In the podcast:
01:43 – The importance of content
03:02 – Helpful content adding tips
04:37 – Getting the setup right
07:39 – What’s your post about?
09:45 – A brief recap
11:06 – Working with autoresponders
14:37 – If you have a membership
19:22 – Be wary of one-offs
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James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. This is the second episode in our Website Tune-Up Series with Dave Wooding from RecommendWP.com. Welcome Dave.
Dave: Hey James! Thanks for having me back. It’s a pleasure.
James: Dave, in the first episode, we got some great comments where we were helping people tune up their broken website. We talked about checking for it to be working with a mobile phone, we tested the hosting, we had a look at how the design looks and if we’ve got a Frankenstein on our hands, we talked about broken themes, and speeding up sites, and making images the right size. All of these things that the team at RecommendWP.com specialize in.
Today, we’re going to go beyond that. We assume now that we fixed up our website. We’re going to talk about the next level of questions that you get asked all the time as a WordPress development specialist, and we’ll see if we can hand out some tips here to help the person who has a website and maybe they’re not aware of some of the things they could do to go beyond the basics. So are you ready for this one?
Dave: I am. Let’s go.
James: Let’s start with one of the most basic things of all. We’ve got this website. It works on a mobile. It loads well. The images are good. It’s not broken. It’s all working fine. Let’s think about websites here. The whole point of a website is it’s where your content lives. Content is an overused term these days. I put out a whole course on it called OwnTheRacecourse, teaching people to put stuff on their own website. We know we can go there and we start with our first post. We can add some text and paste it.
I guess one step even before that, why is content important for a website?
Why is content important?
Dave: Yeah. Well you know, if you’re selling anything, you’ve got to have information on your site that describes what you do, what you provide, what value you’re offering. I think of content, it’s not just the text that you have, the words there, but also the images, videos, any kind of download information. That type of stuff is important to be on your site so that people who do come to your site get an idea of what you offer and you’ve got it there or it’s readily available. It’s kind of a no-brainer. It would be like, if you didn’t have content, it would be like having a shopping store, you open the door and there’s nothing in there.
James: It seems like a lot of people do run websites with limited content. So the first thing is you should have a schedule to add content on a regular basis. But people seem to get hung up on this. What sort of tips could you recommend for adding content. Like how could they get this process working smoothly?
Dave: For adding content, I don’t think you really want to be under the gun to have to have stuff out today or tomorrow. So it’s probably best to have a schedule like here’s what we’re going to present over the next six months. Plan out what it is you want to do. And then you’ve got to come up with the content. If it’s an article about a certain subject, you’ve got to do research, you’ve got to find out resources, information if there’s appropriate photos or things like that, that all has to be gathered. That definitely takes time.
Secondly, you actually have to get it out into the wild if you will. So it’s a matter of posting it for instance to WordPress, setting up the post properly, giving it a title, giving it tags, thinks like that, uploading the images, putting them in the right places, creating links to appropriate stuff, downloads like PDF. Ideally, you want to schedule out what you want to do, make arrangements to get the content and then get a schedule where it actually gets added. For instance, the nice thing about WordPress as a platform is that you can schedule that stuff ahead of time. You upload all your content and just tell it when you want to deliver it and it will automatically happen. That’s kind of one of the nice things about using WordPress as a website, is that you do have that ability to control when stuff gets delivered.
James: You skimmed over a couple of pretty keypoints there, stuff like page title, description, categories and tags. Let’s just explain what those are. Because I’ve seen so many websites and I’m sure you have where the category is uncategorized or the pagination is like P=1, 2 ,3 ,4… What can we do to make sure that our website is setup properly? How can we even check our current website? Let’s say we want to open up our website in the browser and click on a post, what are we looking for?
Setting up your website
Dave: So for instance, we go to a website, click on a post, what shows up in the URL bar? So that’s probably the first and easy thing to do. Ideally, it’s your domain followed by basically the name of the page. If you see something like question mark, q=1, well OK. That works. However, it’s not really descriptive of what the page is. So there is something an adjustment you can make inside WordPress that will make it prettier. It’ll show the appropriate information.
Going down, typically the first thing you’d see is the title. Is the title appropriate to the subject matter? I’m not a copywriter, but I’d like to think that title needs to be appropriate, kind of gets you into the article or the content. And typically throughout the article, you’re going to have things stick out. Headlines, if you will.
There are certain tags, or the way you tag words inside WordPress, like with an H1 or an H2 tag will make it bigger or make it stand out a little bit more. Then you have the ability to break up stuff a little bit more by creating lists. Again, that can all happen kind of automagically once you’ve uploaded content into WordPress.
And then ideally, my opinion, you’re going to want to see some image associated with the content you’re showing. So I’ll go to a site. First thing is I see this URL that looks appropriate. I’ve got a title that follows, some subheadings, content that’s laid out well. I don’t want to look at these tiny, little letters. They should be spread out nicely. So most themes these days give you the ability to adjust like the font size to be appropriate. You’re going to follow through and see different sections, maybe different lists, and then maybe there’s going to be a banner on the side or a call to action of sorts that if somebody clicks on it, they can get more information.
“Make your content presentable and engaging.”
If you look back into the 1990’s and just see these plain, old, HTML websites, all black and white, no real images, just links that are not obvious where they go, but nowadays you’ve got a lot more capability with what’s out there to make it presentable and engaging so that when people do show up at your site, they’re there for a reason, they know why, they know what you’re presenting. So that’s my key comment. And of course, I’ll just chip one more time, it’s got to be friendly on the mobile site.
James: Right. Let’s talk about categories. I’ve described this as basically, if you were to put your post into a bin or a bucket, what would be the label on that bucket? Is it sporting equipment? Is it homewares? You basically should categorize the post. And you can choose from different categories or create your own to make sure that Google has a better chance of understanding what your post is about and it can put all the like category posts in the same strand, kind of like an octopus’s tentacle.
And then tags. Like if you had a label maker and you were going to label your post, what would you label it? You might have a few of those. We usually put between two and six tags. So for a post where we’re talking about websites like this, we might tag it WordPress, we could tag it category or pagination or something that is descriptive of what this post is about, or website layout, something like that.
Dave: Yeah. Let’s go back to the shopping analogy. If you go into the store, you’re going to see different aisles. Those could be like categories, right? You got your aisle of shoes, you got your aisle of pants, you got your aisle of… whatever. And then within there, you might have men’s shoes, women’s shoes. So something might be in the men’s category or in the shoe category but it might be tagged as a man or woman’s shoe. And that’s kind of what you’re doing with a site is you’re laying your site out in such a way that it makes sense to not only search engines but to your visitors, so that they can come to your site and it’s fairly obvious where they can go to get what they want. You don’t want them to show up confused, not have any idea what’s going on there, rather you want to lay it out in the way that makes sense for both search engines, for finding your site and displaying it, and probably more importantly for the people who visit your site to get the information they want.
James: Yup. So a quick recap here, in terms of adding content, you’re better to start with clean content, so bringing in stuff not from Word but paste from a text creator or some tool like Notepad is the cleanest way to add to content and then you format it to give it a descriptive title, you’d fill in the little bits underneath the post where it has page description. You can put meta tags if you want but some people would say that there’s no point. But you could definitely choose the right category and definitely add a few tags, definitely have an image for each post. Google loves images. And you can rank for the images alone and name the images appropriately and of course as we alluded to in the previous episode, make sure the images are the right size. Use lists and break up your copy and have a call to action. So that’s best practice for content.
Now if you’re looking at your site and it doesn’t sound like that, maybe get in touch with the team at RecommendWP and ask them to format a post for you properly to fix the categories, fix the tags, show you how it should be laid out as a template and then you can basically have them go and do the rest of your site or you could do it yourself, but get some help with it.
Let’s talk about the other big thing that people come to you with that is beyond the basic thing and that’s connecting the WordPress website to all sorts of other services. Let’s start with the big one. We want to collect email addresses and that’s generally something handled from software outside of WordPress. In the industry, we call them autoresponders. Talk me through the sort of challenges you get with this one.
Dave: Yeah. This is kind of the beauty of the internet, if you will. You can leverage your efforts. So if you put out a post or content onto your site, the possibility of a lot of people seeing it is great. You can’t do that. That’s not a one-to-one action. The same thing with autoresponders. What that means is you’ve got the ability to collect somebody’s email address and then send to them in the future information about your site or whatever, but you can send it to many people at the same time.
So the challenge is to make sure that your site is set up to be able to do that. And oftentimes, it involves going to your autoresponder service. Examples are like Aweber, GetResponse, GetDrip, ActiveCampaign, Ontraport, etc. They all have the ability to capture emails and then you can send from there. What’s typically involved is either go to one of those sites, sign up, get the code that they give you and then put it on your site. That’s where it gets a little tricky. If you get a good theme, and Genesis would be a good one, they have the ability to display content on the side through the use of widgets. Widgets mean basically you click here, it opens a box, you paste it in, you click Save, and it shows up. That’s how it works.
Sometimes it’s a little bit tricky to find out where to put that. But sometimes, it’s just simple a matter of trying. Try this, try that, see if it works, see if it breaks, but you know, if you’ve got the time, that’s great. But there are services and people that do know how to do that and that’s probably the biggest impact you can have on your business is to be able to capture email addresses on a regular basis. So that’s the typical way of doing it and probably the way most people would end up implementing an autoresponder on their site.
James: Right. And collecting email addresses is just so important because ultimately your database is one of the most valuable assets you can build. A lot of people leave that too long. In fact, I’m guilty of that. I spent too long trying to learn how to build a website and work out this called html, and font, and codes and things, and I didn’t even work on my offer, or my content or collecting emails. I wasted a good nine months messing around with this, trying to do something I’m never going to be world class at. So in the end, over the last decade, I’ve arrived at the point where I’d certainly built up my own web team around me to cater for my lack of ability and to the point where others needed help because they really should be focusing on whatever they’re good at, where we offered that business, which is now your business, combining that with your own technical skills and ability, there’s no limit to what that company can do. So I just recommend you. If any of these stuff makes you start feeling a bit weird, we’re talking about opt-ins and autoresponders and widgets, just get someone to do it.
The other one that’s popular is connecting to membership solutions especially in my audience. A lot of us have subscription memberships and we hear solutions like WishList Member and in my case, I use Nanacast. There’s any number of membership platforms but one thing to get the platform and to put content in it and to build your membership. Another thing is to make it integrate with your WordPress website so that people can seamlessly move between them and of course it’s great if people can pay you on the way through and it can automatically add members and take them away. It’s mind boggling how many people are doing this manually. But they don’t have to, do they Dave?
Dave: No, not at all. You know there are a number of solutions that are available out in the open right now. WishList Member can do stuff, Digital Access product, eMember, MemberPress, and I mention those, they’re all kind of the same and they’re built in, they connect to WordPress very well. But really, before you go down the path of getting that setup installed, you really do need to understand what your end goal is. And that’s where bouncing your ideas off to somebody who set up those kind of things and give you the pros and cons is a good idea because oftentimes, when you go down the path of one of those, you’re going to be married to it for quite a while, and it can be painful to disconnect if that’s the case. Not that it can’t be done, but it’s definitely worth the time early on to decide what makes the most sense for your current business and where you see your business going. I’ll be honest, all of them have something wrong or something bad about them.
“It’s worth the time early on to decide what makes the most sense for your current business.”
Now for some people, what’s bad for one person isn’t bad or wrong for another person. But you do kind of have to pick your poison a little bit. So go through the pros and cons, where you think your business is going to be and decide on what you can live with. You might go to WishList Member, look at all the features and say, “Oh wait a minute. It doesn’t have this, but I absolutely need this.” OK. go to MemberPress. What do they do? Go to MemberMouse. What do they do? What do they have? So those can be setup readily. It does take a little technical savvy, need to know where to get all the information to set them up, understand their lingo, the language they use, that kind of stuff.
James: It’s definitely not something you teach yourself or attempt. Just hire a professional. That’s my advice.
James: Because even if you managed to set it up, what I found overtime is that platforms tend to update or change something and then you have a slight adjustment required. So what I was looking for and I certainly found with you is someone who could stick with me for the long haul and help me tune up as we go. This morning, I actually dropped my vehicle off for its second service. I expect to be doing that every year as long as I own a motor vehicle because over time, it will change. It’s going to be perfect when I pick it up this afternoon, it’ll have all brand new oil and it’ll be all ready to go, clean, and it will be just beautiful, and then over time, things will change, and again, it’ll need a service or a tune-up even if not much has changed. It’s worth looking at. That’s why I think you should get a professional for integrations and that’s specifically what we’re talking about here.
You’re right about picking your poison is sometimes things won’t handle forums well but that’s fine if you just want to deliver information and you’re handling your communication somewhere else like a Facebook group. And maybe you do want a really robust forum like I do where I can house all my content because I really feel that that is the secret to good online coaching is to be able to support members, and to be able to answer questions, and to be present and to turn up. But for a lot of business owners, that would frighten them or they just wouldn’t be able to do it so they might want a solution that doesn’t require that fully-rich forum feature. So that’s why I recommend you decide what sort of solution you’re after and then speak to Dave to find out how that is going to work best.
I think you have an inquiry page for people looking specifically at membership integrations, don’t you Dave?
Dave: Yeah. I don’t offhand know where it is but I’m sure you know RecommendWP/help will get you at least to a place where you can open an inquiry to find out what you want. It will get redirected to the right place. But that’s a good way to get started.
One-offs versus subscription services
Let me just mention one other thing. Sometimes people say, “Oh I just heard this great thing came out, this great plugin for WordPress that does all these things.” Usually my first question without saying it is, so is it a one-time deal, or are they selling it for a lifetime-membership type thing, or it’s a one off $197, or did they charge over time? I’m not opposed to saving money, but I do have concerns when an offer comes out that is a one-time deal and it’s for lifetime.
Well guess what, the person who created that plugin or whatever needs to feed themselves. And if they’re not getting paid on a regular basis, it’s possible that they won’t continue to update that because that’s not generating revenue for them. So there’s plugins for instance like OptinMonster, which charges I think $199 a year for using it. Well guess what? They’re probably not going to disappear off the face of the earth and it’s going to continue to work and probably more importantly, I think you’ve already alluded to, is it will change and probably improve over time versus a plugin or a service that comes out and it’s a one-time deal, never gets updated. Things change and it no longer works.
James: That is such a great point. I remember when LeadPlayer came out. Those any number of one-time plugins. But even LeadPlayer, as committed as they were to constantly staying in tune with YouTube, it turned out to be a business model they pivoted from to go to LeadPages, which is a subscription product, and is a big player in the market, and is around to support it. Even they had a live event and everything to really look after their members.
So these recurring subscriptions, I think they’re the bills I’m actually the happiest to pay every month is obviously my team and my subscriptions to run the business because without those, I couldn’t have the life that I have. My Nanacast subscription, and my LeadPages subscription, they allow my business to function. And I’m happy to have these ongoing fees because they’re so scalable and leveraged and I want to build my business on a sandstone foundation, not on the beach.
“Think about how you can get the right tools.”
So think about how we can get the right tools. Someone like you has seen all the tools come and go, and you know what people are using and you know what people are using well. Just as a side note, I’m pretty sure you help the majority of my highest level customers in SilverCircle. So you see it at a high level and you know what’s bulletproof and what’s tricky straight away before someone ever goes down it.
And how many times have we seen someone find out the prescribed solution, go often make changes to just one or two elements because they have a preference for something and then there they are a year later or two years later when it just grenades and they have to go back on track to where we suggested the very first time. How many times have we seen that play up?
James: It’s not the time to be creative and artistic with the tools and software.
Dave: More than enough to know when it’s going to happen.
James: As you said, everything’s got its good points and its weak points. So this episode, we really have been talking about going beyond basics and the main point is how to add content properly, how to connect services so that they can communicate properly with the external service. They’re doing that via what’s called an API, which stands for what?
Dave: Application Programming Interface.
James: There you go. And Dave is an API specialist. He once said to me, if you can explain what you wanted to do, I can make it work. I loved that. I was very comfortable with that definition. So that has been true for my business for the last decade. I’m truly grateful for that. So you want help with it? Head over and see Dave at RecommendWP.com/help and just ask for help with your membership intergration. And if you’re not sure what autoresponders are and you need help with widgets, they can do that too.
Dave, thanks for joining us on this episode. I’m really looking forward to the next one. We we’re going to just talk about the supercharging stuff. What comes beyond that once we’ve got a website that’s not broken, it loads fast, it works on a mobile, it’s got an autoresponder and it’s integrated to a membership, where do we go from there? That’s what we’re covering in the next episode. I’m looking forward to that. Are you?
Dave: Yes, I am. Thank you very much James.
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