6 Fast & free tips for small business owners to improve their WordPress website

This blog post was originally shared on the House Digital blog, which has since been discontinued. I moved this post here because it’s still pretty relevant and I sometimes refer people to it who are new to WordPress!

Your business is your baby – you have literally poured your blood, sweat and tears into getting it to where it is now. Congrats!

I know firsthand that building and managing a business is ridiculously scary and time-consuming, and anybody who successfully makes it past their first year deserves a serious round of applause. As business owners, we have to learn to prioritise the important things – like keeping customers happy, and paying bills on time.

Imagine how problematic it would be then if your website (and email) suddenly stopped working because your domain  got blacklisted! Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Imagine if potential customers had tried to contact you through your website, and those emails were going straight to your junk mail – or worse yet, not being received at all.

And finally, image how much damage it might cause your business if someone tried to go to your website, only to be told by Google that it might be dangerous… Whoops, turns out there IS such a thing as bad publicity!

Lucky for you, I’ve put together a quick list of things every business owner can do to improve their WordPress site without spending loads of time or money – even if you have no idea what you’re doing.

1. Protect Your Site!

Every website is a target, regardless of how big it is, whether you accept payments online, or where you are located. Unfortunately most business owners don’t consider this when they ask their best mate or their distant relative for help setting up their website – and by the time something goes wrong, the impact on your business will leave you kicking yourself for not doing your due diligence ahead of time.

In this blog post I outline 3 ways you can protect your website for free, and last time I ran through these with a client it took us all of about 20 minutes to set up. Trust me, your future self will thank you!

2. Check Your Contact Form

It seems really obvious, but when was the last time you checked that it was working? It’s super simple to do and will give you peace of mind. Speaking of peace of mind – we highly recommend Ninja Forms as a free, powerful form builder. One of our favourite features is that it backs up your form submissions right there on your dashboard, so you never have to worry about missing an email.

If you are having issues receiving emails from your site, here are some great tips for troubleshooting. We use WP Mail SMTP for troubleshooting email issues, and we love the feature that allows us to send a test email from our dashboard and customise the “From” address rather than using the default “wordpress@yourdomain.com.”

3. Make sure SSL is enabled (and forced)

How you go about this will vary depending on your hosting provider. We provide free SSL certificates as part of our hosting, and you will find that this is the case with most decent quality hosts. It is very easy to check whether you have SSL enabled – just visit your website but put “https://” in front of the “www” in the URL. For example, I would enter “https://old.housedigital.site.” If it works, you have SSL enabled.

Google recently announced that it will be taking steps over the next 12 months that will penalise HTTP (non-secure) requests, particularly if they contain login or credit card forms. If you don’t have SSL enabled, I would first check with your hosting provider to see if this is something they offer for free. It may just be a matter of switching it on!

If you do have SSL, you should check whether it is forced. There are a number of reasons why this is important, including SEO and site security. To check whether you have forced SSL, repeat the step above, but this time type “http” instead of “https” in the URL. Does your site redirect to the secure https version? If so, great! If not, it’s super quick and easy to do – just follow these steps.

  1. Navigate in your WordPress admin dashboard to “Settings”
  2. Under General > Settings, add https to the WordPress Address and Site Address parameters.
  3. Install and activate Really Simple SSL

4. Start Collecting Data

Even if you don’t intend to make any changes to your website or marketing in the next year – you should still be collecting data about your website visitors. When you do decide to start marketing further down the track, you will have a wealth of valuable information about your current and potential clients, their demographics, and how they interact with your brand.

WP Beginner has a great tutorial that walks you through setting up a Google Analytics account, and installing it on your site. It’s not complex, and it doesn’t require any coding skills! If you really want to level up, you can use Google Tag Manager to add tracking to social media pages as well, such as Facebook advertising campaigns.

5. Get those Call to Actions Happening

When was the last time you walked into a store and asked to join their VIP club? I’m guessing… never. Instead, a salesperson asks us at the counter whether we would like to join – and conveniently collects our email address so they can send us newsletters for the rest of our lives.

My point is – if you don’t put those opportunities in front of your visitors, they are not going to take them. That’s why a “Call to Action” is so important – it tells your user exactly what to do next. Work out what action you want your visitors to take – do you want them to call you? fill out a contact form? Like your Facebook page? Make sure that it is clear and obvious on every page throughout your site.

6. Let Your Site Work For You

Did you know that it is ridiculously easy to check whether your site is indexed by Google? Here, I’ll show you…

  1. Type site:yourdomainname.com into Google (Obviously, use your actual domain name)
  2. …Actually that’s it. That’s all you need to do.

If you can see your pages listed in the search results, you are all good. If nothing came up, you should open an account with Google Webmaster Tools and submit your site to Google. There is a great video here on how to do this!

Actions to Take Today!

You’ve taken the time to read to the bottom of this post, so don’t put it to waste. Here are six actionable items to boost your website:

  1. Complete the 3 free security tips to protect your site
  2. Test your contact forms
  3. Force SSL on your website
  4. Install Google Analytics
  5. Add a strong Call to Action on every page of your site
  6. Make sure your site is indexed by Google

Good luck!

We offer security audits and care plan services for WordPress users that want to be able to focus their energy on their business without getting distracted.

Get in touch for more information!

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