Illustration of a business owner panicking while looking at their site, while a hacker deploying ransomware

5 Common WordPress Mistakes Small Businesses Make and How to Avoid Them

Many small businesses use WordPress to build their websites because it’s an affordable and user-friendly content management system. However, if you’re new to WordPress, it’s easy to make mistakes that can negatively impact your site’s compliance, performance, and SEO. Here are 5 of the most common WordPress mistakes small businesses make and tips on how to avoid them.

Poor Website Speed

Site speed is a key factor in SEO and user experience. A slow loading site leads to higher bounce rates and lower rankings. Some common reasons for poor WordPress site speed include:

  • Bloated themes/plugins – Avoid plugins you don’t really need and use lightweight optimized themes.
  • High resolution images – Compress and optimize images to reduce file size. Use image optimization plugins.
  • Too much content on pages – Break up long posts into multiple pages. Limit posts to focus on one topic.
  • Not using a content delivery network (CDN) – A CDN stores cached versions of files globally so pages load faster. Most basic CDN plans are affordable.

To improve site speed, optimize images, limit plugins, use caching plugins and consider a CDN. Check page speed with online tools like Pingdom and GTmetrix.

Weak Metadata

Metadata like page titles and meta descriptions are important for SEO and shaping how pages appear in search engines. Common metadata mistakes include:

  • Duplicate page titles – Each page should have a unique title relevant to its topic.
  • Long or overly keyword-stuffed titles – Page titles should be under 60 characters and sound natural.
  • Missing meta descriptions – Descriptions should provide a summary of the page content.
  • Overuse of keywords in descriptions – Meta descriptions should read naturally and catch the reader’s attention.

To optimize metadata, create unique titles for each page, write natural sounding meta descriptions tailored to each post or page, and make sure keywords appear organically.

HTTPS provides a secure and encrypted connection between a website and visitors. It’s now expected for all sites. Mistakes like:

Not Enabling HTTPS

  • Not renewing an SSL certificate – Remember to renew certificates before they expire to maintain HTTPS.
  • Only enabling HTTPS for parts of a site – HTTPS should be enabled site-wide, not just on checkout pages.
  • Not redirecting http to https – To prevent duplicate content issues, always redirect http requests to https in WordPress.

Transition your entire site to HTTPS and redirect all http requests. Acquire an SSL certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority. Use free services like Let’s Encrypt if your budget is limited.

Infrequent Backups

Backups protect you when things go wrong. Failing to backup your WordPress site can lead to lost data, work and rankings if anything happens to your site. Mistakes to avoid:

  • Manual irregular backups – Use automated backups that run on a schedule.
  • Backing up only some files – Backup your entire WordPress installation and databases.
  • Not testing restores – Do sample restores to confirm your backups work properly.

Use backup plugins like UpdraftPlus that backup everything and store them off-site. Test restores regularly and have a disaster recovery plan for your site.

Not Keeping Plugins/Themes Updated

Outdated plugins and themes expose your site to security vulnerabilities and performance issues. But many businesses neglect to regularly update them. To keep your site secure and optimized:

  • Enable automatic plugin/theme updates or do so manually.
  • Sign up for update notifications from plugins you use.
  • Remove inactive plugins and consider switching bloated themes.

By optimizing your WordPress setup and staying on top of needed updates and maintenance, you can avoid many common mistakes small business owners make. Following SEO and security best practices will lead to better results. Check your site regularly for issues that need fixing to provide the best experience for visitors.