This is a critical part of this process, where it’s really important to set up the foundation for your site properly. There are 2 ways you can add content to your site – Pages and Posts. The differences between the two are many. For example, using my site www.wpcontempo as an example, the Pages on this site are in the navigation at the top – About, Free WordPress Themes, Contact, etc. They are independent of any of the other content on the site, and will remain in the top navigation unless I remove them. Alternatively, the rest of the content on this site is posts. Posts are the “blog” style content. They are added to the database in chronological order, and further organized by being placed into different categories.
When setting up your site, there is a definite right way and wrong way to do this. When I first started creating these kinds of sites, I added all my product pages as posts, and it has made it almost impossible to work on them ever since. Now that I know the right way to do things, hopefully you will read this and not make the same mistakes.
I already mentioned in a previous post that you should create a Home Page and a Blog Page. You do this by going into the Pages menu and clicking Add New. Then, you will want to go to Settings -> Reading and select “Front page displays a static page” option. Choose the Home Page for the front page and the Blog page for the Posts page. You must do this in order to continue with this step.
So if you haven’t already guessed, we’ll be building our product pages as PAGES not POSTS.
Now that you’ve got your home page and your blog page built, you’ll also want to note the ordering here. Go back into the Home page and make sure the Order is set to 0 (or 1). This will make sure that the Home page is the first page in your menu. Then, go into the Blog page and set it to 99, or some other high number. This will ensure that the Blog page appears last in your menu.
Depending on what you’re niche is, you’ll probably want to have 4-8 additional main product pages. The horizontal nav bar at the top of the WP Commerce Steel theme can only hold a finite number of items, so you’ll want to keep this in mind. Also, again depending on your niche, you may want to have additional sub categories under each category. For example on my old demo site talking about Shabby Chic Bedding, you may want to have “Comforters” as a main category then sub pages like “Children’s Comforters”, “Queen Size Comforters”, etc. You can do this by setting Comforters as the main category, then creating the sub category pages and setting the Parent page as Comforters. This will keep the sub pages out of the main menu, and you can then use the Flexi-Pages widget to create the sub page hierarchy in the left menu.
Unfortunately I found out over the weekend that Shabby Chic is actually a trademarked term. I guess I should have done more research up front, but this one was a little tricky and there are a lot of exisiting sites that are in clear violation of their trademark, so that threw me off even further. Anyway, I will no longer be using ShabbyChicBedding.net as my example site, and instead I set up a new, non-trademark infringing site: minilaptopcomputers.biz.
This particular niche does not really command sub categories, but you can see how I’ve got the pages laid out. Once you’re ready to start adding your pages, be sure to set the Ordering parameter in each one, so you dictate how they appear in the menu. I always have the home page first, Blog page last, and if I have extra space in between, I like to add a “bargain” page to draw additional interest from visitors. In this case, I’ve set up an “Under $200” page, and used a custom PHPBay tag to display only auctions currently under $200. More on that later.
So by now, you should have a site looking somewhat like minilaptopcomputers.biz and really you should just need some finishing touches at this point.
We still haven’t touched on what to do with the Blog section of the site, and I am also going to cover setting up the Search-2-Post plugin in detail. Both of these topics tie into each other. Last, we’ll talk about optimizing your product pages and then move into the on-page SEO phase of the tutorial.