We all know WordPress is a great platform for building a website, but there are some common mistakes that new users make when just starting out with the platform. The good news is that all of these mistakes are preventable.
In this post, we’ll take a look at seven of the most common mistakes newbies make and how to prevent them.
Whether you’re just starting out with WordPress or you’ve been using it for a while, be sure to read through these tips and take a preventative approach so you don’t end out having to put out any fires on your site later on.
Mistake #1: Not creating a backup before updating WordPress
One of the most common WordPress mistakes is failing to create a backup before updating WordPress. While WordPress updates are typically quick and painless, there is always a risk that something could go wrong.
If your WordPress site isn’t backed up, you could lose all of your content and data. To avoid this nightmare scenario, be sure to create a full backup of your WordPress site before updating to the latest version.
There are many WordPress backup plugins available, so there’s no excuse not to have a backup in place. Taking a few minutes to backup your site before updating can save you hours of pain and frustration if something goes wrong.
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Mistake #2: Not using secure passwords
As most experienced WordPress users know, choosing a secure password is essential to protecting your site from hackers. A strong password should be at least 8 characters long and contain a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.
Many WordPress users make the mistake of using simple passwords that are easy to guess. Hackers can use brute force methods to try to guess common passwords, so it’s important to choose something that is unique and not easily guessed.
Mistake #3: Installing too many shiny-object plugins
One of the most common mistakes WordPress beginners make is installing too many plugins. While it’s tempting to add every shiny new plugin you come across, doing so can actually jeopardize the stability and security of your site.
In addition, each plugin you add will increase the load time of your pages, which can frustrate visitors and lead to lower search engine rankings.
How can you avoid this mistake?
First, take some time to evaluate whether a plugin is truly necessary. If you can accomplish the same goal using a built-in WordPress feature or a theme setting, that’s probably the best route to take.
As an outline, ensure you have
- Spam Protection, like Akismet
- An On-Page SEO Plugin, like RankMath or Yoast
- A Cache Plugin, like WP Rocket
- An Image Compressor, like Imagify
- A Backup Plugin, like Duplicator
These alone set you up with some solid essentials.
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Mistake #4: Choosing clunky themes
One of the most common WordPress mistakes is choosing a clunky theme. A theme is essentially the design template for your website, and there are thousands of themes to choose from – both free and premium.
Many beginners opt for a free theme, thinking they’re saving money. However, free themes often come with a host of problems, such as poor code quality, lack of support and outdated design.
Additionally, free themes are often more difficult to customize, which can lead to a clunky and frustrating user experience. A better option is to choose a premium theme from a reputable source. Premium themes may cost a few hundred dollars, but they offer a much higher level of quality and support.
Plus, they’re typically much easier to customize, so you can create a website that looks exactly the way you want it to. Before choosing a theme, be sure to do your research and select a design that will be easy to use and maintain.
I recommend Kadance or Astra themes, and Elementor if you want a drag-and-drop editor.
Mistake #5: Not using an on-page SEO tool
One of the most common WordPress mistakes is failing to use an on-page SEO tool.
While WordPress is a powerful platform, it doesn’t automatically optimize your website for search engines. As a result, you could be missing out on valuable traffic if your website isn’t properly optimized.
An on-page SEO tool can help you to identify and fix common errors, such as incorrect keyword placements and broken links. Additionally, an on-page SEO tool can help you to monitor your website’s progress over time so that you can make tweaks as needed.
If you want to ensure that your website is properly optimized, then be sure to invest in an on-page SEO tool and follow the SEO best practices that those tools will suggest to you.
I recommend getting familiar with RankMath initially, as it will help give you a good idea of what good content is supposed to look like by adhering to the RankMath checklist within your post editor.
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Mistake #6: Not compressing images
One of the most common mistakes made when working with images is not compressing them before saving them. Images can take up a lot of space, which can quickly eat up your storage.
Fortunately, there are a number of free tools such as Imagify or Shortpixal that make it easy to compress images. By compressing your images, you can save space and make sure your website runs smoothly.
Mistake #7: Modifying core files
One of the most common mistakes made by WordPress users is modifying core files. While it may be tempting to do so in order to make a change or two, it is almost always a bad idea.
Modifying core files can cause major problems with your site, including compatibility issues and conflicts with plugins and themes. It can also make it difficult to update WordPress in the future.
If you do need to make a change to a core file, it is best to create a child theme or use a plugin that allows you to override the default settings. By doing so, you can avoid making any permanent changes to your site that could cause problems down the road.
As you can see, there are quite a few mistakes that newbies a prone to when starting out with WordPress. I know I’ve made just about all of them at some point.
Fortunately, most of them are easy to prevent by following a few simple guidelines. What mistakes have you made with WordPress? Let us know in the comments!
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