Albert Einstein once delivered a saying I truly cherished: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Think about it, and you shall see how much we learn from our own mistakes, especially when we experiment something brand new. WordPress, for example.
As I have said in many of my articles, despite being an easy-to-use CMS, this magical WordPress can be misleading sometimes. Therefore, although I do mean what I said above, that “we learn from our mistakes”, I also think it is even better to learn from mistakes made by others.
Why is that?
Well, to save time, of course. If you are new to WordPress, you surely want to move fast, am I right? In case you are an advanced user, I suppose you are not willing to pay the cost of wasting time on some mistakes you could have avoided at the very beginning, yes?
Therefore, dear newcomers and old residents of WordPress alike down here is the 10 most common mistakes I have recorded from experienced WordPress users. By preparing for them before they get a chance to happen, you will save some truly precious time and efforts.
If you want to make the most out of WordPress, never:
- Confuse between the Platforms
- Not Having Regular Backups
- Fail to Keep WordPress Updated
- Forget to Change the Default Admin Username
- Use the Default Permalinks
- Purchase Unnecessary Stuff
- Use Too Many Categories
- Ignore Google Analytics
- Neglect a Contact Form
- Change the Website’s URL Carelessly
Now, let’s begin to see why these deserve your notice, shall we?
1. Confused Between the Platforms?
Before we talk about sophisticated things, I’d like to remind you of one simple point. There are two kinds of WordPress we talk about, the first is the free WordPress.com, and the second is the self-hosted WordPress.org.
Why do I put this on top of the list?
Because it is beyond essential to differentiate between those two for your own sake. Many users, especially the beginners, have been baffled when choosing the suitable platform for their website. If you are one of those, remember that while the free WordPress.com only allows a simple, personal blog for bloggers, photographers, etc.
The WordPress.org is meant for people with more complex purposes, which require them to have total control over their websites in order to add plugins and make money from it, for example. Both have pros and cons, of course, hence, you’d better think carefully about the purpose and the scope of your soon-to-be website before making the final decision on which platform to take.
2. Not Having Regular Backups
Do undervalue the power of backups! Many people only admit how important it is to have backups when they wake up one day realizing all their precious data had vanished from your WordPress website. Therefore, I must say you should totally have proper backup for your website. With or without a bit of bad luck, crashes happen all the time, especially before implementing an update. Don’t wait until you yourself undergo the agony of losing your data and then decide to have a backup. This is a serious warning.
3. Fail to Keep WordPress Updated
Updating WordPress may seem scary because it may lead to crashes, but failing to update WordPress can result in even a more serious problem: security vulnerability. Why is that? Well, since WordPress core developers never stop improve WordPress, they release a new version whenever bugs and security issues are found. With the new version, they list all those bugs and issues out in the daylight, and hackers will make use of them to attack WordPress websites that are not updated yet. Sounds easy, yeah? It is, indeed, easy.
Don’t worry too much about the possible crash, because as long as your theme and plugins are well coded, it will not likely to occur. But like I said from the very beginning, it is always better to have a backup.
4. Forget to Change the Default Admin Username
WordPress automatically gives you the username “admin” when you install it. And, not surprisingly, hackers know that. If you continue using this default username without changing, hackers may apply a brute force attack to break your login and take over your WordPress website. If you’re wondering how to change it, I’m glad to remind you that WordPress does give you the chance to change it during the installation stage. Simply take that chance.
What is more, do not change it to something so simple that anyone who knows you can guess. Use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters to make it unique. Apply the same rule to your password, also.
5. Use the Default Permalinks
Wondering what that is? Well, permalinks are short for permanent links, which are the permanent URLs leading to different posts and pages. Without any change, a permalink would have this structure: http://www.eg.com/?p=123. Not only does it look bad, it is actually bad for SEO and usability. Instead of these emotionless links, a user and search engine friendly permalink would make your page rank higher in search results and also attract more readers.
Therefore, if you haven’t changed the default permalink structure, go to “Settings”, and then “Permalinks” to accomplish the job. For the sake of SEO, remember to include the post names in these links by selecting “Post name” from the list WordPress gives.
6. Purchase Unnecessary Stuff
As for those who decide to use self-hosted WordPress.org, in order to get your website up and running, all you ever need is web hosting and a domain. Many domain registrars offer other services, such as private registration, branded emails, SSL, 5-year registration, etc. Let me tell you what, most of them are useless and simply a waste of money.
For example, once you opted for private registration, it would be a super hard task to move the domain when you need it. Many people have experienced the annoyance of having to send the company many kinds of confidential information to get the job done. What about 5-year registration? Believe me, there is no point in paying such a large sum of money in advance just to lose it all if you decide to quit.
Most of the remaining services are pointless like these two, so don’t bother paying attention to them.
7. Use Too Many Categories
I know creating categories with WordPress is so easy that many users are tempted to do it more regularly than necessary. But that is totally not a good thing to do. Instead of having too many categories and mess up your WordPress website, you need to structure it wisely. How to do it? Well, use a draft (or you can do it with your mind) to arrange your posts into topics, then put the quite same articles into broad top-level categories. Done? Now, dividing them up into smaller units by giving them tags.
Trust me, it should not be a hard task. But it will help your website look far more organized whatever it would be with too many categories.
8. Ignore Google Analytics
I bet you have seen many articles and websites recommend Google Analytics. It is because this is a truly amazing tool to get valuable insights of your WordPress website. I repeat, valuable insights! Down here I will list out some reasons why it is loved by so many website runners. You will decide for yourself whether to use it, okay?
- Google Analytics is 100% free and;
- Shows you who visit your website and where they are from;
- Displays visitors’ activities on your website by providing you information about the time span, what pages are favored, how many pages an average visitor go to, etc.;
- It tells you when the most visitors come to your website so that you can calculate the best time to publish your posts;
- And so much more!
Now, tell me if you would create an account for Google Analytics?
9. Neglect a Contact Form
If you think creating a contact page and display your email there is enough. I must say you’re getting the wrong end of the stick. In many cases, WordPress website owners get nothing more than a bunch of SPAM emails.
Thus, having a contact form may be more advantageous than you think. Because it allows the visitors to have a direct interaction with you, the website owner. Well, for my recommendations on what plugin to choose, you should take a look at Gravity Forms or Contact Form 7. While I personally believe the former offers more options with an easier approach, the latter is worth a try too!
10. Change the Website’s URL Carelessly
One small error and you lose roughly all your traffic and income. Who can afford that price? No one? Yes, I think so too. The thing here is that many of us have grown unhappy with our first domain we registered and want to change it. This action needs careful steps, or else you will run the risk of losing your precious traffic and then, of course, your money.
Therefore, after finishing moving your website to a new domain. Don’t forget to notify Google and your users about the change.
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