WordPress is being used more and more by massage therapists to create their website. WordPress is actually software that was created for blogging but because it is easy to learn and use it can be used to create a website along with a blog for your massage business. You will have to do some work on your own to learn how to use it but it is fairly easy. Just give it some time!
There is a bit of a learning curve to get it set up and running and choosing a Theme is one of the biggest challenges. Once you get it up and running, you can them create posts regularly to help educate your clients and to earn potential clients trust.
First you need to be using a self hosted WordPress site on your own server. You can start out at www.wordpress.com just to try out the software and see if you can figure it out. I would only use that to play in the beginning as sites done on www.wordpress.com are not as optimizable and themes are limited. Some companies will set up the WordPress for you or have an easy way to install them.
There are many webhosts that offer WordPress hosting. My favorite that I have been using for over 10 years is a small little hosting company called www.ez-webhosting.com . The thing I like best about them is that they are small and you get the same guys there all the time in support – I think there are 3 of them! and there is one woman in the billing/domain department. They also do daily backups of your website which is great for me because I am just awful about backing up things. Even though they don’t support WordPress officially, they are always helping me figure out things. They offer what is called cpanel hosting that has a really easy way to install WordPress. All you need to do is head to the tab that says ‘Softaculous’ and click on WordPress (Icon) and click install. (See more: How to Install WordPress )
There are many free and paid themes to choose from. If you are just starting out on WordPress just start with something simple like the basic WordPress Theme , Twenty twelve or one of the themes they create. You will need to know how to find themes that will work for what you want your site to do. It can often be overwhelming because many of them will do part of the job, but not the whole thing.
Your basic things that you will want as far as design is a custom image at the top of the site that will let you put your own image of you doing massage or someone getting a massage or something like that. Just getting that one simple feature is not always straight forward.
The other company that helps me out the most too is the company that I get my Themes from – www.studiopress.com . You don’t just get a theme – you get help using and creating with that theme with a support department and also forums where others help too. Brian Gardner is the guy behind StudioPress. It is funny that I used to use some of his first themes for WordPress before he had this big company!
StudioPress is two parts : Genesis which is the framework that provides the excellent search engine optimization features that also has a beginners Guide to help you get started and then the Theme itself. This is probably on the advanced side.
Probably the most difficult thing is choosing a theme and design for your massage website. You choose a basic theme and then customize it with fonts, background colors and a header.
You will want to make yourself familiar with the settings on WordPress. You can find a list of the settings on the left in the dashboard. (See Image)
The General Settings: set your site title if you are going to use the template header and not do a custom one. The title then will show in the header.
Membership Setting: Do Not Click “anyone can register” : leave this blank. Clicking that allows everyone to register for your site which means the thousands of spammers a day too!
Date/Time Settings: Self explanatory
Writing settings: Update Services Settings – This is what ‘pings’ the search engines when you create a site. There is a link there that takes you to wordpress.org for more info on this. I usually add the sites that they say to add there.
Reading Settings: If you are using StudioPress, the reading settings are over-ridden by the theme settings and the appearance settings depending on your theme.
You will choose what post or page that you want to show on your homepage all the time (recommended!) or you can choose to have your latest post showing (not recommended). You will want people to land on the same page and direct them to the next step – calling you or making the appointment.
Be sure you have that last box empty or search engines will not index or find your website!!!!
|Search Engine Visibility|
Discussion Settings: fairly self explanatory. I use the “Comment author must fill out name and e-mail”
The one option that says “Users must be registered and logged in to comment” – you might want to activate that one if you are getting lots of comments and spammers.
Media Settings: fairly self explanatory
Permalinks Settings: Most common is to choose ‘post name’. It is best for search optimization in my opinion.
Plugins are little pieces of software that are usually free that you install on WordPress to help it run better and to enhance it. The plugin section is on the right side under the dashboard. Just head over there and you will usually see one or two installed already. The one called Akismet will need to be activated.
Akismet is the spam blaster and believe me you will need it. For some reason WordPress really seems to attract bots and spammers.
If you are using StudioPress you won’t need any SEO plugin but if you are not using that you will need one. There are a few good ones.
You will also need an XML sitemap plugin. I use this one. I am sure there are others. Your xml sitemap is what tells the search engines what is on your site and where your site is. It lets search engines know what is on your pages and when you add new pages/posts.
I also have a plugin to add Google Analytics which tracks the traffic to your site. Your website may come with simple tracking software (like www.ez-web-hosting.com does)
You can find plugins for just about anything.
Warning: plugins are often the cause of errors and conflicts and could cause your site to crash!
Ok then….. Content
You create content in two areas in WordPress – the Page option or the Post Option. In general, I use the PAGE option for the basic pages of my website – the Massage Services/fees, About You page, Policies, Contact, and any other pages you might consider to be main pages like maybe the types of massage you do or some of the specific conditions that you deal with. (See WordPress Help section: page vs post )
I use the POST option to post more articles. Today though everything is about Content as far as search engine optimization. Google now is making it imperative that they only want the best content. They want unique information that people will want to share with others on social media and also that other sites will want to link to ‘naturally’. A quality post/page is now a minimum of 600 words in my opinion and the optimum number of pages/posts is as many as you can make! One a week is highly recommended to attract new clients and keep your current clients informed.
Pages are static pages – as in they are not listed by date/time. Post are listed by the date you publish or create them in chronological order on your site.
You can organize Posts into categories and have a link to the categories in your sidebar.
The one thing that I do not like about creating content in WordPress is that it is hard to link all the content together in the way that Google recommends which is that
Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
One of the features I like best with using StudioPress is the ‘breadcrumb’ navigation system that you see at the top of posts here. (It shows what page you are on and what page you came from) which can really help with the internal linking of your website.
Then there is the rest of the things you will need to know about getting your website running:
Here is a step by step guide to the things you will need to be doing.
A list of suggested topics to write about.
My Ebook on Search Engine Optimization and Getting Your Website found – Get More Clients with a Website that Works.
Update 2/28/15: I no longer recommend WordPress for a simple site (under 100 pages/posts). WordPress is getting too big for it’s own britches. I have always just updated plugins and themes live on the website. More and more, WP is crashing and having issues with updating etc. etc. If you are going to use WordPress, have someone manage it for you or get the WordPress managed hosting.
If you want just a simple site with no headaches Try Weebly.com
If you want a good website, that is easy to use and doesn’t require someone to manage it for you – Choose Site Build it! (SBI!) Why SBI!?