When starting a new website, businesses often make similar kinds of mistakes. It’s such a noticeable pattern that it’s very rare for us to see a WordPress mistake that we haven’t already seen in many other cases before.
The great thing about mistakes in a community like WordPress is that everyone can learn from them, so you don’t have to repeat the ones made by others before you.
In this post, we’ve put together a list of the most common mistakes made on WordPress and created learning opportunities with proactive solutions to show you how to solve them.
Common WordPress Mistakes (+ How to Avoid Them)
The following is an assortment of regularly-made mistakes by WordPress users. We’ve included suggestions for improvement, helpful resources, and actionable solutions.
In This Article
- 1. Not Publishing a Contact Form
- 2. Failing to Run Important Updates
- 3. Not Backing Up Your Site
- 4. Not Utilizing SEO for Better Rankings
- 5. Accidentally Breaking Your Web Forms
- 6. Not Checking Site Analytics
- 7. Using the Wrong WordPress Theme
- 8. Not Optimizing Your Site for Mobile
- 9. Accidentally Deleting Your Forms
- 10. Poor Image Optimization
- 11. Using Posts and Pages Incorrectly
- 12. Mixing Up Categories and Tags
- 13. Not Reviewing Comment Spam
- FAQs on Common WordPress Mistakes
Let’s dive in!
1. Not Publishing a Contact Form
The #1 mistake we see in WordPress is not having a contact form on your site.
Your contact form is an essential tool when you’re getting leads and growing your business.
You can use forms to get suggestions, run surveys, or even get guest bloggers from your site.
But why do you need a contact form? Couldn’t you just publish your email address?
You could – but there are a number of problems associated with publishing your email address on your site:
- You’ll get a lot of spam when your email address is scraped
- Clicking an email address usually opens an email client, which isn’t great for someone on a shared computer
- You can’t easily collect information in a set format, or get all of the information you need in one shot
- You can’t easily carry out useful actions when people contact you, like signing people up to your email marketing lists at the same time.
You can publish the form exactly as it’s provided and tweak it later. If you’d like to build a more complicated form and use the simple one as a basis, it’s easy to improve your forms over time.
WPForms also lets you embed your contact form with a couple of clicks. There’s no code to copy!
2. Failing to Run Important Updates
As your WordPress site grows, you’ll add more plugins and themes. That means you have a greater risk of your site’s code being out of date.
Plugin and theme updates are super important. They include feature updates, bug fixes, security patches, and code updates that keep your site safe.
Over time, if you don’t manage these updates, your plugins and themes will become outdated. Once this happens, outdated code can break your site or leave it vulnerable to attack.
You can easily avoid this common mistake by:
- Turning on automatic updates
- Having a monthly checklist of items to review.
If you’re aware your site is out of date and you’re worried about breaking it, check out WPBeginner’s guide on safely updating WordPress.
3. Not Backing Up Your Site
Some hosting companies promise to back up websites created by customers. However, it’s never a good idea to rely on hosting backups completely.
Often, hosts back up sites for their own purposes. If you break something, they may charge you a fee to access your own backup. Some hosts don’t allow customers to use backups at all.
If you can’t get at your backups, you’ll be in trouble if:
- Your host deactivates your account
- You accidentally delete something
- Your site gets hacked.
You should always set up your own WordPress backups. This allows you to control how and when the backups are taken.
You can also store your backups in a different spot so that you’re protected against unexpected issues with your host. Many plugins let you save backups to a service like Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, or Google Drive.
Here’s a comparison of the 7 best WordPress backup plugins you can try.
4. Not Utilizing SEO for Better Rankings
SEO means search engine optimization. Anyone can use basic SEO principles to optimize their website using techniques like:
- Using keywords
- Making sure your content is easy to read
- Making sure Google can understand the structure of your site.
By doing that, you’ll give your content the best possible chance of reaching its audience.
If SEO is ignored, it can severely limit the growth of your site (and your business).
Fortunately, you can use many SEO techniques to improve your website’s search engine rankings.
- On-page SEO optimization: URLs, title tags, and meta descriptions
- Building a backlink portfolio
- Keyword research
- Utilize Smart Sitemaps
To implement these techniques, you need a great SEO plugin like All in One SEO.
5. Accidentally Breaking Your Web Forms
Building forms can take some time – even if you use a WordPress form template. Once your form is perfect, you likely want to rely on it for a long time.
Sometimes editing forms can break something. You might accidentally remove a field or change the conditional logic.
We don’t always know that we’ve changed anything until we stop receiving important communications. As a result, time and money can be wasted trying to determine what was changed.
Thankfully, WPForms has answered that problem with form revisions. If you make an unintended change to one of your forms, you can simply browse revisions and restore an earlier version of your form.
By using form revisions, gone are the days of panicking after hitting the save button. You can quickly switch between versions of your forms, view their update history, and see which users made changes.
If a form ever stops working, you can simply return to a time when it did.
6. Not Checking Site Analytics
Site analytics are important to help you measure how your website is performing. Over time, you’ll want to make sure you’re building an audience.
Tools like Google Analytics help you to understand where your customers are coming from, how long they’re staying on your website, or what content they’re looking at.
The problem is that many site owners set up Google Analytics and then forget about it. So they’re missing out on valuable insights that could help them improve their site.
The MonsterInsights plugin makes it easy for you to interpret Google Analytics data. Even better, you can see all of the most important metrics inside your WordPress dashboard so you don’t need to go to the Google Analytics site to download tons of reports.
With MonsterInsights, you can:
- See who’s visiting your website
- Learn how they’re finding it
- Track site user’s paths (where they click, etc)
- Determine the most visited pages on your website
- Track conversions
Some of MonsterInsights’ features include:
- Universal analytics
- Real-time stats
- Enhanced e-commerce tracking
- Affiliate link and ad tracking
- Seamless tracking integration with top-rated plugins
- A/B testing for performance optimization
7. Using the Wrong WordPress Theme
There are thousands of WordPress themes available. Scores are free to use, though many themes are poorly coded and lack any support or regular updates.
When choosing a theme, consider the following:
- Is the theme from a reputable developer?
- Is it supported?
- Are there regular updates?
Normally a user tries multiple themes before choosing one. That’s OK – but the one that you eventually pick will be your site’s theme for a long time.
With that in mind, you’ll want to pick a theme that is well supported, fast, and won’t look like any of your competitors’ themes.
For the best control over the way your site looks, learn how to create a custom WordPress theme. The SeedProd plugin makes it easy to design a theme without writing code.
If you don’t want to build a theme, we’ve found the 50+ fastest WordPress themes to speed up your website.
8. Not Optimizing Your Site for Mobile
In the present era, mobiles have surpassed desktops when it comes to internet browsing. Mobile traffic represents over 55% of the overall internet traffic.
These statistics clearly underline the importance of mobile-first design. If you’re not designing your websites to be optimal for mobile usage, you’ll almost certainly never be able to compete on search engine rankings and lose visitors due to a bad user experience.
It’s imperative to apply responsive design to your website. Responsive design refers to development techniques that can automatically adjust your layout to fit any screen dimension including mobile phones, tablets, and desktops.
In addition, you should ensure that your website is optimally responsive for touch screens. This implies making buttons and other interactive elements large enough for fingers and spaced properly to avoid accidental clicks to unwanted areas on your site.
9. Accidentally Deleting Your Forms
Many form plugins will warn you before you delete a form. But if you have multiple users on your site, sometimes people can accidentally delete the wrong form without realizing that it’s in use.
You will lose your form – and you may also lose the entries that were associated with it. With some form plugins, the only way to recover your forms is to restore a backup of your entire site.
WPForms has solved this common WordPress mistake with 2 tools.
First, there’s a trash folder. When you delete a form, it remains the trash until you permanently delete it.
Restoring a form also restores the entries that you would otherwise have lost.
Just hover over the form name in the Trash and click the Restore option to restore a form.
In addition, there’s also a feature that let you find all of the places that your forms are embedded.
This really helps to avoid any confusion about which forms are in use and which ones can be safely removed.
10. Poor Image Optimization
Large image size is one of the main causes of poor site performance. In WordPress, you can upload fairly large images as long as your web host allows it. But even if you can upload large images, we still strongly recommend avoiding the use of big media files.
The easiest way to prevent images from slowing down your site is to use compression for every image on your site. Compressed images can make a big difference in keeping your file size to a minimum, enabling much faster loading of your web pages.
The good thing is that you can use plugins that can handle image compression for you. At WPForms, we use the plugin Imagify to compress all images on our blog posts. This way, we know every image we upload will be properly optimized when our posts are published.
11. Using Posts and Pages Incorrectly
WordPress comes with two different post types by default: posts and pages. They may look similar in your WordPress dashboard, but they serve different purposes for your website.
- Posts are mainly used to create blog content. Anything that is potentially time-sensitive can be published as a post.
- Pages are intended for content that never (or rarely) changes, like your homepage, about us, or contact us page.
If you don’t learn how to distinguish between posts and pages initially, things will get messy and confusing down the road as you publish more content and your website grows.
If you find that you’ve been using posts when you should have been using pages, or vice-versa, we’ve got you covered. WPBeginner has written this in-depth article covering how to switch between posts and pages to get you on the right track.
12. Mixing Up Categories and Tags
Tags and categories are similar. Categories let you group post topics while tags detail what you’ll find within the post. Using categories where they should have used tags (and vice-versa) is another common WordPress mistake that many users make.
Essentially, categories are like a table of contents, while tags are like an index of terms.
Using them the wrong way is a common WordPress mistake that can make site management more difficult.
For example, you might want to exclude tag archives from being indexed in search. If you’ve mixed up tags and categories, you might lose rankings for important content when you do this.
For a more in-depth explanation of categories vs. tags, check out this article from WPBeginner.
This article on WPBeginner will help you merge and bulk edit your categories and tags to tidy them up.
Then, using All in One SEO, you can decide whether you want your categories and tags to be indexed by Google.
13. Not Reviewing Comment Spam
Whether you want to leave comments open or not on your WordPress site is a personal choice. It may depend on the type of content that you publish, or the time available to moderate comments.
Keep in mind that opening up comments without restrictions in place can quickly lead to spam comments or phishing links being posted on your site.
Occasionally, spam posts and comments can also affect your SEO ranking. Some search engines view the spam posts as a part of your website. But because these posts have nothing in common with your website or audience, they can damage your ranking.
Spam posts and generic comments can also take up space in your database.
The easiest solution is to install an anti-spam plugin on your site. Don’t forget to check out these vital tips and tools to combat comment spam in WordPress too.
FAQs on Common WordPress Mistakes
Here are a few additional notes on common WordPress errors.
How Do I Fix Common Errors In WordPress?
You can fix common errors in WordPress by searching for the error on WPBeginner. WPBeginner is the largest WordPress resource site for beginners with hundreds of clear, concise tutorials to help answer questions and help you get over any issues that you run into on your site.
How can over-customization affect a WordPress site’s performance?
Over-customization usually means that your website is loading too many assets and custom code at the same time, which places a greater demand on servers. However, this doesn’t mean that customization is bad. Good web developers have various techniques for ensuring that even a highly optimized website runs fast in WordPress.
What are the best practices for WordPress plugin management?
You can follow a simple rule for WordPress plugin management: don’t install more plugins than you need. Having too many unnecessary plugins can not only slow down your site, but it also introduces greater security risks because hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in unsafe plugins to damage your website.
Next, Fix Your Emails
Have you checked that your WordPress emails are working? Most hosts aren’t set up to send emails, so you’ll want to run some tests.
To get started, check out this article on the best email plugins for WordPress.
Ready to build your form? Get started today with the easiest WordPress form builder plugin. WPForms Pro includes lots of free templates and offers a 14-day money-back guarantee.