WordPress is a powerful system that has great potential to help you achieve online greatness. However, it’s not going to magically work for you without putting in the effort. You need to make sure you avoid certain WordPress mistakes if you truly want to succeed.
Luckily, most of these common mistakes are easily avoidable. So, what can you do to optimize your effort when using WordPress to power your website?
1. Wrong Platform Choice
Many people who just want to run their own blogs without selling anything will end up going with WordPress’s self-hosted website, which gives complete control for recurring costs.
This is frustrating for someone who simply wants to run a small blog for family and friends to read. Others who are interested in writing content for revenue will get frustrated with the lack of control in the free version of WordPress.
This is one of the more common WordPress mistakes, but it’s best to choose the right platform now before you start because then you won’t have to change your domain name later.
2. Falling for the Up-sell
There are only two things you need to run your self-hosted WordPress blog: domain and web-hosting. Many web hosting sites have gimmicks they try to sell you. However, these are usually expensive, unnecessary, and can often hinder you later down the road.
You need a WordPress hosting provider that doesn’t try to force certain apps or “features” you don’t need.
3. Not Deleting the Sample Page
Deleting the sample page seems like a given, but it is actually one of the more common WordPress mistakes. There are 1.1 million WordPress sites that still have their sample pages installed. These pages are unnecessary and can look sloppy.
It is best to either delete this page or use it for your blog posts.
4. Default Tag Lines
Like the sample page, most WordPress themes come with default tag lines like “Just another WordPress site”. These tag lines are indexed in Google, so they don’t do anything to help your search rankings, and they can appear poor to potential visitors.
It’s best to change the tag to something relevant to your site. Think of this as the slogan of your site and keep it short while being detailed.
5. Not Creating a WordPress Backup
Keeping backups of your WordPress website is completely essential. Without a backup, all of your work can be wiped out in an hour never to be seen again for a variety of reasons.
You could accidentally be deleting it yourself, hackers could wipe it out or a disaster outside of your control could corrupt and lose data. There are several backup methods you can use to save yourself a lot of grief later.
However, you can simply use built in features within your web hosting service to backup your WordPress website, which is free.
6. Having Too Many Categories
WordPress makes it really easy to add new categories to your site. While it is good to have some categories to make your site easy to navigate, having too many can make it confusing and can discourage readers from exploring your site.
Instead, just have a few broader categories to expand your content. For more specific labels, explore what tags can do for you.
7. Changing the Site URL
Even though it can sometimes be beneficial in the long run if done right, abruptly changing the URL to your site can lead to huge drops in traffic and income. This happens as readers and search engine bots try to figure out what happened to your site.
If you must change the URL, make sure you take the proper steps to avoid significant drops. For example, using redirects properly can help retain your visitor traffic.
8. Hard-Coding Everything
Many people hard code their content into their custom page templates when they’re just starting out. This can make things harder to manage if you want to move your blog posts later on, and defeats the purpose of using the user-friendly interface of WordPress.
Try to keep actual content to posts and pages.
9. Having Really Long Archives
After about a year, the Archives widget on your screen starts to look long and annoying, not to mention sloppy. It’s OK to have a long list of content in archives. However, you may want to consider a way to collapse the list or otherwise make it more presentable.
Consider making a custom archives widget for the sidebar to streamline the site.
10. The White Screen of Death
This is similar to Microsoft’s Blue Screen of Death. If your site returns a blank white screen, it could mean trouble. Unfortunately, there are a number of things this is related to. You’ll need to troubleshoot your specific problem.
Luckily, you have several fixes for the white screen problem in WordPress to try. Just don’t panic and assume the site is completely corrupt. It could just need a quick and easy fix to get everything back.
11. Not Moderating Comments
If you don’t want comments on your site, you can turn them off using a plugin to disable the section. Otherwise, make sure you moderate your comments as you go, which entail approving comments, marking them as spam, etc.
Without moderating, you never know who is posting what on your pages. You can also add a captcha system to reduce spam in WordPress comments.
12. Writing Your Post in Word Editing Software
To keep from losing your work easily from problems like computer crashes or from messing up the formatting from copying and pasting, it’s best to just type your work straight into WordPress.
The system has a built-in text editor that works similar to a Word processor. And if you need certain word processing tools, you can always install TinyMCE Advanced to expand what you can do.
13. Getting a Theme from a Bad Source
There are many bad sources out there offering WordPress themes laced with viruses and other malware. Only get themes from WordPress.org or other high-value site.
The last thing you want to do is inadvertently give someone access to your site because of a bad theme.
14. Not Having a Contact Form
To prevent spam, provide a contact form for people to fill out instead of providing an email address. Not only are they more professional, they can help keep inbound contacts organized.
A lot of site owners will set up a contact form pop-up, which usually increases sales and leads in the long run.
15. Not Installing a Cache Plug-In
When you get more traffic, you’ll want one to prevent website downtime or to keep your site from slowing down. A good plug in is using something like WP Super Cache.
Site speed affects both human and search engine bot visitors. Caching serves to benefit the user experience while boosting visibility in engines like Google.
16. Ignoring SEO Settings
Many people ask WP to stop search engine bots from indexing their sites when they are just starting out. But unless the bots have access, you will not be able to get your site indexed.
Search engine optimization is imperative if you want people to find your content. Given the amount of competition on the Internet, any SEO practices are beneficial. For instance, Yoast SEO can easily help generate traffic to your site with it’s tools and settings.
17. Not Setting Up Your Permalinks
Even though there are default links for WordPress, these are not good for search rankings at all. Sites such as Google and Bing use the URLs to help determine what the content is about.
You can change this by going into settings and clicking on permalinks.
18. Not Having a Custom Favicon
Favicons are the symbols that appear in your tabs, like the site’s identity card. Unless you change it, your favicon will most likely be the WP logo, which can look amateurish and make your site forgettable.
Favicons are also used when someone bookmarks your pages. This gives people a way to identify your pages just by image alone. In fact, a lot of website owners will use a logo as the favicon.
19. Ignoring Updates
It’s tempting to ignore updates, but this can leave your site vulnerable to hackers. Plus, you may not have access to new tools and features from plugin developers.
Keep your themes and plugins updated regularly. A lot of people will set these to upgrade automatically.
20. Not Learning More
One of the worst things you can do is to stop learning about WordPress. You will miss out on a lot of new features, abilities and elements that may streamline your building process. Without learning, your site can quickly become out of date.
This doesn’t mean you need to dive into CSS or PHP coding. However, spending a few moments to figure out the tools and plugins you can install will make the difference in site development.
Get the Most Out of WordPress
WordPress is a capable system and is among the most popular content management systems on the Internet for good reason. Take the time to discover what it can do for you and how to get the most out of the experience.