5 Essential WordPress Tips for Beginners

WordPress Tips for Beginners

We’re pretty big fans of WordPress.  We frequently use it on the websites we make because it’s both powerful and easy to use.

In our newest post on Mashable we outline some key but underutilized tips for users new to the world of WordPress.  Here’s an excerpt from the post.

5 Essential WordPress Tips for Beginners

Have you ever been driving your car, playing on your computer or trying to change the input on your TV when, all of a sudden, someone introduces you to a mind-blowing new feature?  Here, we’ll cover five great, lesser-known WordPress features. Soon, you too will experience that elusive “Ah-ha!” moment.

1. Schedule Blog Posts for the Future

The majority of bloggers try to follow a publishing schedule. They post once a month, once a week or once a day. In WordPress, you can schedule posts to go live at a particular time and date, so you don’t need to be at your computer (or even awake) when the post goes live. Here’s how.

In the WordPress backend, go to the Edit screen for the post you wish to schedule.

  1. In the top-right of the page, look for a box titled “Publish,” where you’ll find an option that reads “Publish immediately.”
  2. Click the blue “Edit” text next to “Publish immediately” and choose the month, date, year and time you want your post to be published. Remember to use military time (3:00 p.m. would be 15:00).
  3. Click the gray “OK” button.
  4. The “Publish immediately” text should now change to “Schedule for,” with whatever date and time you have chosen.
  5. If you’re ready to go, click the blue “Schedule” button (formerly “Publish”). Your post is set to go.

2. Change Your Page and Blog Post URLs

WordPress generally does a good job creating URLs for your pages or posts, but sometimes you’ll need to adjust.  Here are the most common instances you’ll want to change URLs.

  1. Your page or post URL contains special characters like %, &, $, @, or *. These characters make it difficult for search engines to read and can be problematic for browsers, potentially preventing some of your pages from loading.
  2. Your post or page title is really long and contains words not optimized for search.  For example, if we write a post called “Helping Kids Find a Home or Shelter in St. Louis, Missouri,” WordPress may automatically generate this URL: “helping-kids-find-a-home-or-shelter-in-st-louis-missouri.”  Search engines prefer shorter URLs, so it’s worth removing words that won’t help the post’s or page’s ranking.  Search engines also prefer that high-ranking keywords appear at the beginning of URLs.  In the example above, if we want to rank for the phrase “homes for kids in St. Louis” we may want to adjust the URL to read “kids-find-homes-st-louis”.

If you notice that your new page or post URL doesn’t match one of the two cases listed above, here’s how to change it.

  1. In the WordPress backend, go to the Edit screen for the post or page you wish to edit.
  2. Just below the title, click the gray “Edit” button next to the permalink. If instead of “Edit,” you see a button that says “Change Permalinks,” Click that button and click the “Post name” radio button on the “Permalink Settings” page. Then click the blue “Save Changes” button. Go back to the post or page you wish to edit and you should see the “Edit” button.
  3. When you click “Edit,”, the URL will change to a text box, ready for you to alter. Remove special characters and any words that could hurt your search engine rankings.  That means generic words like “a,” “or,” “in” and “the.”  As mentioned above, we might change “helping-kids-find-a-home-or-shelter-in-st-louis-missouri” to “kids-find-homes-st-louis”.  Make sure you also separate each word with a dash (-).
  4. Click the gray “OK” button.
  5. Click the blue “Publish” or “Update” button to save your changes.

Note: it’s not good practice to change permalinks after the post or page has already been published. Once your page or post is live, people might share it, link to it, email it or even write it down. WordPress usually excels at forwarding links, but it isn’t always 100% effective, and forwarding can hurt your search rankings.
In case you’re looking for more information on URL best practices, check out “11 Best Practices for URLs” from SEOMoz.

Read the Whole Post

Like this post so far?  Well there’s plenty more (3 tips to be exact) where that came from.  You can read the rest of these tips over on Mashable.

Photo courtesy of Nikolay Bachiyski, Flickr