WordPress makes it easy to set up your website, even if you don’t know a line of code. So easy, in fact, that anyone can install a theme and be up and running with the first blog post in under an hour. But because WordPress offers so many options for beginners and experienced site runners alike, you could be making mistakes that slow down your site, open doors to hackers and limit your search engine visibility. Here’s a list of 10 common WordPress errors and how to fix them.
1. Choosing the Wrong WordPress Platform
WordPress has two platforms, WordPress.com and WordPress.org. This can confuse users because WordPress.org shares some WordPress.com features, such as the Jetpack sharing plugin and a one-click login from WordPress.com But WordPress.com is a free blogging platform that allows users to create and customize a blog that’s hosted on the WordPress.com site. WordPress.org, org offers the full range of tools to set up and run a site with its own domain name and URL. The fix: check the site name to be sure that you’re using the right WordPress for your needs.
2. Using the Default Admin Username
When you install WordPress, the default username for your new install is “admin.” That’s simple and easy to remember, so it’s tempting to leave it as is – but that’s a mistake that leaves your site vulnerable to hackers who know that the first username to try on any site is “admin” – and all too often it works because the site owner hasn’t personalized it. The fix: change your username to something unique as soon as you install WordPress.
3. Using Default Permalink Settings
When you install WordPress, the default setting for your posts and pages simply displays a number – which doesn’t give your site any search engine visibility. A common mistake WordPress users make is to leave this default setting as is instead of changing it to show the post or page title. The fix: in your WordPress install’s Settings, navigate to permalink settings and choose “post name” for the permalink structure. You can also edit permalinks individually from each individual post and page.
4. Leaving all Default Plugins Enabled
Your new WordPress install comes with a set of default plugins – but you may not need or want them all. Leaving them enabled can slow down your site – or create problems with plugins you later select yourself. The fix: from your site’s list of installed plugins, deactivate and then delete the ones you don’t need. All files related to the plugin will be deleted, but you can add the plugin back later if you like.
5. Choosing the Wrong Theme
WordPress has a vast directory of free and premium themes, and you can buy many more from third party developers. With all those choices, it’s easy to make the common mistake of choosing the wrong theme for your site. What makes a theme wrong? Its features and look may mot reflect the image you have for your site, or customizing it may require style sheet changes and other adjustments you aren’t able to work with. The fix: WordPress allows virtually infinite theme changes, so you can switch out your theme at any time. Use search filters in theme directories and carefully read the theme description before installing.
6. Not Adding a Contact Form
A common mistake on new sites, especially ones in which the site owner offers a service, is to simply place a contact page on the site that includes a contact email or phone number. Adding a dedicated contact form that appears on every page and post makes it easier for visitors to reach out. The fix: From the plugin directory, select a contact form option that fits your needs, customize it as you like, and add it as a text widget or other element.
7. Not Installing an SEO Plugin
You want your site to be easily found and ranked by search engines. That means optimizing if with keyword rich content and metadata – but many site owners miss opportunities to do this by not installing a plugin for search engine optimization. The fix: from WordPress’ long list of SEO plugins, choose and install one that automatically checks for keywords and generates metadata, such as Yoast.
8. Allowing Un-moderated Comments to Post
Owners of new sites are often hoping to get any comments at all, so they neglect to set up strategies to manage comments. That’s a mistake that opens up the site to vast amounts of spam comments that clog the comments section and, left un-moderated, appear on the site in an unsightly mess that damages search rankings. The fix: from your site’s General Settings, navigate to the Discussion section and select Comment Modification to moderate all comments before they appear live.
9. Ignoring WordPress Update Notifications
WordPress is always offering updates for installs, plugins and themes. Ignoring these updates is a common mistake – but if you do, your site may not work with later versions of plugins, or it could even crash. The fix: accept WordPress’ update notifications for all parts of your site, which brings us to the last big mistake:
10. Failing to Back up your Site
Many things can cause your WordPress site to become unresponsive, crash completely or lose pages. Failing to back up your site can put all your work at risk, so it’s important to have backup files that can be reinstalled if needed. The fix: from the plugin directory, choose a cache plugin, or copy and store all your site files in another location.
WordPress is a multilayered platform that provides lots of options for making your site just the way you want it. All those choices make it easy to make mistakes that cost you visibility, security and time. But with a little attention, these WordPress errors are easy to avoid – or fix.