How to Set Up a WordPress Website [Step-by-Step]

How to Set Up a WordPress Website

WordPress is easily the best content management systems (CMS) out there today for building websites.

In this article, we’ll be looking at how to set up a WordPress website via cPanel in your Siteground hosting account.

If you don’t have a Siteground account, I recommend grabbing one as their hosting is easily one of the best out there for WordPress.

If you have a hosting account with another company that has cPanel, it’s likely they have a WordPress installer as well.

As always, you can check with your hosting support if you’re unable to find a WordPress installer.

How to Install WordPress in cPanel

Under the Autoinstaller section in cPanel click WordPress.

Siteground WordPress Autoinstaller

On this page, click Install in the menu bar and choose the domain you want to install WordPress on.

You’ll have the option of any of the domains that you’ve added via cPanel.

If you’ve just set up your hosting account, this will default to the domain you used when you signed up. Add the site name and site description in their respective fields.

Provide an admin email and set up your admin username and password.

If the installer offers you the option to install the Limit Login Attempts plugin, go ahead and do that since it’s an important plugin that will help keep your site safe (don’t worry, though, if you don’t install it now – you will be able to install it later).

Finally, you don’t need to worry about the advanced options; just go ahead and hit install.

If you’ve linked your domain to your hosting account by updating the nameservers, as explained above, once WordPress is installed you’ll be able to type your domain name into your browser and see the homepage of your new website.

If you’ve just changed nameservers and you don’t get your WordPress site, it’s likely that the nameservers haven’t completed updating yet.

Just be patient and check back in a little bit, and be sure to flush your cache to make sure you get the updated site.

WordPress 101

WordPress is a content management system.

When it’s running on a website, it allows you to install themes, add pages and blog posts, and install a variety of additional tools called plugins that help you manage your site.

WordPress is one of the most commonly used CMS’s for building websites.

It has a huge variety of themes and plugins available and has options for additional customization allowing you to create a professional quality website without needing to know how to code.

To log in to your WordPress dashboard, you’ll need to first make your way to the login page.

This page is typically found at [yourdomain].com/wp-admin/

WordPress login

Once you log in, you’ll be taken to your WordPress dashboard.

WordPress dashboard

From here you can access all of your content, create new pages and posts, install new themes and plugins, and access all the customization options that WordPress provides.

Near the top of the dashboard menu, you’ll be able to access your pages and posts.

You’ll use pages to add all your basic website information, like the About page and the Contact page, as well as items in your main menu. You’ll use posts for adding new content to your site on a regular basis.

WordPress Post

Note: Your post area will not look like this by default thanks to WordPress’s Gutenberg update. Install the “Classic Editor” plugin to make it look like the old version. This is the only version I use as I hate the Gutenberg update but if you end up liking it then feel free to keep the default version.

The Media link will allow you to access all of the images and other media that you’ve uploaded to your site.

In the Media section, you’ll be able to browse through items and update their metadata.

You’ll add images and possibly other media as you create posts and pages, but you can also add it ahead of time here and it will be available in the media library for you when you create your posts and pages.

Media Library

Two other items you’ll be using frequently are Appearance and Plugins.

Appearance is where you’ll go to select your themes and make modifications to them.

Under the Appearance menu, you’ll find all of the customization options that you’ll use to get your site looking exactly how you want it.

Customize in WordPress dashboard

After clicking “Customize”, you’ll be brought to this page where you can make your edits:

Example Website

Plugins are tools that extend your site’s functionality. For simple sites, you won’t need very many plugins, although I discuss some recommended ones that I use below.

Plugins

The Users section will allow you to give other people access to your site.

If your client will be creating their own blog posts, you’ll add them as a user here.

Users can be assigned different roles, such as Author and Editor, that allow different levels of access.

Add New User page

Where to Find Quality WordPress Themes

WordPress displays all the content on your site using themes.

A theme is a collection of templates that are used to determine the layout and style for everything on your website.

There are lots of themes available to create whatever look you want, from casually artsy to business formal and everything in between.

There are plenty of sources for themes. For a great selection of professional themes, I recommend Themeforest.net.

Start at themeforest.net/category/wordpress and from there you’ll be able to browse through their categories to find something that will fit your needs.

If you’re building a site that will be selling a product, you can find themes in the eCommerce and Retail categories that have storefront designs.

There are also themes that are designed for art galleries, blogs or magazines, and even wedding sites.

Be sure to choose a theme that has a responsive layout so that your site will look great at any size whether on mobile, desktop or tablet.

Premium Themes on Themeforest

If you only want one theme, you can use the “Buy Now” button to go directly to checkout, or you can add themes to your cart and check out when you’re done shopping.

Buy Newspaper Theme from Themeforest

Once you’ve completed your purchase, you should download your themes right away in case they’re removed from the site.

So first, head on over to your downloads page:

Downloads page

Then download all the files and documentation for the theme:

Themeforest Theme Download area

After this, you’ll need to unzip the download in order to access the theme itself, which will also be a .zip file.

Newspaper Files

How to Install WordPress Themes

Once you’ve downloaded your new theme, you’ll install it through the WordPress dashboard.

Click on “Appearance” and “Themes” and then on the Add New button at the top or bottom of the page.

Add New Theme to WordPress

On the next page, there will be an Upload Theme option.

Choose the .zip file for the theme you want to install. It will generally have the same name as the theme.

Click the Install Now button and your theme will be installed.

Click Install Now

You’ll get a success message, the ability to preview the theme, and a link to activate it and complete the installation.

Go ahead and activate your new theme.


Activate Your Theme

Many themes require additional plugins if you want to use all of their features.

If you do get a notification about plugins once you’ve installed your theme, go ahead and install them as well so that you’ll get the full functionality of your new theme.

Let’s take a look at how to install plugins and my list of recommended plugins for any site.

Installing Plugins

If you’re installing plugins that are needed by your theme, you’ll be taken directly to a page that lists the plugins.

Make sure all of the radio buttons are selected next to each of the plugins and “Install” is selected in the dropdown menu at the top of the list.

Then, click Apply to begin the installation.

Install Plugins

Once the installation is complete, you’ll want to go back to the Required Plugins Installer and activate all of them, again by choosing all the radio buttons and “Activate” from the dropdown menu at the top, and clicking Apply.

Plugins Activated

To install plugins that aren’t required by a theme, you can find them with the plugin search.

Right below “Appearance” in the admin panel, where you went to install your theme, you’ll see “Plugins.”

Click here and then on the Add New button at the top of the page.

Use the search box to find the plugin that you’re looking for.

Yoast SEO

Once you find the plugin that you want, click the Install Now button, and WordPress will install your plugin.

Next, click the “Activate” button to successfully activate the installed plugin.

Activated Plugin

Once the plugin is activated, you’ll be redirected to your plugins page and the success message “Plugin Activated” will show at the top of the page with your plugin showing as activated in the list.

Yoast Activated Plugin shown on Plugins page

My List of Recommended Plugins

There are several plugins that are recommended for your site or your clients’ sites that perform some basic functions to keep the website functioning well.

Here’s a quick look at some of my favorites:

Akismet

Akismet is a spam filtering service that checks comments for spam and malicious content and filters it out.

Wordfence

Wordfence is a security plugin that acts as a firewall and malware scanner.

WP Smush

WP Smush is an image compression plugin that will optimize images, improving your site’s performance.

WP Fastest Cache

WP Fastest Cache helps you speed up your site with a variety of options to cache data.

BackWPup

BackWPup will help you backup your site quickly and easily, with options for cloud backups and automatic restores.

Classic Editor

Classic Editor brings back the WordPress text editor that many people are familiar with.

Trust me on this, using this editor is a lot easier than the “Gutenberg” editor that was rolled out in version 5.0 of WordPress.

Redirection

Redirection will help you clean up 404 errors on your site and handle any redirects you may need.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO will help you with a variety of SEO tasks, including keyword optimization, rewriting metadata, and managing important technical details in the background like canonicalizing links and indexing/deindexing pages.

Sumo

Sumo is a collection of marketing tools that will help you grow your website.

I mainly use them for their floating social share bar.

HTML & CSS

HTML is a markup language that is used to build web pages.

It consists of tags, special identifiers that are used to structure a web page.

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, and it tells the web browser how to format the HTML tags.

Here’s a simple example of some HTML:

<div>

<h3>This is a third level header.</h3>

<p>Here’s a paragraph. The tags indicate where the paragraph begins and ends.</p>

<ul>

<li>This is an unordered list.</li>

<li>Each item within the li tags will display with a bullet.</li>

</ul>

</div>

This basic example shows a box, defined by the <div> tags, that has a header, a paragraph and an unordered list inside it.

It will display in a very basic way without any CSS to describe how it should be formatted, so let’s add a stylesheet that will define all the formatting, and then apply that formatting to the HTML tags.

<style>

div.main-box { width: 45%; background-color: gray; }

h3 { font-family: Verdana; font-size: 14pt; }

p { font-family: Georgia; font-size: 10pt; }

p.different (font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; }

ul { list-style: square; }

</style>

<div class=”main-box”>

<h3>This is a third level header.</h3>

<p>Here’s a paragraph. The tags indicate where the paragraph begins and ends.</p>

<p class=”different”>Here’s another paragraph that uses a new class called “different” that will display differently from the basic paragraph style.</p>

<ul>

<li>This is an unordered list.</li>

<li>Each item within the li tags will display with a bullet.</li>

</ul>

</div>

Some working knowledge of HTML and CSS is very useful for building a website in WordPress, even if you’re not building web pages from scratch.

You’ll be able to make adjustments to how things are structured and formatted by customizing a WordPress theme, and you’ll be able to better support your clients’ needs if you generally have more control over your websites.

You can learn these valuable skills in depth through codecademy.com, a free website that teaches HTML and CSS along with programming languages like JavaScript, PHP, etc.

Alternative Method: SiteRubix

If you’d rather take the easy way out (which isn’t always the bad choice), I’ve found a very easy-to-use platform that lets you set up a WordPress site quicker than Siteground.

You don’t need a domain to get started (though you can eventually grab one through their platform), and you don’t need to worry about navigating cPanel or finding WordPress auto-installers.

SiteRubix is a free tool built by the guys at Wealthy Affiliate that lets you set up a WordPress website in minutes.

Just plug in your site name, pick a theme, and you’re off to the races!

I even built a quick example site here using their platform: http://mlmsdebunked.siterubix.com.

Whichever method you use, WordPress is always the way to go when it comes to building a killer website!

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An SEO expert, web designer, and writer, Thomas blogs on his website ThomasFAdams.com where he teaches people how to start successful online businesses involving topics ranging from web design to affiliate marketing and eCommerce. Since 2014, he's worked with countless business owners to help them improve their organic presence online. When he's not writing about online business or geeking out about the latest Google algorithm update, he spends his free time playing the piano and working out with his wife.

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