In 2024, starting a WordPress website has never been easier.
With free information everywhere and easy-to-use technology, anyone can build an impressive online presence without needing extensive technical knowledge.
This ultimate guide provides step-by-step instructions on setting up your WordPress site.
In this guide, you will…
by learning about…
Step 1: Choosing a Domain Name
The first step in starting a website is to choose a domain.
(I’m assuming that you already know what you want to create a website about).
A domain name is what people type into their browser to access your site.
They can end in many ‘extensions’ including .com, .net, .org and many many more.
Here are my thoughts on choosing a good domain name…
Once you’ve got some ideas, you can find out if they are available at a domain registrar.
I use two different companies, and they are both very good. I prefer Namecheap as they do offer better pricing.
Recommended Domain Registrars
To register your domain name, search for its availability on the domain registrar’s website.
You will be given some alternatives if the domain name you want isn’t available. Keep searching until you find something you like.
Most registrars often offer domain privacy protection, which helps guard your personal information against unwanted exposure. I would recommend you take this as you don’t want your address on public display all over the internet.
With the domain and privacy in your cart, you just have to pay. I wouldn’t recommend you take hosting with a domain register. Hosting is best provided by a hosting company. We’ll be talking about hosting in the next section.
Once you’ve paid, the domain is yours, and you’re ready for the next step.
Step 2: Get a Hosting Service
Recommended Hosting Companies
It can be hard to evaluate hosting services when considering factors such as uptime, bandwidth, and storage all wrapped up in loads of technical buzzwords and numbers.
That’s why I like to use and recommend Spidrweb (use code EAGLE10 for a discount)
Spidrweb is operated by Phil Lankester, my friend and business partner in Popcorn Theme.
He provides an excellent service and is happy to setup everything you need based on what you’re looking to do with your WordPress website.
The best way to get started is to get in touch with him.
Mention me when you do get in touch, and you will get a discount!
Phil offers very good hosting at a decent price; however, if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, then you should check out Hostarmada.
Hostarmada offer hosting from as little as $2.49 a month if you sign-up for 3 years, a fantastic deal.
How to Setup Your Hosting with Hostarmada
To get started, choose a package and click get started. Don’t worry too much about the package, as if you need more, you can upgrade at any time.
You then need to enter the domain you registered with the domain registrar in step 1 of this article.
Next, choose your billing cycle. The best value is to pay up front and choose a long billing cycle.
Then select a data center. Generally, you’ll want one that’s close to where you think your visitors are coming from.
Finally, you can skip all the add-ons as you don’t need any of these right now.
Click Preview Order.
On this page, you’ll want to enter my discount coupon ‘wpeagle75′ for a 75% discount!
All that’s left to do is enter your details and pay. Once you’re done Hostarmada will email you all the login details and everything else you need to access your WordPress website.
The email you receive will look something like this…
Before you can login and use your new website you’ll need to update your DNS setting over at your registrar with the details contained in the ‘Server Information’ part of the email.
Login into your domain registrars control panel (probably Godaddy or Namecheap if you followed my advice earlier 😉).
Choose your domain and go into the settings. You should see DNS or NAMESERVERS.
You’ll want to select custom and then copy and past the nameservers in from the email.
In Namecheap, it looks like this…
Once you’ve made the change, give it a few hours to take effect.
Enter your URL into your browser, and you should see the default WordPress homepage that looks something like this:
You’re now ready to login into your WordPress dashboard and start working on your website.
Step 3: Learn How to Use the WordPress Dashboard
First, you need to login to your dashboard.
You will of received the username and password in an email from your hosting company.
To login enter the following URL into your browser:
You should see a login screen that looks like this:
Enter your username and password and click “Log In”.
You’ll then be presented with your WordPress Dashboard.
Here is where you’ll be working on your website.
The navigation is down the left-hand side.
Here is what each section is for.
Let’s take a look at these in a bit more detail.
The posts section looks like this
Before you start publishing your content, you’ll need to create some categories.
WordPress categories are how you organize your content. Sometimes these categories are referred to as Silos.
How you structure your website is important. You’ll need a clear, logical structure so that visitors and search engines can understand your content.
Think about how your visitors will be looking for your content. Maybe you’ll be creating a website about dogs, and it makes sense to organize your content by breed.
Or maybe you’re creating a site in the travel niche and you’ll organize your content by country or holiday type.
You’ll want to make sure you’re very clear on this, as it can be difficult to change in the future.
How to add a WordPress Category
To add a category, click on categories.
Give the category a name.
You can enter a slug if you like but you don’t need to, as it will use the category name. The slug is the URL for example yoursite.com/category/yourslug
Click Add New Category and you’ll see the new category appear on the right.
Add as many categories as you need. You can always add new ones later.
How to add a WordPress Post
To add a post click on Posts > Add New to open the post editor.
Enter a title and begin adding content. The content editor is very easy to use.
The way you do this will vary depending on the theme you’re using (we’ll talk about themes shortly).
Select which category the post should be in. You can create new categories here if you need to.
When you’re finished with the post, click Publish to make it live on the website.
To make your content more engaging, try to:
Incorporating various types of content, such as text, images, and videos, is essential.
Easily add images or videos to content by clicking the Add Media button in the editor and selecting the file on your computer. Alternatively, simply drag and drop files directly into the editor.
You probably won’t need to go into this section very often.
When you want to add media to your content, you’ll generally do it from within the post editor.
You’ll want to make sure that:
Small, optimized images load quicker and help you get a good web core vitals score, which can affect how well you rank on Google.
How to add a WordPress Page
To create a new page, navigate to the WordPress dashboard and click on Pages > Add New.
This will open the page editor, where you can add text, images, videos, and other things in the same way you do for posts..
Make sure to give the page a relevant title and use the formatting features available to make your content engaging.
When you’ve finished, click the Publish button to make the page publicly accessible.
In this section, you can manage the comments you receive on your content. It’s very easy to use.
You can disable comments on individual posts on on the general wordpress settings. You’ll find it under Settings > Discussion.
We’ll be going through adding a theme in the next section of this article.
How to edit your site with the Editor
To make changes to most themes, you’ll be using the Editor. You’ll want to choose a theme first.
The editor enables you to change the entire layout and appearance of your website.
To use it click on Editor in the Appearance section.
Down the left side, you can choose which parts of the site you want to edit.
Choose something from there, or to edit the page you’re currently viewing just click on it.
You can then make changes.
It’s very easy to use and similar to the post and pages editor.
One of the key advantages of building a WordPress website in 2023 is the vast array of plugins available.
Plugins are an easy way to make your website better.
I have a few plugins that I use all the time:
There are two ways to install a WordPress plugin depending on if it’s free or premium.
How to install a free WordPress Plugin
To install a free WordPress plugins click ‘add new’ at the top of the plugins screen or from the left navigation in the plugins section.
You can now search for the free plugin you’d like by typing keywords into the search box.
Choose the plugin you’d like and click install now.
Click activate to turn your new plugin on.
Your plugin is ready to use.
You’ll find it’s options somewhere in the left-side navigation.
How to install a premium WordPress Plugin
To install a premium plugin the first thing you need to do is buy the plugin.
Then you need to download the file from the website where you purchased it.
Click on ‘add new’ in the plugins section in your dashboard.
Then click on upload plugin at the top of the page.
Click on choose file and select the file that your downloaded and then click install now.
Once the plugin is uploaded, click on activate to turn it on. Your plugin is now ready to use.
I explore more plugins in other articles and videos.
The users section is very easy to use. In here, you can set up new users and grant other people access to your site.
You can assign users a role that limits what they can and can’t do to your website.
How to add a new user to WordPress
To add a new user to your WordPress website click on ‘add new’ in the users section of the dashboard or at the top of the users page.
Enter all the details about the user. You can set the user role at the bottom.
When you have finished, click on ‘add new user’.
The best way for users to set an image is to use Gravatar. When you set up Gravatar your photo will follow you around to all other websites using WordPress and some other platforms.
Your website can automatically send the user their login details if you like.
Here you can make lots of changes to how your WordPress website works.
Let’s go through each section and take a look at what can be done.
WordPress General Settings
The WordPress General settings section is for the basics.
Here, you can set the site name and tagline. The tagline may be shown on your website, depending on the WordPress theme.
The administration email address is set in here. Make sure you use an email address you have regular access to, as WordPress will send important notifications to this address.
The membership tick box allows users to register themselves. You’ll unlikely want this switched on unless you are running e-commerce or a community forum.
The other options are self-explanatory: timezone, language, and date format.
WordPress Writing Settings
There isn’t going to be much you’ll want to change in here apart from maybe the default post category.
I’ve never used the ‘post via email’ feature or met anyone who has.
You can add other update services here if you have them (I never do this either).
WordPress Reading Settings
There are a few settings in here you need to be aware of.
‘Your homepage displays‘ will probably need setting as most themes use this. Create a page called ‘home’ and a page called ‘blog’ (or articles, or whatever you like).
Then, set these pages as the homepage and blog page respectfully in here.
You can also adjust how many posts the blog pages show.
One tick box to be aware of is the Search engine visibility one. With this box checked, search engines will not crawl your site.
When you launch your website, you must ensure that this box is unchecked or face SEO DISASTER!
WordPress Discussion Settings
There are many settings in here, but you probably won’t need to change any of them.
The one setting that might be useful is ‘Allow people to submit comments on new posts‘. if you don’t want people to leave comments on your content, you’re going to want to uncheck this.
The other settings are pretty obvious.
I don’t ever find myself having to change any of them, and I’ve made a lot of WordPress websites.
WordPress Media Settings
Here are some more settings that I find myself never having to change.
I guess you’ll know you if you need to change these.
WordPress Permalink Settings
The permalink settings are important as this is where we configure our URL structure.
This is particularly important from an SEO perspective.
To change your permalink structure, simply select one of the pre-defined options or enter your own custom one.
You can click on the available tags to help you create it.
I’ll be sharing my recommended structure to help Google understand your site better in the SEO section of this article.
WordPress Privacy Settings
Here is a simple way to create a privacy page and tell WordPress which page is your privacy page.
Ensure you set up a privacy page before you launch your website to ensure compliance with privacy laws.
Other WordPress Settings Options
If you have any other options in your settings section, these will be from plugins or software your hosting company installed.
Step 4: Choosing a WordPress Theme
How to choose and install a WordPress Theme
In 2023, creating a visually stunning and unique WordPress website starts with selecting the right theme.
I’ve put together a few articles to help you choose the best WordPress theme for you.
When searching for a WordPress theme, think about what your site will be about.
Free themes can be found in the WordPress Theme Directory.
How to install a Free WordPress Theme from the Directory
It’s very easy to add a free WordPress Theme.
Start by going to Appearance > Themes and then clicking add new at the top of the page.
You can then browse the available themes using the navigation and search at the top.
Once you’ve found one that looks good, click on it to view more information and then click ‘Install’.
The theme will download.
To finish, just click on ‘Activate’.
Your new theme is ready to use!
You can usually make all changes and customizations you need in Appearance > Editor.
Where to buy a Premium WordPress Theme
Premium themes are available from various developers and marketplaces. They often include extra features, customer support, and regular updates.
When choosing a Premium Theme you’ll want to consider:
Popular Premium WordPress Themes
Here are some popular Premium WordPress Themes available now:
You can also find lots of unique themes on marketplaces like Themeforest.
Step 5: Publishing Content
How to come up with ideas for content
Coming up with ideas for content may seem difficult. However, it’s actually pretty easy.
You can quickly do some research online and find lots of things that people are searching for that you can create content about. This is often refrerred to as ‘keyword research’ or ‘content research’.
How to do keyword research on Google
Head over to Google and start typing your subject in. You want to see what Google suggests. These are real searches that people have been doing.
For informational content ideas start with words like:
So, maybe you have a website on Labrador dogs, you might start with
“why do labradors”
and then start going through the alphabet:
“why do labradors a”
“why do labradors b”
and see what Google suggests:
These are all great article ideas!
Start making a note of them in a spreadsheet.
Then continue going through the alphabet:
Even more ideas!
For more product-focused content ideas like reviews, try using words and phrases like
Replace the x with a product.
Get as many ideas as you can as the foundations of your content planning.
Writing content for your website
Now you have some ideas for articles (or maybe videos) you need to start creating your content.
You have a number of different options:
Let’s take a look at these options in more detail.
How to write content yourself for your website
When you first start, I recommend writing some content for your website yourself.
By doing it yourself, you’ll understand how to put content together and the quality level you want. This will be essential if you decide to use AI or outsource to writers.
Here’s a rough plan you can use help you write and create:
1) Define Your Audience and Purpose
Before you start writing, identify who the article is for and its purpose.
Google the keyword you’re writing about and look at the results to get some ideas on this.
2) Outline Your Content
Create an outline or structure for your content.
Decide on the main points you want to cover and the order in which you’ll present them.
A clear structure helps both you and your readers. You can use AI to help you with this. Just ask chat GPT for an article outline.
3) Research Thoroughly
Search the internet for information.
Reliable sources, statistics, case studies, and expert opinions can add credibility to your writing.
Take notes and keep track of your sources for proper attribution.
It’s even better to create new, fresh information in your content.
Google LOVES this!
Do your own research, get your own statistics, do some surveys, and take your own photos to back it all up.
4) Write Compelling Headlines and Headings
Craft a headline that grabs readers’ attention and accurately reflects the content of your article.
A compelling headline can encourage people to click and read your content, which is good for SEO.
Don’t forget about your sub-headings, either. Make sure these are punchy and give a clear structure to your content.
5) Get to the point quickly (cut the fluff)
Give the visitor what they want clearly, concisely, and quickly.
Deliver it at the top of the article and then get into the details further down the page.
6) Create Clear and Concise Content
Write in a clear, concise, and easy-to-understand manner.
Keep it as simple as possible.
Use short paragraphs, bullet points, and bold styles to break up text and improve readability.
7) Use Visuals
Incorporate relevant images, infographics, charts, and videos to enhance your content.
Try to avoid stock photos.
8) Provide Value
Ensure that your content provides value to your audience.
Answer their questions, solve their problems, or offer valuable insights.
High-quality content keeps readers coming back for more. It also attracts shares and links, boosting your traffic and search engine rankings.
9) Proofread and Edit
After writing, proofread your content for spelling, grammar, and formatting errors.
Consider using editing tools or having someone else review your work for feedback.
As you’re reading, think about how the content could be improved…
Older content should be re-read and updated regularly to maintain freshness and accuracy.
10) Optimize for SEO
Incorporate relevant keywords naturally throughout your content, especially in headings.
Use descriptive words for image file names so Google knows what the image is.
More on SEO later.
Using AI to write content
There are lots of AI tools that can help you to create content.
A few popular ones include:
When using AI you need to be careful.
You can’t just click a button, generate a full article and then publish.
You are going to need give the AI lots of guidance and then edit the output so it matches your tone and website.
I like to use AI to help me get started (overcome writers block) or to re-write thing that I’ve produced in a clearer fashion.
Here are a few articles and videos I’ve done on AI;
Outsourcing content creation to writers
To really scale up your content, you will need to outsource.
You can outsource the writing to writers and the publishing to editors.
However, this isn’t easy.
I share the process I used to hire my writers in this article. Be sure to give it a read.
Another way is to use the fantastic tools and processes over at Workello.
Once you have writers you’re going to need to give them clear briefs and instructions.
To learn more about this be sure to check out Nick Jordan who is an expert on this.
Publishing your content to your website
Once you’ve got some content you’re ready to publish.
I’ve already shown you how to create posts using WordPress.
Let me take you through how you can use the editor.
Here are some of the elements you’ll need to know:
- Button to save and publish your work
- Toggle the right sidebar panel
- The sidebar – use this to change settings on the post as a whole and the block you have selected (use the tabs at the top to switch)
- You can add a block within the content and using the button in the top left
- Show the structure of the post – useful for selecting the correct block
On the right-hand side, you can change the post options:
The main options you’ll want to set when publishing are:
You can also adjust the date, template and URL by clicking on them in the summary section at the top.
If you click the ‘stick to the top’ box the post will show at the top of categories and in other featured posts areas. How this works will depend on your theme.
Once you’ve set your post options you can start to add the content.
Adding your content
You can write straight into WordPress or copy and paste your content in.
Once it’s in, you can start to style it. In WordPress, you can do this using blocks.
Different Themes come with different styling blocks. For example, Popcorn Theme has lots of blocks styled for affiliate websites.
The main blocks you’ll be using will be:
To adjust a block’s settings simply click on it. There are two options panels, both with different things…
The WordPress post editor is easy to use. Click around and play with the different blocks and you’ll be laying out some great-looking content in no time.
When you are editing you can take a look at what the post will look like on different devices as well as view a preview in a new tab by clicking on the ‘screen’ icon in the top right.
Once you’re done remember to click publish.
Step 6: Selecting WordPress Plugins
The plugins you choose will depend on what you want your website to do.
I’ve already shared the plugins that I think are essential. Remember?
Always use plugins from reputable sources and that have been updated recently to avoid any potential security problems.
There are plugins for everything, but only use the plugins you actually need and are going to use. Installing too many plugins can slow your website down.
Here’s some good ones:
Popular WordPress Plugins
Migrate, Backup and Restore
Optin and Popups
Forums and Community
Let me know your favorite plugins in the comments!
Step 7: Basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
I will break it down into three key parts (you’ll need to be good at all three to rank well).
Let me explain what each one is.
Onsite SEO is the stuff you actually do on your website.
You’re going to want to ensure that the website’s content, it’s code and structure are as search-engine friendly as possible.
Here are some important components of onsite SEO. You can use a plugin like RankMath to help you implement all of these:
1) Title Tags (Article names)
This is the title of the page. It will be shown in search engine results.
When writing your article title, you’ll want to:
2) Meta Descriptions
A brief summary of the page’s content, which appears under the title in search results. While it doesn’t directly impact rankings, it can influence click-through rates – and click-through-rates do impact rankings.
3) Header Tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
These are used to highlight headings and subheadings, indicating the structure of your content.
Make sure your structure is logical..
4) URL Structure
You can set your structure in Settings > Permalinks within WordPress.
I recommend the following structure:
You don’t want to use the default of https://yoururl.com/?p=123 – The URL should include keywords or match the title of the article.
5) Keyword Usage
Including keywords relevant to your content in your title, headers, and throughout the content is important.
6) Optimize Images
Search engines may struggle to “see” what your images actually are.
Make sure you use filenames that describe what the image is.
For example, for this image…
❌ Filename: dogs.jpg
✅ Filename: 4_labrador_dogs_leaning_on_stable_door.jpg
You’ll also want to set an ALT Tag that also describes what the image is.
7) Internal Linking
Include links between your articles. If you mention something in one article that’s explained in more detail in one of your other articles, make sure you link to it.
Well interlinked content can have a huge effect on your search engine rankings.
8) Mobile Responsiveness
You’ve probably already done this by choosing a good theme.
But it’s worth mentioning. You site must display and load quickly on mobile devices.
If it doesn’t, Google and the others will punish you.
9) Page Speed
Your website and it’s content need to load fast.
Google uses speed and performance as a pretty important ranking factor.
You can check what’s slowing your speed down and what Google thinks about your performance by running it through the Google Pagespeed Tool.
Improve your performance with:
10) High-Quality Content
This should probably be number 1 in this list.
I go into this in more detail in the next section, but…
If you create super high-quality content you will rank – unless you get the rest of the onsite SEO completely wrong!
Great content naturally gets a lot right when it comes to SEO because:
11) Schema Markup
This type of microdata helps search engines better understand the content of your web pages and can enhance how your pages are displayed in SERPs.
Use a WordPress plugin like RankMath to implement your schema.
12) Submit an XML Sitemap to Google Search Console
By default, WordPress will create an XML sitemap of all your content. You can also create one with most SEO plugins.
This XML file clearly shows to Google the structure of your website and all of it’s content. This makes it easier for Google’s crawlers to index everything quickly.
Content for SEO
I’ve already taken you through coming up with content earlier in this article.
**CONTENT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SEO THING!**
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again.
The content you publish is what’s going to make or break your site.
Publishing average or poor content is no longer good enough.
When you are creating content for your website, you must produce stuff people will love ❤️
If people love it, Google will too!
I’d say great is content is 80% of your SEO.
Reputation & Expertise (Offsite SEO)
Google and the other search engines want content that’s created by people with expertise and websites with a reputation – a good one.
Reputation and Expertise build up over time by what happens off your site.
One key factor is inbound links to your website.
Think of each link to your website as a vote of confidence.
Other offsite things that increase your reputation and expertise include:
Remember, building your reputation is far easier when you’re creating great content!
Step 8: Taking Your WordPress Website Forward
Wow, you made it to step 8 of this article.
You have persistence and follow things through!
That’s good! – Because building a successful website of any kind, be it e-commerce, business, or a niche website, takes a lot of persistence.
To make a success of a WordPress website you’re going to need to:
Creating a great website is a rewarding experience in many ways and I wish you the best of luck with your websites. 📈
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best practices for creating a WordPress website in 2023?
When creating a WordPress website in 2023, planning your site’s structure and focusing on user experience is essential.
Use a responsive theme that works well on different devices and consider website accessibility for various users.
Generate high-quality, unique content and ensure a fast-loading, seamless browsing experience for visitors.
Implement reliable security measures to keep your site protected from hackers and cyber threats.
What are the essential plugins for a WordPress website in 2023?
How can I optimize my WordPress website for search engines in 2023?
SEO is an ongoing process. To rank well on Google you need to do lots of things consistently. Here’s a few of the basics:
⭐️ Mobile-Friendly Design
Ensure your website is responsive and mobile-friendly, as Google prioritizes mobile indexing.
⭐️ High-Quality Content:
Create valuable, relevant, and engaging content that addresses user intent.
Use keywords naturally and avoid keyword stuffing.
⭐️ Page Speed Optimization:
Optimize images and minimize code to improve page loading speed.
Consider using a content delivery network (CDN).
⭐️ Technical SEO:
Regularly update your WordPress and plugins to maintain security and performance. Use SEO plugins like Yoast SEO or Rank Math to handle on-page SEO elements.
⭐️ Structured Data Markup (Schema):
Implement structured data to enhance search results with rich snippets and schema markup.
⭐️ SSL Security:
Secure your website with an SSL certificate (https) to improve trust and search rankings.
⭐️ User Experience (UX):
Ensure easy navigation and a clean, user-friendly design. By improving UX and helping people navigate your site Google will reward you.
⭐️ Keyword Research:
Use Google or tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to identify relevant keywords and phrases. Target long-tail keywords for less competition but don’t ignore high volume keywords either.
⭐️Optimize Images and Multimedia:
Only upload images that are as big as they need to be. Host video on a fast platform like YouTube or Vimeo.
⭐️ Internal Linking:
Link to related content within your website to help people find it.
⭐️ External Linking:
Include high-quality outbound links to authoritative sources when relevant.
⭐️ Social Media Integration:
Share content on social media platforms. Add social share buttons to encourage visitors to share your content.
⭐️ User-Generated Content:
Encourage user reviews, comments, and discussions to boost engagement and SEO.
⭐️ Local SEO (if applicable):
Optimize your website for local search by claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing.
⭐️ XML Sitemap:
Submit an XML sitemap to Google Search Console to help them index your site more effectively.
⭐️ Monitor and Analyze:
Regularly track your website’s performance using tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Use this information to improve existing content and plan new content.
⭐️ Content Updates:
Keep your content fresh by updating and repurposing older posts.
What are the top WordPress themes in 2023?
How can I ensure my WordPress website is secure in 2023?
There is a few simple things you can do to keep your WordPress website safe and secure:
🔒 Always stay up-to-date with the latest versions of WordPress, Themes and Plugins
🔒 Use a security plugin like Wordfence
🔒 Choose a very strong password for your user accounts
What techniques can I use to improve the loading speed of my WordPress website in 2023?
To make your website super fast try:
🚀 Don’t install too many plugins (no more than 10)
🚀 Remove plugins you’re not using
🚀 Choose a good hosting company
🚀 Use a performance plugin like WP Rocket
🚀 Don’t use large images
🚀 Try a CDN like Cloudflare