COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN SETTING UP YOUR WORDPRESS SITE
Everyone make mistakes. Oscar Wilde said it best: “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” While experience is a great teacher, it’s more efficient to learn from the mistakes of others. With that in mind, here are 9 of the most common WordPress mistakes that I have seen site owners make when they’re setting up their sites. If you can avoid these mistakes, you’re already a step above most beginners!
1. NOT BACKING UP REGULARLY
We get all sorts of excited when we set up a new site. It becomes our baby and we love to work on it, grow it, and watch it become successful.
However we get caught up in the whirlwind of all the newness only to skip over one of the most important things to do on any website.
Back up the website! Don’t just back it up, but set up a back up that runs on a regular schedule. (My suggestion would be to run a database backup nightly and a full/complete backup weekly.)
It’s unfortunate that people need to have their site completely down and offline to learn the importance of backing up. Professional backup and restore services, such as BackupBuddy, are available for what breaks down to only $6 per month. There are also plenty of free utilities that can require a bit more setup time to get going.
2. NOT UPDATING WORDPRESS & PLUGINS
It is important that you update your WordPress website as soon as an update is available. This is as true for your WordPress site as it is for your computer. WordPress is open source software with reports of bugs, vulnerabilities and security issues almost daily. The best part is that WordPress is always closing the holes within it’s software.
If you want to ensure that your website stays up and running by making it harder for a hacker to bring your site down, updating WordPress and it’s plugins are critical.
Besides these updates also carry with them improvements and brand new features. One of which is WordPress now can update your site automatically. You still do have to perform the updates on most plugins. However the good folks developing plugins and WordPress are trying to make this as easy as possible for you in the future.
3. NOT USING PERMALINKS
By default, the permalink structure for WordPress is /?p=. This results in the website having unfriendly SEO URLs. This hurts page rankings within Google as well. The URLs will look like www.domain.com/?p=1234 rather than the more friendly www.domain.com/why-im-the-best/.
Many beginners don’t change this default permalink structure to a more SEO-friendly option that uses keywords.
Head to Settings → Permalinks to change your settings. Try to use post name (/%postname%/) as it keeps links short and allows for keywords in the URL. Category and post name (/%category%/%postname%/) is another popular option.
4. INSTALLING UNNECESSARY PLUGINS
Unused plugins should be deactivated and uninstalled if you don’t plan on using them again. Many beginning WordPress users don’t do this. They install plugins and forget or choose not to remove them. Some new WordPress users install dozens of plugins even if they’re not all being used. This slows down a website and increases its load time.
Only use plugins that are important to your website’s success. Don’t fall into the trap of installing dozens of widgets you are not using, or analytics plugins that don’t check often. This simply makes your website slower.
5. USING ADMIN AS YOUR USERNAME WITH A WEAK PASSWORD
The lowest hanging fruit for a hacker to breach your website is guessing your username and password. Hackers use scripts that can easily guess your login in a matter of seconds, if not quicker.
Thankfully WordPress has changed up its install as to allow you to pick the first username instead of using admin. However I suggest you taking it a step further to remove the first WordPress admin username.
Even if you don’t take that extra 90 seconds and remove the first user, please choose a username and password that’s obscure enough so that your website does not get a brute force attack on it.
6. COMPLICATED CATEGORIES & TAGS
One of the most commonly used WordPress features is the capability to categorize content with tags. The problem is most people create too many categories and tags because they think this will make it easier for their users. In fact, doing so can make your site difficult to navigate.
Too many categories and tags affects everything from SEO to the load time of your site. Try to limit tags and categories so that your site is easy to navigate.
7. NEVER MODERATING COMMENTS
Comments tell you how your readers are responding to your messaging, but it takes determination and effort to moderate them. Many small business owners don’t take the time to do it, and they end up stuck with tons of comments that require moderating. They keep putting it off until it bogs them down.
Take time once or twice a week to review the comments on your site to make sure they’re not filled with spam. If you don’t want to worry about comments at all, disable comments via Settings → Discussion → Default Article Settings or use a plugin such as Disable Comments Plugin. To keep spam comments in check, use Akismet or another spam-blocking plugin.
8. NOT HAVING A CONTACT FORM
Another common beginner mistake is not adding a contact form to a WordPress site. Instead, they create a contact page and simply list their email address. That’s not the best way to get your audience to contact you; after a few months, your inbox will likely be flooded with spam.
The best solution to this problem is a simple contact form. Give Gravity Forms plugin a try; it allows you to create any type of form using a simple drag-and-drop interface. The best feature of Gravity Forms is that it emails you, but also stores all submissions so you can get them even if you don’t have access to email. Check out10 ways to use Gravity Forms for your website.
9. A LACK OF RESPONSIVE DESIGN
Google has started to rank sites depending on how well they work on mobile devices. If your site doesn’t look good and function effectively on a mobile interface, you won’t rank as highly as you could. Most WordPress themes released nowadays are mobile responsive. If your site isn’t, update it as soon as possible.
If your theme does not have a responsive version and you don’t want to change it, you can use Jetpack’s mobile module. It creates a mobile-optimized version of your site.
The drawback of this approach is that the design of your site won’t be consistent. This inconsistency could adversely affect your branding efforts. It is recommended that you get a standard HTML5-based WordPress theme that has a proper responsive version.
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