Common (beginner) mistakes in WordPress

WordPress, as a CMS, is great for people who are just starting with their first website. It doesn’t require users to write code, it’s SEO friendly and easy to manage. Still, there are a few mistakes many beginners make in WordPress. Actually, to be honest, these mistakes are not only made by beginners. That’s is why it’s time I shared a couple of common (beginner) mistakes in WordPress here.

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1. Not changing your permalinks properly

It’s good to think about your permalinks before you actually start using WordPress. Permalinks (the name already gives it away) are meant to be permanent. So, once you’ve set them, you really shouldn’t change them again.

If you, however, do decide to change your permalinks, the URLs of your posts will change. This means search engines can no longer find your posts, as they’ve indexed the old permalink. Visitors coming to your site via search engines will end up on your site with an error message saying the post could not be found. The infamous 404 error message. You want to avoid those at all cost.

You have lots of options to choose from when deciding on a permalink structure. In most cases, however, the most simple one with just the /%postname%/ will suffice for an SEO-friendly URL.

Read more: How to change your WordPress permalink structure »

2. Forgetting to update

Between WordPress, all the plugins and themes, it can be hard to keep track of all the updates a website needs. Especially if everything is working smoothly, it can be hard to see the immediate value in taking the time to process those updates.

But keeping plugins, themes and WordPress itself updated is one of the most important tasks you have as a site owner. Updates not only bring new features but often times fix bugs and security issues. The absolute last thing you want to see happen is to end up with a hacked site, right?

Keep reading: WordPress Security »

3. Having too many plugins

There are more than fifty thousand plugins available in the WordPress repository, so you have a lot of options to choose from. Which makes it very tempting to install a plugin for every little thing you can think of. But that doesn’t come without a cost.

Not only will you have to keep all these plugins up to date, but there are other risks as well. Too many plugins doing fancy stuff can possibly slow your site down, which means you may end up with a slow website. So, evaluate carefully before you install a new plugin.

Technically, a single plugin can screw up your entire site. So it isn’t just about the number of plugins, but also about being careful about what you add to your site.

4. Not creating a child theme when making changes

When installing your WordPress website for the first time, you get one of the default WordPress themes. And perhaps this theme doesn’t suit your needs. So you’re on the lookout for a new theme.

You’ve found a new theme, installed it and it’s working fine. But, after a little while, you realize you want to change a few things. Before you dive into how to change your theme, you should create a child theme and make your changes in the child theme. By doing this, you’ll be sure that when your initial theme sees some updates, you won’t lose all your modifications.

If you follow the links in the previous paragraph, you can learn how to create your child theme yourself. But, as with many things within WordPress, there’s also a plugin that does it for you.

By the way, there’s a big chance you only want to do some CSS changes and the Customizer should suffice for this. That’s also a future proof way to change things about your theme.

5. Deleting content the wrong way

One of the most common mistakes occurs once you have your site up and running. You may want to delete posts or pages. They may no longer serve the purpose they used to and it makes good sense to remove those.

However, since the search engines have indexed your site, deleted content on your site will render the infamous 404 pages: page not found. So, make sure you delete pages on your site the right way. Our Yoast SEO Premium solves this problem for you, by the way.

Read on: What does the Redirect manager in Yoast SEO do? »

6. Not deleting the default content

When you first install WordPress, WordPress will create a ‘Sample Page’ and a ‘Hello World’ post for you. Make sure you delete the default sample page via the pages menu and the ‘Hello World’ post via the posts menu. Don’t be like any of these websites 😉.

Don’t make these mistakes!

There you have it. These are the most common (beginner) mistakes made in WordPress. Although you may have noticed a few things listed here that are not just mistakes beginners make. Make sure you avoid these and you’re well under way with your WordPress site.

Still have a WordPress-related question? You’ll surely find your answer in our article that answers 12 common questions on how to Use WordPress. Or consider taking our free WordPress training for beginners!

Keep on reading: WordPress SEO: The definitive guide »

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16 Responses to Common (beginner) mistakes in WordPress

  1. PressTigers
    PressTigers  • 2 months ago

    Great!! Your post really made ease to work on WordPress by avoiding these mistakes. A number of plugin options are also a great source of material to work on.

    • Remkus de Vries

      Thank you so much! Glad you’re enjoying it.

  2. endy uzo
    endy uzo  • 2 months ago

    when i got hacked, it was stressful, the hacker did a great one on me, he planted a pop AD on my site.

    • Remkus de Vries

      Yeah, a hacked site is no fun!

  3. Zola
    Zola  • 2 months ago

    This is very useful. I’m making sure to stay on top of the updates. Thanks for the guide.

    • Remkus de Vries

      Glad you enjoyed our guide!

  4. firouzeh2013
    firouzeh2013  • 2 months ago

    Hi,
    We have an HTML website that it’s redesigned. The new website is a WordPress website on this temporary domain. We have your premium plugin. I was wondering what should we do for the search result links? Can we redirect them through your redirect manager?

    Thanks

    • Remkus de Vries

      You’d need to collect your current URLs first – you can use a tool like Screaming Frogg for that for example – and then manually enter those old URLs and point them to the new URLs with our redirect manager, yes.

  5. Yogesh Khetani
    Yogesh Khetani  • 2 months ago

    WordPress is killing itself with such bad upgrades and features. The latest WordPress 5.0 update with Gutenberg Block Editor sucks in big time. Believe me, over 70% have installed Classic Editor plugin and previously I have an SSL plugin to avoid the mixed content issues and AMP plugin + Yoast SEO + SCHEMA plugins are much required these days. So that makes a total of 5 minimum required plugins and I forgot to mention an Ads plugin.

    • Remkus de Vries

      I’m curious what particularly makes you not like the new block editor? I mean, sure, it requires some getting use to, but it works flawlessly and allows for much more creativity.

  6. Karen
    Karen  • 2 months ago

    Thanks for the reminders! Can you perhaps point me towards a guide on how to switch WP themes on an established site? I am using a child theme with customizations but am considering a new look. Thanks!

    • Remkus de Vries

      I’d look for a theme to your liking and install it and then preview it using the Customizer.

  7. Niralijain
    Niralijain  • 2 months ago

    I have never update wordpress, since i installed it. after reading this post . i am gonna update wordpress.

    • Remkus de Vries

      Good to hear this post has moved you to update WordPress!

  8. WildsauSEO
    WildsauSEO  • 2 months ago

    Hey Remkus,

    this blog post is funny, sad and so true at the same time. Shame on me, I got hacked once because of missed updates. But I’m sure that this won’t happen again. :)

    Thanks for keeping up the good work.

    Best regards,
    Sandra

    • Remkus de Vries

      Yeah, getting hacked is no fun at all. Glad you enjoyed the post though!