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.

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 working on your WordPress site.

Keep on reading: WordPress SEO: The definitive guide »

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19 Responses to Common (beginner) mistakes in WordPress

  1. TapisaMe
    TapisaMe  • 3 months ago

    Thank you for this great full information such a useful article. I learnt lots of new things. Where I realised what are the mistake i was doing. Thanks again.

  2. Oluwaseun
    Oluwaseun  • 3 months ago

    I will agree with on the aforementioned mistake as a victim. Acquiring knowledge is key to not making some of this mistakes. I deleted seven of my articles with the intention of rewriting to update instead of editing them and update without deleting the contents. You know what the disappointment could be to a beginner loosing his traffic.

  3. Denny
    Denny  • 3 months ago

    Thank you!
    Good points!
    I will click further to learn how to delete
    If I make a post Private. Would that not be the same as being deleted?

    • Remkus de Vries

      Setting a post to private will make it only visible to site admins and editors. So, for visitors, it would be as if you deleted it.

  4. Charles Kiyimba
    Charles Kiyimba  • 3 months ago

    Thank you for this useful information, which every person new or old to WordPress should know. I made one big mistake, which haunts me up to today. And this is selecting a permalink with a date.

    I have currently over 300 posts but all these posts appear in the Google search results with the date. It disturbs me and I feel I made a great mistake that isn’t easy to reverse. Hopefully, you can advise me on this.

    • Remkus de Vries

      Thanks for the kind words, Charles. You could try a plugin like this one to help you change the permalinks structure. I haven’t used this one myself, but it does look like one that could help your case.

  5. Tosserji
    Tosserji  • 3 months ago

    Thank you, very helpful article

  6. John C Lombaerde
    John C Lombaerde  • 3 months ago

    How about hosting your site on WordPress instead of getting your own domain name and hosting? That is a big one if you want to keep your content your own.

  7. Penelope Silvers
    Penelope Silvers  • 3 months ago

    How about not having social media share buttons on the post! ;)

  8. Noz
    Noz  • 3 months ago

    I guess it was for beginners after all… Thanks for the post tho’

  9. Curtis Hays
    Curtis Hays  • 3 months ago

    You’re missing the biggest one which is not updating search appearance in Yoast and removing all the post types that you don’t want google to crawl. I can’t tell you how many website I come across that are letting google crawl slider post types and other custom post types that are just content blocks on pages and are not actual posts or pages.

    • Remkus de Vries

      Those are really good ones, too, Curtis! Thanks for sharing them!

    • FerBcn
      FerBcn  • 3 months ago


  10. Daso Hembram
    Daso Hembram  • 3 months ago

    Sometime when I open my website in a browser it opens a browser’s page saying
    ” Says turn on/off your cookies ” how to fix ?

  11. Raza Kazmi
    Raza Kazmi  • 3 months ago

    I did not know about 5th point you explained which is deleting the content the wrong way. I deleted many pages of my wordpress website, but did not delete them properly because they were already indexed and returning 404 error which is very harmful to SEO. Thank you for updating me with this indispensable thing, and Keep it Up!

    • Remkus de Vries

      Thanks Raza, and happy to help!

  12. George Wallace
    George Wallace  • 3 months ago

    I’m new to using Yoast SEO Premium and I am really looking forward to learning as much as I can. This article was very helpful.

    I am going to soak up as much as I can and put it to good use.

    Thank you for sharing such great information!

    • Remkus de Vries

      Thanks George!

  13. Jenna ray
    Jenna ray  • 3 months ago

    I always get 404 errors on my site. Trying to improve on this area.