WordPress — all blog posts

WordPress tips and tricks for your brochure website or blog. Ideal for WordPress website owners of all sizes, from small businesses to large organisations such as the NHS.

Peacock Carter are an established WordPress website design agency based in Newcastle upon Tyne – we’ve been building WordPress websites for over a decade.

3 checks to get your website ready for 2020

Nov 2019
WordPress page titles - for SEO website basics

2019 has flown by – another year almost finished. If, like many business owners, you’ve been focused on your day to day operations, it can be easy to forget to stay on top of your website.

These three tips are designed to be quick and easy to check and implement, and ensure your website’s still running smoothly in to 2020.

Are your telephone number and email address up to date?

It’s worth checking your website and ensuring your email address and office telephone numbers are up to date – these can easily slip through the net during the year and cost you potential customers.

We advise checking:

  • contact details in your website’s header
  • contact details in your website’s footer
  • your website’s contact or enquiry page
  • for limited companies, that your registered office address is up to date wherever it appears. For WordPress websites, you’re able to search your content for this in the administration panel.

If your website uses contact forms, check they’re functioning, and that messages sent through them arrive at the relevant business email address.

Are costs for products and services up to date on your website?

If you display costs for your products or services on your website, make sure they’re up to date, alongside any brochures or price sheets linked to in PDF or other document formats.

Is your security certificate up to date?

Having a security (SSL) certificate for your website has been a recommendation from web developers and search engines such as Google for quite some time now. These ensure that data sent between your website’s server and visitors is securely encrypted, which is particularly important if you accept any data entry (such as contact forms) through your website.

Security certificates on our web hosting are set to renew automatically, and don’t have to be expensive these days – Let’s Encrypt even provide free certificates.

Of course, if you don’t have the time to look at these tasks yourself, get in touch with your local web design agency (ahem) and we’ll be happy to help!

WordPress North East events for web designers

Oct 2019
WordPress logo

Come and join us every second Thursday of the month at Head of Steam Quayside in Newcastle upon Tyne for an informal evening of WordPress talks and community discussion at WordPress North East.

The group meets from 6pm each month in Newcastle upon Tyne for a talk or demonstration on a WordPress related topic, and a chance to talk to others about your current issues and experiences.

Who is WordPress North East for?

As organisers of the event and WordPress developers ourselves, we love to see WordPress users (website managers, self employed business people, and content manangers), web developers and designers of all abilities coming together to learn and share their own knowledge and experiences. We usually meet in Newcastle upon Tyne, but the group’s remit extends to North East England, attracting attendees – and speakers! – from Northumberland up to Berwick and the Scottish border, County Durham, Teesside (including Middlesbrough), and Cumbria including Carlisle.

It is free to attend WordPress North East events (RSVP to future events on the Meetup group here) – we organise the events for free as a way to give back to the WordPress community (after all, WordPress is built by the community and free for all to use, and as a WordPress web design agency we work with it daily!), and since the meetup began in Newcastle in July 2013, we have run over 40 events.

The lovely people at the WordPress Foundation also help to cover our running costs to make this event free for all to access.

Upcoming WordPress events in Newcastle 2019

This October 10th, we have a speaker from Canada coming along, discussing plugins and themes in WordPress, and the distinction between them. An important topic to understand for both WordPress users and developers, as there’s often a lot of overlap here.

November sees a talk on Custom Post Types in WordPress – something that can make WordPress really powerful for managing larger websites’ content.

We hope to see you at a WordPress North East event soon!

Three ways to speed up your WordPress website

May 2019
WordPress logo

Do you have a self-hosted WordPress website which is taking a while to load?

This can be a common issue, particularly with self-built WordPress websites using off-the-shelf themes and websites with lots of plugins installed. Here are three things you can do to improve the speed of your WordPress website, courtesy of the WordPress experts at Peacock Carter:

1. Check your WordPress hosting service

Free hosting services tend to have a higher number of websites sharing their resources, meaning your website may be affected by other websites. It’s worth paying a reasonable amount for hosting (even £5 a month) to ensure optimal up-time (the amount of time your website is online for) and for improved website speeds.

For WordPress websites, we recommend hosting companies such as Siteground.

2. Compress your website’s images and photographs

Modern websites often make use of large, hi resolution photography and images to showcase their products and services. They can provide a huge boost to a website’s design, and yet large image file sizes can also have a large impact on your website’s loading speed. Of course, there also isn’t a huge amount of point in having a first class hosting company for your website if your website doesn’t make an effort to minimise the size of images files for your visitors!

Large images are perhaps not such a big deal as they used to be if you’re connected to a modern Internet connection, but many web users use their mobile and tablet devices to browse the web these days, and they may be connected to 3G or 4G connections rather than high speed broadband. We recommend minimising your image file sizes with a WordPress plugin such as Smush It to compress your website’s images and reduce your page load times.

3. Cache your website for extra speed!

By default, each page loaded by a visitor makes a lot of requests to the server to fetch files and content need to create your WordPress website. Caching minimises these requests by creating a single version of your page with all of the information and content it needs to be served as a single file. There are many WordPress plugins which can provide caching for your website, but we recommend the Speed Booster Pack plugin for ease of set up and the results we’ve seen on client websites.

In addition, hosting companies such as Siteground also provide an additional layer of caching which can be beneficial for your website’s site speed; just be sure to test heavily before enabling as this can potentially break some plugin functionality!

Still need help to improve your WordPress website’s speed?

If you’re still in need of help to improve your WordPress website’s loading times, get in touch with the WordPress experts at Peacock Carter; we’re happy to help!

Three ways to use Yoast SEO plugin to boost your WordPress website’s search engine friendliness

Mar 2019
Tips to make your WordPress website more search engine friendly with Yoast SEO

As you may have discovered by now, having a WordPress website probably isn’t enough to start crawling up search engine rankings for relevant phrases for your business; there is a lot of competition out there, and your website will need time and effort to start bringing in new customers.

This handy guide from the WordPress experts at Peacock Carter gives you three ideas on ways to use the popular Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress to improve your website’s search engine friendliness.

1. Create an XML sitemap with Yoast SEO

A sitemap provides a list of content on your website, to ensure that search engines were able to find it all to be considered for inclusion in their rankings. These days, search engines are much more adept at finding content, but XML sitemaps can help to ensure – especially for websites with a lot of content – that they are aware of the content.

A XML sitemap does exactly this, in the “XML” format – designed for search engines to read. To enable this feature in Yoast, you will need to specifically enable it under the General Settings > Features screen (documented in the guide linked below).

Yoast SEO has a guide on how to add an XML sitemap for your WordPress website here.

2. Make use of structured data in Yoast

Structured data provides additional information to search engines about your website and your business.

Yoast’s structured data tool takes the form of a wizard, which walks you through the information it requires to add the relevant structured data to your website; see Yoast’s free guide here. Specifically, adding your company name, address, telephone number and logo is recommended to help confirm this information for search engines, and it can sometimes be used to populate Google’s Business Listings, as seen below:

Structured data in search results of WordPress website

Structured data can be used for a huge list of other improvements to search engine friendliness for your website, too, including:

  • Navigational breadcrumbs – great for helping search engines to create a hierarchy of your website’s content
  • Integrating your website’s own search feature in to Google’s search listings

3. Change your page titles with Yoast to be more relevant

By default, most WordPress websites will use the title of the page you have provided as the title of the page for search engines (also known as the meta title). This is usually fine, but Yoast SEO plugin allows you to fine-tune your website’s page titles to be more effective in search engines.

For example, a page with a title of “WordPress training courses” in your website might create a page title of “WordPress Training Courses – Peacock Carter” for search engines, but with Yoast you could amend it to say “WordPress training courses and workshops in the UK – Peacock Carter”, which provides a little more context both for the search engines, and potentially for users who are searching for your products or services.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively use the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, try our Yoast SEO workshops.

5 basic SEO tips for your WordPress website

Mar 2019
WordPress logo

Many small businesses owners make use of WordPress to power their website – and with good reason – but often forget the basics of making their website search engine friendly.

Here are 5 SEO (search engine optimisation) basics you can review on your WordPress website today to make it easier to search engines to find, interpret, and list (known as “indexing”) your website’s content.

1. Does your WordPress website’s homepage explain what you do, and where?

This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised about how many business owners take the basics of explaining their website for granted. Be sure to explain:

  • What your business offers – its services or products (you can go in to more detail about individual services and products on additional pages)
  • Where you serve customers – if you offer a UK-wide service, that’s fine – but it doesn’t hurt to be extra clear!

This not only helps to reassure customers who’ve found you in search engines that they’ve found a company who can do what they want in their area, but also helps search engines understand what your business offers, and where your website might fit in search results for relevant phrases.

A solicitor in Newcastle upon Tyne’s website might use the content:

“We’re a family-run law firm based in Newcastle upon Tyne offering conveyancing, commercial and private legal advice. We work with clients throughout Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and County Durham”

An accountancy firm based in Sunderland may use the following:

“123 Accounting provides book-keeping, accountancy and tax advice to businesses and individuals in Sunderland and County Durham.”

If you’re not confident with writing your own content, ask us for recommendations for copywriters who have experience of small business website content!

2. Do your contact details match your (Google) map listings?

Show a physical address on your website, if you can.

If you’ve ever noticed map listings appear for businesses when you search for services near you? You can improve the chances of your WordPress website appearing in Google’s map listings for relevant searches (e.g., “web designers in Newcastle“) by making sure that your Google My Business account (which is free to create) displays the correct phone number, address, and postcode. You can even add your opening hours!

This helps Google to verify your business is legitimate, and also increases your of appearing in front of more potential customers.

3. Do your website’s pages have unique titles?

This is a real SEO fundamental which can often be overlooked on small business websites, even with WordPress’ sensible set up for creating page titles. Your WordPress website’s page title is a key factor for search engines such as Google and Bing.

The page title is separate to the page’s heading, which is also important, but typically visible in the page itself,

WordPress page titles - for SEO website basics

 

4. Have you used structured data?

Structured data provides additional information to search engines about your website, and your business. Search engines such as Google can then use this to enhance their listings of your website, such as with your business address and contact details:

Structured data in search results of WordPress website

WordPress plugins such as Yoast allow you to do this relatively easily, as well as providing additional features such as navigational breadcrumbs and sitemaps.

5. Register with Webmaster Tools

Finally, it’s worth registering with search engines’ webmaster tools. These can provide some valuable insight in to your website, and highlight issues you may not be aware of:

Both tools are free to register for, and can be a useful tool to maintain your website, from highlighting broken links in your content, to potential malicious/spam links that may occur if your website is breached (see our post on “how to tell if your WordPress website has been hacked“).

You can find slides from my talk at the WordPress North East meetup group in February 2019 here.

If you’d like to learn more about your WordPress website and how it is interpreted by search engines such as Google and Bing, you may find our WordPress website audits and WordPress training courses of use.