While WordPress is an incredible CMS, mistakes are commonly made – it’s only human! But when you’re a digital agency or content creator working on WordPress projects, one mistake could have a huge impact on you and your business. Lisa Box, Vice President of Strategic Alliances at WP Engine highlights common WordPress blunders and suggests how to avoid them
Whether you’re a digital agency working on WordPress projects or a content creator, be sure to read this list of common WordPress blunders so you can become a WordPress wizard and keep your clients happy with publishing agility.
1. Installing too many plugins
Think minimal when it comes to installing plugins. While the WordPress repository contains more than 40,000 plugins, it’s easy to feel like a kid in a candy store and want to try them all. But if you install too many plugins, it’ll cause your site to bloat and run slower than a herd of snails traveling through peanut butter. (Okay…maybe not that slow, but you get the gist.)
The fix: Wisely choose the plugins you install and be sure to uninstall the ones not in use. Ask yourself, is this necessary to the functionality of my client’s site (or my site)?
2. Not optimizing content for SEO
It’s a missed opportunity to publish a piece of content having put zero thought into its SEO. To increase traffic and get your content found by search engines, it’s crucial you prepare your written content and images with SEO in mind.
The fix: Install a WordPress SEO plugin like Yoast. Yoast will help up your SEO game by giving you helpful tips to make your content more likely to rank on Google.
3. Neglecting to backup a site
Failure to consistently backup your clients’ sites is like spending months writing a novel and never pressing “save” on your valuable work. Creating a backup of your work is crucial so you don’t lose anything should, worse come to worse.
The fix: Some hosting companies provide daily automatic WordPress backups so you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself. This ensures everything is kept safe – your database, theme, plugin, uploads, and all core files. Of course, if your host doesn’t offer this service there are also a range of plugins that can backup your site.
4. Not changing the default permalink structure
By default, the permalink structure in WordPress isn’t optimized for SEO. You’ll want to change yours or your clients’ site’s permalink structure to get better article rankings, which is fairly easy to do.
The fix: To change the permalink structure in WordPress, go to Settings -> Permalinks and select “Post name.” If the site has old content, you’ll then want to redirect old permalinks to the new ones. You can use a redirect tool to generate redirects from your old permalink structure to new one.
5. Changing a post’s URL after it’s been published
It can be tempting to go into an article and change its URL when updating an old blog post or page, but this is something you and your clients should be aware of not doing. By changing the post slug, you are breaking all existing links out there. So any old links will lose traffic and present a bad user experience that leads to a 404 error page.
The fix: Before publishing an article, be certain the post slug is the way you want it. Additionally, if you’ve installed Yoast SEO it’ll give you tips for URL optimization, like removing “stop” words and shortening the post slug.
6. Using bad (or no) visuals
Images are imperative to holding the reader’s attention within a text-heavy article. Studies show content with visuals gets 94 percent more views than those without. In addition, the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Therefore, you should include images within your content (as deemed appropriate) to gain readership.
The fix: If paying for a stock photography membership is out of the question, there are numerous amounts of free image options out there. Just be sure to give attribution to the photographer when required.
7. Not resizing images for web upload
Images are often the culprit to a slow site and you should seriously consider preparing your images for upload by reducing their size. This can be done either by using an editor like Photoshop, or a plugin to resize images so they’re not taking up a huge chunk of space and causing your site to run super slow.
The fix: If you’re working in Photoshop, go to Image -> Image Size. Make sure the resolution is set to 72. You’ll then want to reduce the width of the image if applicable. 2,500 pixels on the wide side is ideal for displaying images at large on the screen, but you can decrease this size to around 600 to 1,000 pixels on the wide side for regular site display. This will reduce the file size drastically, requiring less bandwidth to upload images whenever someone visits your client’s site.
Always set the resolution to 72 pixels/inch for web upload. If “Resample” is checked, the image’s dimensions will automatically be reduced when when you adjust the resolution.
Another fix is to use a WordPress plugin that optimizes images for you, like WP Smush.
8. Failure to use a staging environment
Say you want to test a theme, plugin or custom code on your client’s site. It would be unwise to make these changes directly to the live site — your clients won’t be too happy when they’ve found you’ve crashed their site.
The fix: Before deploying changes to the live site, the best practice is to use a staging environment to test any changes before going public. There are also a number of plugins that enable testing environments, or you can set one up yourself from scratch.
9. Using a weak password
People usually create a weak password because they don’t want to forget it. However, a good password should be random and complex, not predictable and simple. The easier your password is for you to remember, the easier it will be for hackers to perform brute-force attacks and guess your password.
The fix: A strong password should include a minimum of eight characters, an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, a number, and a special character. Try using a strong password generator if you need help coming up with a hack-proof password.
10. Using poor/cheap web hosting
You might want to keep costs low, but using poor hosting for your WordPress site would be like purchasing cheap fuel for a Ferrari. Your WordPress site represents your business, your brand, your portfolio and so on. Poor performance and downtime reflects poorly on you and your business, and could cost you more money in the long run.
The fix: You want your hosting provider to be tailored to WordPress. When looking for a hosting provider, be sure that they offer services for caching, uptime, security, amazing customer support and more.
by Lisa Box