5 Big WordPress Mistakes Beginner Users Make
We were all new with WordPress at one point and had to learn the hard way. With WordPress being the most popular content management system on the planet, we’ve found from our clients a short list of major mistakes that always seem to come up when we optimize their WordPress installations.
Thankfully, with all of the awesome WordPress resources including here at Top Five Advisor, beginner WordPress users now have the ability to discover and fix these problems faster than ever before.
So, what are the most common mistakes that beginner WordPress users make?
Discouraging Search Engine Visibility
When you create your first website and set up WordPress, the site will be live and online. After the installation, most people skip the reading and dive right in to the WordPress settings. That’s fine, in fact, it is a great way to learn, however, when they go to Settings > Reading, they see the above option to Discourage search engines from indexing this site and enable it.
That’s something we’d also recommend, however, we’ve found that our clients will change this setting when they are beginners to WordPress and forget to change it back after they go live.
We’ll give you $1,000 if you can get our site listed in Google search. Anywhere. Nothing we are doing is working!
This was the easiest money we’ve ever made with a digital marketing client, however, we were honest, told them what the problem was and applied a large chunk of that money towards improving their website.
When your site is live and ready, don’t forget to uncheck this box so that Google and other search engines are permitted to index your site in their search engines. There’s nothing more frustrating than working for months on end building a ghost town.
Who Needs to Set Up Permalinks? You Do!
Find it here: Settings > Permalinks
By default, when you first install WordPress, your permalink settings will be set to Default with your links using the p=123 setting. This setting is not human or search engine readable and tells nobody what your post topic is about.
The sooner you change this setting to a human-readable format, the better. Preferably, you will change this before launching your website.
The most common structure that most sites should consider using is the Post name option, however, we chose to use the custom structure option to enable the category to come before the name of the blog post because we cover a massive amount of topics in several categories. Of course, you will have problems using /%category%/%postname%/ without reading our guide on this subject.
Previously, the Post name option was known to cause problems with website performance which you may have read about online from older blog posts on this subject. Thankfully with the release of WordPress 3.3 and beyond, this problem was corrected and does not cause these issues.
For most, you will be able to update your permalinks right from the dashboard. This will automatically update your .htaccess file (on your host server) and you’ll be on your way. If you happen to see an error that states If your .htaccess file were writable, we could do this automatically…, then you will need to update the .htaccess file manually using an FTP software like Filezilla (free) or ask your host or administrator to make these changes.
Ignoring WordPress Updates
Another huge mistake we see is clients ignoring important updates. WordPress does an excellent job keeping their content management system secure when potentially severe security problems present themselves.
With the latest versions of WordPress, it will automatically update and keep your site secure from these threats, however, WordPress will not automatically install the latest major versions of their software and it will also not automatically update your plugins which could also have critical exploits that need updates.
We strongly recommend logging in to your WordPress dashboard at least weekly to apply updates. You should not be afraid to update your plugins and WordPress core. It’s as easy as checking each item that has an update and clicking the update button. In fact, you should be more afraid to ignore updates because this is the most common reason WordPress websites get hacked / exploited.
You Have Way Too Many Plugins
We get it, WordPress plugins do so much to add functionality to your website and it is addicting. However, if you add too many plugins to your website, you’ll start noticing problems with pages loading slowly, bad page speed scores on Google PageSpeed Insights, server performance issues and more.
Any plugins that are not being used should be deactivated and uninstalled. Beginner WordPress users commonly will try tens, if not hundreds, of plugins on their website but they forget to uninstall the ones they didn’t like.
Approach plugins with a minimalist mindset and only use plugins that are crucial to your website’s success.
Leaving Default or Incomplete Pages Live
This is another huge one because it tells search engines and readers of your website that you are a BEGINNER. Many new WordPress website owners will create a bunch of content pages that they will “update later” and post them live just so they can visualize their site structure.
The big mistake these beginners make is leaving these “coming soon” or “we’re updating this” pages up after going live. There’s nothing more frustrating to your readers than clicking on an article they are interested in only to find a blank page with no content. As for search engines, they all have algorithms in place to detect sites that use these temporarily pages and mark them as a “low quality site” which will massively hurt your potential rankings.
- Keep local backups of your WordPress website. Update them weekly.
- Don’t change the URL (permalink) of older blog posts when reviving / updating them.
- Don’t ignore the basics. Get a contact us, terms of service, about and disclosures page live.
- Don’t keep the default admin username for security reasons.
- Use a strong password. Try keypass to remember your gSLs@5^*Ku style encrypted passwords.
- You aren’t Just another blog. Go to Settings > General and add a proper tagline.
- Don’t over-complicate your categories and tags.