We don’t want to get too philosophical on you here, but the team at Fuel Themes were discussing recently the idea that WordPress will never truly be “finished”. WordPress will always be a work in progress, a fluid platform. At any given moment, WordPress will exist between two updates and as the online world, technology, and content and SEO best practices continue to evolve, so too will WordPress.
For webmasters and WordPress site owners, this means that your work will similarly never be “finished”. WordPress updates, changing trends in premium WordPress themes, the changing needs of online businesses and other websites, along with new threats of hacks and exploits, mean that you will need to stay vigilant and keep the WordPress sites you manage as up-to-date as possible.
Read on for the eight most common WordPress mistakes even experts make and ensure that none of the sites you’re managing are guilty of any of these common mistakes.
Not Moderating Comments
Nothing screams unprofessional like spammy comments at the bottom of a WordPress post. No matter how well-written the post may be, when a user sees the comments section littered with spam, they instantly recognize that the site is not being properly moderated.
There are plenty of free WordPress plug-ins and tools that will help filter out spammy comments (Akismet remains the gold standard), or you could use a platform like Disqus to integrate social media logins with your comments section.
The only thing worse than having no comments is having spam comments. Stay on top of your comment moderation, and never allow all comments to be posted unfiltered.
Not Backing Up Your CSS
By now everyone knows the importance of ensuring that WordPress itself, along with your plug-ins and themes, are always updated and backed up. One related step that many people forget is to backup your CSS itself, especially before making any changes to the site.
Manually creating a CSS backup before making any change to your CSS – no matter how minor – ensures that you will have a working copy to fall back on should something go wrong. As anyone who has dabbled in CSS would understand, something as simple as one character out of place can turn your website upside down. Having a locally-stored CSS backup gives you something to fall back on should you make a mistake in the code.
Leaving Default Text
A fresh installation of WordPress always includes enough sample data to get beginner users going. This includes the well-known “Hello World” post complete with its first comment in the “Uncategorised” category, along with the “Sample Page” page.
Of course, these are just placeholders and are designed to be deleted before the site goes live – and especially before you start submitting your site to search engines. Unfortunately, many SEO Webmasters – even experts – inadvertently forget to delete this placeholder content. Not only does this look unprofessional from a UX point of view, but it could also even be pinged as duplicate content, no matter how inadvertent.
Using the “Admin” Username
Using the “Admin” username is a major no-no when it comes to the security of your WordPress site. Hackers are finding it increasingly simple to use brute force techniques to guess usernames and passwords to gain admin access to WordPress sites. Since “Admin” is the default username created during the WordPress installation process, brute force hacking attempts will start by attacking the “Admin” username. If you are actually using that default username, you’ve taken hackers 50% of the way towards infiltrating your site.
Right after a fresh WordPress installation, choose a new username and permanently delete the default “Admin” username.
Misusing Categories and Tags
WordPress sites can often grow and evolve out of their originally-intended structure, and the go-to technique is usually to create new categories to house this new content. Unfortunately, this can lead to a cluttered and disorganized category structure. Instead, broaden your categories, keep within a maximum of five, and make better use of tags to break up your content.
Testing Plug-Ins and Themes Live
The temptation to install and test free WordPress plug-ins and tools on your live site can be irresistible. After all, creating a staging area or cloning your site to give you room to experiment can seem like more trouble than it’s worth. But what if, for example, one of the free WooCommerce extensions you experiment with clashes with your theme or an existing plug-in and corrupts your site?
This could result in downtime of a few hours or more as you resolve the problem and restore a backup. In the meantime, you could be losing customers, ad revenue, email opt-ins, and even your more recent content that hadn’t yet been backed up. If that happens, you’d be wishing you had experimented with the new addition somewhere other than your live site.
Underestimating Mobile Users
It has now reached the point where, for many websites, more than half of its visitors will be accessing the site via a mobile device. It is no longer acceptable for websites to not display properly and responsively on mobile devices. A responsive WordPress theme like Revolution is an absolute necessity to ensure that everyone can access your site, regardless of the device they used to do so.
Not Setting Custom Permalinks
You’d be surprised at the number of successful WordPress sites that still haven’t gotten their act together when it comes to permanent links. Unless you really are running a personal blog, there is no excuse for creating permanent links in the format “yyyy/mm/dd/first-few-words-of-the-post”. Possibly the only thing less professional than including the post date in the Permalink is when the link is still sat at the default post ID number in the format “?p=#####”.
Not setting custom Permalinks is throwing SEO juice away, while presenting an unprofessional design and poor user experience. Setting an infinitely more SEO friendly %postname% (or %category%/%postname%, if you’d like to include your category in the link structure) permalink requires just a few clicks, but not all WordPress sites owners have remembered to do so.
How did you fare? Are any of the WordPress sites you’re managing running afoul of these common WordPress mistakes? If so, take the time right now to make any necessary changes. Just as WordPress is a fluid entity, so too are individual WordPress sites. By staying vigilant and keeping up to date with current threats and best practices, you can ensure that your WordPress sites are performing at their best.