Improve WordPress The Shrewd Way

You might think that once you’ve deployed WordPress, your webmaster duties are over. Nothing could be further from the truth – it’s time to improve WordPress the shrewd way.

Let’s not settle for mere shrewdness. Let’s improve WordPress the Shrewdies Way.

If you follow the flock, you’ll react to visitors, react to downtime, and react to everything else that affects the smooth running of your website. Be shrewd, and anticipate what you need to do today so that you do not have fires to fight next week.

You’ve already made a start if you’ve followed my preparation and deployment guidelines. Now we start a cycle of growth by turning the deployment plan into an improvement plan. Just as the deployment plan made installation and launch easy, our improvement plan makes managing growth easy. If not easy, at least less challenging than it would be without plans.

Specifics of improvement plans vary enormously from one website to the next. The common approach is to be flexible – change routines as soon as you realize that they are not providing more value than they cost. The easiest way to do this is to vary the interval between improvement cycles. If you check something once a day, but consistently change whatever you are checking 4 or 5 times a month, move to weekly testing.

Another key principle is to ignore the small stuff. Anything less than 50 is impossible to draw comparative views on, so wait for bigger numbers. Most of all, remember the Pareto Principle:

The 80/20 Principle can and should be used by every intelligent person in their daily life, … It can help individuals and groups achieve much more, with much less effort. … this means that, for example, 80 percent of what you achieve in your job comes from 20 percent of the time spent.
The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less

The specifics of exactly what you monitor and report on will vary depending on your deployment plan, and the results of subsequent improvement plans. Sometimes these will tell you that you made the wrong assumptions, and you are going to have to change direction. That is OK – it is much better to change course and find ways that suit current conditions, than to stick with an outdated plan.

Typical areas of importance include:

Exposure
Monitor search engine impressions and focus on new content for top 20% of potential
Search Conversion
Monitor search engine click through rates and improve snippets for top 20% of potential
Visitor Value
Monitor click conversions and improve navigation and links for top 20& of value
Obsolescence
After your first year, monitor poor performers and improve or replace bottom 20% of traffic volume content.

Following these principles gives a constantly refreshed website that builds visitor confidence and improves search engine performance. We optimize visitor experience, and that attracts good search results. That is the exact opposite of trying to optimize search engines which never consistently attracts good visitors.

Throughout Shrewdies, we constantly allude to these improvement principles, describing specific solutions where appropriate. It can take time to adopt similar habits, but we are here to help. If your website is not performing as you expected, we can show you how to identify and fix the real problems. You should start by searching in the box near the top or bottom of every page. If there are no relevant results, or not quite what you are looking for, please ask your question in the webmasters forum. You can also use that forum to share your opinions and experiences of improving your own website.