10 Most Common WordPress Beginner Mistakes You Should Avoid
WordPress is arguably the most popular CMS platform in the world right now. It's reported that it powers over a third of all the websites on the planet!
In addition to that, the platform also controls over two-thirds of the worldwide CMS market share. So this means that it has the #1-ranking position in both those categories.
If you're using this popular platform to manage your website, or if you're thinking of switching over to it, this article will outline some of the most common WordPress mistakes that you need to avoid.
Although it's inevitable to make some mistakes when you're starting out online, some of them really are avoidable.
This is particularly true when it comes to beginner WordPress users, but even if you’ve been using WordPress for a long time, it's not likely that you are immune to error.
So read on to find out how to avoid making the same blunders over and over again.
You have to have a domain name as well as web hosting service to get your site off the ground.
However, a lot of new website owners tend to fall into the trap of wasting money on features they absolutely do not need.
It's only natural for domain registrars to want to upsell you on extra services, and for those who’ve never been through that process before, you may be fooled into thinking that the add-ons are a necessity – those web host marketers do present their pitches very well.
Someone new to web hosting may think that things like enhanced privacy, added security, and extra email accounts are actually a requirement. However, depending on your specific situation you probably won't need all the extras.
This means you can save money on that and put it towards other, more important features for your site and your business. Although it may not seem like a lot of money at the time, it does add up over time, particularly if you get billed on a monthly basis.
So make sure you get the right WordPress plan for your business’s needs.
This means that if you are just blogging for now, there's really no need for you to pay 10 times the amount to get an E-commerce Plan simply because you're considering selling something way down the road. You can build your blog first, and then upgrade your plan later when you are ready to scale your website.
2. Not Backing up
A lot of new website owners don't bother to back up their site. Everyone who does this seems to have the same mentality:
"It'll never happen to me."
But why risk waking up one morning to discover that your website has been compromised for whatever reason and that all your data has been lost? That’s the last thing a business owner wants to happen to them.
But the horrible truth is that it does happen - more often than you'd imagine.
Whether the website itself was hacked or the server crashed, if that happens to you, you’re going to have massive problems. Can you imagine starting over from scratch because of something like that?
Because that's what you would have to do if your content wasn’t properly backed up.
There's really no reason to take such a chance, especially when you consider how easy it is to back up your website.
You can set up automated WordPress backups using simple plug-ins that are free. Always make sure you use cloud storage services to keep your files safe.
If you back up your content right on the hosting server, you will still lose everything if that server gets compromised or crashes.
3. Not Using Google Analytics
I know this is not a very interesting topic for most marketers, but it's important to realize that your website will never operate at its peak performance if you are not analyzing data.
It's that simple.
If you want your websites operating at its best, you need to know at least the basic information about it, such as sources of traffic, conversions, best-performing content, the way people navigate, and various other things of that nature.
The more you know about your websites the more you'll be able to to make better-informed decisions that result in more leads and sales.
The best way to gain all this information and more is to integrate Google Analytics on your website.
Again this is simple to do and you can have Google Analytics installed just by using a simple plug-in on your WordPress website. The best plug-ins will offer you valuable and insightful reports on your audience.
You'll be able to learn a lot about how they behave on your site, events, conversion metrics, shopping cart data, and much, much more. You can then use this information for improving your site and targeting your traffic accordingly.
4. Ignoring Updates
On your WordPress dashboard, from time to time you'll notice notifications for updating something or other, whether it’s new versions of WordPress, plug-in updates, or something else. Website owners get these all the time, but not everyone acts on them in a timely manner.
When it comes to WordPress updates, some people are unwilling to install updates for the fear that they may cause their website to crash, but that is just a misconception.
The truth is that some themes and plug-ins are going to give you issues if your WordPress version isn't up to date. This means that staying on top of recent updates is always in your best interest.
5. Using the Wrong Theme
Many new website owners struggle with designing their website. That's because a lot of us don't have much design experience.
Just keep in mind that your website design has a massive impact on whether or not your website is successful, and if people land on your site and can't find what they are searching for, this crushes their user experience and leads to lower rankings for you.
Take advantage of the many themes offered by WordPress to find one that will work best for your business.
Because there are literally thousands of themes to choose from, the process of finding the right one can prove to be a bit overwhelming.
A lot of marketers get frustrated and end up just picking one for the sake of moving forward. They then start playing around with it, changing and tweaking the theme for days, and even weeks – wasting a lot of valuable time.
Instead of having to constantly rebuild your website over and over based on its theme, a much better option is to pick the right theme from the beginning.
All you need is for your theme to look good not only on desktops, but it should be mobile-friendly, too. The theme needs to be flexible and customizable according to what your needs are.
Choose a theme that is compatible with the different plug-ins you plan to use (or are already using). Also, the theme needs to be optimized for website speed and peak performance.
6. Confusing Pages and Posts
When creating content on your website, it's vital to understand the difference between pages and posts. For many new website owners, this can prove a confusing concept. Some WordPress beginners create important website pages on posts.
However, pages and posts behave very differently when it comes to your website architecture. All posts on your site link to pages by way of the navigation menu, but not all of your pages link to posts.
This means that if you do not clearly distinguish between the two from the very first, things are going to get very confusing and messy for you, later on, as the amount of content published on your website increases.
Basically, this is what you need to know to make sense of it all.
Pages are for timeless content that you won't be altering on a frequent basis, such as:
About Us Page
On the other hand, posts are for things such as blogs, articles, news updates, and so on. You can use posts for all pieces of website content that are time-based.
For your search engine optimization purposes, you need to know when and how to use posts versus pages on your WordPress site.
7. Confusing Tags with Categories
Your content on WordPress can be organized using categories and tags.
But, a lot of WordPress users don't know how to do this correctly. There are many websites with a lot of tags but no categories, and yet others that have nearly 100 categories on their website with no tags.
Neither of these two approaches is correct. It's important to understand that categories offer the most general way of grouping the content on your website while tags are a little more specific. This means that a blog post could fall into one category while having multiple tags.
For instance, someone who runs a news website might have the following categories:
The tags for one particular blog post on the site could be:
Golden State Warriors
8. Ignoring SEO
Many people just design their websites and add content without ever thinking about search engine optimization.
This is one of the most common mistakes beginner WordPress users make, and if that's how you've been doing it, that's the wrong way to go about it.
Without SEO, you are not going to get people to come to your website in the first place. That's why it's vital for you to learn search engine optimization best practices. Ranking high in the search engines will bring you a lot more website traffic over time.
The good news is that WordPress comes with inbuilt SEO tools that you can use. There’s also a wide variety of free and paid plug-ins that will help you get your website SEO up to par.
9. Not Monitoring Performance and Speed
Some WordPress users have hundreds of plug-ins installed, each of which adds different features and various kinds of functionality to their website. They also add hundreds of images and videos, as well as other interactive content to their site.
However, one thing they don't look at is how all this is impacting their website’s performance.
Page speed has a massive effect on user behavior, and it's something that you need to keep in mind when adding features to your website that could potentially slow it down and lead to poor performance.
For instance, if you have too many images on your website causing it to load slowly, this will greatly increase your bounce rate which will lead to lower rankings in the search engines.
On the flip side of the coin, when your content loads faster, site visitors tend to view more pages,
and this leads to higher rankings.
Your website needs to load in at least two seconds – preferably less, because sites in this category have been shown to get almost 9 page views each session, on average.
Use tools and resources to help you monitor your website’s speed and performance (there are a lot of free tools you can use on the Internet).
10. Poor Security
Being the most popular content management system in the world, it makes a lot of sense that WordPress is also a popular target where hackers are concerned. According to Internet Statistics and Facts, each and every day over 90,000 websites are hacked – 80% of which use WordPress!
If you want to prevent your website from getting attacked, be it by hackers, malware, or brute force attacks, you need to take the necessary steps to increase your site security.
There are a lot of consequences that come with allowing your website to fall prey to any of these issues.
If company or customer data was stolen from your website, that could ruin your reputation, destroy your SEO value, and result in you losing all your customers. I don't know about you, but I think this is something every website owner should definitely take steps to avoid.
You can do this by installing one of the many WordPress security plug-ins to keep your site safe at all times.
This article contains just 10 of the most common mistakes new WordPress users make.
However, there are others, some of which may seem like common sense to most people but they're easy for new website owners to overlook.
For instance, don't keep your website public while it's under construction! If you're still building it, no one needs to see it yet. Also, don't forget to remove the demo content from your site after it goes live.
I can't tell you how many websites I've seen with those default 'Hello World' pages. That just makes you look unprofessional, and will put people off from doing business with you!
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Updated: Originally published July 9th 2019