Nowadays, and for quite some time, every hostel (new & old) must have a website. But, with few resources at hand, sometimes it can be pretty hard to get one out the door without killing your wallet and taking too long to get it off the ground. The good news is that you can build a quality and beautiful website with Wordpress easily, and for free or close to it. In this post we'll explain what you need to know to launch your hostel's website. The key word here is Wordpress.com.
What is WordPress?
WordPress started out as a blogging community. But, it's turned into much more than that. Today it's a full blown CMS (Content Management System). A CMS is essentially a platform that you can manage content your site's content on! WordPress is easy to fall in love with at first sight since it's really easy to use, very stable (some very big names use WP), powerful and extendable.
So, what's this business about Wordpress.org and Wordpress.com? Is there
more than one Wordpress?
So, there are actually two Wordpress platforms out there! What?!? Yep. Let's clear this up so you can tell the difference between them…
Hosted by Wordpress, no cost to you for hosting. You have to pay $18 / year to use your own domain name with it, otherwise you get yourhostel.wordpress.com/
Pre-designed templates for your site, so you focus on your site's content.
All the technical stuff, server, html and other complexities are taken care of for you.
Do-it-yourself. Download the source code, install it and find your own hosting. Sky is the limit… Here are some heavy lifters that use Wordpress.org as their site's platform: http://wordpress.org/showcase/
Very important note: Generally, the templates you find for purchase on the web are for WordPress.org. Wordpress.com themes are only available from the Wordpress.com site: http://theme.wordpress.com/
In this post, we're focusing exclusively on WordPress.com.
Some Background on Wordpress:
In recent years, the WP platform has evolved tons. It's open source (the .org one :) so anyone can modify it and even build something on top. Wordpress has a huge community. Tons of people build widgets and plugins that are easy to install and manage (like email sending, Facebook comments, etc.) To give you an idea of the size of the WP community, there are about 67,691,159 WP sites on the net (Source: http://en.wordpress.com/stats/) and in 2011 100,000 wordpress sites were created EVERY DAY! Crazy, huh?
When launching your Wordpress.com site, there are tons of designs to choose from, some of them designed exclusively for hospitality. They're made by true professionals in the field and are chosen by bigger players like http://www .hoteles-silken.com/ for their online presence. Building with Wordpress is the easiest way to launch a site without knowing a thing about web development. And last but not least: choosing Wordpress gives you a head start on having a presence on Google. We all know how important that is to our success!
Boost your hostel's site on Google
Out of the box, your WordPress site should be pretty well indexed on Google. That's because your site's structure is set up so that it's easy for Google to read and index. Make sure you re-read our tips for ranking higher on Google!
Make a list of your target keywords.
After choosing those keywords, make sure they appear prominently in your page's title, headings and top of the paragraphs.
Content is critical. Make sure you spend all the time necessary in writing really really good content. But, remember: you need to write for people not for search engines, don't keyword stuff your site, because Google can put you on their blacklist.
Use internal links to help Google understand which pages are the most important to you.
So, how do I setup Wordpress?
Go to http://wordpress.com/hotels/. This site was recently launched by Wordpress directed at hotels. It is intended exclusively for the hotel industry and is free. If you want to go above and beyond, check out: http://theme.wordpress.com/ and choose among thousands of designs available, some free and some not so much.
After you've found the ideal design for your hostel's website, click on the "Get Started" or "Start Your Blog" link. You'll be directed to a page like this:
Complete the fields. If you want your own web address, for example: yourhostel.com you'll have an annual cost of $18 USD. The free option is "yourhostel.wordpress.com" You can change it later, so no need to worry about it now.
Once you finish completing the fields, you'll get an email to confirm registration. Once you've done that, you'll be redirected to a new page.
Choose "Customize it" and start creating your site! As you can see, WordPress set up some defaults and chose some tabs for our website. Click on the "Edit" button to change the name of the tab as well as add content on the page.
From Edit/Settings, go to Sharing, and you can connect your Facebook, Twitter, etc… accounts in one step.
- By default, WordPress sometimes uses ugly URLs like yourhostel.com/d?8389237 etc… Yuck. Google doesn't like this either because it also tries to tell what the page is about by trying to understand the URL. It's really easy to change this behavior though. On your Wordpress page, click on Edit. And you can update the URL right there, isn't that great?
You can also preview your changes by clicking the "Preview Changes" button. Once you're ready to launch, click the "Update" button!
Icing on the Cake: How to create a Slideshow Gallery:
If you've gotten this far, let's make the extra effort and add a sildeshow to your site. Slideshows are beautiful and help guests see what they're getting. Go to the page you want to add a slideshow on:
1) Click Edit.
2) Click the Add Media button.
3) Click Create Gallery in top left.
4) Add pictures from your computer.
5) After the images have finished uploading, you will be shown all the images in your Media Library.
6) Click Create a New Gallery on the button at the bottom right.
7) On the next page, click on each image to add a title and description. Then just drag photos to rearrange.
8) To choose how you want the gallery to be displayed, go to the Gallery Settings area.
9) Choose Attachment Page.
10) When you have finished editing, click Insert Gallery. You can always re-edit from the Edit Gallery icon that appears.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you always click Update to publish your changes! Your updates are saved automatically.
Now go and create your website and let us know how it went!