First Things, First
You're probably eager to get started and begin updating and promoting your website.
That's great. but there's a handful of things you should probably consider before getting too far along in your setup.
While developing your website it is important to review your business model, especially your target customer persona profile(s) and the many steps they take in the sales process.
Remember, most people don't make a purchase decision on the first visit to a website. This means you need to not only attract them to your site, you need to find ways to bring them back before you can convert them into customers. You also want to get them to support you through positive reviews and referrals. Don't base your decisions solely on your history of your existing customers, consider the customers you're not getting and what is important to them.
These issues should influence which features and functionality you implement on your site.
Something very encouraging is that small businesses have an advantage in Local Search - it is worth the effort to do SEO and setup off-site accounts connected to your site.
Your new website is based on the Wordpress platform with the Beaver Builder Theme with Beaver Builder Page Builder.
You can change this if you want to. Other leading themes and page builders are available, but we highly recommend Beaver Builder.
Modern page builders are very convenient and have many pre-designed "templates" you can use to create pages and sections of pages, so if you want to experiment with designs and layouts you have a lot of flexible options.
Keep in mind that if you change the theme and page builder most Wordpress settings and edits in plugins won't be lost; but Widget areas may not display as expected and you might need to redo things such as Customizer edits.
If you run into issues changing themes and page builders, just let us know and we'll help sort things out.
What to Do and How to Do It
We recognize it can be overwhelming trying to figure out What you need to do, let alone How to do it. While it would be impossible for us to produce explanations and tutorials for everything, there are plenty of "how to" tutorials and resources available from other websites that can be found by simply Googling what you need to figure out. And we are available to answer questions and steer you in the right direction.
As you start digging into development of your website, it is highly recommended to consider the intent of your visitors. You have just seconds to convince people to stick around. A common content marketing mistake is to focus on yourself and what you like rather than what your potential customers care about.
Ask yourself these questions:
What Is The Main Purpose of Your Site? this question is not as simple as it might seem
Why Are People Visiting Your Site? make it easy to find and navigate to that reason
What Are You Offering Them? what is important to them (a budget 2 day / 1 night 'package' vs. the trip of a lifetime)
What Are The Trust Factors/Unique Selling Points? if possible, you want to display real reviews from trusted sources (Facebook, Google, Yelp, Tripadvisor)
What Action Do You Want Visitors to Take? think "relationship marketing"; conversions don't necessarily mean a booking commitment
You want your content to act as a funnel - leading people through your site to appropriate actions. Once your site has been live for awhile start looking carefully at your Google Analytics to see which pages people exit from, and which pages they come back to. It can be eye opening to review this data. It's pretty common for the data analytics to show different behavior than what you thought was going on.
For reference, SpicyPress is the Idea behind how all these technical and strategic ideas and resources come together.
Wordpress is the foundation on which everything is built upon.
The hundreds of themes and plugins made available to you under your Community Network membership and website hosting subscription are the work of many third-party developers, and provided under GNU/GPL license thanks to Wordpress open source philosophy.
Support for troubleshooting, setup guides and tutorials, "how to's" and other things may or may not be available directly from the plugin or theme developers. To get hands-on support for some premium products you'll need to signup to a paid support subscription either direct from the developer, from TGP, or a 3rd-party contractor.
Most developers provide info on the Wordpress.org repository, or documentation on their websites. Links can be found throughout Checklist, User Guide, FAQ/Knowledgebase, Solution articles, and from the Plugin page of your admin dashboard.
There are also many tutorials and guides written by people that can be found simply by searching Google. Sometimes this is your best option for figuring things out.
- Pick your theme and page builder, you can change these later but you'll be happier doing it first. (default is Beaver Builder, you can skip this step);
- Edit your business information (see below);
- Gather your off-site account information and update connections - Google Analytics etc. (see below);
- Update Yoast Wordpress SEO - particularly Social accounts for GMB (see below);
- Edit your Logo and Site Identity in the Customizer (see below);
- Update/edit Contact Forms (see below);
- Gather and organize your content assets - optimize your images, collect your snippets of text;
- Begin organizing your site for different visitors and source of traffic channels (landing pages, call-to-action) (see below)
- Start editing page and post content... text, images, video embeds. Be sure to optimize for speed, mobile, engagement, and conversions.
- Fine tune your design choices - color schemes, tone, intent, usually best to not start on design until your site content is organized;
- Start enabling and setting up optional plugins for added functionality (see below);
- Domain Mapping - Using your own domain name (see below);
- Optional, enable commenting on posts (see below);
- When you're ready to go live - be sure to change Search Engine visibility settings read more.
Websites and Tier 1 Blogs
Find Your Site
You should have received an email confirmation verifying your new site address.
By registering for a site an additional user role has been added to your account. You're now considered 'admin' for your website which allows you to select different themes and enable and disable plugins; and to add users such as authors, editors, etc. We strongly encourage that they become network members before creating content so that you get the most brand authority benefits.
Simply login from any page of the main website and you'll see an admin bar at the top of the page.
There are dropdown links on the admin bar. or you can paste your URL in your browser which will take you to your login screen https://tourguidepress.com/yoursite/wp-login.php
Be sure to browse the Solutions page for ideas on what and how you can do things. We encourage qualified freelancers and agencies to use the Outsource Marketplace where you can hire help for tasks and projects.
Info on the Community Network tools and resources can be found on the Getting Started User Guide.
Terminology To Get to Know
no, you don't need to be an expert, or take a class. just be prepared to figure out what they mean sooner or later
[faqs style="toggle" filter="glossary"]
Important Edits You Need to Make
Whether you're simply using your site as an SEO asset or intend to make contact with existing or potential customers there are several places you'll want to make edits.
- Business NAP (name, address, phone + opening hours, map directions)
- Contact Form Settings (these are okay, but can be personalized more)
- Optional, Autoresponder Setup (Mailchimp etc)
- Social Accounts to submit to Google My Business and to show on site
- Logo and Site Identity image
These settings might be handled in different places depending upon the theme and plugins you are using.
Edit Your Name, Address, and Phone (NAP)
Don't take a Nap (for granted).
Wherever your address information is used - including citation directories like GMB, Yellow Pages, Yelp, or Tripadvisor - you should have consistent address information (ie same street name, even the same phone number) - it is extremely important for local SEO search results. Why? verifiable business profile information is a top priority for Google and Bing; it's about confidence.
Editing name, address, and phone should be done not just for your contact page (and as a trust factor), but for search engines to identify and verify your brand information.
Page builders have modules where you can enter address and contact info, and even maps. However you really need to be generating "structured data" (aka snippets, or schema) that tells search engines what you and your website are about. As an example of how important this is, Google has an online structured data testing tool that website owners and developers can use to check websites.
Several different schema/structured data snippet plugins are available for you to use. By default we have enabled the Business Profile plugin which creates "contact cards" to use on pages by shortcode or widgets, but also creates the schema structured data to boost your SEO. We've used the community Google Maps API, which may or may not generate your map coordinates - go ahead and take a look at your contact page to see if the map displays properly even if you don't see map coordinates in the plugin settings. If you have problems displaying a Google Map, let us know and we'll troubleshoot for you.
This plugin NEEDS TO BE EDITED with your business info before your site goes live. It is quick and easy, just go to
Admin > Business Profile
Important performance note -- you don't need, nor do you really want a map to display on every page. This slows down page loading. Research shows that a single Google map on your contact page delivers the same SEO value, and a better user experience.
Schema note: the Business Profile plugin does not display "price range"data which gets flagged as missing in the Google testing tool. This code can be added manually, contact us if you think you might need it.
When you register your account, your membership email is used as your "site admin" email. This can be changed under
Admin > Settings > General Settings
Contact forms will use your "site admin" email by default, but these can be changed in the form settings. By default your new site uses the premium plugin Gravity Forms - for info on how to change email on the contact form scroll or click here. Domain email such as [email protected] is possible for domain mapped accounts, but email is a separate service offering and not included in basic plans. If you change your emails, be sure to test that every thing is working as expected. We've tried to optimize Wordpress generated emails to avoid spam flags, but it is very common for business emails to not make it to the inbox. Mixing and matching domains can cause issues. Contact us for help sorting emails if you have problems.
Autoresponders are the 3rd-party service/mechanism to allow you to build lead generation email lists. They can be connected to various contact forms and call-to-action (CTA) plugins. There are many good autoresponder choices out there - some have free options to get you started. If this is new to you, check out MailChimp, the free plan is pretty generous. Autoresponders can send out opt-in confirmations, your newsletters, and other promotional emails using your email accounts.
By default your new website has several places you should update your social media network account information.
While social accounts are an important trust factor element, the wisdom of conversion rate optimization (CRO) theory suggests you don't want to be sending people to your social accounts from your website, unless people are overtly looking for that. This means, make the account info easy to find, but don't strongly prompt people to leave your site.
Themes have places to add social account information - this varies by theme and settings. If you want to display using your theme you might need to research theme documentation. One place on Beaver Builder is the top bar layout, found
Customizer > Header > Topbar Layout and Customizer > General > Social Links
AddToAny is primarily a share button plugin but it also has a widget that you can add your social accounts to - these will display in widget areas and link to your social profile. Your contact page has an AddToAny Follow widget (added by using the Page Builder), and so does the first column footer widget area. You'll need to edit in both places, they are not linked together.
Admin > Appearance > Widgets > First Column
Yoast SEO also has important social account information that Google My Business will use to add to your GMB knowledge panel. Strongly recommended that you edit
Admin > SEO > Social.
Yoast SEO Social settings also edit what gets shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Your website subscription plan includes a variety of ways to leverage social media to boost your brand. Once your site is setup please explore the various ways to syndicate content to your social accounts and to display your social feeds on your site.
There isn't a universal specific dimension size or aspect ratio (width:height) for logos - but you'll find that a logo that is laid out horizontally looks better in the website header. Optionally a second even smaller logo can be set to display on a fixed header as you scroll down a page, or on mobile devices.
A version of your logo can be used to generate the site favicon (the little icon thing shown in the browser tab) and can be used in 'schema'. This should be 512x512 pixels. This is referred to as your "site identity" and can be added through the theme Customizer found by going to Admin > Appearance > Customizer. Different themes hide this setting in different places; typically under Header (Astra) or Setttings (Beaver Builder).
If you're looking to use a large logo or image in the header you might need to make some adjustments to the header layout, either through the Customizer or using CSS.
Website page headers offer a lot of variety in design layouts. Logos can be all different sizes, but you may need to adjust header CSS to make it look right. If you want to learn basic CSS, check out this FAQ I want to learn CSS. Let us know if you need some help figuring this out.
Content and Images
Posts and Pages, Taxonomies and Snippets
If you're new to Wordpress, the difference between Pages and Posts can be confusing. Pages tend to be informational (About Us, Pricing), while posts are more topical story telling (How to Pick the Best Destination for Bringing Your Pet).
Basically, posts are intended as "blog posts" - they are organized by categories and keyword tags, and are stamped with 'meta data' about the author when they were published. They typically get found through things like widgets listing "recent posts", or category and tag archive pages that list posts, or in 'related posts' widget that display links to other posts. Pages are more permanent and get found through static navigation menus.
Both posts and pages have the option to custom edit the "Meta Description" aka snippet. In Google search results you'll see a paragraph of text describing a page. This is often generated by Googlebot and what it thinks your webpage is about. This paragraph of text is extremely valuable in convincing people to click through and visit your site - so it is worth taking the time to write something to attract people. You can even add your phone number to the meta description. Google reserves the option to use your created snippet, but usually they do if it accurately reflects the page.
Posts also have an "Excerpt" that displays on archive pages summarizing what the post is about. Auto generated excerpts simply take the first 55 words of an article, but that is a lost opportunity to add more variety of content and to entice people to click through to the post.
Taxonomies: "Categories" can be thought of as the table of contents for your site, while "Tags" are more like the index. A category called Sightseeing might have articles tagged paris or eiffel tower. Its not required, but common practice is to keep tags lower-case. do keep them short and simple. Posts can belong to more than one category, and should not have "too many" tags, typically 5 tags is good.
A lot of people ignore optimizing Category and Tag archive pages, but Google routinely crawls and indexes these pages to better understand what your website is about. You can add HTML descriptions and pictures (another chance for meaningful and attractive content).
Editing and Optimization
Your website has Yoast SEO plugin enabled by default. This plugin has many different features to assist custom editing excerpts and snippets and doing "on page" SEO optimization. Links to documentation are below.
Yoast has articles:
Page Speed is Important
The time it takes to load a webpage is immensely important to the user experience and conversions, and to ranking in Google search results.
Your page loading speed is enhanced by several built-in optimizations. Like a finely tuned race car, these tweaks sometimes lead to technical problems. When troubleshooting issues you should know that: We use Cloudflare CDN - this caches your website and routes delivery through the closest server to your visitor. It also adds security. WP Super Cache together with Autoptimize is used to condense and cache content and scripts. Lazy Loading plugin(s) delay loading images until they are needed. This setup dramatically improves page loading times.
If you're editing pages, especially with a Page Builder, and you don't see your changes right away, you'll need to clear your various caches. We wrote a FAQ for that. https://tourguidepress.com/faq/how-to-clear-caches-to-see-edit-changes/
Optimize Your Images (don't skip this step)
Change the dimensions (height or width, and maybe crop the image); and change resolution (the quality or density of the image) before you display on your site.
That said, trying to figure out what size images you need for your website (and your profile, and social media accounts) will make your head explode if you're not careful. You will not get a straight answer if you ask any expert about image sizes. "It depends" is the most accurate response. Do as I say, not as I do seems to be pretty common too. So hang in there.
While your theme/page builder will resize most images to adjust to the device people are using (desktop vs phone) you still need to optimize your images before adding to your site. You want to resize them and adjust the quality.
This issue impacts your "user experience" and in turn, can impact your SEO search results. Fast page loading is much more important than perfect clarity that most people won't notice. Please don't be lazy and simply try to use the 4MB image you took with your iPhone.
What can be very frustrating and time consuming is that the resolution, dimensions and aspect ratio of images taken with phones and cameras are not suitable for use on websites. You might say, "hey, that's not true, I upload to Facebook all the time!" but you don't have a multi-million dollar software system to process those images either. We do use Smush to optimize images as they are uploaded but it is only going to improve the last 10% of an already optimized image.
There are many online and downloadable tools to help you prepare your images for website use. You can also use an image CDN to store your image and then display it on the site. Cloudinary is a great example of this. They also have a feature for transforming images.
There are also some really great resources for getting images that are free to use and don't require attribution (crediting the photographer); to get more info read this FAQ Where can we find good images & video to use (for free)?
One thing you'll want to get familiar with are "aspect ratios" - basically the width:height. If you're making galleries or slide shows, or even just several pictures near each other on a page the dimensions should be the uniform to make things look right.
There aren't universal standards for this and it can get messy - we like to use the Youtube aspect ratio 16:9 so that images can be used in videos. However few cameras or phones are set to use that ratio, which means image 'cropping' and resizing is required. But it is worth the effort.
Hero Image - this is the background image typically found at the top of your homepage or a landing page (pages you're targeting to have people first arrive on your site). This does not need to be high resolution (and shouldn't be, otherwise it will be a huge file), it is more about setting the tone for your site, rather than conveying detailed visual information. You'll have text, forms and buttons overlaying on top of it.
Depending on your image composition, hero area layout and design, wide aspect ratios work best. Usually the whole image will not be visible, and you can tweak as needed. you can even use different images depending upon the device - a smartphone can see a completely different picture. 1280px is probably minimum width if you want to keep it clean looking. 1920px is common. You'll just need to play with different pics to get the look you're going for.
Images help tell search engines what your site is about. When properly SEO optimized your images might even show up in Google Image Search too. When you're uploading images to the Media Library or adding external URL images to posts and pages you have an opportunity to add text to describe what the image is about.
File name: washingtonmonument.jpg is better than 12fei4439.jpg
Alt tag: this shows up in error reports so that tells you it is important. If an image doesn't load for some reason, the Alt Tag will show in it's place.
Title tag: similar to alt-tag, if your image links to another page the title tag will display when you hover over the image.
Link: people click images. A lot. You can have a larger original version popup in a modal, or better yet you can send people to the next page in your funnel.
Description: not too sure if this is all internal but it won't hurt to add info here.
Caption: this is the visible text under an image. often used to provide attribution to the photographer or explain something about the image. Any chance to add words to your content is an opportunity to tell search engines more about your site.
Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Ratio
While it goes way beyond what we can discuss on this page, there is a design concept based upon the visual appeal of the Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Ratio. If you're thinking of doing your own page layout and designs you might benefit from researching this a little bit. You can file this one under do as suggested, not exactly what you're looking at...
Google Prefers Mobile Indexed Pages
94% of leisure travelers switch between devices as they plan or book a trip.
Think With Google 2016
Google has made "mobile search" an absolute priority. We should expect to see continued dramatic changes to how Google search is organized and functions.
One big change they implemented was a completely separate index of websites using Accelerated Mobile Page AMP pages. When someone searches Google using a mobile device Google checks their AMP search index before looking at conventional websites to display in search results.
Google now evaluates all new websites solely on how well they perform for mobile users. They need to be fast loading, and they need to be laid out for smartphone use.
If you're not ready for "mobile first" not only are you last, you're not even in the race. All new websites go through Google's mobile-first review before being indexed. Meaning... if your content is not intended for a mobile audience you will not be ranking very high, if listed at all, on Google.
Mobile-Responsive does not mean AMP
Most modern Wordpress themes have features to adjust the page layout and display depending on the device people are using to visit the website. Shrinking down images etc is called being "Mobile Responsive" - that is good, you want that.
Page builders also allow you to set what people see on mobile devices versus a desktop; different sizes, and even if the element appears at all.
A "moble-friendly" website is important to your visitors and it is very important to Google when it is evaluating search results. They even have a mobile testing tool for websites, just search "google mobile friendly test" and a submit form shows right in the search results.
But AMP pages are a different version of your site, not just an adjustment. AMP plugins will strip formatting and functionality scripts to make them load as fast as possible. This means they also strip all the page builder functionality. AMP pages tend to be pretty bland looking.
Because these will be the pages people find if they are doing Google search using a mobile device - ie. almost everyone... it is important to spend some time on your AMP setup.
There are pros and cons to different AMP plugins, but the AMP for WP plugin enabled on your site allows you to edit not just AMP content, but the layout as well. Read more in the enabled plugins section below.
Default Settings and Activated Plugins
Please note this section is only visible to logged in members.
Plugins You Might Want to Enable
You'll see alternative plugins to the enabled you can use listed in Admin > Plugins.
There are also many premium and free plugins you can use to enhance user engagement and SEO. Just be sure to disable plugins you're not using in order to keep things optimized.
Some plugins will require obtaining API from Google or social networks, others work without the API.
Convert Pro / Convert Pro - Addon- this is a lead generation, conversion optimization plugin with lots of features.
Custom Facebook Feed - display customizable, responsive and search engine crawlable Facebook feeds on your website.
Custom Twitter Feeds - display Twitter feeds
Envira Gallery - a full featured gallery plugin -- we need to tweak lazy loading plugin to avoid conflicts, just let us know
Everest Google Places Reviews - display your REAL Google reviews on your website (requires Google Places API)
Instagram Feed - Display Instagram posts from your Instagram accounts, either in the same single feed or in multiple different ones.
Gravity Forms MailChimp Add-On - create autoresponder email lists
Post to Google My Business - make it easy to post to GMB
Tawk.to - Chat widget, powerful features, basic plan is free
WP Remote Site Search - you can search another website from a page/post. Pretty cool if you're using TGP as a Tier 1 Authority Blog
WordPress RSS Feed Retriever - another good option for promoting your other website(s).
WP Google Review Slider, WP Facebook Review Slider,WP TripAdvisor Review Slider, WP Yelp Review Slider - display REAL reviews on your website -- keep people on YOUR site instead of wandering off and being distracted
Yoast Local SEO - As an alternative to Business Profile plugin (don't activate both), Business Profile adds "contact cards" to footer widget and contact us page - so these will need to be replaced. This generates the structured data code that search engines use to figure out more about your business. We've added a shortcode to your Contact page to display relevant info to visitors. You should complete as many fields as possible in settings. Admin > SEO > Local SEO > General Settings (we have taken care of the Google API for you). If using domain mapping option, the API will need to be changed. Check your results at https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool Additional setup instructions https://kb.yoast.com/kb/configuration-guide-for-local-seo/. Just in case the geocoding feature isn't working for you to auto-find your map coordinates you can use this website to get your Lat/Long coordinates. https://www.latlong.net/ [requires edit]
Schema Pro - is another alternative.
There are many, many more plugins available to use for a wide variety of purposes. Let us know what you want to achieve and we'll make recommendations. Remember to disable plugins you're not using - they can have an impact on site performance.
Shared Online Storage
An important lesson we've learned is to create a Dropbox account where you can share files, images, and to just have a handy place to keep things. Google Drive is another good idea, especially if you're going to be sharing things like 'to do' lists or spreadsheets using Google Docs. A free personal account will cover most needs.
You'll need a convenient and secure place to keep your draft content, account information, and various URL links you'll want to use on your website or connect to. This is especially important if you're working with a 3rd-party doing work on your website. Google Drive / Docs allows multiple people to edit the same document, nice.
Google My Business
If you have a location oriented business, and you don't have a GMB account and profile set up... drop everything else and do that first. When people search your brand name, they should see your GMB knowledge panel. If you want to compete for local search results, Google My Business is mandatory if you want to get found, and for people to trust you.
Google will use information from your website and add it to your GMB knowledge panel profile - read more about that on the Forums.
You can also use a plugin to post from your website to your Google My Business account to keep things fresh and active.
Google Analytics / Search Console
Some free services provided by Google are extremely valuable in assessing how well your website is performing in terms of people finding it through search or other channels, and importantly how they behave once they reach your site.
If you don't have a google/gmail account create one, then create a Google Analytics account.
Google Analytics are incorporated in your site using Analytify Pro.
You'll also want a Google Search Console account - they have been changing the look and functionality of how it works, but you should be able to verify your account using your Google Analytics account. If you run into problems with this let us know.
Email can be more complicated than you might expect. "Transactional" emails are included in hosting plans; these are not about money changing hands, they are things like contact form submissions and other automated notifications.
If you have domain mapping and want an email such as [email protected] then we'll need to discuss this with you, and there may be additional fees involved to host your email on our servers.
We highly recommend signing up for an autoresponder email service. This can be used for managing newsletters, and for "building your list". A popular choice that is easy to integrate with your site is MailChimp - they allow sending 12000 emails to 2000 contacts a month for free. No autoresponder/email provider is perfect for everyone, but this is a well established option.
While Google dominates search, Bing should not be ignored. It can send qualified visitor traffic to your site. It uses different algorithms than Google and one priority is clean code without errors so it is good practice to get your site ready to go before submitting to Bing. To verify your ownership an authentication file will need to be uploaded, we'll need to work with you to do that.
Beaver Theme Overview
Demo and Tutorials
There are many tutorials on YouTube and the Beaver Builder Knowledgebase is well written.
If you'd like to try a Beaver Builder demo and see if you can break things before experimenting on your own site, please feel free to go to the demo site -- it is a raw site and you can poke around in the Customizer to see what happens.
We have done some custom formatting on the theme but you can easily change the preset designs, as well as add your own customizations quickly and easily either through the customizer settings or by CSS
Admn > Appearance > Customizer
Beaver Builder Page Editor
There are several ways to access the Beaver Builder page editor. We have enabled Beaver Builder for editing posts so that in addition to making great pages, you can also create compelling article posts - keep in mind that some formatting will get lost in syndication though.
If you go to Admin > Pages > All Pages you'll get a list of all your pages, you can go direct to Beaver Builder from there.