WHITE PAPER 15 Common WordPress Mistakes Agencies and Their Clients Make (And How to Fix Them) Introduction.


While WordPress has evolved into a massively popular Content
Management System (CMS), people still make mistakes when
they put it to use—it’s only human. Whether you work at a digital
agency that focuses on WordPress projects, or you’re a content
creator using WordPress to build world-class content, there may
be some missteps you’re making that you’re unaware of.
Read this list of common mistakes WordPress users often make
so you can get even more out of WordPress and do your best
digital work yet

  1. Installing too many plugins
    Think minimal when it comes to installing plugins. The WordPress
    repository contains more than 50,000 plugins, which might make
    you feel like a kid in a candy store and want to try them all. But
    if you install too many plugins, it’ll cause your site to bloat and
    run slower than a herd of snails traveling through peanut butter.
    (Okay…maybe not that slow, but you get the gist.)
    The fix:
    Wisely choose the plugins you install, and be sure to uninstall those
    not in use. Ask yourself, is this necessary to the functionality of my
    client’s site (or my site)?
    See here for more in-depth tips on how to pick the right
    WordPress plugins.
  2. Not optimizing content for SEO
    Publishing a piece of content without putting thought into SEO
    is simply a missed opportunity. To increase traffic and make
    sure your content is found by search engines, it’s crucial you
    prepare your written content and images with SEO in mind.
    The fix:
    Install a WordPress SEO plugin like Yoast (see this in-depth
    guide on how to use Yoast). Yoast will up your SEO game by
    giving you helpful tips on how to make your content more likely
    to rank on Google.
    Also, check out this white paper for some best practices on
    enhancing the SEO of your images.
  3. Neglecting to back-up a site
    Failure to consistently back-up your clients’ sites is like spending
    months writing a novel and never hitting “save” on your valued
    work. Creating a backup of your work is crucial so you don’t lose
    anything should an outage or other issue occur.
    The fix:
    Some hosting companies like WP Engine provide daily
    automatic (or on-demand) WordPress backups so you don’t
    have to worry about doing it yourself. Also, check out these
    best backup plugins for WordPress.
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    WHITE PAPER 15 Common WordPress Mistakes Agencies and Their Clients Make (And How to Fix Them)
  4. Not changing the default
    permalink structure
    By default, the permalink structure in WordPress isn’t optimized
    for SEO. You’ll want to change yours or your clients’ site’s permalink
    structure to get better article rankings, which is fairly easy to do.
    The fix:
    To change the permalink structure in WordPress, go to Settings
    -> Permalinks and select “Post name.” If the site has old content,
    you’ll then want to redirect old permalinks to the new ones.
    Yoast has an awesome redirect tool you can use to generate
    redirects from your old permalink structure to a new one.
  5. Ignoring WordPress core, theme,
    and plugin updates
    Running an outdated version of WordPress is like opening the
    front door of your site to hackers.
    Plugins, themes, and WordPress sites that aren’t up-to-date
    present security vulnerabilities—these outdated files are
    traceable, and basically let the bad guys in.
    The fix:
    Be sure to keep your client’s plugins, themes, and WordPress
    core up to date. Within your dashboard, next to “Updates” and
    “Plugins” there will be a number that appears if any of your
    plugins (or WordPress core) need to be updated.
    Certain hosting providers, like WP Engine, will automatically
    update WordPress core for your clients’ site(s), making your
    life easier. WP Engine also offers Smart Plugin Manager, which
    takes the hassle out of plugin maintenance by performing plugin
    updates automatically.
    For added hardening of your site’s security, check out this list of
    best security plugins and this article on hardening WordPress.
  6. Changing a post’s URL after it’s
    been published
    It can be tempting to go into an article and change its URL when
    updating an old blog post or page, but this is something you
    and your clients should 100% avoid. By changing the post slug,
    you break all existing links to that post, and any old links will lose
    traffic and present a bad user experience, often in the form of a
    404 error page.
    The fix:
    Before publishing an
    article, be certain the
    post slug is the way you
    want it. In addition, if
    you’ve installed Yoast
    SEO, it’ll give you tips for
    URL optimization, like
    removing “stop” words and
    shortening the post slug.
  7. Using bad (or no) visuals
    Images are imperative to holding a reader’s attention within
    a text-heavy article. Studies show content with visuals gets
    94% more views than those without. In addition, the human
    brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Therefore,
    you should include images within your content as deemed
    appropriate to gain readership.
    The fix:
    If paying for a stock photography membership is out of the
    question, there are numerous free image options out there.
    Unsplash.com supplies high-quality, professional imagery, but
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    WHITE PAPER 15 Common WordPress Mistakes Agencies and Their Clients Make (And How to Fix Them)
    other options include Flickr.com and more. Just be sure to give
    attribution to the photographer when required.
  8. Not resizing images for
    web upload
    Images are often the culprit to a slow site and you should
    seriously consider preparing your images for upload by reducing
    their size. This can be done either by using an editor like
    Photoshop, or a plugin to resize images so they’re not taking up
    a huge chunk of space and causing your site to run super slow.
    The fix:
    If you’re working in Photoshop, go to Image -> Image Size. Make
    sure the resolution is set to 72. You’ll then want to reduce the
    width of the image if applicable. 2,500 pixels on the wide side
    is ideal for displaying images at large on the screen—you can
    decrease this size to around 600 to 1,000 pixels on the wide side
    for regular site display. This will reduce the file size drastically,
    resulting in less bandwidth required to upload images whenever
    someone visits your client’s site.
    Always set the resolution to 72 pixels/inch for web upload.
    If “Resample” is checked, the image’s dimensions will
    automatically be reduced when you adjust the resolution.
    Another fix is to use a WordPress plugin that optimizes images
    for you, like WP Smush.
  9. Adding customizations to a
    parent theme
    If you’re looking to customize a client’s theme, doing so could
    result in a whole lot of headache if you modify the theme
    directly. Changing a theme’s code can create unwanted changes
    and potentially cause downtime for your site.
    The fix:
    The safest way to edit a theme is with a child theme, which takes
    the functionality of the parent theme. A child theme allows you
    to make changes without ruining your original theme’s code,
    ensuring your modifications aren’t lost. See here for a useful
    tutorial on creating a child theme.
  10. Failure to use a
    staging environment
    Say you want to test a theme, plugin, or custom code on your
    client’s site. It would be unwise to make these changes directly
    to the live site—your clients won’t be too happy if their website
    crashes because you’re tweaking things on the back end.
    The fix:
    Before deploying changes to the live site, the best practice is to use
    a staging environment to test any changes before going public.
    Quality hosting providers like WP Engine offer free staging
    environments. Every site hosted on WP Engine has three
    different environments: development, staging, and production,
    providing customers the needed flexibility to build and test new
    projects. There are also a number of plugins that enable testing
    environments, or you can set one up yourself from scratch.
  11. Using the default admin
    username
    By default, after WordPress is installed the username is “admin,”
    which is troublesome in terms of security. Hackers can easily
    guess that name and take control of your website.
    The fix:
    During installation, you’ll be given the opportunity to change the
    admin name to something unique. If you’re already past the point
    of installation and need to change your default username, see
    here for some tips on removing the admin account in WordPress.
  12. Using a weak password
    People usually create a weak password because they don’t want
    to forget it. However, a good password should be random and
    complex, not predictable or simple.
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    WHITE PAPER 15 Common WordPress Mistakes Agencies and Their Clients Make (And How to Fix Them)
    The easier your password is for you to remember, the easier
    it will be for hackers to perform brute-force attacks and guess
    your password.
    The fix:
    A strong password should include a minimum of eight characters,
    an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, a number, and a special
    character. Try using a strong password generator if you need
    help coming up with a hack-proof password. To protect your
    passwords even further, try enabling two-factor authentication.
  13. Failing to be selective about who
    gets admin privileges
    Giving admin rights to just anybody is like giving a kid the keys to
    your car. It’s extremely important that you don’t give admin rights to
    the wrong person. You should only give admin rights to site owners
    and developers who work with the back end of the website.
    The fix:
    To change user roles and permissions, you can use a plugin
    like User Role Editor or see here for additional information:
    User Roles on WordPress.
  14. Accidently blocking
    search engines
    Certain WordPress settings can impair your site’s ability to be
    found by search engines. If you’re ready for your site to be found
    by a larger audience, you’ll want to ensure that a certain box isn’t
    checked within your Settings to make it SEO-friendly.
    The fix:
    To find out if you’ve made this mistake, look in your WordPress
    dashboard and go to Settings -> Reading. Make sure the box
    next to “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is not
    checked. When this selection is checked, it suppresses the site’s
    pagerank, telling search engines not to inspect the site’s content.
    (You’ll want it checked if your site is still under development).
  15. Using poor/cheap web hosting
    You might want to keep costs low, but choosing a generic
    web host to power WordPress site is like buying cheap fuel
    for a Ferrari. Your WordPress site represents your business,
    your brand, your portfolio, and so on. Poor performance and
    downtime reflect poorly on you and your brand and could end
    up costing you more money in the long run.
    The fix:
    Find a hosting provider that specializes in building digital
    experiences on WordPress. Make sure your provider offers
    services for caching, uptime, security, amazing customer
    support, and expertise when it comes to building future-proof
    WordPress sites. Thousands of brands and agencies rely on
    WP Engine’s Digital Experience Platform for WordPress to power
    amazing websites for them and their clients. WP Engine also
    offers the largest Agency Partner Program for WordPress, which
    means agencies can leverage amazing tools and partnerships to
    grow their customer base and delight current clients.
    If you’re looking to migrate to high-quality hosting, WP Engine
    offers an Automated Migration plugin for a nearly effortless
    transition to our platform.
    Check out WP Engine today to see the added layer of benefits
    you’ll get with our Digital Experience Platform for WordPress,
    and see what others have to say about the results they’ve seen
    since switching to WP Engine’s enterprise-grade platform.
    The benefits of
    partnering with
    WP Engine.
    WP Engine gives you the keys to digital excellence. We arm you
    with a scalable platform that includes an integrated set of tools,
    bullet-proof security, services, and site performance analytics
    together with lightning-fast managed hosting. From pitching
    and signing new accounts to retaining clients and growing your
    business, WP Engine’s Agency Partner Program is a great way for
    agencies to do their best digital work, every step of the way.