WordPress is one of the simplest and most popular content management systems to use today. However, many businesses – agencies, too – are doing things wrong. Here’s how to do it right.
Download Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that makes optimising your posts so much easier. With it, you can see information such as the ideal title length, keyword distribution, readability and metadata of your post, which in turn will help you to rank higher in the search engines. The standard version is also free, so you have nothing to lose!
Up your security
Your WordPress installation will give you a default login page and username. Since this login page and username is the same for everyone, it takes out a lot of the guesswork for hackers and cybercriminals. Essentially, all they need to do is guess one password and they’re in.
So, what do you do? Make it ten times harder for them by upping your security with a custom login page, strong username and password, two-factor authentication, as well as a decent firewall. Use this handy WordPress security checklist to make sure you’re ticking all the boxes.
Change the default permalink style
By default, WordPress will set your permalink style as “plain”, but you ideally want it set to “post name”. This is much better for SEO and you’ll also find that it’s easier to remember the URLs of your posts. To change your default permalink style, go to “Settings > Permalinks” and select the Post Name option.
Enable indexing by search engines
It’s actually really easy to accidentally click a “do not index” box on WordPress. It’s also really easy to miss that one line of pre-launch code that says <meta name=“robots” content=“noindex”>. We’ve all been there. If you’re finding that your site just won’t index for whatever reason, make sure you (or better yet, your developer) go through all the settings to find the source of the problem.
Keep up to date
WordPress updates are much more than aesthetic changes – often, they come with important security updates. Without updating, you could be leaving your site (and therefore, your users) at risk of a data breach. Always ensure that you have the latest version of WordPress installed and keep any plugins you have up to date, too.
Make edits on a staging site
When making edits to site code, it is sometimes quite tempting to throw it straight on and assume that the edit will work just fine. A rooky mistake. Imagine if the change that you make live crashed your or your client’s site! It doesn’t bear thinking about. Don’t risk the downtime and simply make your edits on a staging site. Then, all being well, you can copy those edits over to the real site.
Serve smaller images
One big mistake that WordPress users across the board seem to make is that they use images that are way too large. A lot of this comes down to people wanting to use the “best quality” images they can, which many people take as “the largest possible”. However, that isn’t necessarily the case.
As long as the image you want to use is physically large enough in pixels to fit the space you need it for, you can compress the file down considerably and save a ton of space on your site. An easy way to do this is to simply serve the image as a JPEG. But, why is this important in the first place? Well, for starters, large image files mean longer page loading times. Longer loading times mean that users are less likely to wait around, and consequently, they click off your site.
Now, this is disastrous for 2 reasons: Firstly, someone who could have become a loyal customer just left your site. Secondly, search engines will see that and purposely lower your page in the organic search results. After all, the purpose of a search engine is to better serve the user, not the creator. Save yourself the trouble and compress your image files before upload.
Use pages and posts correctly
When you first take a look at a WordPress site, Pages and Posts sound like the exact same thing. However, we’re here to tell you that they are, in fact, very different.
Make a backup
Fail to prepare, and prepare to fail. It’s dark but it’s true. You really never know what will happen in the future, so you should safeguard against the worst-case scenario. Always backup your WordPress files to a cloud storage device before each site update so that you can quickly and easily recover your files in the event of an accident or emergency.
It’s also a good idea to backup your files on a regular basis, even if you don’t make any edits. After all, what if you were to have a security breach and your data was held to ransom by some cybercriminal? You might never get back the data that was lost.
Add redirects when moving or updating content
Far too often, people edit the URL of a blog or delete it entirely to write a new one in its place when it comes time to update old content. This makes us sweat a little. If you’re going to do this, then you must remember to add redirects afterward. That way, all the traffic from the old blog still comes to your website and you can offer your visitors new or updated content instead of just a 404 page.
However, we do stress that you should honestly consider whether your page or blog really needs a new URL before you make any edits. You could end up doing more harm than good.
Did you learn how to better use WordPress?
After reading this, we hope you have a better idea of how to use WordPress and mistakes that you should avoid. If you’d like more information on content management systems like WordPress, then please get in touch! We know CMS systems like the back of our hands, and we’ve got a highly knowledgeable team of web developers that can help you to make the most of the platform.
Call us on 01244 347 545 or send us an email at [email protected] and one of the team will get back to you soon.