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WordPress.

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that it’s a force to be reckoned with. From its humble origins as a personal blogging platform for writers, WordPress has grown to become an internet juggernaut, powering 66 million websites and roughly 20% of all internet traffic. Today, WordPress powers some of the world’s biggest websites, including CNN, TechCrunch, Forbes, and BBC America, and has become the CMS of choice for small and large businesses alike.

And it’s no wonder. With a massive library of mouth-watering themes, over 18,000 functionality-adding plugins, and one of the easiest-to-master interfaces anywhere, WordPress delivers unbeatable simplicity and power in one package. With WordPress, building a website is a breeze–but unlike most easy site builders, WordPress also comes with thousands of functionality-enhancing plugins that let you beef up your site with any features your heart desires.

If you’re a business owner, WordPress is a must. Boasting more valuable marketing tools than any other platform, it can help you drive more traffic, generate more leads, and convert more visitors. In this post, we’re going to take a look at 5 simple tips to turn your WordPress site into a marketing machine. If you’re new to WordPress, these 5 tips will help you get your site off on the right foot; and if you’re a seasoned veteran, they’ll help you take your already-awesome site to new levels.

So let’s jump right in at #1:

#1: Get The Right Plugins

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Plugins are probably WordPress’ most powerful feature. Adding massive functionality to your site in just a few clicks, WordPress plugins let you do by yourself what you’d have to hire a programmer to do on any other platform. There are plugins that let you add a contact form to your site. There are plugins that let you manage vital site stats. There are even plugins that can make your website rotate 360 degrees when a visitor types in the word ‘barrel roll’–though that’s probably not quite as useful.

That said, not all plugins are created equal. To get the most out of WordPress, you need to choose the right plugins–installing too many useless ones will slow your site down with no benefit. These are my picks for the most valuable plugins every small business site needs to have.

  • Jetpack. A multi-featured Plugin that gives instant site analytics.
  • Leadin. An analytics plugin that lets you see how users are engaging with your website.
  • Akismet. A plugin that blocks spam blog comments (trust me, WordPress sites get a lot of those).
  • Yoast. An SEO plugin that helps you pick keywords.
  • OptinMonster. An Optin form creator that helps you build your email list with high converting forms.
  • Contact Form 7. A simple contact form plugin that lets readers contact you easily.

2. Choose Your Theme Carefully.

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WordPress has literally thousands of themes to choose from, and there is no approval process for putting one on the directory. While this has the benefit of giving you tons of options, it also means that there are a lot of less-than-beautiful themes out there.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client come to me with a site that doesn’t convert, then later discover they were using a bargain-bin theme that looked like something from 1999. Solid design is key to conveying a sense of professionalism. Research shows that details as minor as font choice can influence how readers perceive your content, and the overall look and feel of your site is probably the #1 factor in whether you get taken seriously at all.

When looking a WordPress theme, you should always stick to these policies:

  1. Demo your theme before you buy it. If you don’t know what makes for good design, seek advice online, or from a friend who knows their shit.
  2. Don’t bargain-hunt. Even the most expensive WordPress themes rarely top $100. For something that’s going to determine the look and feel of your site–and therefore your conversions–it makes zero sense of penny pinch just to save $50-$80.

3. Get Social Media Sharing Icons.

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This tip is most valuable if you intend to actively blog, but it doesn’t hurt if you’re just running a static site.

Social Media Sharing Icons are little buttons that show social media logos, along with a simple call to action like “share.” If somebody likes a post you’ve written, they can just click on (say) the Facebook button, and instantly, they’ve shared it to their timeline. Sweet! Social media icons have the potential to increase your traffic dramatically, and while they go unused about 95% of the time, the chance of scoring a viral hit means there’s no good reason not to have them.

You can find a plugin that lets you add social media icons instantly here.

4. Build An Email List.

List building is one of the pillars of successful online marketing. And with WordPress, it’s so easy it’s almost ridiculous. Simply sign up for an email autoresponder, get an optin form (not one your autoresponder service provides, they generally suck), and put the form on your site. Once you have your optin forms up and running, it’s time to start driving traffic. There are endless ways to do this:

  • Drive organic traffic to your site by writing an awesome blog post, and sharing it somewhere prominent online.
  • Set up a dedicated landing page and drive traffic directly to it with PPC ads.
  • Write a guest post on a larger blog and include a link to your site in your biography.
  • Speak at a live event and promote your site near the end of your presentation.

Ultimately, list building requires traffic. You need to supply that through effort (or money), but WordPress makes the technical stuff simple so you can focus on the hustle.

5. Make Your Theme Unique.

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I’ve already told you how WordPress has tons of gorgeous themes that provide all you need for a professional-looking site, right out of the box. Now I’m going to tell you the opposite: that running a stock theme without customizing it is a terrible idea.

No, I’m not contradicting myself. It’s 100% true that you can get an absolutely gorgeous Wordpress theme for $100 or less. It’s also 100% true that if you run that theme right out of the box, it will look exactly like at least a dozen other sites on the internet.

Here’s the thing about WordPress themes: the good ones get popular, fast. If you look at a theme and your mouth starts instantly watering, it’s a safe bet that somebody else has felt the same way. There’s nothing worse than installing a gorgeous new WordPress theme only to find out months later that somebody else in your industry is using the exact same one. The last thing you want is to lose potential leads because somebody confused you for somebody else.

Fortunately, customizing your theme is pretty easy. You can do enough simple tweaks yourself to give your site a pretty unique feel, and if you want to go the extra mile, you can hire a designer to really take your theme to the next level. Here are some easy ways to customize your WordPress theme’s look and feel for a unique brand identity:

Whatever you do, make sure you give your site a unique look that complements your overall brand image and supports your marketing objectives.

The bottom line is this:

WordPress is a dream platform for small businesses. No other platform lets you set up a site so fast, so cheaply, with so much functionality, while giving you so many designs to choose from. There are other platforms that let you build sites quickly without code, but only WordPress has a massive library of 18,000 plugins that let you add virtually any functionality you want.

If you want your WordPress website to be a fully decked-out marketing machine right out of the gate, try implementing one of the tips in this article today. Let me know how it went for you, and if you liked this article, make sure to share it or leave a comment below!

Ciao,

-Andrew

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