16 of the Most Common WordPress Mistakes

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Just as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, there is one fact of life we can’t argue with–we all make mistakes. And while there isn’t a lot we can do to prevent them, we can learn from our mistakes. Even better, we can learn from other people’s mistakes!

Here, I’ve outlined 16 of the most common mistakes that WordPress users and developers make. Brush up on what other people are doing wrong so you can prevent these same blunders on your own site.

1. Missing Out on the Best Plugins

It will take some time for you to get to know all of WordPress’s plugins. Through trial and error, you will find what is best for you. However, we’re going to make this little research project infinitely easier. You must have these plugins:

  • Google XML Sitemaps
  • Contact Form 7
  • Akismet
  • All in One SEO Pack

2. Forgetting to Back Up Your Site

Nothing works perfectly, especially in the world of technology. Crashes will happen. If you are unprepared, a very painful situation may be headed your way–loss of data. You can back up your site manually. Go to Tools, then Export–or to make life easier, use an automatic backup plugin like WP-DB-Backup.

3. Using an Unfriendly Permalink Structure

Your WordPress default setting is not search-friendly. To get the most bang for your SEO buck, make sure you use keywords in your permalink structure. Here is what you do:

  • Go to Options
  • Select Permalinks in your Admin Panel
  • In the Custom Text box, enter “/%category%/%postname%/%post_id”

4. Using Only One Server

If you are a WPWebHost user, you can skip this step. If you are a Non-WPWebHost user, continue reading.

Don’t underestimate the value of a Content Delivery Network (CDN)–it can really improve your reader’s experience. Here is what you do:

  • Research CDNs like MaxCDN or Cloudflare
  • Copy your content onto several mirror servers around the world

This will make it easier for a guest to view your page, no matter where they are visiting from. It decreases the load time because not all of the requests are being sent to the main web server.

5. Not Consulting Analytics Programs

Would you drive your car at night without headlights? No. Then why would you run a blog without consulting an analytics program? Google Analytics monitors website traffic and keeps tally of the keywords that lead to your site. Trying to write to a target audience without analytics is like throwing your money out the window.

6. Not Integrating Webmaster Tools

Without a little help, search engines don’t crawl very deep. If you want to get all your pages indexed, submit an XML sitemap to Google Webmaster tools. Taking advantage of webmaster tools also means you’ll be the recipient of lots of useful statistics.

7. Ignoring Google Authorship Markup

The purpose of Google Authorship Markup is to increase credibility and maximize exposure. Who wouldn’t want that? The process is simple and the result is a photo next to the meta description in the search results.

8. Being Faceless

You know what a Gravatar is, right? If not, a Gravatar, or Globally Recognized Avatar, is an image that appears beside a blog comment or discussion forum. It is an image that represents you across the entire internet. Just like Google Authorship, Gravatars lend credibility and attract attention. If you aren’t using a Gravatar, get one as soon as possible. The registration is a simple, one-time process that will have a big influence on your blog.

9. Using the Default Favicon

A favicon is the icon associated with your website. It will be displayed in the browser’s address bar, next to the page title in a tab, and beside the page name in a list of bookmarks. Most WordPress newbies use the favicon that came with the theme. However, if you want to look more professional, you really need to have a custom icon. Here is what you do:

  • Search for a free favicon generator on the web
  • Create your file (usually 16 pixels by 16 pixels)
  • Go to the images section of your theme
  • Replace the default favicon with your custom design

10. Making Life Difficult for Mobile Users

These days, everyone has a smartphone. Basically, if you expect to receive any traffic at all, you had better make sure your site is mobile-user friendly. You have two options. First, you can customize your site for mobile devices by using a plugin like WPtouch. Your other option is to use a WordPress theme that is responsive to smartphones, iPod touch and tablets.

11. Using the cPanel File Manager for FTP transfers

Shopping around for an FTP client takes time. However, FTP clients improve the quality of life for many blog owners. While the File Manager in the cPanel has a slow interface and often crashes (or closes) unexpectedly, anFTP client makes it easy to upload, download or change file permissions on your server.

12. Overloading with Information

You may think you have designed your site with the reader in mind. However, it’s also likely you may have designed your site with your wallet in mind. Readers like simplicity. Don’t overwhelm them with a super-cluttered sidebar; too many ads, widgets, and links are distracting. Restrict your sidebar to the most important pieces of information.

13. Passing on Blog Authoring Tools

Why, oh why, are you subjecting yourself to WordPress’s dashboard? Use a blog authoring tool! Tools like Windows Live Writer are designed to write blogs offline. You can pen your next post and then enhance it with simple-to-use formatting tools.

14. Ignoring WordPress Updates

WordPress is constantly releasing new updates. If a blog owner ignores these updates, the site will be opened up to security issues. There is a simple fix–don’t ignore the WordPress updates! These newer versions were created for a reason!

15. Utilizing a Faulty Hosting Company

If you are looking to save money, it may seem appealing to go with an ultra-low-price hosting company. However, many of these companies aren’t such a bargain after all. Their low price is a result of fewer features and unsatisfactory support. Instead of signing on the dotted line with the cheapest company you discover, consult an expert. Get some advice about which hosting options are best.

16. Choosing a Defective Theme

There are two things you should consider when choosing a theme–the ease of use for a beginner and the reputation of the theme company. After you have found a respectable company and a theme that will be easy to navigate, then you can worry about price. Choosing based on price alone could mean using a theme that isn’t compatible with your site (or you).

Well, what do you think? Have you made any of these mistakes? Have you learned a valuable lesson about WordPress that we didn’t mention? We’d love to receive your feedback!

If you enjoyed reading this post, you’ll love Learnable; the place to learn fresh skills and techniques from the masters. Members get instant access to all of SitePoint’s ebooks and interactive online courses, like The Beginner’s Guide to Web Design with WordPress.

Guest blogger Hugo Velasco is a website designer for Subtle Network. He enjoys helping clients avoid the same mistakes he made as a newbie!

Hugo VelascoHugo Velasco
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Hugo Velasco is a website designer for Subtle Network. He enjoys helping clients avoid the same mistakes he made as a newbie!

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