WordPress Mistakes to Avoid

by | Jul 8, 2021 | WordPress

You need to be aware of what they are and how you can avoid them.

This is the most crucial thing you should look at as it forms the foundation of your SEO efforts. You need to be careful about what your theme looks like, whether it is custom-built, bought from a theme vendor, or downloaded from the WordPress repository for free.

HTML Validation

This is crucial because invalid HTML could cause rendering issues that can affect both search engines as well as users. If this happens, visitors can be turned away because the website doesn’t work or display properly. Search engines won’t correctly render your page or understand the content.

You can check HTML validation using W3C’s Markup Validation Service. While valid HTML is important, it’s not that essential. Some errors might not be worth fixing in terms of ROI (Return on investment). Importantly, you should note that not all errors can be fixed because they could be caused by something you don’t have the ability to edit. For example, core functionality in some plugins or themes.

Sometimes it may be more beneficial to rebuild the entire building from the scratch in these cases.

HTTP Requests

Many themes load too many scripts, images, fonts, and other files. This can cause pages to load slowly. Many themes are loading these files unnecessarily. Many themes don’t load files only on pages that are being used. Instead, they load them all on every page. This causes a slower load speed.

Page Speed is crucial, both for SEO and users. While there’s no right number, it is better to have a smaller website than the one you currently have.

Excessive Size of DOM

It may sound complicated but it’s really quite easy. It simply means that we have to make sure the HTML on our WordPress site works as efficiently as possible. Even though it might seem trivial, efficient HTML coding can have a significant impact on how a site performs. Many themes have too many HTML elements. They are often nested at multiple levels, which quickly destroys performance.

This is what we see with page builders. However, it is also evident at the theme level because many developers only care about the visual appearance and not the coding efficiency.

Installing excessive plugins

WordPress is so easy to use. All you have to do is install one or more plugins. It is no longer necessary to hire a professional developer to create a feature. However, this could also lead to significant problems.

There are many plugins with different levels of development quality. This is the first problem. As with themes plugins can be poorly coded which can slow download speeds and introduce HTML errors to your website. These plugins can also load lots of scripts and CSS files, images, and fonts. This reduces performance and makes for a poor user experience.

Another problem is the fact that plugins are so easy to add, many people make the error of adding too many. This means that your websites load slower no matter how well coded they may be. It still requires processing power in order to execute the functionality they provide and any files that they include.

Optimizing Media

WordPress allows us to quickly add new photos to the website. However, this can also lead to a serious mistake. You will find that the image is generally larger than what you need to upload to your website when taken with your iPhone/Android device.

These large, high-resolution images are ideal for printing or for cropping to display at full size. However, if they are uploaded directly to WordPress media libraries, they will most likely be saved as unoptimized, full-size images. Some themes will automatically adjust the size of uploaded images based upon a set number of dimension pairs. But, not all themes do.

If you have a WordPress site that is already running and are just beginning to address the issue, you don’t need to re-upload all your media files. There are many plugins to automatically resize them.

I want you to know that you must back up your website before you use tools like this. They can delete or overwrite things you did not mean them to. You will need a way to undo it.

Omitting an XML Sitemap

An XML web sitemap is beneficial for everyone, but it’s especially useful for large websites. It helps search engines find your pages and crawl them. Particularly those that are hidden deep underground with very few links.

Surprisingly this important feature is not yet built into WordPress. So you’ll need to use a plugin. We prefer RankMath as it incorporates many of the features we need. However, there are several plugins that can dynamically generate your XML sitemap every time you add, change, or delete pages, media, or posts.

Skipping Theme and Plugin Updates

As a result of what I do, I see the backends of many websites. I’m always amazed at how out-of-date people let their themes and plugins get. This is what I have seen for over a decade and it shouldn’t surprise me. This error can have serious consequences. Not only do they fix design and performance issues, but also security flaws that may allow hackers to access your site.

Once they have gained access, they can do all manner of malicious acts, including deleting or defacing websites and adding outbound links, or intercepting credit card information. If you don’t have the time or energy to maintain WordPress core regularly, you should turn on automatic updates or have your design/hosting company handle this for you.

Don’t overlook Security

We’ve already spoken about the security consequences of not keeping your themes, plugins, and WordPress core current. However, keeping your website secure goes much further than that. It’s important that you remember that it is impossible to protect your website 100%. However, hackers can be deterred by taking security measures to protect your site.

Hacking is largely a numbers game. Hackers can crawl thousands of websites to find easily exploitable vulnerabilities.

WebJIVE employs AI-based firewalls to protect all hosted websites. General hosting companies like GoDaddy and others don’t provide that level of protection due to negative costs benefits for cheap hosting prices.

Avoid using a default username

The default username for WordPress is admin. This should be changed, as it is the username hackers will use first. It’s easy to create a website if you are changing it during the installation.

If you already have a website, there are no username changes in the admin area. However, you may log into your hosting account’s phpMyAdmin, and make any necessary modifications to the WordPress database. Change the display name of your user profile, so you don’t broadcast your username to everyone with every post.

Enable TFA (Two Factor authentication)

Two-factor authentication protects your website by sending a code to your phone that you must enter to log in. Without physical access to your phone, anyone else can’t access your admin section. This will require a plugin. There are several free and paid options to achieve this functionality.

Limit login attempts

This is a simple way to increase security on your WordPress website by blocking login attempts from any IP after a certain amount of failed attempts. This functionality also requires plugins. There are several paid and free plugins to help you achieve this OR let WebJIVE’s hosting firewalls automatically handle this for you!

Not implementing backups

Everybody needs automatic backups. This is an essential aspect of having a website. You can roll back any changes you make easily. It also allows you to restore an older version of your site to recover quickly from hacks.

Your website’s frequency of updates will impact the schedule, but it should at least run once a week. For the rare hack that happens, it is worth keeping backups of several months. It allows us to access enough data to create a clean backup from which to restore.

Although these backups may be saved to your web server in order to speed up the recovery process, you should have them backed up to the cloud to ensure that you always have a fresh copy. WebJIVE maintains 30 days of nightly backups for all hosted accounts.

Schema Omission

SEO is a competitive industry. Although schema doesn’t directly affect rankings, it can increase clickthrough rates through visual cues. This could mean that your website might get clicks that would otherwise go to websites with higher rankings simply because you are listed higher in search results.

Schema is a way to explain to search engines what your content means and how it relates to other entities. Implementing your schema in JSON is better than using microdata (HTML markup) because it is JavaScript.

There are many plugins, paid and free, that can be used to assist with this task, but I prefer to write JSON and insert it directly into the code. This allows me to have more control and does not require the addition of another plugin. We sometimes have to deal with complex situations that plugins don’t support.

For example, suppose you work with a national franchise with multiple locations. In this scenario, you might have some pages that need schema from the parent company while others will need the schema for both local franchises and the parent company. This is why you need a unique approach.

Permalinks not correctly configured

WordPress’ default permalinks don’t work well for searches, so we will change them. This is a simple fix that search engines will appreciate.

Eric Caldwell

Eric Caldwell is the owner and CEO of WebJIVE, a leading digital marketing agency based in Little Rock, Arkansas. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Eric has become a seasoned expert in web design, SEO, and other digital marketing services.