*Finger wagging intensifies*
Look… I get it. No one likes to be told what to do. But honestly, it’s time you got a ticking off!
This may be a shot in the dark – a calculated guess, so to speak – but I’m going to assume that if you own a website, you’re probably using WordPress.
And there’s a good reason why that may be the case: WordPress is arguably one of the best ways to build a website today. You can either purchase pre-built themes, create your own from the ground up, or combine a mix of the two. There’s plenty of flexibility on offer, with websites suitable for eCommerce, portfolios or simple musings.
WordPress continues to improve, too, with frequent updates adding new features and functionality. They even provide their own hosting service to simplify things further for those looking to get their website live without much hassle.
So why am I wagging my finger at you, then? Well, if you’re like most human beings, you may have neglected your WordPress website for quite some time – specifically the backend or dashboard. That house plant you bought on a whim and haven’t watered in weeks is probably also a goner, too. Sorry about that.
So why is the WordPress dashboard important?
The dashboard of WordPress is where all the magic happens. It’s where you can format and customise your theme, publish posts, install new plugins, optimise for the purposes of SEO, upload media and so much more.
Most of us, however, simply see the WordPress dashboard as an extra hoop we have to jump through before a post can go live. And while that may be true, problems arise when you begin to neglect elements of your website’s backend entirely.
Here are some simple steps you can take to improve your WordPress website.
Let’s talk about plugins
Plugins are awesome little add-ons that can transform your website by adding all sorts of extra functionality, such as a snazzy contact form or amazing SEO tool. Many pre-built themes rely on plugins to work properly, and as such it’s important to keep these handy bite-sized helpers fully up to date. Like any piece of software, outdated plugins can not only affect their functionality – particularly if WordPress has received a large content update – but they can also leave your website open for attack.
Outdated plugins, or plugins that are not in use, provide vulnerabilities for horrible hackers to exploit. When your website represents your business, as many people’s do, leaving your plugins outdated or inactive isn’t a risk worth taking. The same goes for WordPress itself and the theme you’re using – keep things updated!
It’s certificate time
Speaking of security, isn’t it reassuring when you see that little padlock in the address bar? To be honest, I wouldn’t purchase anything from a website that doesn’t have one in 2019, and neither should you. That padlock shows that a website has an SSL Certificate which both authenticates the identity of a website, and encrypts sensitive information. That means any passwords, addresses or credit card numbers you use cannot be intercepted or read by anyone other than the intended party.
A valid SSL certificate isn’t just important for peace of mind, though. In 2014, Google made changes to its algorithm in order to give https-enabled websites the upper hand in the search engines. A study by Backlinko showed that there was a strong correlation between sites that had an SSL certificate and higher search engine rankings.
If you don’t have an SSL certificate, what are you waiting for?
Delete those dubious comments
While engagement on any post is usually a cause for celebration, comments that contain spam only serve to detract from your posts with needless drivel that really should be deleted.
If a genuinely interested user stumbles across your post and the first thing they see in the comments section is a spam bot spouting how they make “$1,500 a day from one simple trick” then it’s unlikely they’ll be encouraged to leave a comment. It also shows a clear sign that the website owner isn’t actively checking comments. Cull the comments that have no purpose.
Get serious about SEO
One of the most overlooked areas when setting up a WordPress website is making sure that it’s properly optimised for search engines. Many people post their content without adding meta descriptions, appropriate headings, or alt-tags and so on.
If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to SEO, your best point of call is to install a comprehensive SEO tool, like Yoast. Yoast can analyse your site for any potential red flags, and also help nudge you in the right direction in how you should optimise your posts and pages before you hit that big ol’ publish button. You’ll be surprised how many tweaks and how much housekeeping you’ll have to do to ensure a post is in tip top shape before it goes live.
What have we learned?
The next time you happen to find yourself in the WordPress dashboard, take a look at your plugins, make sure you grab that SSL certificate, clean up those cruddy comments, and don’t forget to supercharge your SEO. By keeping these key points in mind, you can ensure that your WordPress backend doesn’t fall into dire straits.
Want to keep your WordPress website in perfect shape without lifting a finger? Contact us today to see if we can help keep your website clean, tidy and fighting fit for years to come.