WordPress: a beginner's guide

Part 2: Installing WordPress

Getting it running, and essential plugins to install immediately

1. Download WordPress

step 2 1

Download and unzip the latest version from wordpress.org. Open the file wp-config-sample.php in a text editor, and fill in the database name, address, username and password from your host's welcome letter. (Depending on your host, you may need to create a database first, which will be done in some sort of Control Panel). If you don't have this information, drop tech support a quick email.

2. Upload to directory

step 2 2

Save this file as wp-config.php. Using an FTP client like Filezilla, upload everything into your web directory. This will usually be something like /public_html/ or /web/, but again, it varies depending on your host. When uploading is finished, your root directory should contain the folders 'wp-admin', 'wp-content', 'wp-includes', possibly 'cgi-bin', and a stack of individual files.

3. Open in browser

step 2 3

In your web browser, visit www.[yourdomainhere].com/wp-admin/install.php. As long as you put the right database information into your wp-config.php file, everything else is automatic. The only potential hold-up is that if you only just created the domain name, or redirected it to this host from elsewhere, it can take up to 48 hours to start pointing here. If so, keep trying every few hours.

4. Admin bar

step 2 4

WordPress ships with a default theme, and automatically creates a post and a comment so you can see how it looks. You'll see an Admin bar at the top of the screen when logged in, but users don't. This offers shortcuts to the admin interface, the Dashboard and creating posts and pages. Posts are blog entries, to be browsed. Pages are static chunks of information, like an About Me page.

5. Install WP Super-Cache

step 2 5

Before any of that though, you need two important plugins. Look in the Admin menu for the Plugins tab and click Add New. Type 'wp-supercache' and click the button, then 'Install Now' next to its name. Follow its instructions to the letter. Even a simple WordPress site can easily beat your server senseless: WP Super-Cache lets it create pages once and simply show them to everybody.

6. Install backwpup

step 2 6

Second, return to the Add New screen and type 'backwpup'. This is a handy plugin that takes automatic backups of your site on whatever schedule you want (weekly should be fine) and saves them in your choice of cloud storage. You can ignore most of the settings in it, but make sure it does both database and file backups. Do a test run, and leave it to its thing. You'll be emailed if it hits any errors.

Part 3: Polishing and promoting your site

How to keep track of – and increase – traffic to your website

1. Suck up to Google

step 3 1

Getting traffic is tricky, but far from impossible. The easiest way is to suck up to the search engines. Visit the Plugins section and add the 'All In One SEO Pack' to your site. This lets you customise things like the metadata Google displays when people find your site, and tune your links. You also want 'Google XML Sitemaps', which tells Google exactly what you've got, and when you've updated.

2. Statistics

step 3 2

Next stop, stats! The in-built web statistics service will show you stats on your Dashboard when you log in. If you need something meatier, look into investing in a copy of Mint. For longer-term trends, you can't beat Google Analytics, although its stats aren't updated in real-time.

3. Social buttons

step 3 3

Look into adding social sharing buttons to your posts. The most effective is Facebook's 'Like' button, and there are several plugins to add it automatically. Generic 'Share This' buttons usually go ignored though, and it's better to have a couple of prominent ones than a whole line of tiny icons. With Facebook, always click 'Like' yourself. Other people are more likely to do so if someone else has first.


First published in PC Format Issue 257

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