5 Basic Tips for WordPress Bloggers and Website Owners

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There’s so much to do when you first launch a website (and yes, a blog is a website). So, today, let’s take a look at some of the basic steps that everyone should keep in mind. These tips range from avoiding a very common WordPress security vulnerability, to basic WP plugins, xml sitemaps and some tips on getting started with social media.

1.) Delete the “Admin” User in WordPress:

When WordPress is installed, the default is to create a user called “Admin”. This is a security vulnerability. Hackers know that user name is created and that it has complete administrator rights to your site. It’s very easy for hackers to run a program that identifies WordPress sites with this logon. Then, it’s simply a matter of hacking your password.

The solution is to create a new user account (with the “Administrator” role). Then, logon with your new account and delete the “Admin” user. If you’ve created blog posts with admin as the author, WordPress will prompt you to assign them to your new user name.

Quick Tip: Make sure that all of your passwords contain a minimum of eight characters. Also, include at least one capital letter, a number and a special character such as an asterisk or an explanation point.

2.) Install some Basic WordPress Plugins:

There are so many plugins available and it’s tempting to install too many which could potentially cause issues by decreasing your website performance or potentially breaking things. Having said that, there are certain plugins that most bloggers will agree you need.  (Of course this list can’t possibly include all of the plugins that I would recommend and I haven’t even mentioned the word “theme” in this post.)

  • Anti-spam plugin: The Akismet WordPress plugin installs with WordPress by default. Another option is to replace it with the Growmap Anti Spambot plugin.
  • Backup: There are a lot of free backup plugins available in the WP repository. If you’re managing multiple sites, you may want to check out the premium plugin BackupBuddy by iThemes. (Yes, that is my affiliate link.)
  • SEO: Hands-down, the most popular choice is WordPress SEO by Yoast.

Quick Tip: Many premium WordPress themes have SEO built in. If you find yourself changing your WP theme or installing an SEO plugin, you can use the SEO Data Transporter plugin to transfer any SEO data that you had previously entered. If you need help with this plugin, check out my post How to Change a WordPress Theme and Keep your SEO Meta Tag Data.

3.) Create an XML Site Map:

An “xml site map” is not the sort of site map that many website owners create for their website visitors. (For example, a bank may have a link on their site called “Site Map” that helps their visitors find pages like checking, saving, mortgages, loans, etc.) Xml sitemaps are created for the search engines.  It contains important metadata with information such as when the page was last modified, how frequently it changes and how it ranks in importance relative to other URLs.

There are WordPress plugins available to handle this (including the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin that I mentioned earlier). Do-it-yourselfers can accomplish this without a plugin in 3 easy steps:

  • Generate a free sitemap (on a site like xml-sitemaps.com).
  • Upload your sitemap to your website using either your website host CPanel or an FTP (file transfer protocol) program like Filezilla.
  • Submit your sitemap to the search engines using Google and Bing webmaster tools.

4.) Create Your User Name for Social Media Sites:

I always suggest starting by setting up your user name on Twitter because the maximum number of characters is 15, which is the shortest restriction of all of the common social media sites. Start with Twitter and then use the same user name on all of the other sites that you create profiles on.

Quick Tip: When you create a user account on a social media site, be sure to complete your profile. This is an opportunity to incorporate keyword-rich descriptions that will help people find you on the search engines.

5.) Create a Gravatar (globally recognized avatar):

Even if you don’t even have a blog yet, be sure to create your globally recognized gravatar at Gravatar.com. What is a gravatar? Have you ever noticed how some people have their profile picture next to their blog comments? They have created a gravatar and associated it with the email address that they use for commenting.

Did you know that some bloggers won’t approve comments if you don’t have one? The assumption is that spammers are less likely to have established gravatars than legitimate website visitors.

More Tips for WordPress Bloggers

Just in case you’re still reading this and you’ve been nodding your head and saying (to yourself), yep – done that already, here’s a great post by Daniel Sharkov called “6 SEO “Strategies” that Might Cost You Traffic and Money”. Daniel talks about 6 common mistakes, misconceptions and strategies that could be costing you organic traffic. (So, of course I encourage anyone who may or may not have already completed the initial 5 suggestions that I’ve made to read Daniels’s article.)

Quick Tip: In response to Daniels mistake #5, I can’t resist sharing my How To Set up Google Authorship & the Rel=Author Tag post for those of you who haven’t done this already.

Over to You:

What advice do you have for bloggers? Feel free to let us know which plugins you couldn’t live without and any other tips that you think we’d find valuable. As I always say, “We can all learn from each other.

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Published by Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

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33 Comments

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  1. > What advice do you have for bloggers?

    Use categories and/or tags to give users a way to find related content. Include a tag cloud.

    Use links – links to more details on a topic, previous related posts, other great online resources are a huge benefit of online content but most bloggers take far too little advantage of that ability. Links to your own stuff also helps your SEO.

    Interact with others in your areas of interest in comments, commenting on their blogs and via social media.

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for the additional tips. Categories and tags are a good idea to organize our blogs. It’s good to not go overboard with them though. If someone searches on a category, it’s nice to have a variety of posts pop up.

      You’re right about the SEO benefits of both external and internal links. We just need to be sure that we do housekeeping regularly so that those links aren’t broken and that they still link to the quality content that they originally did.

      Interacting with others is great advice for bloggers too John. Thanks for commenting here! 🙂

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  3. I love wordpress platform indeed but it is vulnerable to hacking and this may bring about some problem if newbie is starting for a start with this platfomr,though am not one but am new to wordpress platform

    1. Adesanmi,
      You’re right about vulnerabilities in WordPress but that’s true of all CMS (content management systems). I now wish that I had included keeping your plugins and themes updated in this list. Hackers can easily identify what version of WP we’re using and then target the vulnerabilities that have been identified in the most recent release.

  4. I am using WordPress for last two years and loving the platform…I would recommend it to anybody who is thinking to start blogging…
    I would like to add some security plugin in the basic plugins list, considering the amount of hacking attempt goes against WordPress.
    Also I am not a big fan of Akismet, Growmap does a much batter job of stopping bots. Akismet pushes lot of valid comments in to the spam also which can be a issue for the actual readers.

    1. Thanks Sanjeev. I should have mentioned security plugins. I’m not a fan of Akismet either. I feel the same way that you do about Growmap. It does a much better job of handling spam.

  5. Hi Sherryl,

    I have a question to ask cos I am a little bit new to making comments. How do I add a gravatar or my picture to any comment I make ( my earlier comment above does not have a gravatar or my picture).

    Thanks, though sorry for asking a question not related to the topic at hand.

  6. Hi Sherryl,

    These are simple, basic tips. However, they are very important. The bad thing is that so many people don’t know about them.
    Example: Many innocent and well-intended people don’t know about the importance of having a gravatar. It is a sad thing to see a good comment made by a “monster face”. I always reject those.

    Now, my questions:

    1. Akismet. I have Akismet available but I don’t use it. I read many articles on the internet where a people complained about it. The general idea was that Akismet works bad with comments. It labels genuine comments as spam. Even worse, some people said that out of the blue they got a ban from Akismet and were unable to use it. They were labelled as spammers and their Aksimet database was blocked (or blocked them). I don’t know exactly what those means but obviously Akismet has not a very good reputation.
    Maybe you know something about it. What’s the truth?

    2. Yoast. On many sites people are telling good things about Yoast. The problem is that I have already AllInOneSEO installed on my blog and I would like to keep it.
    What I don’t know is how well these 2 plugins get along?

    Thank you for the post

    Have a nice day

    1. Hi Silviu,
      So, you’re one of the bloggers who reject comments from people who don’t have Gravatars? I appreciate your letting everyone know that. It helps to reinforce the importance of having one. From scanning the comments here, you can see that I do accept them but that’s because some of my posts are written for new bloggers who haven’t yet learned how to set them up or why they’re important. Accepting comments from people who don’t have Gravatars does add more work for me because I really have to be careful to try to verify that they’re legit (and yes, sometimes people slip by me).

      I am not a fan of Akismet. I think it lets too much spam through. (I had not heard about the blocking issue though.) Even before I installed CommentLuv Premium, I used GASP.

      I often recommend Yoast’s plugin and I install it on client sites but I don’t use it on my site because it’s not compatible with Thesis. (I’m not sure if it’s compatible with Thesis 2.0.) SEO is built into Thesis but still, there are features in Yoast’s plugin that I would like to have.)

      As for the AllInOneSEO plugin. I believe that works well too. Should you ever decide to switch to Yoast’s SEO, you can easily import your data using the “SEO Data Transporter” plugin. (I left a link to a post I wrote on using that plugin in the “quick tip” I left in #2.)

      You have a nice day too and thanks for your contributions here.

  7. Very good tips. I definitely learned a few things from this. What with the wave of wordpress sites getting hacked lately it makes sense not to keep your admin login. Good point there definitely. Also it’s worth remembering that when using plugins always try to use trusted ones that are going to be supported for a while if you can. Ones that don’t have a good dev cycle can break your wordpress site with future updates.

    1. That’s a great point Jason. Having plugins installed that haven’t been updated recently can definitely be a vulnerability. (The plugins do not have to be active to be a target for hackers.) It’s a good idea to check to see when the last time our plugins were updated. Some plugins that are still in the WordPress repository haven’t been updated in years.

  8. Hi Sherryl,

    In addition to the highlighted points above, I think security of one’s blog is very important. The following plugins are very important for your security and also they help check for hidden codes, malware infiltration e.t.c.

    1. Antivirus wordpress plugin
    2. TAC ( Theme Authenticity checker); ideal for those people using free themes
    3. For detailed security scanning, also use exploit scanner plugin
    4. In addition, it is advisable to occasionally clean your wordpress files and database ( this is important to clean up unnecessary occupied space). You can use wp-cleanfix plugin and options-optimizer plugin.

    Thanks for sharing this informative post.

    1. Dare,
      Thanks for adding security to the list of plugins. That’s a great point about optimizing our SQL database too. (You may have just given me an idea for another post.) I’m not familiar with either the wp-cleanfix or options-optimizer plugin. I’ll have to check those out.

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  10. As I was reading through your suggestions and list, I could hear myself say “Check”. I am very happy to report that I have done all of these things. It’s good to know that I have learned a few things along my blogger’s journey. Many of those things are a direct result of you and you recommendations. 🙂

    1. That’s great Susan! You have been a loyal reader for quite a while now. I’m not surprised that you were mentally checking off the things you had done. 🙂 Thanks for letting me know that you find my posts helpful.

  11. You must have been reading my mind Sherryl! When Google struck recently I thought about making a sitemap. Thanks to you I just did. Mind you I had to do it at Godaddy. But never mind, now it’s been submitted to Google Webmaster Tools.

    1. Great Catarina! After I cleaned up all my 404 errors, I created a new sitemap and submitted it using Google Webmaster Tools. Then, I went in and using the “Fetch” tool, I submitted it to be indexed using the option “URL and all linked pages”. (Chances are it won’t get indexed or not to the level I’d like but it’s worth a shot.)

      1. Good moves Sherryl.

        When you talk about the Fetch tool and using the URL and all linked pages are you referring to “Leave URL blank to fetch the homepage” ?

        1. Catarina,
          After you fetch for the web (leaving the URL blank), wait until it says “successful”. Then, you’ll see an option to submit it to the index. After you select “submit”, you’ll be able to select “URL and all linked pages.”

    1. Thanks Heather. I hesitated writing this article because I believe that the majority of my regular readers are beyond this but there may still be something new here. Also, I know there are new readers here who probably missed this information when I posted it in the past. (I still see comments with the default Gravatar and I still visit blogs with admin as the author.) Also, this could be handy info to pass on to someone who you know would benefit from it. 🙂

  12. I absolutely agree you have done it easy for everyone who want to start and use a blog.
    I really adore WordPress. I’ve tried to start a blog many times before but haven’t succeeded until I meet you, WORDPRESS.
    So thank you very much for a very easy but great blog!!

    1. Martin,
      I agree with you that WordPress is very powerful software. Gone are the days of having to program static HTML sites. There are other CMS (content management systems) programs available (like Joomla and Drupal) but I’ve found that WP is the easiest to use and there are ample 3rd party applications to supplement it. Thanks for the comment. I’m glad that you enjoy my blog.

  13. Hello; Well, I am saving this post because it has two things in it i need to do the xml map and the google author. However, for someone on a budget and for a blind computer user how would you recommend creating a links section. I have tried to implement my html links area on my new wordpress site using parents and children and it works to some extent but it feels more like a drop down menu than actual links. Do you have a post that could explain this to me in your usual easy to understand language? Also, since a large percentage of people in my target audience access the net through smart phones and tablets, what would you think about me switching to a mobile friendly theme? If i should consider that, do you also have a recommendation? thanks for all the help, Max

    1. Maxwell,
      I took a look at your site and my first thought is that you would probably be best off using a WordPress theme that’s designed specifically for what you’re trying to achieve. It definitely should be a responsive design that’s mobile friendly.

      Without better understanding what your business strategy is, I can’t make a recommendation. If you want to chat, contact me via the form on this site. I may be able to point you in the right direction.

      1. Hello; Thanks, I will do that. and my worry about themes is picking one that will do what i need and that I will be able to use. I had one of the responsive themes picked out by a sighted friend but i had a lot of trouble using it; so switched to one of the wordpress themes. I really need to hire someone to help get the framework right. Take care, max