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Nowadays a WordPress blog can easily be set-up. Within only a few hours a blogger could have decided on their domain, selected and purchased their web hosting, set-up WordPress and installed their preferred theme.
Initially blogging may seem simple, although there is lots to consider and learn about. It is no surprise then that there are lots of mistakes to be made especially when first starting off.
In this article, we have come up with 18 common mistakes that bloggers make and ways to avoid them. If you are just starting your blog or you have been blogging for a few years, I’m sure you’ll find some helpful pointers.
1. Using Free WordPress Themes
While there are lots of good free WordPress themes out there, you should really consider using a premium theme for your site. Many free themes are unsupported, and some are not updated regularly which could mean your site is vulnerable to attack by hackers.
Premium themes usually cost in the region of $20 – $99 which is a worthy investment especially considering they usually look and function better than free themes, and technical support is provided if you ever face an issue.
When deciding on a theme, ensure it is responsive and mobile friendly, fast loading, easy to customise and SEO friendly. Check out the following sites for some great themes: ThemeForest, Thrive Themes, StudioPress and Elegant Themes.
2. Not Checking Your Sites Speed
A slow loading site can have a negative impact on your search rankings, so it’s vital that you know if your site faces any performance issues.
Test your site’s speed using either Pingdom or PageSpeed Insights. If it takes more than a couple of seconds to load, consider using a caching plugin such as WP Super Cache or use a content delivery network (CDN) to help speed up your site. With more and more people now using mobile devices to browse the internet it is vital that you consider optimising your sites speed and overall performance.
3. Not Using a SSL Certificate
Google favour sites that use a SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. Sites that have one will normally see a slight SEO ranking boost, which in turn means more traffic to your site. Not only does it improve your site’s rankings, but there are a number of security benefits as well as increasing your visitor trust. Many hosting plans now offer a free SSL certificate so there is no excuse not to use one. Check out our easy to follow tutorial which shows you have to set-up a SSL certificate in just a few minutes.
4. Using Poor Hosting
Choosing a reliable web host is extremely important. Poor web hosts will often overload their servers which means your blog will be slow for your visitors and the support they offer will often be limited.
A slow loading site can have a negative impact on your SEO, which means less visitors to your site. If your site faces a technical issue or it goes down, you want to be able to speak to someone urgently so that they can resolve the issue quickly. It is for these reasons that you should invest in a reliable web host. Check out the following web hosts which offer a great service SiteGround, WPEngine, BlueHost and HostGator.
5. Not Blocking Spam
A high percentage of the comments that you will receive on your site will be spam, which is not only a nuisance but irritating. Moderating comments can be a time consuming process. Also, if a search engine encounters spam when your site is being indexed it could impact negatively on your rankings and you may even be penalized and not show up in search results.
Avoid having to sift through spam comments by using a spam plugin such as Akismet. It will catch any spam before it reaches your moderation queue saving you time to concentrate on moderating real user’s comments. Akismet comes pre-installed with your WordPress installation although you will need to activate the plugin.
6. Not Keyword Researching
It’s all well and good creating great posts for your blog but are they ones that your audience are actually looking for? If you don’t know the answer, then you’re probably not performing any keyword research before you start creating your posts.
If you were thinking of selling a new product, you would first do some initial research to ensure there was enough demand for it. There would be no point selling a product if there were only 10 people worldwide that would be interested in buying it. That’s the same case when you write a blog post, and the reason you should perform keyword research. Without performing it, you’re not going to get enough traffic from Google to read your content.
Use a keyword research tool such as SEMrush to identify the keywords that your audience are searching for. Find out what the competition for those keywords are and identify long tail keywords. Focus on less competitive keywords with good volume, this way your articles will rank higher and you will get more traffic to your site.
7. Not Collecting Customer Emails
How do you get your visitors to regularly visit your site? The answer apart from creating quality content is by using an email list. If you have not already created your email list, you should definitely start, otherwise you’re severely losing out.
Having a subscriber list allows you to engage with your readers. For example, when you publish a new blog post, you can inform them of it allowing you to increase your traffic. If you have a new info product, you can promote it to all your users on your email list allowing you to increase your sales.
Creating an email list is extremely easy. Check out OptinMonster which is a great lead generation plugin which will allow you to grow your email list quickly and thus allow you to convert and monetize your site’s traffic.
8. Not Using Social Share Buttons
You may have created a wonderful engaging 10,000 word post on your blog. However good it may be though, it’s still going to take time to rank on Google.
In order for your post to reach a wider audience, you should enable your social sharing buttons on your blog. If one of your readers loves your article, they may want to share it on social media. If you have no social media buttons on you site, you’re making a big mistake!
The more people you can get to like and share articles the better. Having shareable content is a great way to boost your site’s traffic and gain more visitors.
If your WordPress theme does not have social media buttons, install a social media sharing plugin such as Sumo. Sumo allows users to easily share a blog’s content across all social media channels. It also allows you to create social share buttons that scroll as the user reads through your blog post.
9. Inconsistent Publishing Schedule
Not following a consistent publishing schedule is a mistake. If in the first couple of months you publish 3 articles every week and after that you don’t publish any articles, you’re going to confuse your readers. They won’t know when they should visit your site to read your latest posts and they may never return.
Come up with a publishing schedule that works for you and try to stick to it. If you have problems coming up with topics for your blog, create a monthly list of items that you want to write about. If you’ve had productive week and you have written 6 articles, don’t simply publish them in one go but space them out. Consistency is the key to blogging, so always keep to your publishing schedule!
10. Not Using Google Analytics & Google Search Console
Do you know what your most popular blog posts are on your site? Do you know how people are actually finding your site? Is it through Google, social media or from referrals from other sites? Are your users spending time reading your content or are they just reading one post and leaving straightaway?
Keeping track of your site’s analytics is important and is key to the success of your blog. If you don’t know these statistics, you won’t be able optimize your site to increase conversions and traffic. In order to find out all this data, you can install Google Analytics which is free to use and extremely easy to set-up.
Apart from installing Google Analytics, you should also be using Google Search Console. Google Search Console allows you for example, to check what keywords you’re ranking for, as well as showing if there have been any issues while crawling your site.
11. Using Black Hat SEO Techniques
You should never attempt to use black hat SEO techniques in order to improve your search rankings. If you do this, you could be penalized and your search rankings could drastically suffer. Avoid buying links, keyword stuffing, spamming on social networks etc and concentrate on creating great quality content.
It may take longer to rank, in the end though you won’t have to be worried about getting penalized by Google and seeing your traffic dramatically drop overnight.
12. Not Using an Affiliate Management tool
If you’re monetizing your site through affiliate marketing, you should consider using an affiliate management tool.
If you’re not using one, keeping track of all your affiliate links can be a challenge. If an affiliate link changes for any reason, it would mean you would have to manually locate where you have mentioned that particular affiliate product throughout your blog. You would then need to manually update each affiliate link one by one which could prove time consuming and tedious. While if you use an affiliate management tool, you only need to change the affiliate link in one place.
ThirstyAffiliates is a great affiliate management tool and one that we recommend. It has a number of great features including being able to easily cloak your affiliate links, auto keyword linking, geolocation capability and it allows you to easily categorize your affiliate links. Most importantly it allows you to easily keep track of who is clicking on your affiliate links and from which articles, which allows you to optimise and increase your commission earnings. Check out our comprehensive article on ThirstyAffiliates.
13. Using Admin as Your Username
Never use “admin” as the username for your administrator account. If you do, it makes your site vulnerable to hackers and you could face the threat of a brute force attack. WordPress is used by millions of users worldwide. It is for this reason it is one of the most targeted platforms out there by hackers. Apart from using a unique username, you should also change your password regularly.
14. Having Too Many Plugins
While there are lots of great and wonderful WordPress plugins which you can use on your site, using too many plugins can have a detrimental impact on it. If you go overboard and install too many, it could slow down your site and you could face a higher security threat especially if you forget to update out-of-date plugins. Only install the ones that are really necessary on your site.
15. Not Having a Back-Up Policy in Place
Even if your web host performs regular backups of your site, you should always make backups yourself. If your web host ever suffers a catastrophic server failure, it may mean that the backups they were keeping are not retrievable anymore and they are unable to restore your site.
Never run the risk of losing the entire contents of your site, as this can mean you may need to start your blog from scratch again. There are plenty of WordPress backup plugins out there which can help you set-up automated backups. A backup plugin that we recommend is Updraft (check out our article which provides step-by-step instruction on how to install and use the plugin).
16. Not Changing Your Permalink Structure
A permalink is simply the URL of your post or page on your site. A permalink can comprise your domain name as a well as a slug, which is what appears after your domain name.
By default, WordPress uses the following permalink structure:
The number (1353) that appears in the above link, is simply the article number for that particular post or page. This is not SEO-friendly as it does not convey what the article is all about and also looks ugly. Ideally the permalink structure should contain your post name or you could even prefix the post name with the category, although the former is preferable.
An ideal permalink should therefore look something similar to the following:
Changing your permalink structure is extremely easy to do. In order to do this, log into your WordPress dashboard and perform the following steps:
1# From the WordPress dashboard sidebar, select Settings -> Permalink.
2# Select Post Name or otherwise select Custom Structure if you would like to use category and post name instead. If you have selected Custom Structure, click on the %category% button followed by the “%postname%” button.
3# Finally click on the Save button to confirm your changes.
Remember to always perform the permalink setting change before you start working on your site to avoid any issues.
17. Short and Poorly Written Articles
There are hundreds of millions of blogs out there. It is for this reason you should concentrate on creating lengthy, engaging and quality posts. Gone are the days where you could write a blog post of a few hundred words and expect to rank well on Google. If you’re not writing good quality posts, you’re not going to rank well on Google and you will get limited organic search traffic.
18. Not Resizing Images
Never forget to resize and compress your images before you upload them to your site.
If your images are larger than 100 KB in size, you should really think of compressing them further. Large images can potentially slow down your site. If one of your posts is taking too long to load, a visitor may leave your site and never come back.
Ensure you also install an image compression and optimisation plugin such as Smush on your site. The plugin will automatically compress your images as soon as you upload them without sacrificing on image quality.
There you have it, 18 common mistakes that bloggers make when they first start out. Comment below and let me know if you’re making any of these mistakes.