Are you ready to launch your WordPress website? Each day there are thousands of new websites are published. To makes sure your site is optimized properly and stands out from the crowd you’ll want to avoid some of the common pitfalls of publishing from the start. This article goes over some of the most common mistakes beginning WordPress users run into when launching their websites.
There’s nothing wrong from learning from your mistakes, but it’s always nice to learn from other people’s mistakes when you can. WordPress is very user friendly, but launching any type of website involves many variables. This makes it easy to overlook things, especially when you are a new user.
The WordPress platform attracts so many beginners because it’s a modular, simple web solution. For a large number of users, this is the first CMS that they have installed. Many WordPress users are also newbies when it comes to developing websites.
Because of this many beginners make some fundamental mistakes that can easily be avoided. Below are some of the most common mistakes made by beginners in WordPress. Many of these may seem obvious once you are familiar with them.
Choosing the Right Platform
When I started using WordPress, I was confused when I first learned about self hosting on WordPress.org vs free hosting on WordPress.com. Many new users will get confused between the two. If you just want to make a simple blog, you may not need self hosting, which will cost you a little bit of money. A free WordPress.com site is what most people start with.
Many times beginners will buy self hosted plans and use WordPress.org when they don’t need to. Then they are confused as to why they are paying monthly hosting fees. If you want more control over your site, want to add plugins, monetize it or have a larger site – you will want to go with a self hosted site. This gives you access to a lot more features than the free version of WordPress.
Compare the benefits and drawbacks of each and decide what kind of account is best for your needs. Check out our guide on How to Launch a Self Hosted WordPress Site if you are interested in using WordPress.org.
Getting a bigger hosting plan than you need
If you do decide to get a self hosted WordPress website, you’ll get access to lots of great features as we just mentioned. There are a lot of hosting services that will try to upsell you. A good rule of thumb when it comes to getting your hosting plan is: If you don’t know you need it, then you probably don’t need it.
Many times you won’t need a lot of the extras that are offered to you. If you want to run a site for a small business, you’ll be fine starting out with a basic shared hosting plan. Check out our post on Choosing the Right Web Host for more info on shopping for a plan.
Do a little research and shop around, otherwise you may end up spending hundreds of dollars more than you need for hosting on extras such as private registration, SSL, long-term contracts, cross registering domains to protect your interests etc.
Not Backing Up Your Site
This isn’t just a problem for new WordPress users. It seems like all website owners have a problem coming up with a comprehensive backup plan for their websites. This can really hurt you if your website is hacked or you end up having a problem updating.
To ensure your data is safe, you need to back up as often as you can to preserve your data. Nowadays it’s easy to do and there are lots of plugins you can use as well. If you aren’t sure how to get started, get help from a pro. There are lots of backup and restore services available at low cost. Checkout VaultPress by JetPack for only $5 per month. There are many ways to backup your site for free as well using plugins like Duplicator.
Changing the Permalinks
After you install WordPress the default permalink settings are set to /?p=<postid>. This doesn’t look so good when your URL is displayed, and it’s not the best for SEO purposes. With the default settings your post would look like this: www.mywebsite.com/?p=17 instead of something easier to remember like: www.mywebsite.com/never-forget/ This way your links are SEO friendly and make more sense.
A lot of beginners don’t change the permalink settings to something more user friendly. The result is known as a pretty permalinks.” Go to Settings>Permalinks in the WordPress dashboard to change the settings. Usually the first thing I do when I open the dashboard on a new site is change the permalink settings to /%postname%/.
Publishing Unfinished Pages
Many beginners show their experience level by making the mistake of publishing an incomplete page. Often times a WordPress noob will launch their site before it’s complete. I’ve definitely done this in the past and it’s definitely not best practice. If this happens your visitors may try to browse your site and end up on pages that aren’t finished or worse, not found.
This can leave a bad impression on your guests and may discourage people from coming back. It’s best to wait until everything is done to launch your site. You can use a maintenance mode plugin like Coming Soon and Maintenance. This keeps visitors informed about your launch date.
Not Measuring Performance
A lot times beginners have no idea how to increase traffic to their site. There are many things you can do in terms of marketing and SEO, but you need some tools to help you along the way. Installing Google Analytics and Using Jetpack Stats can give you a lot of insight. This includes what’s working and areas that may need some improvement.
It’s also wise to measure page performance as well. Once you figure out ways to increase your performance you can optimize everything. This includes deleting or deactivating unused plugins, using cache plugins, having the right hosting plan, optimizing media and more.
Installing Too Many Plugins
Having too many plugins running can bloat your system. In the past a lot of people had this problem with Jetpack in the past. If aren’t using a plugin it should be deactivated or uninstalled. Beginners are often guilty of installing plugins that they don’t use.
Having dozens of plugins and only using a couple is actually quite common for beginners. This kind of behavior will hog resources and slow down a site considerably. Try and only keep plugins that you need and don’t forget to deactivate or install plugins you don’t use frequently.
Don’t ignore the SEO settings. When you install WordPress, you get the option to prevent search engines from indexing your site. It’s common for people to choose this option. The problem arises when they forget to undo this option, which means their site will never be indexed by web crawlers.
Another common SEO mistake is when users fail to optimized their posts and pages. You need to be proactive with your SEO strategy to get results. Installing WordPress SEO by Yoast is a good start for any SEO campaign. But it’s important to update your meta settings as well and follow best SEO practices to get noticed by search engine bots.
Using a Word Processor
A lot of bloggers use Microsoft Word an equivalent word processing program to write their text. Personally I use MS Word because I’ve optimized it into my workflow, but in the past I ran into a lot of problems with it. It’s best to use the built in text editor. Pasting from Word into the WordPress text editor (or Dreamweaver for that matter) will add all sorts of strange characters and extra spaces to your text.
It’s a tedious task to hunt down every instance where there was a quotation mark and delete the extra character, or make sure there aren’t extra blank spaces where they shouldn’t be. There is an option to paste from Word from the visual editor, or you could first paste your text into notepad or any other text editor to clean up the extra characters. This might take extra time though. It’s best to use the WordPress post editor.
A lot of times it’s fun to just dive right in and start using WordPress, but a little research and some planning can go a long way. You know what they say, failing to plan is planning to fail. But don’t worry too much if you’ve made some of these rookie mistakes. I’ve made just about every mistake on this list at one point or another. In hind sight it’s embarrassing because some patience and planning could have helped me avoid a lot of these. Hopefully this list will give you a heads up and help you optimize your WordPress website for success. Let us know if there’s any common mistakes you notice on WordPress websites that should be added to this list.