You haven’t experienced much of the WordPress dashboard, yet.
Choosing a theme and adding your categories was about it. Which is not much at all. There is a LOT more to the WordPress dashboard and there is a lot you need to know.
I’m going to show you what everything is so you can make sense out of it.
Open your WordPress dashboard and follow along with me to get the idea of where everything you need to know is located for future reference.
I’m going to mention a specific part of the WordPress dashboard, then I am going to explain what it is and how to use it.
The image below is the sidebar in your WordPress dashboard. This is where you access everything to do with your website, which is what you are about to learn.
Let’s start with the basics:
Anytime you see a number beside of the Updates tab, click it and update any plugin or theme required as soon as possible. Click ‘Updates’ then click ‘Update’ plugin or theme. Be sure to backup your files first. You’ll learn more about that in a few steps.
Difference between posts and pages
Plugins allow you to add things to your website, which can make your website do things that it wouldn’t normally do without a plugin. Plugins add functionality to your website
Let’s say you want to create a ‘Contact’ form for your Contact Page. You don’t know how to code a contact form, so you install a Plugin that creates a contact form for your Contact Page. So, you go and install the plugin and follow the steps to add the contact form to your page. It’s that simple.
There are tons of plugins to choose from that can make your website do a lot of things. Be careful to only choose a plugin that will benefit you. Installing a bunch of plugins will slow your website down, by a LOT.
I recommend a few different plugins to get you started:
All in One SEO
Contact Form 7.
These three plugins will allow you to get your website Search Engine ready, allow you to “disguise” and track your affiliate links, and you will be able to add a contact form to your page. There are TONS of plugins to choose from. Remember, don’t go installing a bunch of useless plugins on your website.
To install All in One SEO, Pretty Links, and Contact Form 7, you need to search for, install and then activate the plugins.
Hover over ‘Plugins’ and click ‘Add New’.
On the next page, you use the search bar on the top right to search for each individual plugin, then install and activate them.
Search for ‘All in One SEO Pack’ and install and activate the first one. (You can also go with Yoast SEO as well. Personally, I like All in one SEO, but Yoast SEO has some benefits to it as well.)
(If it will not let you activate a plugin from the ‘Add Plugin’ page, you need to Hover over ‘Plugins’ and click ‘Installed Plugins’. You will be able to activate a plugin from that page.)
Next, you can search for Pretty Links and Contact form 7. Be sure to install and activate them. They are very helpful plugins.
Choosing a tag for a post allows you to tag that post with a keyword that isn’t a category. It may seem confusing, but it’s really not.
Example: If your post is about learning to putt, your tags could be the different putters mentioned, important topics, specific products mentioned, etc…
Anytime you upload an image to add to your website, it goes to your media library. Your media library is a collection of all of your images. You can edit the title, caption, alt text and the description by clicking an image.
A widget allows you to add features to your sidebar and footer areas (sometimes your header) which can show your most recent posts, archives, popular posts, your categories, a banner advertisement, an advertising network banner, any type of HTML code, email sign-up forms, pages, search bar, tags, etc…
The sidebar widget is what is shown on all your pages on the right side. The footer widget is the very bottom of your website.
To access your widgets, hover over ‘Appearance’ and click ‘Widgets’.
From there you can change your widgets to show exactly what you want to show. You can add almost anything to your widget areas. You can also get new widgets from Plugins.
The menu is your navigation bar at the top of your website. It’s how you and your visitors navigate your website pages and posts.
Your menu could include things like Home, Contact, About Page, and any other pages you created.
Your menu also allows you to add custom links, posts and categories to the navigation bar.
To access your menus, Hover over ‘Appearance’ and click ‘Menus’.
You can create multiple menus.
You can also add sub-menus that are hidden at first until you hover over a specific tab. You do this by dragging the tab to the right under the other menu tab.
WordPress Post Editor Options
When you are creating a new post or page in the WordPress dashboard, you have a few different options you can choose from that can make your content better.
I’m going to explain each and every WordPress post editor options you have using the image below:
- Add Media – Anytime you want to upload an image to be hosted on your website to add it to your content, click ‘Add Media’ and upload your image. You can also copy/paste images from your computer and add it to your content, but it will not show in your database.
- Paragraphs and Headings – Anytime you have a paragraph, make sure it says paragraph. Headlines are different and very important. I explain everything I know about headings at the end of this section.
- Bold and Italic – If you need to make something bold or italic, highlight the specific text then click the B or I buttons. Bonus: If you want to underline a specific text, highlight the text and press CTRL + U.
- Bulletins and Numbers list – If you need to make a bulletin or numbers click, click one of these buttons.
- Add a quote section – If you add a quote to your content, you can put the quote on a separate line and click this button to make it stand out. The quote section does not look the same on every theme.
- Align text – You can make certain text aligned to the left, to the center and to the right by clicking the button you want after highlighting the text you want aligned.
- Insert and Remove link – Anytime you want to add a link in your content, highlight the text you want to link and click the button on the left. To remove a link, click the button on the right.
- Add a Read More Tag – A read more tag allows you to show an excerpt of the first paragraph or section you want to show on your blogroll page. I have personally never used it and you will probably not either.
- Shows the bottom sections – You have to click this button to see the sections below.
- Pretty Link – Pretty Link is a plugin I use and recommend that cloaks (disguises) your affiliate links (or any link). You can click the star to create or add an existing Pretty Link to your content.
Strikethrough– If you want to cross out a certain piece of text, click the strikethrough button.
- Horizontal line – Adding a horizontal line is as simple as clicking this button after clicking the area you want to add the line.
- Text Color – Change the color of ANY text by clicking the arrow button and choosing your text after highlighting the text you want to change the color for.
- Paste as text – If you copied your content you wrote from another Word Processor, click paste as text or you can paste as you normally would.
- Clear Formatting – If you made edits to text such as the color, bold or underline something, click the clear formatting button to remove all of that and make it the default text.
- Special Characters – Any time you need a special character, click the button to be provided with a lot of characters that you can use.
- Decrease or Increase Indent – When you need to indent a paragraph or section, you can indent it or remove the indention by clicking the button. You can also indent lists, which makes a list inside of
- Undo and Redo – Exactly what it sounds like. Click Undo when you make a mistake or need to go back. Click Redo if you need to go forward.
The question mark is Keyboard Shortcuts.
If you don’t know anything about coding a website, I would advise you to stay away from the editor. The editor is where you edit the code to your website and if you don’t know what you are doing you can corrupt your website.
The only thing you should ever do with the editor is add your Google Analytics code to your header file. More about that later.
The customize section is where you need to be at if you want to change the look or style of your website. You can edit your website and see the changes you make instantly. Changes are only made after you save and Publish. Every theme is different as to what can be customized, but most allow you to change your logo, colors, background image, menus, widgets, etc… Some themes will have more options and some will have less options.
Backups are a crucial step you need to take on a fairly average basis and always before any type of major WordPress update. Performing a backup is quick and easy. Hover over ‘Tools’ and Click ‘Export’. Click ‘All Content’ and then ‘Download Export file’ which will save the text file to your computer. That text file is what you would have to Import in case something went wrong. There are also Plugins that automatically backup your website and data on a daily basis.
In the event that something bad happened and your database for your WordPress, hopefully you will have a backup file that includes your latest posts. If you have a backup file, go to your WordPress dashboard, Hover over ‘Tools’ and click ‘Install Now’ for WordPress at the very bottom. Find and Import the file and your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags will be added back to your website. Your website will not look the same. You will have to customize your website again and fix your menus and widgets. That is better than losing all of your content and having to start over if you ask me.
The settings section is exactly what it sounds like. This is where you configure your website’s settings to make your settings the way you want. I’m not going to explain everything in your settings. I’m going to explain the most important settings you need to know about and/or change.
Hover of ‘Settings’ and you will see a few different options to choose from.
In the General section, make sure your Site Title and Tagline are what you want.
Make sure UNCHECK the box that says anyone can register.
Be sure to choose your correct timezone.
In the Reading section, choose ‘Your Latest Posts’.
In the Permalink Section, I recommend selecting ‘Post Name’ or ‘Custom Structure’.
Users are people who have registered at your website. I suggest you update your user profile.
Add your first and last name and change your nickname to your name, instead of admin.
You can edit your image using Gravatar.
After you have been running your website for a while, you could let other people contribute to your website. This will require them to register at your website. I found this very helpful article about the different user roles in case you are interested, click Here.
Other features you need to know about:
Adding Personal Banners (affiliate banners):
You will learn more about affiliate programs later on, but I wanted to go ahead and let you know exactly how to add banners (and images) to your websites.
First off, you can only add banners in your widget sections and in your post or page content.
You can use an image widget, text widget, or HTML widget to add a banner to your website.
If the affiliate program provides you with a HTML code with your affiliate link and the banner, copy and paste the HTML code into a text or HTML widget in the area you want it.
If you do not have a banner code or you want to add a banner you created, use this code to make it possible:
<a href="http://yourwebsite.com/"><img src="http://yourwebsite.com/imageURL.png"></a>
If you want the link to open in a new tab, use the code below:
<a href="http://yourwebsite.com/" target="blank"><img src="http://yourwebsite.com/imageURL.png"></a>
Use one of the codes in a text widget on your website.
Replace yourwebsite with your affiliate link or destination URL.
The image Link URL is the URL for the image. If the affiliate program has an image URL, use that.
If not, upload the image to your WordPress media library and click the image to get the Image URL. You can also use an image hosting service like imgur.com or tinypic.com If you want to show a banner in your post area, you have to click ‘Text’ at the top then add the html code and then click visual to see the banner.
Advertising Network Banners
The same goes for what I just mentioned. ALL advertising networks provide you with a code that you add to your website. You add a text or HTML widget and copy/paste the code to it and that’s it.
If you want to track how many visitors you receive to your website, I recommend using Google Analytics. Go to google.com/analytics and sign in using your gmail account.
Once you add your website, Click ‘Admin’ and then click ‘Tracking Info’, and click ‘Tracking Code’.
You will install ‘All in One SEO’ in just a bit, then you will add your Google Analytics ID into the All in One SEO settings.
You could also copy the HTML code (script) and then go to your WordPress dashboard. Hover over ‘Appearance’ and click ‘Editor’.
On the right side, where it says Templates, you need to find your Theme Header file (header.php) and click it.
Now you need to paste the tracking code between the <head> section.
<head>Your Tracking code goes here between the header, preferably at the bottom, before the header ends.</head>
I recommend doing it through the All in One SEO plugin.
If you have not signed up for Google Webmasters yet, do so now.
Go to google.com/webmasters and sign in with your gmail account.
Add your website and index it.
This let’s Google know your website exists, and to index it properly. You can do this for other search engines as well.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of making your website more search engine friendly while keeping your website user friendly as well. SEO involves a lot of techniques and tactics but the most important one would have to be, good ole high-quality content that actually solves a problem or answers a question. You’ll learn more about that soon.
I recommend installing a Plugin called ‘All In One SEO‘. This is a simple plugin that allows you to configure your website to be search engine friendly. All in One SEO is free and easy to setup.
Go to your dashboard, hove over ‘Plugins’, click ‘Add new’, and search for All in One SEO.
Install it, then configure your settings for it by hovering over ‘All in One SEO’ at the top and clicking ‘General Settings’.
Scroll down and update the ‘Home Page Settings’ to whatever you think is best is for your website.
Go to ‘Custom Post Type Settings’ and make sure it is enabled for Posts and Pages. You could also do it for your Media.
Next would be filling out the SEO title, SEO description and keywords for every one of your post and for your future posts. If you have already created a post, scroll to the bottom to see and updated the All in One SEO for a specific page or post.
You can do more research about SEO but don’t let it scare you. Keep creating high-quality content that helps others and you should be good to go.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and it’s basically another way to upload and delete images, files, themes, plugins, etc… to your WordPress website, without using the WordPress dashboard.
I recommend Filezilla because it’s free and trusted.
To log in to your website using FTP, you will need the FTP username and password for your website. You should receive this from your hosting company. If you didn’t receive the information, contact your host and ask them.
Headings are tricky, but after writing a few articles and learning the basics, you will get the hang of it very quickly.
I want to explain the basics of what I know and what I do.
Other website owners and SEO companies may agree or disagree with me.
I’ll give you an idea of what I do and I will let you do your own research as well.
For starters, most themes have headings from 1 – 5. H1 is Heading 1 and H5 is Heading 5.
Depending on your theme, your Title will be usually be the Heading 1 (H1).
After the title, there is usually an image and/or a few paragraphs explaining the topic, then you have your first heading, which is Heading 2 (H2).
After H2 you may have more images or more paragraphs.
H3 can be used to emphasize something dealing with H2.
H4 can be used to emphasize something dealing with H3.
Follow the outline below when choosing your headings. You will probably only need Headings 2 – 4.
H2 (main topic)
Paragraphs and Image
H3 (related to main topic H2)
Paragraphs and Image
H4 (related to H3 topic)
Image and paragraphs
H2 (another main topic)
Repeat when necessary.
That is how I use headings. Like I said, others may agree or disagree with me. So, be sure to do your own research.
The WordPress dashboard is not confusing at all. Go through all of the sections and see what and where everything is for future reference. You can even read other articles that explain the WordPress dashboard. If you want to know what something inside the WordPress dashboard is, do a quick search for it and find out what it is. You can also let me know if you have any questions or need any help.