I often recommend WordPress for websites because it’s one of most the ubiquitous platforms, well designed to support your SEO efforts, and generally inexpensive to set up. If you are setting up a WordPress blog on your own, there are a few choices to make, some of which could affect your findability in the long run. These common questions will help you avoid some common setup “gotchas”.
Q: Where do I set up a WordPress site?
A: You have two basic choices: 1) a free WordPress.com site, or 2) paid hosting through an independent hosting provider.
1. Free WordPress.com hosting. There are a few catches to free WordPress.com hosting. If you’re going to want your site to “do” stuff, chances are WordPress.com won’t suffice. This is because you won’t be able to upload plugins (part of the magic of WordPress in the first place) and you won’t have a lot of control over the design (including being stuck with an advertisement for WordPress.com in your footer). For a list of other differences, this article does a nice job: 4 Reasons You Should Never Use WordPress.com (And 4 Reasons You Should).
2. Other (paid) hosting providers. If you know you’ll need more features than WordPress.com provides, then you need to choose a web host. While you could setup WordPress on any web host, you’ll have far fewer headaches by choosing a dedicated WordPress web host. A few WordPress web hosts are listed in the article above; personally, I use WP Engine. Their basic version starts at $29 per month, which includes all the bells and whistles I want: great customer support, automatic site backups nightly (so you can easily roll back to a previous version of your website if a new plugin mucks things up), and they automatically install all WordPress updates, with no charge to me. At one time in my life I provided web hosting, so I know what goes into it – the amount of service I get for $29 per month is amazing.
Q: If I already have a website, do I need to get a new address (e.g. URL) for my WordPress blog?
A: So glad you asked! As a matter of fact, you do not want to get a new URL in most cases. (That would fall under the category of establishing a new brand, which is typically beyond the means of most early/second stage companies.) Instead, you’ll want to use one of these two popular conventions for naming your blog:
- http://www.MyCoolSite.com/blog -or-
- http://blog.MyCoolSite.com (for this you would set up what’s called a “subdomain”)
For all practical purposes, choosing one convention over the other is a matter of preference. The reason we want to use your existing site name is to channel all of the “Google Juice” from your blog into your website, helping your existing site, as well as your blog.
Q: What about using a WordPress.com URL such as http://www.MyCoolSite.wordpress.com?
A: As with the question above, you want the “credit” for your great content to benefit your company – not WordPress.com. To achieve that, you’ll want to choose one of the naming conventions above (in the second question). If you use WordPress.com to host your site, you’ll want to set up what’s called “Domain Mapping” to point your free WordPress.com blog to your existing site. There’s a small fee per year for this service ($13 as of this writing), which is absolutely worth it. (If you went with a different hosting provider as discussed in the first question, this doesn’t apply to you.)
Q: Where can I learn more about WordPress SEO?
A: The WordPress.com team has developed a great reference here: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/seo-on-wordpress-com/
Good luck on your WordPress adventure!