing you’ll need to do is configure your discussion settings in the admin screens. In Settings -> Discussion, choose the options that work best for your site, and remember that if you turn comments off, this will only apply to new posts, so you’ll need to either manually turn discussion off in your old posts.
In the Discussion settings screen, you can define whether comments are allowed, whether users need to be logged in to comment, whether you’ll moderate comments before they’re published, and whether you’ll allow people who’ve posted comments before to post again without moderation:
Once you’ve done this, you need to manage comments and respond to them. It can be easy to get sucked into replying to comments the instant you’re emailed with a notification, which can impact on your productivity elsewhere.
I recommend identifying a time of day (or maybe a day of the week if you don’t get a lot of comments to start with) when you review comments and respond to them.
Here are a few tips:
- Sometimes another reader will reply to a commenter answering their question or starting a discussion. This is great! It means your site is sparking off discussion among your community of readers. If you wait a while before replying to comments yourself, this is more likely, but don’t forget to post a comment at some point or people will think you’re ignoring them.
- Beware of comments that say your post is the best thing since sliced bread but don’t add anything specific. These are often spam – if you publish them thinking it’ll make your site look good, it might actually make you look a bit needy and gullible.
- If people do post positive and specific comments, publish them as soon as possible and reply with a thank you and an answer to any questions.
- You may well get comments disagreeing with your viewpoint or advice. This is very healthy as it encourages debate and will get more people commenting. Respond to these comments but don’t be tempted to get defensive: your views are just as valid as those of your readers.
- If people (correctly) point out errors in your content, thank them and make corrections. I’m talking about factual errors here, not differences of opinion!
- If people post defamatory, obscene or libellous comments, don’t publish them – they aren’t part of healthy debate. Mark them as spam and Akismet will spam that commenter’s comments in the future, or simply delete them if you don’t want to be so strict.
I’ve seen blogs that generate thousands of comments on posts, many of which are very repetitive (‘I love your ideas on X and Y! Awesome!’). Welcome these but don’t feel you need to reply to each one individually. Time spent on writing new content will benefit your readers much more than time spent on replying to endless comments.
Source: via WPMUDEV
Edited down for Lakes Area Design users. After all, we’re here to make sure you don’t have to focus on Code, Performance, Backups, or Security. We make sure you can focus on your websites content and business goals.