Jan 31, 2014

10 Common Mistakes by WordPress Beginners

To err is human and to forgive divine.’ Committing mistakes is not a crime, however, not learning from your mistakes definitely is. If you are new to the world of WordPress, it might be intriguing for you to set everything up and your primary focus would be to get things running. In that process, there are quite a few things that you might ignore which would come back to haunt you in the long run. Here is a list of such common mistakes that beginners commit, which you must avoid at all costs.

1. Choose Wrong Platform
There are two platforms for WordPress- wordpress.com and wordpress.org. The former is for simple blogs with not much control over the CMS whereas the latter is the source code of the whole CMS which you must use in case you want total control, adding desirable plugins and changing the site in a way you think fit.

Many people who want total control usually end up taking the wordpress.com account whereas the ones who want a simple blog end up with paid hosting. Be careful before taking a decision.

2. Not Creating Backup
No matter how secure you think your site is, nothing is 100% foolproof. In such a situation only periodic backups can help you save your site. There are two things that must be done during the backup- files and database. To backup the files, just copy your wordpress directory. To backup your database, you can use PhpMyAdmin. If you are on the wordpress.com site, you can backup your posts by going to Tools > Export in the wordpress adming.

3. Using default favicon:
A Favicon is a small shortcut icon, associated with your site, which appears on the browser’s address bar. By default, WordPress displays a favicon by default which is not really great. After all, it is the very identity of your site. You can either make a favicon on your own, or generate one using one of the generators available online. To change the favicon, you need to go to the images section of your theme and upload the new one. Remember, the users associate your site to that favicon! Or else, it would remain just another blog.

4. Using default permalink:
A permalink is the URL structure of your website. If you look closely, you would notice that the default permalink structure is something of the form www.xyz.com/?p=12. Not only does that look ugly, it is not SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly as well. The reason why I mention it is that Google searches the URLs too and your site would get higher preference if the permalink mentions the page or post title.

Go to Settings > Permalink to change the permalink structure of your site.

Here, I have selected the structure which is followed by Blogger and most other popular blogging platforms, which includes the month and name of your post. You can also make a custom structure for the permalink in any way you wish. Make a custom permalink only if you are good with regular expressions. Click ‘Save Changes’ after you are satisfied with the structure.

5. Overusing tags and categories:
If you are a new blogger, you are often tempted to add a lot of tags and categories to your blog posts. It is, in no way, wrong, but at times, it can be misleading. For instance, in this post, there would be hardly two or three tags that I would attach which refer to the overall post. If you add tags referring to each paragraph of the post, then you would have a problem.

Not only does this make your site clumsy and difficult to navigate, it is discouraged by search engines too. It often happens that Google AdSense rejects applications on the grounds of too many tags used for posts.

6. Hard to find contact info:
Another common mistake by beginners (that I can very well relate to) is not providing any contact information on your blog. If you are the shy type and don’t want people pestering you in Facebook, Twitter or Email, just put a simple contact me form in your website.

Ideally, it would be great if you could put some information through which people can get in touch with you. It can be for the trivial reason of thanking you for a certain post or for something as big as a proposal to publish your works!

7. Staying with the default tagline:
On installing wordpress, you would find that the tagline is ‘Just another blog’. There is no way that you can actually like that tagline, just for the simple reason that there are perhaps thousands, if not millions, of blogs on the planet whose owners have failed to change the default tagline that ships with WordPress.

A tagline gives the user a rough introduction to your site and if you select a witty one, you might just tempt the user to stay on your site and browse a few more articles! That being said, do not copy taglines as it is advisable to remain unique.

To change the tagline, go to Settings > General.

8. Keeping the sample page:
Just like the tagline, people forget to remove the sample page that generally ships with WordPress. A simple google search would reveal hundreds of thousands of sample pages on the web.

In most cases, you would not be using it. Please delete it in that case.

9. Changing Site URL often:
The worst part of the life of a blog is when the site URL is changed. It is mostly seen in new blogs, especially on wordpress.com, as changing the sub-domain is free. However, if your site is mature, and you are planning to change the URL, be advised that you would lose all your readers unless you have a way of informing them that your old URL is not functional anymore!

10. Skip the use of Google Analytics:
To monitor traffic and other analytics of your site, the WordPress admin area is not enough. The best tool available today is Google analytics. To register your site, sign up to Google Analytics using your Google Account. On adding your site, you would be provided with a small snippet of code that you need to manually enter under the HTML <head> of your website. That would set Google Analytics.

Google Analytics offers a wide range of services that you can use to monitor data. What’s best is that all of it is free!

Recently, Google Analytics has also come up with real time views, where you can analyse what users are doing in your site in real time!

I hope you see that by not using it, you must be missing out on a very big thing!

There you go! I have covered quite a few number of mistakes that WordPress beginners do. Let’s hope that reading this article has made you aware of these mistakes so that you can remain careful and avoid them! Have a great time with your WordPress site!

Liked this post? Have any suggestions? Just let me know. Feel free to comment below!

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