A Guide to Setting Up a WordPress Site

Today, having a quality website is essential for small business. And not just any website will do. The site must be professional and polished in appearance and function well regardless of the device it’s being viewed on. It must be easy to navigate, well-organized and fast-loading to keep meet the expectations of today’s online shoppers. 

If you’re looking at content management systems (CMS) for possible website options, WordPress is one of the best. Used on 32% of the websites on the internet today, WordPress is a dynamic, versatile CMS that manages the creation and modification of all your website’s content. 

The best part? You can use WordPress without knowing any HTML coding or programming languages.

Why WordPress is Ideal for Small Businesses

Even a decade ago, businesses acquired the services of web designers and developers to build and maintain their sites. The cost could be considerable and scheduling updates in a timely manner could be tricky. 

Today, thanks to platforms like WordPress, knowing HTML or hiring a web developer isn’t necessary. Businesses can now manage most aspects of their websites themselves. 

What WordPress has to offer small businesses? 

  • WordPress itself is open-source and free.
  • Setup is quick and easy.
  • It offers a user-friendly interface.
  • There are literally thousands of themes, including responsive themes, available.
  • There are thousands of plugins for any functionality you want to include.
  • WordPress is SEO-friendly.
  • WordPress is dependable, secure and easy to troubleshoot.

What You Needed to Get Started

You will need the following items before you can start:

  • Domain name
  • Web Hosting
  • Theme
  • Plugins
  • Content

Use the steps below to create a WordPress website. 

Step 1. Choosing the Right Domain Name

A good domain name deserves careful consideration. The best domain name should be similar to your company’s name and be easy to type and promote.

Domain Name Tips

  1. Keep it short and simple.
  2. Stay away from slang and alternate spellings.
  3. If your business is local, consider including your city or state in the domain name like richmondpoolcues.com.
  4. Select a domain name that’s catchy and memorable.
  5. If possible, use one of your primary keywords in your domain name.
  6. Avoid using hyphens and numbers.
  7. Use the domain name extension best suited for your business.

Some web hosting companies, like HostLabs.com, offer free domain registrations with select accounts. See if a such an offer exists before registering a domain name.
Connecting Your Domain Name to Your Website

If you registered your domain name with your web hosting company, you’re all set. Otherwise, it’s easy to connect your registered domain names to your web hosting service using nameservers.

You’ll need a registered domain name and a web hosting account (which we’ll discuss in Step 2). Obtain the nameservers from the hosting company and enter those into your domain’s account at its registrar. 

It takes 24-48 hours for a domain name to shift from pointing to its current location to the new hosting account.

Step 2. How to Purchase a Hosting Plan with HostLabs.com

If you’re looking for web hosting from a quality hosting company, why not give HostLabs.com a try? They offer a wide selection of web hosting packages to cover most website needs. 

Each of their cloud VPS packages offers a free domain name registration, adequate space and bandwidth, and a MySQL database and PHP which are required for WordPress. They also offer a dedicated IP address and a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate which you’ll need to protect sensitive information sent to and from your website. 

Select a web hosting package and follow the steps to complete your purchase. If you already have a domain name, you can skip the domain selection step. Complete details about your new hosting account will be sent to you via email. Contact HostLabs support with questions.

Step 3. Installing WordPress

If you’re developing a WordPress site, using a self-hosted WordPress installation is a good solution. There are two ways to install a self-hosted version of WordPress, either through cPanel installation or manually using file transfer protocol (FTP). 

cPanel WordPress Installation

The following steps can be used to perform a cPanel WordPress installation at HostLabs.com. 

  1. From your welcome email, you’ll find a link to your customer account page along with login credentials. Log into your new account.
  2. Next click on “control panel” and then the “go to HostLabs Panel” button.
  3. Under “Site Management” select “Softaculous”.
  4. Click on the WordPress button and then install button.

The next page is a WordPress installation form. The fields should set as follows unless directed otherwise by HostLabs. 

  • Chosen Protocol: leave default setting.
  • Chosen Domain: should be your primary domain name.
  • Directory: leave default setting.
  • Database Name: leave default setting.
  • Table Prefix: leave default setting.
  • *Site Name: enter the desired business name for your website.
  • Site Description: enter the desired text to describe your website.
  • Enable Multisite: leave unchecked.
  • **Admin Username: For security, select a strong username not admin.
  • **Password: leave default setting.
  • Default Language: leave default setting.
  • Limit Logins Plugin: if offered, check to install this security plugin for an additional layer of security.
  • Disable Update Notifications: leave unchecked for security.
  • Auto Upgrade: check this field to keep WordPress updated.
  • Auto Upgrade WordPress Plugins: check this field to keep plugins updated.
  • Auto Upgrade WordPress Themes: check this field to keep themes updated.
  • Automated Backups: Select backup once a week or more often.
  • Backup Rotation: leave the default setting.
  • *Theme: leave at default setting.
  • Click install button.

*Can be changed later in the WordPress dashboard. 
**Make note of your login credentials. 

The WordPress installation will commence, and you should receive a message that it was installed successfully. With the successful install message, you’ll be given an administrative link for your WordPress site. Log into the WordPress dashboard using the username and password established during the installation process. 

Manual FTP WordPress Installation

First, you’ll need an FTP client to use to transfer files. Filezilla is a great free program available for your use. Download Filezilla and install it to your computer or laptop. 

Using the details in your HostLabs welcome email, open Filezilla and complete the following steps.

  • Click on “File” and then “Site Manager”.
  • On the “General” tag, fill in “Protocol” (usually FTP or SFTP).
  • “Host” is your domain name unless stated otherwise in your HostLabs documentation.
  • “Port” can be left blank unless otherwise specified.
  • “Logon Type” should be normal unless otherwise specified.
  • Fill in the username and password credentials supplied to your by HostLabs.
  • Click “connect”.

You should receive a successful login message. Next, you’ll need to download a free copy of the latest version of WordPress from WordPress.org. Click on the “Get WordPress” button and then download your copy. Once the download is complete, unzip the file and save it to your desktop. 

Navigate to the root directory of your web hosting account in your FTP client. Then using your FileZilla client, select the WordPress folder on your desktop and open it to reveal the folders wp-admin, wp-content, and wp-includes followed by several files. Individually upload all of these folders and files to the root directory of your web hosting account. 

If your installation was successful, follow the instructions to create a MySQL database and user at HostLabs.com. Make note of the database name, database username, database password, database host, and table prefix as you will need them for the next step. 

Next, navigate to your domain name (or IP address). You should be taken to a WordPress Setup Configuration screen. Complete the following steps.

  • Language: Select your preferred language and click continue.
  • The next screen explains the credentials you need to finish. Click the “let’s go”.
  • Database Name: leave the default setting.
  • Username: select a strong username. Don’t use admin.
  • Password: use a strong password and make note of it and your selected username.
  • Database Host: leave the default setting unless instructed to do otherwise.
  • Table Prefix: leave the default setting.
  • Click the “submit” button.

If installation was successful, click on the administrative link where you can login to the dashboard of your new WordPress website.

Step 4. Selecting a Theme

WordPress themes control the appearance of your site. Your new WordPress installation will come with a small number of default themes. If you want something else, from the dashboard click on “Appearance” and then “Themes”. By clicking on the “Ad New” button, you’re taken to a search utility where you can search through themes offered by WordPress.org. If you want an idea of how a theme would look, click on its “preview” button. To install it, click the “install” button. You can change themes easily at any time. 

There are thousands of themes available, both free and premium which cost extra. It’s recommended to get themes only from WordPress.org as they have to meet certain standards set by Automatic, WordPress’s parent company. Themes are checked for any design flaws or security vulnerabilities.

Step 5. Adding Plugins

WordPress plugins are small pieces of software that contain functions that are added on to your website when they are installed. 

Plugins should only be acquired from WordPress.org to ensure that they are designed well and secure. There are thousands of plugins available both free and premium which cost extra. 

To add plugins to your website, from the dashboard, click on “Plugins” and then “Add New”. The search utility will allow you to search through WordPress.org’s vast catalog for the ones you want.

5 Recommended Plugins for Business Websites

  1. W3 Total Cache: A strong caching plugin that will speed up your site for your returning customers.
  2. Yoast SEO: The top SEO plugin for WordPress.
  3. Caldera Forms: An essential plugin for form creation.
  4. Monster Insights: One of the top plugins for Google Analytics in WordPress.
  5. Wordfence: A top security plugin with a lot of great features.
Step 6: Adding New Content to Your Website

In WordPress, you’ll mostly be creating one of two content types: pages and posts. They are similar with a few differences. 

  1. Pages are intended for content that doesn’t change often like contact or about us pages.
  2. Posts are the difference between a robust WordPress blog and a standard static website.
  3. Categories and Tags can’t be used with pages.
  4. Pages aren’t included in your website’s RSS feed.

To add posts to your WordPress website, from the dashboard click on “Posts” and “Add New”. From there you can craft a post using WordPress’s impressive array of publishing options. 

To add pages to your WordPress website, from the dashboard click on “Pages” and “Add New”. From there you can create pages for your more static content using WordPress’s easy publishing interface.