This post is the final episode in the Building a WordPress Site series. Over the past weeks, we learned things like:
- Starting with an idea.
- Setting the foundations.
- Installing WordPress.
- Taking care of the initial settings and getting a theme.
- Getting the essential plugins.
- Creating your content with keywords in mind.
Today, it’s time for the last part of the puzzle – improving your site over time. Even though WordPress is quite an operational right from the get-go, there’s always something you can improve to cater to your audience’s needs better, or earn a better spot in the search engines, or improve your sales, or achieve any other goal imaginable.
The point is that there’s always something, and if you simply decide to never check what’s going on in your blog, you might find yourself in quite a bit of trouble one day.
For instance, the first step here:
Update whatever can be updated. I mean things like: your theme, the plugins, WordPress itself, even your content.
Now, updating WordPress is quite straightforward (just like updating your theme and plugins). You just have to be careful and press the right buttons in the right moment … more or less. Here’s a more accurate explanation: How to safely update WordPress.
Updating your content, on the other hand, is a concept that usually raises some eyebrows. The thing is that your existing content will inevitably “expire” at some point. And simply leaving it behind might not be the best approach.
You see, your content has probably gained some search engine recognition, links from other publications, bookmarks and such. These are all assets that work for you and your brand. So if you decide to update your content with new information, you’ll probably strengthen its position even further.
And the whole thing is actually pretty simple. You just have to go through your content and look for elements that are no longer up-to-date. Replace them with new ones and also include some sections that are completely new.
If you do this right, you should witness an increase in search engine traffic and rankings, not to mention user satisfaction.
Use Google Analytics
This seems like a basic piece of advice, right? But tell me, are you really using Google Analytics, or just have it enabled? There’s a difference.
- Using Google Analytics – paying attention to your stats, reaching some conclusions, and introducing changes to improve your stats.
- Having Google Analytics enabled – the stats are being gathered alright, but there’s not much you’re doing about them.
The advice I have for you here is to really take notice of what’s going on on your site. Note which keywords bring you the most traffic, what kind of content is popular, what days are the busiest.
All this data is truly a goldmine of ideas on areas you can improve. If you just take an hour a week to go over your stats, you will surely find loads of things worth tweaking / working on.
Track your rankings
This is a purely SEO-related thing. We all know that what gets measured gets improved. That’s why tracking your rank is the first step to improving it.
However, this is not as simple as it seems. For instance, if you go to Google and search for your site often, Google will adjust the results to your specific behavior, which is not an exact reflection of the results everyone else sees. This forces you to get a bit more creative to really find out what your actual rank is.
Unfortunately, the only sensible solutions are paid. I can recommend tools like Market Samurai, Raven Tools, or SEOmoz Pro.
(Each of these tools does a lot more than just rank tracking, by the way.)
Now, tracking your rank is a constant work. Whenever a new package of data is available you can implement some changes, and then wait for the next package of data to arrive, so you can see if there are any positive effects. With time, you can really skyrocket your site’s position to the top of the results pages that way.
Note. Make sure to start by going through the initial SEO checklist before you do anything else.
Monetization is a big topic for many site owners. Actually, most professional websites can’t exist if they don’t make a significant amount of money. And this is really understandable. The times where owning a website was a purely personal thing are long gone.
Nowadays, if a site is not making any money, it will get scrapped sooner or later. Therefore, working on your site’s monetization potential is a common thing to do.
Improvements can be made in many areas, depending on the method of monetization you’ve chosen. The point here is to have your finger on the pulse at all times, and always test new things, new products, or new marketing messages.
But first, make sure that you’re trying to monetize your site the right way, here are some possibilities: 6 methods to monetize a WordPress site.
Split testing is one of the best ways of testing anything. And I really mean anything.
The idea of split testing is pretty simple. It’s a method of comparing the effectiveness of two versions of something. Then once the results are in, you can pick the better version, scrap the worse performing one, create a completely new version and start the whole test again.
This can be used for every area imaginable, like: web design, marketing messages, email submit forms, social media buttons, sales copy, website layouts, content, etc.
The easiest way to run some split tests is to go to your Google Analytics account, the section of Content > Experiments. There, you can create new experiments.
The experiments can feature whatever you want. For instance, you can create two versions of the same post (use different design) and see which one reaches your desired goal better. Google takes care of simultaneously displaying the content for you, so there’s no programming work involved.
In the end, there are many ways to improve a WordPress site, but the key activity is to dedicate yourself to some ongoing work. Launching your site is just the beginning. It’s the work you’re willing to do afterwards that’s going to determine your success or failure.
Feel free to share your opinion in the comments. Do you know of any other ways a WordPress site can be improved over time?