Backups. Spam comment moderation. CSS and HTML tweaks. Optimizing content for search engines. Updating themes and plugins.
You work hard to make sure your corner of the internet is laying out the welcome mat for your visitors 24/7, so the idea that you’re making mistakes with WordPress is frustrating.
How do I know? Because I once had a website that screamed dumb-ass instead of bad-ass. Today I want to share 5 WordPress mistakes I made in the beginning so you can avoid them.
Mistake 1: Not optimizing your permalinks
By default, WordPress sets your permalinks to something like this:
Ugh, not only is that unattractive for your readers, it’s also bad for SEO.
Google’s search algorithms are pretty flippin’ smart, but they have a harder time seeing that your blog post is about “10 easy ways to increase Pinterest followers” when the URL isn’t something like:
We want to make it as easy as possible for the search engines to index and recommend our blog posts in search results.
How to fix it:
Under Settings > Permalinks, choose a friendlier permalink structure. The two I usually go with are:
No worries if you forgot to change your permalinks and have already started writing blog posts. You can update your permalink settings and use a plugin like the Simple 301 Redirects to route users to the new URLs.
Mistake 2: No social share buttons on posts
Someone just found your site, read your content, and wants to share it with everyone they know.
They search your site for share buttons, but they can’t find them. They could copy and paste the blog post URL into Buffer and search for you on Twitter to figure out what your handle is to give you a shout out, but they are waaaay too lazy for that.
They figure that if you don’t have share buttons on your site, you don’t want your content shared and they move on to the next blog in their reader. Bummer.
How to fix it:
Check and see if your theme came with social share buttons. If not, you can use plugins to add attractive social sharing buttons to your site.
I recommend Easy Social Share Buttons for WordPress because it has a lot of great features like opt-in boxes for growing your email list.
This plugin allows you to add your username to the message that gets shared, so your readers won’t have to worry about tracking you down to give you a shout out.
I realize that premium plugins can be an investment when you’re just getting started with your blog. The guideline I usually follow is to invest in anything that deeply affects how my readers interact with my site.
The authors of paid plugins almost always provide support, so if I run into an issue that’s affecting the performance of my site, I can create a ticket and have the plugin author help me with it rather than spending a bunch of my time debugging it.
Mistake 3: Using a craptastic theme
You bought your domain name and you paid for hosting. Your budget is stretched, so you use a free theme or buy a cheap one.
You’re excited to start blogging, but after a while you notice that your site is slow. It’s been six months and there has been no update for the theme.
You contact the person who created the theme, but they won’t provide support. Then someone hacks into your site and you lose everything. Well, shitballs.
How to fix it:
Invest in a rock solid, secure theme from a trusted source. If you must go the free route, only choose themes that are in the WordPress directory, as directory themes have to meet certain standards to be included.
Again, this is an area of high impact for my readers, so themes are something I invest in.
Mistake 4: Not optimizing images
Images are a great way to make your site stand out. If not optimized, however, they’re also a great way to make your visitors scram.
Since each image you add to your WordPress site has to be downloaded by your visitors, unoptimized images can cause slow loading times and a poor user experience.
How to fix it:
If you use a program like Photoshop or Canva to create your images, use the export or save for web settings to create images with small file sizes that still look great. Programs like Canva provide direction on formats:
Use plugins like ShortPixel to optimize images that have already been uploaded. ShortPixel works in the background on your site to reduce the file size of WordPress images as you upload them.
There’s a generous free plan of 100 images per month, and if you need more they have several other options to meet your needs. My favorite plan is the one-time 10,000 images for $10.
Mistake 5: Not updating footer content
As I’m writing this post, it’s 2019. Does your footer content still say 2018? Or 2017? Worse yet, does it not have a date?
Why do dates matter? Because how will users know that your site is still alive and well if it looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2014?
How to fix it:
If you’re code savvy, you can use a simple PHP code to dynamically update your footer content. But if you’re not comfortable messing with code, it’s best to set yourself a reminder every January to update your footer content manually.
I always look for themes that make it easy to update footer content so I’m focused on creating content and not dicking with the code on my website all the time. I’m a developer and I love code, but I also have a life outside the computer. 😉
A theme I recommend for beginners is X Theme because it’s a simple as pasting your footer content into a text box and clicking save.
In this post, I’ve given you 5 ways I royally screwed the pooch with WordPress. Now it’s your turn. Pop some time into your schedule this week to check in on your website and make sure it’s making you look like the awesome blogger I know you are. Thanks for reading!
- Simple 301 Redirects
- Social Warfare
- Easy Social Share Buttons for WordPress
- X Theme
- Update Your Footer
I’m a Tucson, Arizona-based web developer. I’ve been blogging since the mid-1990s and I’m knowledgeable in all aspects of maintaining an online presence from design to code to SEO and content creation. I live in an RV with my husband and in my spare time I enjoy photography, hiking, drawing, and playing video games.