Common Mistakes for New WordPress Users – Part 1
Updated April 6, 2021
Save yourself the pain of learning the hard way by avoiding the most common mistakes in being a new WordPress user. We’ve put together a neatly categorized guide to WordPress mistakes including what happens if you fall into these traps and how to avoid the consequences.
A primary function of a website is to accurately portray or project the company image through brand visuals such as fonts, colors and images. The problem is, of course, that many new site owners don’t take the time to modify an installed theme so that it is aligned with the brand visuals.
Forgetting to Customize the Favicon
Being readily visible in the browser tabs at the top of nearly every browser on the market, a favicon is a tiny image that is associated with your website. If you don’t bother setting a favicon, it looks like your site is only partially installed or configured, or that you haven’t spent any effort on setting up the basics that make your website distinct.
If you haven’t already done so, the first step is to create a favicon, which can be done with loads of free sites like Faviconer.
Installing the favicon can be done by following these steps:
Login to the WordPress admin area
Click Appearance -> Customize -> Site Identity
Near the bottom, pick Select Image, Upload/Select Files and upload the image created earlier
Now, visitors who come to the site will see your new favicon in their browser tabs as well as when bookmarking your site.
Not Adding a Logo
The most strongly associated visual imagery that goes hand in hand with your brand name (and domain name) is that of the logo. We’ll assume that you’ve previously created a logo, but haven’t yet uploaded it to the site. Failing to use your logo can lead people to believe that either you don’t have one, haven’t been willing to put in the effort to include it on your site, or that your site is some kind of scam website that’s been thrown together for nefarious purposes. Domain name, brand name and logo name association is a key part of branding and being memorable – definitely not something to be overlooked.
Depending on the theme you have chosen, there can be more than one way to add a logo to the site.
The process for adding your logo is typically done by:
Logging into the WordPress admin area
Click on Appearance -> Customize -> Site Identity
Then Select Image and upload the logo image
Note: Some themes will have slightly different ways of editing/replacing the existing logo image. Just follow the theme instructions if this is the case.
Inconsistent Use of Fonts and Colors
A new WordPress site owner is often likened to a kid in a candy store, spoiled for choice and rapidly trying a bit of this and that. Fonts and colors are no exception. Using a multitude of different font faces, sizes and boldness levels is much more harmful than just finding one and sticking with it. Colors are much the same. If you try to use too many different colors, you risk the site looking like a carnival midway with every color of the rainbow bursting off the page.
It’s important to have a clear conception of your brand standard fonts and colors and then applying them regularly to the site. Consistency is a big part of reinforcing perceptions about the brand image.
There are too many possibilities for where fonts can be set, so check your theme options in the Appearance -> Customize section of the site. Some will rely on 3rd party plugins like Google Fonts and others will have them integrated. The important point is simply to set your default fonts so that you don’t haphazardly apply a number of different font faces and make the site look like a mess.
Colors can also be set in a myriad of ways, but one of the most common is to do so via Appearance -> Customize, then searching for color or typography items. If you don’t see easy ways of setting it this way, you can also make changes via the post editor when you’re about to publish content.
Consistently using a finite number of brand-related colors is a good way to reinforce the basic visual presentation you’re striving to achieve.
Content is the bait on the hook that brings people to site and keeps them there, engaged with the brand and gaining trust, plus the perception of expertise. Ignoring the value-seeking behavior of readers is just as risky as forgetting that the content has to be interesting and easy to consume.
Dates – Not Putting a Published (or Updated) Date at the Top of Posts
It’s not only search engines, like Google, that reward fresh (recent) content. Humans are often looking for answers to questions that are timely and not outdated. The very top of each post is the most common place for a date of publication, or update, to be found. Forget to date your content and there’s the risk that it will be overlooked, thinking that it must be outdated if the author hasn’t bothered to include such a date.
How to overcome this issue? Easy – just start each post with a single line such as:
Published: April 21, 2021 or
Updated: May 14, 2021
Duplication – Repeating Across Multiple Pages or Posts
Visitors seek specific information then enjoy consuming related information (surfing). Search engines seek single pages/posts to rank for specific search phrases. When sites publish the same information across multiple pages, it becomes extremely difficult for humans and search engines alike to determine which page should be the one they view in order to answer specific questions.
If you do repeat content across posts, the risk is humans being turned off by all the repetition and search engines not ranking posts well because of the internal competition for which page is “the page” that answers the query.
The single best technique for overcoming this common beginner mistake is to not copy and paste blocks of text between pages. Instead, make each page unique and clearly defined in purpose. It’s great to refer to other pages with related information, rather than duplicating that information on each page.
Frequency – Publishing Quantity Over Quality
There’s a lot of conventional wisdom about blogging that posting more frequently is beneficial for search traffic. It’s true – if you want more organic traffic, it’s helpful to post more often. However, there is one caveat. The simple fact is that you need quality content in order to attract traffic (and you need quality content to retain those visitors as regular readers). Quantity without quality is a colossal waste of time.
Overcoming this problem means making an effort to focus more on post quality than quantity. A balance is ideal, but it’s better to post less often with higher quality than more often with lower quality.
Humans – Writing for Search Engines Rather than Humans
New users who know a little about search optimization are generally those most at risk of self-inflicted (content) wounds. Writing for search engines takes shape in paragraphs of keyword stuffed prose that’s designed to rank well for a range of terms, rather than being engaging and easily read by humans.
Write for humans first! Make it interesting and engaging, then go back and make a few minor tweaks for SEO. You really can please humans and search engines by writing for people first, then giving it a bit of editorial attention – particularly titles, H tags, image alt tags and tweaks to the first paragraph of text with each post.
Length – Too Much Length Unnecessarily or Too Little Length to Rank rather than Giving Value to the Reader
Similar to post frequency, post length is also a matter of quality over quantity. New users, fresh from reading SEO wisdom somewhere online, are much more likely to try and publish 2000+ word articles, even when not required, just because they’re proven to rank at the top of Google.
If someone is looking for directions to your office, they probably don’t need a treatise on War and Peace. If someone is looking for the time in Panama, they want the time, not lengthy instructions on how to build a watch.
On the other hand, when someone is looking for a comprehensive list of all the possible reasons a dog won’t jump up or climb stairs any more, they likely want more than one plausible explanation and instead really do want in depth information.
Tailor the information to fit the search query (and the target of the post). Length should be appropriate to the purpose of the page and not some cookie-cutter XXXX length in terms of the number of words.
Skimmable – Not Writing Skimmable Articles with Points of Interest like Callout Boxes, Ordered/Unordered Lists and Plenty of Whitespace
Long paragraphs of prose are boring – so don’t write like that exclusively.
If you’re telling a story, then some paragraphs with meat on them make sense. But don’t forget to break up the content with techniques that make an article more skimmable, readable or interesting for the reader.
Most readers skim – they don’t read every word… Make it easy for visitors to skim through, pick up the highlights and move on to something else of interest. The alternative is for visitors to bounce and find something easier to consume.
Spelling – Not Checking Spelling Prior to Publishing
Spelling errors make the author, and site, look sloppy and careless. If you’re writing about funny cat videos, it’s one thing. If you’re trying to get people to trust you with their health or wealth, or anything else of importance, it’s quite another.
Checking spelling needs to be a key part of the writing and publishing process, whether you check it externally, by pasting into something like Microsoft Word, or whether you use a plugin in WordPress, like Grammarly.
Build good writing habits. Check your spelling and grammar. Show that you care with all that you do!
Value – Not Trying to Sell with Every Post
Paying it forward is a philosophy of giving something first, knowing that it will pay dividends in the long run. Blogging on a WordPress site is no different. Visitors are looking for content that addresses their needs, answers their questions and directly provides an answer to “What’s in it for me?”. They are not wanting to land on a sales page, click a link and land on another sales page, time and time again.
Don’t try to sell with every post.
New WordPress users should focus on delivering value to readers and pointing the way to sales landing pages elsewhere and not be making every content piece a sales landing page filled with sales pitches, prices and offers.
We hope you’re picking up some useful tips on common mistakes to avoid and what to do about them. This was Part 1 in the series. Be sure to check out Part 2 – Common WordPress Hosting and Installation/Configuration Mistakes.