When it comes to open source content publishing systems, there is no arguing that WordPress is one of the most popular names in the world today, being used by individuals and businesses alike. With its many powerful features and versatility, it comes as no surprise that even larger companies and organizations make use of WordPress for its content management and publishing.

Just take a look at the big names that make use of WordPress as its content management system (CMS): Google, eBay, Facebook, Sony, LinkedIn, to name a few.

176 - How to Avoid Making the 6 Most Crucial WordPress Mistakes

This article provides you with insights on 1) why to use WordPress as your CMS and 2) the 6 most common mistakes when using WordPress.

WHY WORDPRESS?

If we are to name the top reasons why WordPress is highly recommended, one of them would be its variety of plug-and-play plugins, which allows for greater convenience and freedom on the part of the users, and pretty much guarantees versatility. It makes the whole thing low-maintenance, without compromising on performance and features. If you take a look at the many things you can do using WordPress plugins, you will definitely be amazed at how much you are missing out. The fact that these plugins are regularly updated also adds to that convenience.

WordPress is also known for making everything look so easy. Yes, ease of use ranks high on the list of many users when looking for a platform to use, and WordPress certainly has it in spades. Users are often turned off by the idea of starting a blog, or managing one, because it seems like a daunting task. They are under the impression that they have to learn (and master) coding, and the various tech tasks that go with it.

With WordPress, everything is simplified, so even those who have zero knowledge about coding and complex CMS can easily learn to manage their own database and content.

Perhaps the greatest strength of WordPress as a platform is how user-friendly it is. It is easy to learn and use, it is versatile and powerful, and it can make even an amateur look like a professional coder with just a few choice clicks and button selections.

But even the most user-friendly platform does not guarantee that mistakes do not happen. WordPress users also find themselves committing some crucial mistakes; often, they don’t even realize that they are making these blunders! It is time to take a look at the most common and crucial WordPress mistakes, so you can find out whether you are doing things right or not, and also look into ways to avoid repeating these mistakes in the future.

COMMON WORDPRESS MISTAKES, AND HOW TO AVOID THEM

Just because WordPress is easy to use means that many users tend to be complacent about it, and they overlook even the most minor details. Unfortunately, some of these so-called little or minor things can have not-so-little impact or implications.

Mistake #1: Failure to Update WordPress and its plugins

WordPress periodically publishes new releases or versions, as well as updates on security and maintenance and even bug fixes. In 2013 alone, WordPress had 7 releases, 8 in 2014 and, 10 in 2015. Most of the releases were security and maintenance releases which, when left un-updated, will render your content vulnerable to security issues.

Similarly, plugins developers are also continuously keeping their plugins up to date with the latest releases or versions of WordPress. They also make it a point to be on the lookout for security problems, so they can develop patches or ways to fix bugs. Once they do, they release these plugin updates.

Unfortunately, many users overlook updating their WordPress version or even those of their plugins. Part of the reason is because they find it too tedious. In updating plugins, for example, many users are not too keen on checking their plugins one by one and updating them one at a time.

Never forget to update; if you do, you are missing out on a whole lot of WordPress’ newest and cutting-edge features, as well as new themes and utilities to make content management and publishing much easier, faster and convenient.

How to Avoid It

Update your WordPress version to the latest release. WordPress Version 3.7, which came out in October 2013, came with the “Automatic Background Updates”, which is essentially an “updates while you sleep feature”. These are then carried over to the later releases. This feature enables updates to automatically run in the background.

But do not rely wholly on this feature. You should also take some time to regularly check your plugins if they are properly updating, and if the updates do not result to incompatibility issues. Being able to catch problems early, before they can cause bigger problems, will be to your advantage.

It is also a good idea to keep yourself updated on the latest and best WordPress plugins out there. Keep in mind that developers are always hard at work to come up with plugins that you can actually use, and if you are not alert enough, you might be missing on the best plugins that can improve your website as a whole.

But do not go on a plugin downloading and installing spree, because you might end up slowing down your website with too many plugins, more than half of which are unnecessary and just making your website run slowly due to compatibility issues and conflicts. Pick only the ones that you need, and the ones that actually work best for your website. If you have plugins that you are no longer using, deactivate them or completely remove them.

Mistake #2: Failure to Back up Your Site

There is nothing more frustrating than applying an update, only to realize later on that you’ve lost a huge chunk of content that you have laboriously worked on and maintained for lengthy periods. All that content, gone in less than 5 seconds – and all because you were not able to properly back up your site.

There is a tendency for many users to wholly rely on technology taking care of the minute details, such as making sure their content is stored. Well, technology is growing by leaps and bounds, and things are bound to happen. Unexpected crashes, hacks and accidents can take place, and you can lose important and precious content if you do not backup properly.

How to Avoid It

Always make backing up your site a habit, especially before you apply any updates or upgrades. Fortunately, there are now several tools that you can use to back up your site easily, quickly and efficiently.In case something goes wrong, restoring the database will be easier, since you already have a backup. Backing up can be done by using tools and programs such as cPanel, phpMyAdmin, and various MySQL GUI tools. There are also several WordPress Database Backup Plugins that can be accessed and downloaded from the WordPress plugins directory.

One of the most popular WordPress backup plugins is BackupBuddy from iThemes. It seems to share WordPress’ philosophy of being user-friendly, because it is also designed to be easy to use. While other backup plugins focus mainly on the database, BackupBuddy has a more holistic approach, since it backs up your whole WordPress installation. That means that it’s not just the database that is backed up, it also includes the themes, widgets, plugins and various other settings in place.Premium users, especially those who maintain multiple sites on WordPress, may try the VaultPress plugin.

There is also the automatic backup plugin WP-DB-Backup, which allows users to easily backup their core WordPress database tables.

Be careful, though: do not just rely on automatic backups. You should also back up your auto backups further with manual backups. It is better to be safe than sorry, they say. And do not just perform partial backups; make sure you do full backups, just to cover all your bases.

And it shouldn’t end there. Once users performed the backup process, they may end up leaving it lying around. This is a huge no-no. Make sure that you keep your backup in a separate storage, just to be sure. Other more prudent users make a point to back up their site to cloud or on an online storage facility AND back up it again onto a CD, DVD, or an external hard drive. This is basically backing up your backup.

Follow these simple instructions to manually backup your content from your hosting company’s cpanel.

Mistake #3: Not Making the WordPress Site Mobile-Friendly

More and more users are using their smartphones and other mobile devices to access the internet, and a larger chunk of online traffic can be traced back to mobile users. You might not know it, but you may be missing out on sizable amount of traffic for your website, for the simple reason that it is not mobile user-friendly.

How to Avoid It

Make sure that your website is customized for smartphones and mobile devices. This can be easily accomplished by choosing a WordPress theme designed for access and viewing on smartphones, tablets and other similar devices. Fortunately, there are now a lot of such themes that you can choose from.

Another way to go about it is by using a plugin intended for exactly that purpose. A popular mobile plugin is WPTouch, which automatically adds a mobile theme for your WordPress site, so that mobile visitors can easily navigate it using their mobile devices.

Mistake #4: Not Bothering with Search Engine Optimization

Having a very good WordPress site with equally very good content will be all for nothing if your site does not get noticed, and one way to get eyes drawn to your site is by making sure it appears in search engine results. This is where SEO – or Search Engine Optimization – comes into play.

Unfortunately, there are still many users who do not fully realize the potential of SEO and how it could help them get the recognition that they want. They just fill their site with great content, and “hope for the best”. This won’t get them very far, if at all.

How to Avoid It

You might not know it, but you can configure your site’s pages for SEO. A few tweaks here and there can make all the difference between getting your post noticed, and having it buried along with millions of other content that go unread. WordPress made this easier by coming up with the All in One SEO Pack Pro plugin, which pretty much makes it easy for any user to customize each individual post’s or page’s search engine settings.

Other SEO plugins that you should consider installing, aside from the All in One SEO Pack, are SEO Friendly Images, SEO Ultimate, and the Google XML Sitemaps. The last one is especially recommended by many experts, since it is effective in helping search engines index your WordPress site better. Upon installing it, it will generate a special XML sitemap, which shows the structure of the content in your WordPress website, allowing search engines to take note of it much faster and clearer.

You should also pay attention to your permalink structure. There are WordPress users who tend to just stick to the default permalink structure, which pretty much renders their URLs very weak in terms of SEO. The backlinks will be greatly affected since there is a high chance in the future that the URLs would have changed. What you should do is to change the default to another structure. It is also good for SEO if you use a URL structure that contains keywords.

A quick fix that some experts recommend is using the Post Name structure, where the title of the post itself will be used as the URL.

Mistake #5: Not Investing in Their WordPress Site

This is a reality that some users seem to have difficulty accepting: if they want good value, they should pay for it. So they end up choosing free themes (because they refuse to spend money on paid themes), so they are left with very little to no customization options. The result is a plain, boring-looking website design. While there is nothing wrong with the free plugins, there is just no denying the fact that the plugins that must be paid for have more features.

Cheap web hosting, more often than not, is exactly that: cheap. The most common problem encountered when using cheap web hosting for your WordPress site is frequent downtimes. This happens when there is overuse, or their servers are flooded.

How to Avoid It

Invest, but invest wisely. If you have to shell out several dollars for a very good theme – one that suits the content perfectly – then do so. Pick from among the many recommended web hosting service providers. Shop around, especially if you are on a tight budget. Remember: it is an investment, and it will give you returns eventually, provided you made the right investment decisions. We have had very good hosting experience with bluehost when we started out with our blogging.

Those who are looking to enhance their WordPress websites without spending money tend to look into shady sources for themes and plugins. Sadly, there are a lot of them out there, and they are definitely tempting. However, there is also the risk that their themes and plugins come with malicious codes which are potential come-ons for hackers to mess around with your website. When buying anything for your WordPress site, buy only from reputable sources.

Mistake #6: Not Moderating Content

Now here is another mistake often committed by WordPress users. They focus too much on the technical side of things – the design, the customization, the themes – but then they forget that the reason people visit a website is primarily for the content.

How to Avoid It

Pay attention to every detail of content you put up on your WordPress site.

  • Make content relevant and complete. Is it useful? Will the readers actually be interested? And is the content presented in such a way that will catch their attention and get positive – or any, for that matter – reaction from them? The best way to go about this is to put yourself in the shoes of your readers. Would you be interested to read it, and would you look forward to reading more? Here’s another sticking point for many users: some of them tend to publish incomplete posts, whether intentionally or by accident. This is why you must be cautious when making posts. Check, double-check, and triple-check, before clicking on the Publish button.
  • Optimize images. This involves making sure that the images you use are relevant to the post you are making, and that they are formatted properly. This means taking into account details such as the image dimensions, file sizes, and the like.
  • Moderate comments. It may take a while before your website attracts active commenters, and when they do, make sure that you moderate the comments. This is so that you can maintain the quality of your website and its content, and also keep bots from spamming your posts. You may also install plugins specially designed against spam, the most popular of which is Akismet.
  • Be consistent. The frequency of updates in your website will also help your site’s branding and marketing. It makes no sense if your WordPress version is up to date, and your plugins are regularly updated, but content is updated once every two months. Be current. Be updated.

We can name many other mistakes committed by WordPress users, but these, by far, are the most common ones.

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