Did you know that according to w3techs.com: “WordPress is used by 60.3% of all the websites whose content management system we know. This is 30.2% of all websites.”
There are excellent reasons why this is the case and why WordPress can be perfect for smaller businesses. However, if you, like so many other people, use a WordPress site for your blog or indeed for your business website in general, now is a good time to stop and do a quick check to make sure that you are not making one of the very common mistakes that make WordPress users look, well, a bit silly and that can also reduce the effectiveness of all of your site-building and site promotion efforts.
Here are some of the most important things to be on the lookout for:
Protect Your Website
First and foremost, having a secure website is a must. After all, you do not want all of your SEO efforts and functionality to be in vain. WordPress is a popular CMS option for people and businesses alike; this means due to popularity, it is also just as popular for hackers to try to get into.
Make sure you pick out a secure username and password for your admin panel, along with other precautions to ensure your site is protected.
If you want to have some added security to your WordPress site, there are plenty of helpful tools out there to use. Installing Sucuri, enabling firewall protection, and disabling file editing are a few options that can help out with protecting your website.
Leaving the ‘Not Just Another WordPress Blog’ Tagline in Place
You would be surprised how many otherwise quite competent WordPress users forget to remove the generic tagline that is a part of all new WP installations. Doing so means that not only will it show up in your header and make you (and your company) look rather silly but it will show up in search engines as well, derailing your (future) hard work on SEO.
This is an easy mistake to make, especially as many themes do not show the legend as a part of the frontend display. Want to make sure it’s gone? Check Settings >General >Tagline and make sure your copy has replaced the boilerplate stuff.
Keeping Deactivated Plugins or Failing to Update Active Ones
WordPress plugins can be handy. In fact, they are one of the most useful aspects of the whole CMS, as they can allow you to do so much so easily. But the fact is that they can also put your site in danger.
One of the easiest ways hackers find their way into a WordPress site is through a weakness or ‘backdoor’ in a plugin, especially if it is an older unused one. The security plugin provider WordFence keeps a log of the vulnerabilities they discover in plugins – some of the ‘big name’ plugins – and reading it can be scary.
Therefore you have to not only be very careful about which plugins you install in the first place but also that you delete any plugins you are no longer using, instead of leaving them in place ‘just in case.’ Just because they are deactivated on the front end does not mean they cannot be exploited, so if you are not using a plugin delete it, you can always reinstall it later if you change your mind.
If a message on the dashboard says a plugin needs to be updated, do so ASAP, as these updates are often specifically released to address bugs and problems the developers have identified and need to fix.
One of the most widely used WordPress plugins, Yoast, made a mistake last year that damaged the SERP positions of some sites temporarily. The developers worked with Google and fixed it quickly, but affected sites could only ‘fix’ the mistake in Google’s eyes by updating the plugin, and doing so as soon as they released it.
That is an extreme example, but when a plugin is updated, it is often to fix smaller vulnerabilities that have been discovered or to retain comparability with the current WordPress version. That means that failing to update your plugins could break your site as well as damage your SEO.
In addition to keeping plugins you don’t need around or not updating them properly, we cannot forget to note that although plugins can be great, as with most things you can have too much of a good thing. Do not go installing plugins on a whim without much research.
For every new plugin, you may see or want, be sure to do your research. You will want to check for reviews and look into the plugin further and see if it may be ineffective if you have different plugins up and running.
Not Updating Your WordPress Version
Are you one of the many WordPress users that sees the little log in the message ‘there is a new version of WordPress available, please update now’ in your control panel and then ignores it for weeks? Bad idea.
There is a reason that so many developers work so hard to create these updates, and it is not just to add new features. In fact, that is secondary; it is the bugs and glitches that are fixed when an update is released that is so important. Attacking sites via these glitches is another favorite hacker tactic, so don’t make things easier for them.
We have noticed lately that site owners have been avoiding updating their WordPress version because that will mean updating to the Gutenberg Editor. Gutenberg, many users have complained, increases the learning curve when using WordPress, and makes it harder to use. That is a matter of opinion – it is different, but not that hard to grasp quickly, but don’t let a fear of it put your site in danger. You can keep the classic editor if you want to by installing a WordPress approved plugin, but your site will still be as safe and functional as it should be.
If you compose a blog post, or create a piece of new content, in Microsoft Word or a similar office program and then cut and paste into your WordPress site, you are asking for trouble.
Even if you use the little ‘paste from Word’ radio button in the dashboard, you will still be adding the stray code that is a built-in part of Word, and that stray code, even if it does not show up in the visual appearance of the post – which it usually does not – will confuse search engine bots and make it very hard for them to index your site properly. Paste your content in as a txt file and then format it in place. It takes a little longer, yes, but the extra effort is certainly worthwhile.
Installing Yoast and Assuming You Have Conquered WordPress SEO
We have often asked new clients what they are doing about WordPress SEO, and they have proudly announced that they have it covered because they have the Yoast plugin installed.
At this point, we grimace but do give a grudging nod to the marketing team at Yoast. They do an incredible job of selling their product. But here’s the thing, it’s a tool. A good tool. But it is NOT magic, and it is not doing SEO for you.
Getting that green light in Yoast is simple, it just has to meet four or five basic criteria, and what is, in reality, a horribly optimized page can get one with ease. So if you have been using the Yoast green light as a benchmark, the chances are good that your WordPress SEO needs a lot of work.
Not sure how good your WordPress SEO is? Don’t miss out on this opportunity to have your website audited by our award-winning SEO company. We’ll review your site, provide recommendations and give you a taste of our bespoke WordPress SEO consulting services.