Is your WordPress site getting crawled properly by Google? Is it secure? Is it loading fast enough?

Several things typically distinguish professional websites from amateur jobs. At first glance, the difference is usually in the graphics and layout. Does it look like someone put careful thought into the user experience, or is it something slapped together with a bunch of clip art?

Just because your audience and user base is small doesn't mean that you should have a small-time attitude. Behind the scenes, professional websites run smoothly and are managed properly, so that they load fast and securely. Yours can too. These 5 things will help level up your site's performance.

  1. A SSL Certificate

    Secure websites are marked with an SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer), which authenticates the identity of a website. You’ve seen this on any website whose URL begins "https". Just click the lock icon at the top of your browser window, and you’ll see further information about the verification of this address. The idea is to assure users that you are who you say you are, and that any data sent through the website will be encrypted.

  2. A Content Delivery Network (CDN)

    A CDN helps speed up your site by taking most of the load off of your host and distributing it across a network. This allows for faster page load times across the globe (the content is uploaded to multiple servers worldwide). You push your files to a CDN provider and it serves the user a copy. John O'Nolan has a great guide to setting up a CDN with WordPress.

  3. A XML SiteMap

    Sitemaps allow search engines to find all of your webpages. An XML sitemap contains all of the important pages of your website and the date that it was last updated. This ensures that search engines have not only crawled the page, but also the latest version of it. Yoast has a terrific tutorial about XML Sitemaps and how to generate one (hint, it uses their plugin).

  4. Google Search Console Connection

    Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site's presence in Google Search results. This includes things like search terms used to find content on your site, 404 errors, and how your content displays on Google's search engine results pages. Read more at the Google Search Console website.

  5. Images

    Most people can spot stock images art from a mile away. When you place images of people you've never met on your company's homepage what are you saying to your potential customer? What are you hiding behind? Consider hiring a professional photographer for images of real employees and your real office. Failing that, try to find some more authentic images. We wrote about some of our favorite resources for free stock images here. It's critical that you have permission to use any images that you find online. Our short guide to photo licenses and how to sort Google Image search results by license can help.

  6. Regular Updates

    You must, must, MUST, keep your WordPress website updated. This means the WordPress core files, your theme and your plugins. A well-maintained website is up to date with all of the latest security patches. This goes, by the way, for the computer you use to access your website as well. Using a professional maintenance service will take away the hassle of keeping on top of updates and the headache of dealing with what happens when an update causes things to break.

Without a whole maintenance team, you need to keep things simple. These 5 things will put your website on solid ground for security, usability and searchability. If you'd like to hear about how we can keep your website maintained for you, contact us today.