These days wordpress is not only associated with blogging but content management as well. When I started working in the web, there was no simple off the shelf program let alone one that is free. I found wordpress and used it primarily as a content management system for myself, these days I am doing more article writing on my site (and for other sites too) which has allowed me to research different possible needs for the site.

So what ‘needs’ does my site have. Well, like every site on the net, I want it to rank well. This involves making sure I keep out all the spam comments using the built in akismet plugin. But that puts a strain on my site, so I am now using WP-ban to lock out repeat spam comment posters. A simple cut and paste of their IP address from the comment field and they are locked out of the site. The best part is that you can see the log of how many times they have come back and tried to enter the site.

So what other methods are there to improve my site for visitors. I recently installed a ‘related posts’ plugin, which simply adds five similar posts in a little list under the post. Surprisingly my bounce rate has dropped significantly as visitors stay on the site longer and read further articles on the site.

The lightbox plugin which allows for a very nice larger image to be dropped over a greyed out page. Reducing the need to navigate away from a page even to a page with a larger version of a picture on it is a good thing.

Adding in a random element or changing element can help boost return visitors length of stay. Good new content is the primary focus of retaining visitors and hopefully convert some to customers. The random element might be a random quote on the page or a different image in the background for every day of the month. Both are easily managed through a quote plugin or a banner manager being converted to change the background rather than a single ad banner on the site. Another way is to have holiday themes, this is something I am working on for my site where I will have the normal holidays set and I can easily switch styles for Christmas, New Years Eve, Independence Day, Valentines day, Melbourne Cup day amongst dozens of others. This will hopefully bring return visitor traffic to see what I have done for Valentines or for Halloween. It may be just a simple case of swapping the main title banner and adding a little cartoon mascot to the pages or perhaps even recolouring the whole site to a different colour like all greens for St Patricks day or all pinks for Mothers day.

My favourite tool is google analytics. Knowing all the data for my site is pure gold. Knowing which pages are the most visited and which are the last pages people check out means I can revise the design on those pages to add a better written summary, more content, self promotion banners or to rewrite the call to action to keep people on the site by redirecting them to other popular content.

Analytics combined with great content will bring in traffic that has a much better chance to convert from visitor to customer. Or if your site model is to earn from advertising on your site, you will find a higher volume of quality traffic allows you to charge more for advertising giving you more money to spend on the site which in turn increases your traffic.

If you don’t check and track your website to this degree, you are probably missing out on the true potential of your site. Try it for yourself, analytics is free after all, so you are guaranteed to get all the money you spent on it back!

Admin tools like backing up your database is a very important one as is the wordpress automatic update. It is also recommended to delete any plugins you are not using to help keep your database clear of extra unneccesary datafields. Getting rid of any unused images will help keep the site trim over the longterm.