WordPress is a great choice to power your website or blog — it’s reliable, flexible, and allows you to create beautiful pages and posts with ease. But if not setup properly, they can leave your visitors with a lack of trust and low SEO rankings, which is detrimental if your website is not displaying on searches. Below are five basic items that should be checked and made sure are properly setup for a clean professional website.
1. Selecting the Wrong Subfolder
Have you ever gone to a website and noticed that the blog is installed in a subfolder (like http://www.yoursitename.com/blog/)? This is perfectly normal and acceptable. However, you can always tell when someone is a WordPress newbie when you see this instead: http://www.yoursitename.com/blog/wordpress/.
What’s the big deal, you may be asking. There really isn’t an issue, only that it’s redundant and unnecessary. And, it doesn’t look professional. It shows that the website wasn’t set up properly and that the business failed to remove the contents of the WordPress installation folder and place the files into a pre-named “blog” folder. A simple method to avoid looking unprofessional is to just upload the WordPress folder as it is and rename it to “blog” or whatever else you want to call it. This might seem nit-picky, but it’s a common setup mistake.
2. Not Having Your Favicon Displaying
The favicon is the small image that displays on your browser’s tab. Typically the image would be your logo and it’s a great opportunity to display your brand. It also instills trust by letting your visitors know that the site they’re viewing is your site.
3. Not Having Your Basic Meta Tags Set
In addition to not looking professional, not having the basic meta tags setup will hurt your SEO. The two basic meta tags are your title and description. The title tag displays on your browser tab. It helps with SEO as well by matching keywords your audience is searching. But, make sure what you put as a title is quality content and not stuffing keywords just for the sake of SEO. Major search engine algorithms are smarter and can distinguish between quality content and keyword-stuffed content. Also, although most major search engines will automatically create a description for their SERP (Search Engine Results Page – List of results of what a visitor is searching), you don’t want to leave it to an algorithm to describe your business. So, make sure your title and description meta tags are set up.
4. Choosing a Poor Permalink Structure
Permalinks are the links associated with each blog post and page on your WordPress site. They typically come after the “/” in your blog folder. The default structure is usually an ID number that does nothing to tell readers what the page they’re visiting is about and it gives search engines zilch to work with (this means say goodbye to SEO).
Instead of sticking to the default permalink structure, change it to something like “/%postname%/” or “/%category%%postname%/” Both of these give readers and search engines the information they need. Many SEO plugins offer tools to set this feature but you don’t need them for that: you can easily set the permalinks to whatever you want by going to your Dashboard and clicking Settings > Permalinks.
5. Failing to Establish a Backup Plan
If you don’t have a backup plan for your WordPress site, you’re playing with fire. You need to back up all of your files, including the WordPress theme (and any modifications you’ve made to it) , your images, your posts, your categories and tags, your robots file, the aforementioned .htaccess file, and the entire database itself. Failing to do this means nothing is standing in the way of you losing literally everything on your site.
When it comes to backing up WordPress sites, you have two or three options: server-side backups, local backups and plugins.
Server-side backups are provided by your web host. You can schedule them to happen every day. Just make sure the host uses a different server for backups than those they use to host their sites.
Local backups are a great and easy way to keep your backups. As long as you download a copy of your site to your own hard drive for extra safe keeping, you can sleep easier at night.
Lastly, a plugin is convenient, but potentially not the safest because it uses PHP to connect with your server. And, this is exactly how most hackers would attempt to get into your site. All it would take is for someone to hack a plugin author’s WordPress account, add a few lines of code to the plugins, and sit back and wait for people (like you!) to download them. You could have a plugin installed on your site right now that is providing someone out there backdoor access to your info.
Even if you wanted to take your chances with a plugin-based backup system, some backup plugins store backups in the wp-content folder. So if your site goes down, the backups go down, too! Not always a reliable option.
While there may be other issues when setting up a WordPress site, we consider these to be the most common. So the next time you opt for a quick install solution, remember that you may need to go in and manually set up a few things and make a few changes if you want your site to look, feel, and function professionally. And, if you do need help, we are here to help.
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