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You need a way to track your website’s traffic, preferably for free

Once your website is set up and running, you will want to keep tabs on the traffic, clicks, and behavior of your visitors. You can do this with a number of free services, so I recommend using a free service when you’re first starting out. I wouldn’t worry about paid traffic logs until your site is getting 100,000 unique visitors per week. I have found two really good free web trackers: Google Analytics and Statcounter.

Google Analytics

Google provides a website tracking service free to its users, you just need a Google account to sign up. You should already have an existing account if you use Gmail, YouTube, or Google+.

If you don’t have an account, no problem. It’s very easy to create one. Just visit google.com/analytics and select “create an account” at the top right of the screen.

 

Here’s a video tutorial that explains the whole process of installing it to your WordPress site

Sign in with your google account and get the code, then follow the steps in the video. The best way to install the code into your website is to simply paste it into the “header” page in your editor, under Appearance. When you paste the code at the end of the header file, the code will be on every page on your site. This will let you track the path that a visitor takes as he moves around your site.

This method should work for most WordPress themes. Be aware that some themes will not let you to edit code. If this is the case, your theme might have an option to add code in the menu, under Appearance > Theme Options. Go ahead and look for the place to insert any “header” code and insert the code into the box instead.

If your theme doesn’t support that, you’ll probably have to rely on a plugin. I like the All-In-One SEO plugin for WordPress. It lets you easily insert the tracking ID into the plugin’s options without any trouble.

Keep in mind: If you ever decide to change your site’s theme, you might need to reinsert your analytics code. Your new theme will use a different header file.
Once you have the Google Analytics code installed, you will be able to keep track of all your website’s visitors!

You can also view in-depth data regarding all aspects of visitor behavior which can come in really handy. It’s actually a somewhat complex program, but you can easily use if to view basic data as well.

 

StatCounter

I also mentioned another free service called StatCounter. I have been using this service since 2005 and it’s pretty fantastic. I just install the code on my WordPress footer page, and I can track site visitors in real time. It’s very simple to use, easy to install, and downright awesome for a free service. Learn more at StatCounter.com.

 

Both of these free tools are easy to set up. If you have trouble with it, just leave a comment below and I’ll try to help.

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The WordPress blogging platform has become so popular that it now powers billions of blogs worldwide. It’s clearly a very powerful content management system, or CMS that is constantly being improved upon. The open source nature of WordPress allows for a fantastic community of developers and coders who also develop plugins for WordPress. Today I have compiled a list of the top five most important plugins to have installed on your WordPress site. These five plugins are also some of the best free WordPress plugins you can use. They are in no particular order.

 

WordPress SEO by Yoast

Yoast SEO is important to have on your site, as it makes short work of optimizing your site’s meta tags and generating site maps. It also has a host of other features such as RSS feed optimization that helps prevent scraper blogs from outranking your content in search engines, breadcrumbs, social integration, import/export features, and more.

 

iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)

iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security) provides more than 30 ways secure and defend your WordPress site against malicious attackers. In a typical day, about 30,000 new websites are hacked due to weak security. It’s an alarming statistic in the blogosphere, and the fact is that WordPress sites can be an easy target for attacks because of plugin vulnerabilities, weak passwords and obsolete software. If you’re not already running iThemes Security, get this plugin now.

 

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache will speed up your blog by creating cached html pages of your content, then serving those to your blog’s visitors instead of using cpu power to process the php scripts. This plugin can actually prevent your site from crashing if it gets a huge surge of traffic. If one of your blog posts starts trending on Reddit or Digg, you better have a caching in place to prevent your server from becoming overloaded. This plugin is crucial to have installed, and I recommend pairing it up with a content delivery service. A good free CDN service that I like to use is CloudFlare. If you use CloudFlare, be sure to also get their WordPress plugin for even more optimization.

 

Quick Adsense

Not all blog owners want to display ads on their site, but for those who do, Quick Adsense is a popular plugin that lets you display ads in various locations on your blog. Do you want to display an ad right in the middle of a blog post? It’s no problem with this plugin. You can install Adsense ads or other code

 

Fonts

When creating a blog post using the visual editor, WordPress does not natively include options for different fonts and font sizes. Once this plugin is installed, you will see a button in the visual editor for font styles, and another button for font size. Unlike many other font plugins, this one just works right out of the box. There is no need to get an API key or create an account somewhere to use this plugin. This plugin lets you get creative with your posts, so you can be sure to create content that is visually appealing, not tedious for the reader.

 

Bonus Plugin: Pretty Link

Pretty Link Lite is a fantastic free plugin that lets you cloak affiliate links, or any other links, with one that appears to be a url on your own domain. It even keeps track of hits to your pretty links and gives you a detailed report of where your traffic is coming from. This free plugin is a must have.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this list list of the top 5 free WordPress plugins to have on your site. There are many other great free plugins in the WordPress plugin directory, but I find these five to be especially useful. I run all of these plugins on all of my WordPress sites. If you have some favorite free plugins that are crucial for your site to run, please leave some comments below.

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After you’ve installed WordPress, you’ll want to take a few minutes to configure some basic settings. Don’t skip this step, it’s important! You’ll want to get everything set up properly before you start creating content for your site.

This video from Hostgator does a great job of explaining the initial configuration:

After you have the initial settings squared away, there are a few more things to look at:

1. Update to the latest version of WordPress

Just click ‘Update Now’ and let it run. It’s really important to run the latest software, so be sure to update WordPress every time you see an alert for a new version.

 

2. Install and activate some plugins

There are a few key plugins that every WordPress site should have installed and activated:

  • Akismet
  • All-in-One SEO
  • Pretty Link Lite
  • iThemes Security

 

You might want some other plugins, depending on your need for your site. See my post ‘Top 5 Essential Free WordPress Plugins To Have Installed On Your Blog‘.

If any of the plugins that you install are out of date, be sure to update those as well.

 

3. Delete the “Hello World” post and “Sample Page”

WordPress comes with a sample blog post and a sample page by default. You’ll want to send those to the Trash.

 

 

 

4. Customize your tagline and set up your front page

In the menu, go to Appearance > customize.

Under “Site Title and Tagline” you will see a default tagline “just another WordPress site”. Be sure you delete or modify that. Some themes will not show a tagline and others will. If yours does, you can enter a tagline that is short and sweet. Keep it simple. A one liner phrase/sentence that describes your site works well.

 

Under “static front page” you can choose to have your website home page display a static page that you create, or have it display your latest posts. Keep it at “your latest posts” for now. You don’t have any published pages at this point so you won’t have the option to choose a static page. You can always go back later and change this if you want to, or just leave displaying your latest posts.

 

 5. Delete the Meta Widget (and any other widgets you don’t want in the sidebar)

Go to Appearance –> Widgets. You’ll see the widgets that are in your sidebar by default. You can control the widgets by dragging and dropping them. You can arrange them in a different order, or move them over to ‘Inactive Widgets’.  I’ll talk about widgets more in depth later on, but for now you should remove the Meta widget since it just takes up space, and frankly it looks unprofessional.

 

6. Install Useful Free Plugins

There are several free plugins that I consider essential to running a WordPress blog. See my previous blog post, Top 5 Essential Free WordPress Plugins To Have Installed On Your Blog for the full list of plugins that you should install.

 

OK! You’re up to date with the latest version of WordPress and your plugins are all installed and up to date. Your settings are good. Now it’s time to click ‘New Post’ and start creating content to your business on track.

I hope this guide has been useful. Did you have any problems or issues with the initial WordPress configuration? Leave your comments below.

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If you’re going to launch a serious business online, that makes serious money, you’re going to need a website. Forget about any free hosts or free subdomains. Good hosting with your own domain name is essential. Now at this point you should be past the beginning steps that I discussed on the Getting Started page.  The first thing you need to do is log into your hosting control panel. If you bought more than one domain name, go to ‘Add-On Domains’ and add each domain name to your account.

Now scroll down and find the WordPress installer and launch it. Select the right domain to install WordPress on and run the installer. This short video clearly shows the process.

After the installation, the first thing you will want to do is find a new theme for your site and install it. The new theme will look different than the standard default WordPress theme. You can browse the free WordPress theme directory right here.

After you have new theme installed, be sure to go to the settings in your WordPress dashboard. Fill in the general settings for your site. Look over the rest of the options. In the ‘Permalinks’ settings, I recommend using ‘Post Name’ for the setting. It makes the url of your posts much easier to read, for both people and search engines.

After that, create your category menus. Create a few new pages such as an about page and a contact page.

Create great content! You need to fill your site with quality content. Your site will need fresh content added on a regular basis in order to be successful. Set goals for yourself and try to stick to them.

Once this is all finished, there are some WordPress settings you should adjust. Read my post Getting Started With WordPress: From Installation To Adding Content for more info and a video walkthrough.

That’s it! Your site is up and running, now take action and get your business up and running as quickly as possible. Join some affiliate programs. Start promoting products. Don’t forget that a big part of internet marketing is the marketing part. You need to get traffic to your site once it’s built. I hope this beginner guide to WordPress was useful. Feel free to leave your comments below.

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