WordPress has become a popular and vital tool for creating business websites, but there are common mistakes that webmasters make when using this tool that could affect their website. Over the next two months we shall unpack and then address these mistakes to ensure you have a successful business website.
Not backing up your website
Users may think this is not necessary and that nothing is going to happen to their content. Or they will delay the backup thinking they will do it later. This can be a costly mistake where thousands of rands can be lost, not to mention hours of hard work. You must schedule and secure the times at which you backup your data. Set a time each week when you will do the backup and get into a routine of doing this. You could lose data when you modify a theme or add a plugin. Always ensure you have backed up your data before you make any major changes to the site. WordPress has backup features in the form of plugins and these are easy to obtain. There are three very reliable back systems for WordPress: VaultPress, BackupBuddy from iThemes and BackWPUp (free). Download one of them now and save yourself a lot of stress.
Testing a product on a live website
Webmasters may decide to install a plugin directly on to the live website to save time. However, there are dire consequences. You may have to take your website offline for a few hours to fix the problems. This will cost you in terms of organic traffic being lost from search engines, lack of affiliate income, loss of advertisement clicks, no direct referral traffic and worst of all – losing your search engine ranking. If Google is directed to your website and it is down, you will lose vital SEO points. Traffic and money will be lost!
The solution here is to use an experimental copy of your site such as the staging area in WPEngine. Here your website is copied and you can make as many changes as you want or install plugins and if it breaks, you know you still have your original website.
Ensure your backup is safe
Backing up to your hard drive may not keep your website safe. You need to backup your backup! Use Dropbox, Box, SkyDrive etc. or any cloud computing to ensure that your website will not get corrupted when it is on your laptop or PC.
Lack of Permalinks
Permalinks are vital for a website. In WordPress permalinks are the way in which your site’s URL is structured so that Google can find you. Always use a URL that contains keywords to increase organic traffic to your website.
The use of cheap web hosting companies
It is very tempting to use a cheap web hosting company when you start up, but this can lead to several problems in the long run. Cheap hosting companies have a lot of traffic on their servers. In other words, they have too many users. This slows down the speed of your website. It is best to use trusted and well-known hosting companies such as VPS or Managed WordPress hosting.
Downloading too many plugins
WordPress has a lot of very good plugins and one is tempted to use them all, however, this can cause server resource overuse and you could lose your shared hosting account. There are activated plugins and deactivated plugins. The ones you have to be careful to not use too many of are the activated plugins. Sometimes a plugin does not work because of another plugin. In this case the one plugin becomes restricted by the other one because it is holding on to a particular resource.
The best solutions to avoid this mistake are to use reputable plugins and only the ones you really need. You can also deactivate plugins that you don’t use.
Changing your theme too often
There are thousands of themes to choose from that one can be tempted to change the look and feel of your website too many times. Too many theme changes will cause a cluttered WordPress database resulting in a longer response time. It is also important not to change your theme too many times from a branding perspective. People will get used to the graphics they see and associate this with your business. Changing the theme too many times could cause confusion as to what your branding actually is.
Not changing your username from ‘admin’
When you activate WordPress there is a default username that is ‘admin’. You need to change this to a unique username for security reasons. Hackers know about this username and will be able to access your website and cause some serious damage.
Using a weak password
This goes along with what we are saying about changing your username to something unique. In the same instance you want to ensure you have a strong password that nobody will guess. Use numbers, caps and special characters.
Be sure to follow our 2 Part series next month as we uncover more common WordPress mistakes.