A lot of companies advertise that you can build a website in a day or a weekend. But not one of them will tell you that in a year you’ll be paying dearly in time, money, and search rankings to build it again the right way. Here are the top 10 easily avoidable things I see folks miss prior to launch that adversely affect their site security, ranking, and functionality and delay their success.
Using the 1-click installation or Fantastico to initially setup WordPress is a hacker’s dream because it leaves so many security holes in your core files. You can install a whole slew of plugins to try to make up for these holes, but then every plugin you add is a potential security hole too. And, you are counting on them always being around and up-to-date.
The best way to avoid this problem is to have your database and WordPress files manually setup and to code the proper security into the core files. If you already have a site, then there are still ways to hard-code more security into it.
2. Weak Login
If your login username is admin, or you show your username in the by line of your posts, you are just advertising for hackers to break into your site. You’ve given them half of your login already. If your password is weak, they’ll be through the front door in two minutes or less.
It’s easy to change your password. There’s a little more to changing what shows in your by line and/or your User login, but it’s not hard to do. Read Protect Your WordPress Website with a Strong Login. There’s a tutorial in the member area of the BlogAid Video Tutorial Library for creating a new User so that you can change your username.
3. No Deadbolt on Front Door
A strong login is one half of securing the front door of your site. The second half is to stop hackers from making multiple attempts by running high-speed algorithms on your login page that cracks code.
It’s an easy fix. Get a plugin like Login Lockdown or Login Limit that will kick them out after three failed attempts.
4. Choosing a Theme before Creating Content
This is one of the most common and most expensive mistakes new site owners make. They spend weeks, or even months, choosing a theme, or spend thousands of dollars having one customized. Yet, they don’t spend a minute or a dime creating market-ready copy or learning how to harness the power of WordPress or their theme. What they end up with is something that is pretty but it competes with the content that is there. And they’ve usually got all the wrong things in all of the wrong places and/or are missing elements that are critically important to their success. Read How I Spot an Amateur Website Owner in 2 Seconds Flat.
There is only one fix for this. Invest in yourself first and in your theme second. Learn what you need to know to participate as an expert in the design process.
5. Not Registering with Google Webmaster Tools
Google wants to help you get your site ranked high in their search engine. To do that, you need to let Google know that it is there.
Easy to fix this. Register your site and properly connect it to Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).
6. No XML Sitemap
This ties into #5. One of the first things you’re going to want to do on your new GWT account is submit your XML Sitemap.
There are multiple ways to fix this, the easiest of which is to use a good plugin, like WordPress SEO by Yoast, to create the XML sitemap. Then simply tell GWT where the file can be found. (This last step is something a lot of site owner’s miss.)
7. No Analytics
You need feedback to know how well your site is doing. One of the best ways to get that is to connect your site to Google Analytics. There is way more information available than just the number of visitors or the top referring keywords. The more you know about what’s going on with your site traffic, the more powerfully you can tweak your efforts. Without this feedback, you’re flying blind.
Connecting to Google Analytics is easy with good plugins like Google Analyticator and Google Analytics by Yoast. I especially like Google Analyticator for my clients because it has a nice monitor module that you can see on your WordPress Dashboard every time you log into your site.
8. No Author Bio or Tie to Your G+ Account
AuthorRank is quickly becoming a huge factor in SEO. You simply must make an effort to tie your site, and you as the author, to your G+ account.
This requires a multi-layer fix. But, at the very least, start with a good plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast and fill in the author settings. And, fill in your Author Bio in your WordPress User settings too. You’ll find a field in there for your Google + Account.
9. Theme, Plugin, and On-Page SEO not Setup Properly
I could write a whole post on each one of these. Actually, I teach whole training sessions on each of these. Good SEO is a layered effort that requires consistency in both what you do and keeping up with what needs to be done. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it thing.
At the very least, get this super plugin – WordPress SEO by Yoast. It wipes the floor with everything else. Setup the defaults, including your home page. (Simply installing the plugin is not enough. You have to set it up properly.) Ensure that your theme’s built-in SEO bows out gracefully when this plugin is used. Then, invest in learning what you need to do on-page (including your posts) to create something that is attractive to Google. (There are seven layers of SEO that you can get on every single blog post! You need to consistently be taking advantage of at least four.)
10. Not Capturing Your Audience
This is especially problematic with new site owners. Because they haven’t figured out what to put in a newsletter yet so they procrastinate setting up a way to capture their site visitor’s email address. Or, because they are not active yet on social media, they don’t include links for visitors to connect with them there.
Every successful site owner says they wish they had set up ways to capture their audience sooner rather than later. Make this a priority so that you can continually keep your info in front of your audience. Besides a newsletter and social media links, be sure to include ways for folks to subscribe to your blog posts too via RSS.
If you launch your site without doing these ten things, in the eyes of hackers it’s candy and in the eyes of Google it’s a confusing mess at best.
I’m betting that a few of you are wanting more detail on at least one of the ten things mentioned here. The Site Owner’s Starter Guide is a good place to begin. Or, have a look in the Blog Archives (there are a couple of easy Search features at the top too for even more posts). And then there’s the full Video Tutorial Library that will help you beyond the topics mentioned here.
If you are serious about having a successful site, somewhere along the way you’ll want to get specifics on applying every one of these fixes to your site. Schedule your one-on-one session with me and get personalized help based on your site and target audience, including a full site review of your core files and security. Together we’ll make it right. Best of all, you’ll fully understand what you’re doing and why.