If you’re new to WordPress you may already have discovered just how easy it is to install and get started.
The team at Automattic has gone out of their way to make the setup process as simple and user friendly as possible. Some web hosts have taken that simplicity a step further and offer a one-click install for WordPress installations.
Because getting your site online is so simple these days, many key things often aren’t taken care of by new WordPress users. By mistakenly leaving these settings in their default state, new users are opening themselves up to potential problems later in the life of their website.
Let’s take a look at a few common mistakes you can avoid when setting up your website.
#1. Forgetting to change the default admin username
When you install WordPress, it automatically creates the username “admin” with administrator privileges. It’s the username that is obviously predictable to hackers. Using the “admin” username, they can easily perform a brute force attack to crack your login and take control over your site.
As WordPress gives you the option to change the username during installation, it doesn’t make sense to stick with the default one. Therefore, while installing WordPress, make sure to change your default WordPress admin username to a different username. Also, use a combination of numbers, letters and special characters in your username and password.
#2. Choosing the wrong platform
Free WordPress.com or self hosted WordPress.org? Most of the WordPress beginners often get confused between these two, and it’s one of the most common mistakes, which is seen among beginners. While you’re going to start out as a beginner, it’s extremely crucial to know what’s the difference between them and which one can be the right choice for your new WordPress blog.
As both of them have their own pros and cons, it’s a big challenge for you to decide which option is perfect for you. WordPress.com (run by the folks at Automattic) is most suitable for bloggers, photographers, and artists – almost everyone. On the other hand, WordPress.org is made for those who like to have total control over their websites. Whatever option you choose, be careful.
#3. Staying with the default tagline “just another blog”
A tagline is a one-line description about what your site is. By default, WordPress adds “Just Another Blog”tagline to every WordPress install. Most of the WordPress newbies forget to remove/change it and get it indexed by Google, which is not a good practice.
Hence, it’s advisable to choose a unique and witty tagline that has some relation with your blog niche or content. You can change the default tagline by going to Settings >> General in your WordPress dashboard. Also, don’t forget to delete the sample page that ships with WordPress install.
#4. Using the default favicon
The Favicon is considered as the identity card of your website. It’s a little icon associated with your site, typically displayed in the browser’s address bar or next to the site name in a list of bookmarks. Mostly WordPress newbies ignore their favicons, so their blogs/sites usually have favicons displayed by WordPress as default, or provided by their Theme Company or Web Hosting Provider.
To look more professional, you really need to change your favicon right now if you haven’t already. You can either make a favicon by yourself, or create one using one of the free favicon generators available around the web. Once you’ve generated your favicon, you need to upload it in the images section of your theme in order to replace the default one.
#5. Complicated categories & tags
One of the best features of WordPress is the capability to categorize content with tags. Taking advantage of this great feature, most of the people create too many categories and tags, as they think this will make ease for users but in fact, it isn’t so. Instead, doing so can affect your site in a negative manner.
Too much and complex categories not only make your site ugly and difficult to navigate, but also influence users to leave your website and affect everything from SEO to load time of your site. So, try to limit tags and categories in order to stay hold your visitors for a long time on your website.
#6. Using the default permalink structure
A permalink is a permanent static hyperlink to a specific blog post in your WordPress blog. You would probably have noticed that WordPress default permalink structure is something like www.yoursite.com/?p=123. Not only does this look awkward, but also bad for SEO and users.
A user and search-engine friendly permalink structure doesn’t only help you get ranked higher in search engines, but also shows your professionalism to your readers. After you’ve installed WordPress, never forget to make changes to your permalinks structure, by going under Settings » Permalinks. To get the most out of your SEO efforts, use appropriate keywords in your permalink structure.
#7. Not having a contact form
Another common mistake made by many beginners is not adding a contact form on their blogs. Instead, they create a contact page and simply mention their email there. That’s not the right way to get your audience in touch with you, as after a few months you’ll notice that your inbox is getting flooded with insane amount of SPAM.
The best solution to this problem and way to allow your audiences directly interact with you is adding a simple contact form to your site. For this purpose, you can install Contact Form 7 or Gravity Forms plug-in. We recommend you to try Gravity Forms plug-in, because it allows you to create any type of form using a simple drag-drop interface.
#8. Forgetting to install a caching plug-in
A lot of beginners ignore to install a caching plug-in, as they don’t know that website speed plays a major role in getting higher rankings on Google. In order to make sure that your site can sustain a lot of traffic at once without crashing, you should use a caching plug-in and Content Delivery Network (CDN) as well.
Caching is used to increase efficiency, prevent downtime, and decrease load time of your site, whenever it gets huge loads of traffic. There are three best free plug-ins that you can use to speed up our WordPress blog: WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. Additionally, we recommend you to get started with a CDN such as KeyCDN or Cloudflare.
#9. Forgetting to create backup
One of the big mistakes that we all usually make is not creating a backup of our WordPress site. We realize the importance of WordPress backups, only when we lose our years of hard work within a few seconds, and then need a backup to restore things back to normal at that time. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to have a manual/automatic backup of your WordPress site, especially when you’re going to perform an update.
Having a proper backup of your WordPress site is a must, as crashes may happen any time. As nothing is 100% foolproof in the world of technology, make sure you’re prepared to avoid that painful situation – loss of your valuable data. If you’re using WordPress.com platform, you can easily backup your blog by going to Tools, and then “Export” in dashboard. For self-hosted WordPress.org, you can use phpMyAdmin tool, or an online service such as VaultPress, or a backup plug-in such as BackupBuddy and BackWPup.
#10. Ignoring WordPress updates
WordPress has got updated more than 20 times, since it’s launched. WordPress core developers and contributors are constantly working to improve its speed, efficiency and user-interface. Whenever a vulnerability or bug is found, it gets a new update. Ignoring a WordPress update can result into a security vulnerability and make hackers’ lives easier as well.
Many people think that their WordPress site may break while performing an update, but that’s just a myth. If your theme and plug-ins are coded in a proper way, then your site will never break. Never forget, a newer version is created for a genuine reason. Therefore, you should never ignore a WordPress update.
#11. Not using Google Analytics
Would you like to drive a car that doesn’t have headlights? Absolutely not! Then why would you run your blog without using an analytics program like Google Analytics. As WordPress dashboard is not enough to get detailed insights about your site, you should use one of the best web analytics services: Google Analytics.
Google Analytics offers you a wide range of free services that you can use to monitor your website traffic, keep track of visitor’s behavior on your site and know about the keywords that can generate more traffic to your site. Apart from this, we also recommend you to sign-up with Google Webmaster Tools to keep track of your website health.
#12. Making life difficult for mobile users
Nowadays, everyone moves between multiple devices, like smart-phones, tablets, laptops, PCs or TV, to browse or purchase something via internet. As people are rapidly adopting multi-screen devices, it has become a must to make your website either fully responsive or mobile-friendly.
If you still haven’t adopted this trend, you have two options. First, you can use a Responsive WordPress theme that automatically adapts to whatever the screen size or device is. Second, you can make your site mobile-compatible by using a mobile plug-in like WPtouch or WPTap. The choice is yours!
#13. Ignoring gravatar & Google authorship markup
Have you heard of Gravatar? No! Well, a Gravatar (Globally Recognized Avatar) is a small picture that represents you throughout the World Wide Web. It appears next to your name when you comment on a blog post or discuss in a forum. We suggest you to start using it right away to get identified and build a brand around web.
Just like Gravatar, Google Authorship Markup lends credibility and maximizes exposure. Setting up Google Authorship Markup is a quite simple one-time process, which will show up your photo next to the Meta description in Google’s search results. Get started with it as soon as possible.
#14. Ignoring image optimization
One of the worst mistakes we all make is often forgetting to optimize images, while publishing an article. Specially, beginners don’t care at all about it. If you want to make your WordPress site load faster, then make image optimization your first priority.
Using HD images can have a tremendous impact on your site speed, while optimized images can improve the overall performance of your site in a dramatic way. So don’t forget to optimize images before uploading them to your WordPress site. There are plenty of plugins availbale in wordpress repository to do this for you, one such example is Optimus – WordPress Image Optimizer
#15. Not Deleting the Sample Page
While most people will remove the “Hello World!” post and comment that can be found on it, many people forget or never notice the sample page that is created with the WordPress installation.
It does no actual harm by being left there but Google will index it and it will make you look like a total newbie. The simple thing to do to avoid any issues is to remove the page. It’s not doing anything for you so it has no place in your completed website. Delete it.
Bonus: Not using any SEO plugin
Search engine traffic is an essential key for any profitable online business, without organic traffic you can’t make more sales. Search engine traffic is not only free, but it is one of the quality traffic sources where you can convert most visitors into customers as they search for the solutions to their problems.
If you are a WordPress beginner and not using a SEO plugin such as All in one SEO pack, SEO by Yoast, Premium SEO pack etc. you are making a big mistake. There are hundreds of SEO plugins available in WordPress plugin directory ranging from free to premium.
The above mistakes are common among new WordPress users but are simple to avoid. All it takes is a little thought and a little planning before you make your site live and you can avoid a lot of the problems new users end up facing down the line.
Do you have any other advice for new WordPress users? What simple mistakes did you make in the beginning of your site that you wish you could go back and change? Let us know in the comments.
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