5 musts for WordPress sites

Check it twice

WordPress@ and I go way back. Back to the days when I’d create a website for a client using a standard template and no customization. Oh, the good old days. Or the truly awful days … if you count all the lost revenue. You know, the days of the site getting hacked? Or the client deciding to change her domain name and the pages not resolving?

Do you ever wonder why you decided to stop hard-coding in the first place? Yeah, me too. I still have two clients who have been with me since day one: my best friend, who hung in there even though her poor family practice patients have suffered through some pretty bad incarnations of her site; and … myself.

It’s a good thing I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way to make things easier — and I owe it all to people like Michelle. Her article, 5 Things to Do to EVERY WordPress Installation, provides an easy checklist and reminder of what we might miss each time we set up a new WordPress website. As Michelle says:

“Website problems happen on two occasions: when you least expect them, and when they are most inconvenient.”

Isn’t that the truth?

Michelle breaks her recommendations down to five action items that we need to pay attention to every time we set up a new WordPress site:

  1. Keep sites secure.
  2. Manage basic SEO and analytics.
  3. Enable caching.
  4. Make backups easy.
  5. Fight spam.

Pretty logical, right?

Lock it down

If we’re breaking it down to the basics, keeping hackers out is Priority One, and Michelle explains how that’s an easy fix: don’t use admin for the administrative user; keep WordPress themes and plugins up to date; and always use strong passwords. Here are 10 more site security tips you don’t want to miss.

Back it up

Expecting our clients to remember to back up their database is a BAD IDEA! How many times have they called you complaining that “something happened” and their site is gone, but they don’t have a backup? You have a backup, of course, because you keep a backup of everything, but you don’t have a backup of the daily changes that occur — just the original installation. Utilizing plugins or the built-in tools of your hosting provider (I love the site backups available in cPanel and phpMyAdmin) will go a long way to making you the superhero you already know you are.

Slay spam

And who doesn’t love Akismet, the mighty comment spam slayer? They’re monitoring MILLIONS of blogs and forums in real time. They know what the bad guys are doing so they can stay ahead of them, and then they use what they know to give you a head’s up when someone tries to spam your comments. No more links to sites advertising products you don’t want your mother thinking you know about.

Enable caching

“Caching speeds up your site’s load times, which not only makes your website visitors happier but also helps your website’s Google® rank. Plus, it helps reduce the load on your host server — a win-win for everyone involved!” ~ Michelle

I’ve also been happy in the past with the W3 Total Cache Plugin, the only WordPress Performance Optimization framework. (Now I use a GoDaddy Managed WordPress account with its own optimized caching tool, along with other great services, so I don’t have to worry about it anymore.)

SEO and tracking

And, as we all know, we’re not going to have successful websites and happy clients if we don’t include tools that drive traffic to our sites and track where that traffic is coming from (among other factors). That’s why Michelle includes search engine optimization (SEO) and site analytics on her short list of WP installation must-dos — and why you might want to check out WordPress SEO by Yoast, Google Analytics™ for WordPress and Jetpack.

So, next time you fire up a new installation, take a minute to look at 5 Things to Do to EVERY WordPress Installation. It might just jog your memory.

Image by: Nomadic Lass via Compfight cc

Nancy King
Having relocated recently, Nancy King is now freelance writing and training in Southern California. Passionate about educating small business owners, she enjoys helping them promote themselves online. In her free time, she can be found taking long walks on the beach or curling up with a book and a cup of tea.