Are you a newbie WordPress webmaster? Or are you exploring the possibilities and challenges of WordPress as an option for developing your website? You can optimise your WordPress site and protect it from hacks or spam by avoiding a few common mistakes. Here are 15 mistakes to avoid when designing and creating a website with WordPress:❌ MISTAKE 1: Not Backing up Your WordPress Site
WordPress Plugins for Backing up Your Content
Backups should be a vital part of your process when developing a WordPress site. Some developers skip this step to save time and effort. If anything goes wrong, which it often can, you will be thankful you created a backup! WordPress has plugins for backing things up like Duplicator and BackWPup that you can use to make sure you never lose all your content.
The Importance of Quick Site Loading Times
Use content and imagery that loads fast on your website. The longer your loading speed, the likelier it is that the user will leave the page before it has loaded. A good loading time is less than a second according to Google. Having a site that loads fast also impacts your Google Ranking.
The Importance of Website Stress Tests
Make sure your site can handle lots of traffic by testing it for real-world traffic. You can use a tool like LoadImpact or follow a more detailed and comprehensive process. These tests can show you any areas that need improvement to optimise the functionality of your site.
Use a Child Theme for Website Customisation
Many webmasters make the mistake of customising the parent theme instead of using a child theme for customisation. When you customise the parent theme, it becomes a problem should you want to change themes. You will lose all your customisations, and you will have to redo them in the new theme.
If you use a child theme for customisation, this won’t happen. The child theme customisations are saved in a different folder, and when someone visits your site, the child theme is loaded first. Any elements necessary are loaded on the site after the child theme to draw in any elements from the parent theme.
The child theme has its own .css style file and .php functions file. When you use a child theme to apply any customisations to your site, you can easily change parent themes without losing your customisations!
Why You Should Change Your Database Prefix
Not changing your database prefix makes you vulnerable to spam or hacks. A website’s database is of high importance because everything from your theme to your posts and plugins is there. A good web developer will want to make it as hard as possible for hackers to access the database.
When you create a new WordPress website, table names in the database are automatically prefixed with “wp_”. Because this phenomenon is a default, it is common and any hacker with some sense can guess your table names. You can remove the risk by making your table names unique. This will protect your database from attack.
Quicker loading times are important, as we’ve established, and using a content delivery system will make your WordPress site load faster. How? A content delivery network distributes the static elements of your website to various servers across the globe. This network of servers gives users in any location in the world quicker access to your website.
By adding a content delivery network to your WordPress website, you can significantly improve its loading speed. Get a CDN from service providers like KeyCDN, StackPath, or Cloudflare. Make sure the CDN you choose offers what you most need for the site and that it works well with your WordPress website.
The debug mode is really useful for web developers, but you don’t want it live on your site where anyone on the internet can glean info from it. Webmasters can view errors and examine warnings and notices here, but allowing it to go live will reveal private paths and scripts to the public.
Responsive, mobile-friendly web design is a must. This is because your website is very likely to be loaded on a mobile device, with more and more users connecting to the internet via mobile phone. You can make your WordPress website responsive by using a responsive theme and a plugin like WPTouch.
Your URLs or permalinks are important. They tell users about your site and help improve your SEO and Google Ranking. If you leave it up to WordPress and use the defaults, you will get generic permalinks like “https://www.your-site.com/?p=101”.
To improve your URLs or permalinks go to Settings, then Permalinks. You can update them to links in one of the following formats:https://www.your-site.com/category/post
With directory browsing you can explore the root directory of the file of contents for your website. This is an obvious security risk, because hackers can explore the inner workings of your site and expose vulnerabilities.How to Turn Off Directory Browsing
You’ll have noticed a pattern by now. Defaults are security vulnerabilities. When you open your new WordPress site, you’ll get a default username like “Admin”. Make sure you change it to protect your site from hackers. A default username can result in hackers taking complete control of your site!
WordPress sites are automatically indexed for search engines so that the likes of Google, Bing, and all the rest can find your website. Without Search Engine Indexing, your site won’t show up in Google or other search engine searches, rendering it all but invisible online. Obviously your SEO efforts will also be useless without search indexing.
Many web developers switch off search engine indexing while they work on the website to avoid traffic on the site before it is 100% ready for the public. Once the work is done, make sure you switch it back on so your site can be found on the internet.
A Favicon is a small icon that shows up on the bottom left of a webpage. The default shows a WordPress favicon and text like “made using WordPress”. Nobody wants their site to appear generic. A consistent brand image throughout the website increases visitor trust and communicates your credibility. It’s like your online business or identity card.
Updates are your friends. Many webmasters fear updates, but updates are great. They improve your site security and performance. Most of the time they will not damage your site or custom settings. If you regularly update you need not worry about losing data, but if you are using a really old version of WordPress and need to update to version 2.9.3 we suggest full backups, because you could lose all your data.
Tags and categories are great but overdoing it can negatively impact your SEO and the navigability of your site. If you’re using the blog version of WordPress, categories are easier to use, but be very careful if you have a WordPress.org site. If you use multiple tags, Search Engines may view it as duplication of categories. They could write off your content as irrelevant for displaying in search results!
Make it easy for visitors to contact you on your website, and you will see more on-page action. This means you need to include a “Contact Us” page, but you could also include a pop-up chat box (for example). Other ways of increasing engagement with your WordPress site is to include plugins that allow users to access your social media sites, either by a page redirect or on the webpage itself.
If you create great content that is easy to read, understand, and respond to, your site is likely to do better. Your SEO will do better, and users will enjoy your site more. This means using fonts and font sizes that are clear and easy to read and using paragraphs. Make sure your images aren’t pixilated and that your site is easy to navigate.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you optimise your WordPress Site and SEO!