WordPress Tips for Beginners

11 Quick and Easy Tips When Using WordPress

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

WordPress is an awesome tool for creating just about any website you can imagine. It’s a flexible and highly customizable platform. But, there are some tips and tricks for WordPress that I wish I knew a decade ago.

Today, I’m going to break down some of the most prominent that would have made a huge difference in the beginning. And a few that are relatively new to the content management system.

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11 Realistic WordPress Tips Anyone Can Use

In this post, I am mostly focusing on things virtually anyone can do regardless of skill level. These are the most realistic and perhaps easiest to implement.

But if you know of a few that should be on this list, feel free to comment. I read them all.

1. Always Have a Backup Ready

UpdraftPlus

One of the first things you should install when starting a WordPress site is a backup plugin. Even if you think you’ll never need it, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

In fact, a proper backup would have saved me a lot of grief when I transferred my websites from my old web host. Let’s just say that it was two years ago and I am still looking for images I lost.

Since there are a lot of free options to choose from, you really have nothing to lose. Well, except for your website’s data.

A proper backup can save you from:

  • Malware infections
  • Ransomeware
  • Accidental file deletions
  • Lost images after a site migration
  • Lost hours spent writing amazing content

It’s really in your best interest to set up something like UpdraftPlus to automatically backup your site at regular intervals. And some can even save to Cloud-storage sites like Dropbox or Google Drive.

2. Add Security Right Away

Wordfence

Never underestimate the value of strong security. Even a brand new website can be the target of a bot looking to infect with malware or add phishing pages.

In fact, I should probably rank security higher than installing a backup plugin. Though, they are both pretty important when it comes to any website.

Proper security is among the most valuable WordPress tips anyone can implement. While the backup can save you from the worst-case scenario, something like Wordfence can limit how often those scenarios happen.

There are a lot of free and premium plugins available that can vastly improve the safety of your data. Why leave it up to chance for someone to hack your site?

I once forgot about a defunct subdomain that I forgot to delete. Needless to say, someone got in and infected all of my sites with a worm. It was a pain to get rid of and could have been dealt with simply by having file scanning enabled.

Therefore, it was a painful lesson…one I hope you don’t have to experience.

3. Set Plugins to Automatically Update

Enable Auto-Updates

In the recent versions of WordPress, a new function has been available in the form of enabling auto-updates. And it’s a feature that you’ll want to consider using.

An auto-update means that the plugin will be scheduled to upgrade itself when the developer publishes a new version. This means you’ll spend less time making sure your plugins are up-to-date and more time creating content.

Keeping your plugins is a common WordPress tip for two very distinct reasons: a) you’ll have access to new features and functions if the developer pushed any out, and b) developers often streamline code to make it more hack resistant.

Using outdated or defunct plugins only opens the doors to bots and hackers of varying kinds. Not to mention that some older plugins will not work with today’s version of PHP, the primary coding behind WordPress.

In other words, keeping plugins updated ensures it works with your website instead of breaking it sometime down the road.

4. Have a Testing Environment Ready

Testing Grounds

A testing environment can become your best friend. This is because it will give you a chance to experiment without your live site being affected.

So, if you break something, you won’t have to worry about losing traffic or getting hit by SEO issues in Google.

Personally, I have two testing environments. I have an online website where I experiment with new themes, plugins, code snippets, and speed tests.

Then, I have a locally installed version of WordPress when I want to try something that will more than likely break an online website.

Now, you don’t need to go to that extent. But, having a testing environment ready lets you make settings adjustments, try new themes, or experiment with plugins without it affecting your primary website.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Themes

Changing Themes

Themes control how your WordPress website appears. They can be customized for a variety of purposes and expanded using certain plugins or code snippets.

Although you might find one today that suits your needs, never assume that it’ll be an appearance you’ll keep forever. In fact, many website developers routinely update how the site looks.

It’s a way of keeping it fresh.

Besides, not all developers put in the same amount of effort to keep their themes maintained. You might use a defunct and abandoned project for years.

One of the reasons why this is an issue is because it may leave your site open to attacks. Not to mention compatibility issues that may arise after a core update from WordPress.

6. Find the Best Optimization Tools for Your Needs

Optimization Plugins

There are a lot of ways you can optimize WordPress. The hardest part is really finding the best tools that fit your specific website. Not every plugin will work best with every situation.

With that being said, let me get you started on some of the things you should look for. All of these are free to use, although each has a premium version that may be worth getting if they work for you.

My point here is to explore and experiment with optimization plugins that work for your specific setup.

Autoptomize

Autoptomize is a very easy-to-use caching and optimization plugin. It has fewer controls than some of the others, but it’s not nearly as difficult to manage, either.

In fact, you can remove the Cumulative Layout Shift issue with Autoptomize quite easily. As this is part of Google’s Core Web Vitals ranking factor, you want to make sure CLS is as close to 0 as possible.

Cache Enabler

I like Cache Enabler as it works exceptionally well with Autoptomize. It also helps streamline images by utilizing WebP caching, which improves your site’s speed as well as score in PageSpeed Insights.

Essentially, this plugin automates the process of clearing your cache in Autoptomize and creates cached versions of your site specifically for mobile devices.

EWWW Image Optimizer

Optimizing images is vital among the best SEO WordPress tips. This is because of how much weight they have on performance and ranking in search. And EWWW Image Optimizer can help.

The plugin compresses your imagery to make them a smaller file size while preserving quality. EWWW also supports generating WebP automatically when uploading.

As a result, it works incredibly well with Cache Enabler.

7. Keep the Plugins to a Minimum

Plugins

Another valuable WordPress tip, and one a lot of people miss, is keeping the plugins to a minimum.

Sure, there are some great tools and fun features you can add to your blog. However, each plugin will start to take a toll on performance. Your backend can start to slow and visitors may have a poor experience.

This is aside from security issues. With every tool you install, that’s just one more thing that can go wrong at some point down the road.

I suggest speed testing your website after every plugin you want to add. This way, you can make sure your site’s performance isn’t affected by the new addition.

Theoretically, you can add as many plugins as you want to WordPress. Just keep in mind the performance and compatibility issues that could arise.

8. Delete What You Don’t Need

Delete Themes and Plugins

When it comes to themes and plugins, you can acquire quite a long list of things you no longer need. If you’re not using it in WordPress, make sure you delete it.

Every element you install will affect your site by:

  • Increasing security risks, especially from abandoned themes or plugins.
  • Decreasing your available INODES from your web host.
  • Increasing the overall size and backups of your website.

So, delete the themes and plugins you are no longer using.

9. Routinely Speed Test Your Site

Routine Speed Tests

As I mentioned before, it’s a good idea to schedule a routine speed test for your website. You probably don’t need to do this every day, or even every week. But, it’s best you keep an eye on how your site performs.

The last thing you want is for Google to start penalizing your content because of performance issues. When you regularly scan your site, you can catch a lot of errors and problems before you start losing traffic.

Personally, I run a speed test at least once per month and any time I make major changes, such as adding a new plugin or theme.

10. Don’t Be Afraid to Learn a Bit of CSS

CSS Tutorials

One of the greatest WordPress tips I can impart is learning a bit of CSS coding.

Now, you don’t have to become an expert developer or take college courses. However, learning some of the basics can open all kinds of doors for your site in terms of design.

For example, you can easily change the typography and colors of your website through CSS. This is helpful if you’re using a free theme and don’t have access to adjust the font or header styles.

What’s nice about CSS is that it’s not an overly difficult programming language to learn. A lot of it is pretty straightforward, once you learn the format.

I suggest giving the CSS tutorials at W3Schools a look if you’re interested. It’s a free online learning site that provides all the basics and advanced features of virtually any coding used on websites.

11. Focus On Your Audience

Target Audience

Lastly, and perhaps one of the most poignant of WordPress tips, is to always focus on your audience. Because without visitors, your blog will just sit there like an abandoned house on digital real estate.

Understanding your target audience is vital when it comes to everything from website design to the content you create. It’s all about providing the best user experience possible.

And the more you focus on providing the best experience for your audience, the higher your content will rank in Google search results.

BONUS: Use Yoast SEO

Yoast Readability Scores

This WordPress tip is more of user preference. But, I wanted to mention it anyway simply because of how much of an impact Yoast SEO has made for me.

Yoast SEO helps organize your website for search engines while providing tools to create the best content for your readers.

In fact, I’ve used Yoast to help me write everything from blog posts to freelance writing work on Textbroker. And I can say that my writing has improved quite a bit since using this free plugin.

So, if you want a great way to optimize for SEO while pumping out some awesome, readable content, take a moment and try the free Yoast SEO plugin.

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What WordPress Tips Make Sense to You?

The truth of the matter is that there are hundreds upon hundreds of tips and tricks for WordPress. But, not all of them are going to fit every situation. So, I tried to show the most realistic, especially from a beginner’s perspective.

In a nutshell, it all comes down to optimization and streamlining your blog for the end-user.

Take some time and provide the best experience possible for your visitors. From content to supporting plugins, the possibilities are near endless with WordPress.

Michael Brockbank
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