The Ultimate Guide to Building a WordPress Website: Step-by-Step Tutorial, Tips, and Resources

ultimate wordpress website tutorial

Written By seankivi

I have been designing and building WordPress websites since 2017. Since then, I have been blogging and teaching people how to save money building a website.

March 23, 2023

In today’s digital age, you’re getting nowhere without a business website – a WordPress Website.

A website showcases your products, services, or personal brand and reaches a global audience.

Among the various platforms available, WordPress stands out as the most popular content management system (CMS), powering over 40% of all websites on the internet.

This guide is a comprehensive resource on building and managing a WordPress website.

As you read, you can see various links related to other topics about running a WordPress website.

If all this seems new, you’re not alone. I built my first website on Wix in 2017. It was a huge mistake that cost me a lot of time and money.

After reading this guide, I hope you will better understand how to run and manage a WordPress website.

Getting Started with WordPress

Overview of vs.

Before diving into the world of WordPress, you need to understand the difference between and is a self-hosted, open-source platform that allows you full control over your website.

In contrast, is a hosted service with limited customization options, making it more suitable for personal blogs or small websites.

This guide will focus on creating a self-hosted WordPress website using the platform.

If you’re unsure of the difference, learn about hosted vs. self hosted websites then continue.

But if you’re already nuanced in the matter, keep reading to learn about the importance of website hosting.

Choosing the right hosting provider

One of the first steps in building a WordPress website is selecting a reliable hosting provider.

Your hosting provider will store your website’s files and data, ensuring people worldwide can access it.

To choose the right provider, consider the following factors:

    • Uptime and reliability
    • Server speed and performance
    • Customer support and assistance
    • WordPress compatibility and ease of installation
    • Scalability and upgrade option
    • Cost and additional features

I use and recommend Pressable and Namecheap. Both businesses have excellent customer support, and the websites they host are fast.

But before you decide on a hosting provider, you need to learn about the various types of web hosting.

 Installing WordPress on your hosting account

Once you’ve chosen a hosting provider, the next step is to install WordPress on your hosting account.

There are two common methods for installing WordPress.

One-click install: Most hosting providers offer a one-click installation process through their control panel.

This method is quick, easy, and recommended for beginners. Pressable and Namecheap have one-click install.

After purchasing your hosting plan, you can immediately log in to WordPress and build your website.

wordpress website with pressable one click install

 For the sake of this blog post, I will assume you will use hosting from a provider with one-click install.

If you prefer, you can read about how to install WordPress manually.

But in a nutshell, here is what you will need to do.

    • Downloading the WordPress software
    • Creating a database
    • Configuring the wp-config.php file

This method requires more technical knowledge but offers greater control over the installation process.

After installing WordPress, you must set up your website’s domain and SSL certificate to ensure a secure and professional online presence.

Getting a domain name is simple; you purchase one from most hosting providers.

Read about the best WordPress domain providers to make an informed choice.

Choosing and Customizing a WordPress Theme

Your WordPress theme determines the overall design and layout of your website.

Choosing the right theme is crucial for creating an appealing, user-friendly site that aligns with your brand and goals.

Consider factors such as responsiveness, speed, customization options, and compatibility with popular plugins when selecting a theme.

Most of the websites I have worked on have the Twenty Twenty WordPress theme.

This theme takes full advantage of the block editor that WordPress has by default.

twenty twenty wordpress website theme

But I don’t find it to be the most intuitive.

When you are starting out and just learning about WordPress, the learning curve is steep.

So I generally recommend taking advantage of other popular builders like Elementor or Divi – even though they have a cost associated.

You can download themes from various places online.

Popular theme marketplaces

There are numerous marketplaces where you can find both free and premium WordPress themes.

Some popular theme marketplaces include:

    • Theme Directory
    • ThemeForest
    • TemplateMonster
    • Elegant Themes
    • StudioPress

Explore these marketplaces to find a theme that suits your specific needs and preferences.

Just keep in mind that not all of the themes are free.

Even after paying for a theme, you will still need to invest time in learning how to use the builder you have chosen.

Or you can use the form below to let me know what kind of web services your small business needs.

I can help you create a tailored plan for your budget and help you build a strong online presence.

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Also, remember that not all themes are created equally. Could you imagine running a school with a theme that’s meant for a digital marketing agency? The people who land on your website will not have a great user experience. 

Top free and premium themes for various niches

Depending on your niche, certain themes may be better suited for your website. Research and review top themes for various niches, such as: 

  • E-commerce
  • Blogging
  • Portfolio
  • Photography
  • Business websites

No matter the type of business you run, you will be able to find an appropriate theme. And the great thing about WordPress is you can customize any theme you install. 

It means the options for building your website are endless. And later on down the line, you can employ a developer to build custom plugins for your website to meet your needs. 

Customizing your theme

Once you’ve chosen a theme, you must customize it to match your branding and preferences. 

There are several methods to customize your WordPress theme:

  • WordPress Customizer: The built-in WordPress Customizer allows you to make real-time changes to your website’s appearance, such as colors, fonts, and layouts.
  • Theme options panel: Many themes come with their own options panel, offering additional customization settings specific to the theme.
  • Using a child theme: If you want to make more advanced changes, you can create a child theme that inherits the functionality of the parent theme while allowing you to modify its code without affecting the original theme.

Some builders like Elementor make customizing your website a breeze. However, the worst experience I have ever had working on a website was using the SiteOrigin theme. It was very difficult, and the client using it hated it. 

elementor design

It was no wonder my client needed a front-end developer to work on his website. The Site Origin theme is very code-heavy. It employs widgets; you must customize everything behind the scenes rather than on the page. 

Needless to say, I don’t highly recommend it as your parent theme. Your WordPress website isn’t complete once you have a theme. You need to install plugins to give you the required functionality to make your website beneficial for your business. 

Essential WordPress Website Plugins

Plugins are essential for extending the functionality of your WordPress website. 

They can help you: 

  • Add new website features
  • Optimize your site for search engines
  • Improve site security
  • Enhance performance

With thousands of plugins available, you can customize your website to meet your specific needs and goals. 

Most website plugins will focus on SEO, security, and speed. So, here’s a list of the top plugins I recommend for these. 

Top plugins for SEO, security, and performance

Everything I mention on my list is the plugins I use on my websites. You can opt for others that perform the same function if you prefer. However, these are those which I find most helpful. 

Yoast SEO

Toast is my preference for SEO on a WordPress website. The cost of the yearly subscription is pretty cheap, and it takes care of some important things for your website. First, it will create an XML sitemap. Without sitemap, Google can’t index and find your website. 


Jetpack is a plugin that will increase your website’s speed. It can clean out the cache on your website and it also provides security if you purchase the right add-ons. I have this on one website but have another speed plugin on another of my websites. 

iThemes Security 

iThemes security is an all-in-one website protection plugin. It will clean your site, keep it safe from vulnerabilities, and even speed it up. I have this on a website I run for Spanish lessons. It works, but it is far from my favorite. Still, that doesn’t mean it is bad. 

After all, you can set it up to daily or weekly scans. As you can see below, it will also tell you which plugins affect your website’s security. 

ithemes security scan

WP Rocket

WP Rocket is a premium caching plugin. In laypeople’s terms, it speeds up your website and reduces loading times. 

Before deciding on any plugin, you should do your research and find which will serve you best. 

Installing and managing plugins

Installing and managing plugins on your WordPress website is a straightforward process. You can search for and install plugins directly from the WordPress dashboard, or you can download them from third-party sources and upload them manually. 

To install them from the dashboard, you only need to click the plugins page and then search for the plugin. 

install plugins for wordpress websites

If you want to upload them manually, you must first download the plugin and then upload the zip file. 

manually install plugins on wordpress websites

Be sure to keep your plugins updated to ensure they continue to function correctly and maintain compatibility with the latest version of WordPress. 

Also, if you fail to update them, it could become a security risk for your website. If you are just starting out with a new website, it may not be such a big deal. 

But, later on, when multiple people visit your website, you will want to ensure it is secure.

Creating and Managing Content in WordPress

WordPress offers two primary content types: posts and pages. 

At first glance, it can be confusing, especially considering you can make a blog or home magic static or dynamic. 

But, I’m gonna simplify it for you. 

Posts are typically used for blog content and are displayed in reverse chronological order. 

Meanwhile, pages are used for static content, such as “About” and “Contact” pages. 

Understanding the difference between these two content types will help you organize your website effectively.

On the WordPress dashboard, you can see the posts and page buttons. I have pointed to them in the photo below. 

wordpress website pages and posts

Using the Gutenberg editor

WordPress introduced the Gutenberg editor in 2018, which utilizes a block-based system for creating and editing content. 

This modern editor offers a more visual and intuitive approach to content creation. Here’s an overview of Gutenberg:

  • Blocks overview:Blocks are the fundamental elements of the Gutenberg editor, allowing you to add and arrange various content types, such as text, images, videos, and more.
  • Creating and editing content:To create and edit content in Gutenberg, simply add and customize blocks as needed. You can also move, duplicate, or delete blocks to arrange your content as desired.

Most page builders and themes will use the Gutenberg block editor. However, you can bypass it and build your posts and pages using HTML. 

No matter which you choose, you’ll need to put content on your website. You need to know how to manage the media files you’ll put into your content. So, let’s cover that next. 

Managing media files

WordPress provides a media library for managing your images, videos, and other media files. You can easily upload, edit, and delete media files within the library, as well as insert them into your content using the Gutenberg editor or shortcodes.

Here you can also insert the alt tags for your images. Alt text tags are important, not just for SEO but for accessibility. 

Categories and tags

Organizing your content with categories and tags helps users navigate your website more easily and improves SEO. Categories are used to group related content, while tags are used to describe specific details or topics within your content. Use both categories and tags strategically to enhance your site’s organization and discoverability.

Sometimes when you start running WordPress, you may not have tags and categories on your post pages. You can quickly overcome this by installing a plugin called ‘pages with category and tag.’

Ensure you include this because it will help people navigate your website better. The more optimized your website is, the more people will visit it and stay on it for longer. These are all good signals for search engines that your website is of good quality. 

Scheduling and revisions

WordPress allows you to schedule posts for future publication, ensuring consistent content updates and freeing you from manually publishing each post.

To schedule a post, select a date and time in the “Publish” panel.

Additionally, WordPress saves revisions of your content, enabling you to view previous versions and revert to them if needed.

This feature is useful for tracking changes and recovering lost content.

In fact, this feature saved me! Once before I was writing a blog post and it was over 3,000 words long.

I accidentally deleted the content and brought it back by using this feature. 

I highly recommend learning how to use it!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for WordPress Websites

Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for driving organic traffic to your website and improving its visibility on search engines like Google.

Implementing effective SEO strategies helps your website rank higher in search results, making it more accessible to potential visitors and customers.

SEO will also save you money on advertising. It takes a while for you to see organic traffic results. 

So, don’t expect to see immediate results from regular content marketing without advertising. 

SEO is a long-term game; you still need a strong content strategy.

If you’re having trouble devising a content strategy, don’t fret.

Understanding what people are looking for and how to put all the pieces together is difficult. 

If you need help with content strategy or content marketing for your website, fill out the form below.

I will be more than happy to review your site and see if I can help you. 

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Perhaps you’ve heard of SEO, and you’re trying to figure it out. So, let’s take a closer look at the two types of SEO for WordPress. 

On-page SEO best practices

On-page SEO involves optimizing individual pages on your website to rank higher in search results and attract more relevant traffic. 

Here are some best practices for on-page SEO:

  • Keyword research
  • Optimizing titles and headings
  • Meta descriptions and tags
  • Image optimization and alt tags
  • Internal and external linking
  • URL structure and slugs

Following these best practices can improve your website’s search engine rankings and attract more organic traffic. 

All of this is what you can control. You can also control some off-page SEO, but it is much more difficult because Google has over 200 website ranking factors. 

Off-page SEO strategies

Off-page SEO involves techniques that help improve your website’s reputation, authority, and trustworthiness in the eyes of search engines and users. 

Some effective off-page SEO strategies include:

  • Link building
  • Social media promotion
  • Guest posting and collaborations

Implementing these strategies can help increase your website’s visibility, drive more organic traffic, and establish your brand as an industry authority.

Off-page SEO is good marketing at work. I do not specialize in link building or offer it as a service.

But I can help with social media if you need a hand. 

You can do a lot of on-page SEO for your website using plugins. Still, it may take time to understand how to optimize your website for search engines effectively.

Even using plugins took me three years to get the hang of it. 

Top SEO plugins for WordPress

Several SEO plugins can help you optimize your WordPress website and improve your search engine rankings. Some popular SEO plugins include: 

  • Yoast SEO (my preference)
  • Rank Math
  • All in One SEO (I paid for this one, then switched to Yoast)

These plugins offer various features, such as XML sitemap generation, keyword optimization, and structured data support, to help you implement effective SEO strategies.

All of these can help you improve your website’s on-page SEO score. However, they will not help you with site speed or off-page SEO tactics. 

Monitoring your SEO progress with analytics tools

To measure the success of your SEO efforts, it’s crucial to use analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmaster Tools. 

These tools provide insights into your website’s traffic, user behavior, and search engine rankings.

They allow you to make data-driven decisions and continually improve your SEO strategies.

I always install site kit on any website I am working on.

The great thing about site kit is it shows you how your website is doing right from the WordPress dashboard. 

You can also set your website for ad revenue once it starts gaining traction in the search engines. 

Enhancing WordPress Website Performance

Importance of website performance

Website performance is a critical factor in user experience, SEO, and conversion rates.

A fast, responsive, and well-optimized website can attract more visitors.

It will keep them engaged and encourage them to take desired actions, such as purchasing or subscribing to a newsletter.

All of this boils down to two things: UX/UI and internal linking. 

UX/UI is how people experience your website. It must be logical and flow from one post to the next. 

All pages on your website can follow a similar structure to help you show authority.

The structure of an authoritative webpage depends on which page it is. 

An authoritative homepage will have a different structure than a testimonial page. 

Internal linking is important for your website.

It ensures people will click through various pages and read your content. 

Lastly, you need to focus on your website’s speed. 

Speed optimization techniques

To improve your WordPress website’s speed and performance, consider implementing the following optimization techniques:

  • Caching and content delivery networks (CDN)
  • Image optimization and lazy loading
  • Minification and concatenation
  • Database optimization

By applying these techniques, you can enhance your website’s performance and create a better experience for your users. 

Most of this can be scary, especially if you are just starting.

However, you can easily achieve blazing-fast website speeds using the right theme and compression techniques. 

Do you need to speed up your website? If so, let me know using the form below. 

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Mobile responsiveness

With the increasing number of users accessing websites from mobile devices, it’s crucial to ensure your WordPress website is mobile responsive. 

A mobile-responsive design adjusts your site’s layout and content to fit different screen sizes, providing an optimal viewing experience across various devices. 

Most modern WordPress themes are built with mobile responsiveness in mind.

However, it’s essential to test your site on multiple devices to ensure a consistent and user-friendly experience.

You cannot overlook this aspect of building your website.

Google uses mobile first ranking. It means that they will index your website using a mobile website crawler. 

What is indexing? Well, it’s how Google sees your website. 

If your website is only built for a desktop, you will not rank as high on Google. 

Website performance monitoring tools

Monitoring your website’s performance is essential for identifying potential issues and areas for improvement. 

Several tools can help you assess and optimize your site’s performance, such as Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and Pingdom. 

These tools provide detailed reports on your site’s speed, load times, and performance bottlenecks.

They enable you to make targeted improvements and maintain a high-performing website.

Recently I worked on a client’s website and changed his theme to a more lightweight theme. 

Here was his GT Matrix score after I optimized the website. 

wordpress website speed optimization

Make sure your site is as fast as possible. Ideally you want it to load within 2 seconds from anywhere in the world. 

Securing Your WordPress Website

Importance of WordPress website security

Website security is crucial for protecting your site’s data, reputation, and user experience.

A secure website helps build user trust and reduces the risk of hacking, data breaches, and downtime. 

Implementing robust security measures is vital for maintaining a safe and reliable online presence.

Let’s talk about how you keep your WordPress website safe!

Best security practices

To ensure your WordPress website is secure, follow these best security practices:

  • Strong passwords and user management
  • Regular updates
  • Backups and disaster recovery
  • Security plugins and tools

By adhering to these practices, you can protect your website from common security threats and maintain a safe online environment for your users.

And, you make your life much easier and give yourself peace of mind. 

Top WordPress security plugins

Several WordPress security plugins can help you safeguard your website and implement best practices.

Some popular security plugins include Wordfence, iThemes Security, and Sucuri. 

These plugins offer features like malware scanning, firewall protection, and login security.

They help protect your site from hacking attempts and other security risks.

Securing user data and GDPR compliance

Protecting user data is a legal requirement. You should strive to follow the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

To ensure your WordPress website complies with GDPR requirements, consider the following steps:

  • Implement a privacy policy (put a link in your website footer)
  • Acquire user consent for data collection and processing (put this in your privacy policy)
  • Encrypting data transmission using SSL certificates (buy these from your host provider)

Following these guidelines can help you maintain compliance with GDPR and build trust with your users by demonstrating your commitment to protecting their personal information.

Don’t forgo this option.

Not only because it’s a legal requirement but because people care about their data. 

That’s how you start a WordPress website

Building and maintaining a successful WordPress website involves:

  • Selecting a suitable hosting provider
  • Choosing or building a theme
  • Optimizing your site for search engines
  • Implementing security measures

By following the guidelines and best practices outlined in this guide, you can create a professional, high-performing, and secure website. 

It will ensure your website meets your goals and serves your target audience effectively. 

Continually monitoring and improving your website will ensure its long-term success and help you stay ahead of the competition in the ever-evolving online landscape.

Still need a bit of help? Let me know using the form below.

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