1. Take Care of Your Site’s Security
WordPress is a prime target for would-be hackers. The top three security changes that every WordPress site needs are:
- change the administrative user to something other than “admin” (the Admin Renamer Extended plugin can help with that)
- keep your WordPress installation and plugins up to date
- and always use strong passwords.
2. Basic SEO and Analytics
SEO is an essential part of helping drive traffic to your website, and analytics help you understand where that traffic is coming from.
Enable permalinks by going to “Settings” – “Permalinks” in the Dashboard. This will create easily readable URLs that rank higher in search engines.
Flatten your website structure by making sure your content is only or two clicks away from the home page. This is because search engines will rank top level pages higher than pages that are nested deeper within your website.
Themes and Plugins
For more advanced SEO work, check out themes and frameworks that include some great built-in SEO functionality, like the Genesis Framework, or plugins like WordPress SEO by Yoast. (Web Teacher has a great guide on using this, so check it out!)
Install an analytics tracker to better understand your WordPress site’s traffic patterns. WordPress offers basic statistics tracking like traffic and keyword searches via the JetPack plugin that gives you information at a glance in your Dashboard. Google Analytics and Webmaster tools give far more detailed information. Installing the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP plugin allows you to track this data directly from your WordPress dashboard.
3. 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!
Installing a caching plugin is a good first step to website optimization, especially if you do not feel your site is ready for a more robust solution like a content delivery network (CDN). W3 Total Cache is one of the most popular caching plugins for WordPress. It is free to use and instal,l and offers premium upgrades. Other popular caching plugins include WP Fastest Cache and WP Super Cache.
4. Make It Easy to Back Up
Website problems happen on two occasions: when you least expect them, and when they are most inconvenient. Having a backup of your WordPress site ready to go whenever you need it is an essential part of recovering from whatever that problem was. How often you should back up your website is really dependent on how much you update, and how critical those updates are.
For example, a mostly static WordPress-based website with a few pages on it may only need to be backed up whenever a change has been made, while a blog that is updated multiple times a week would benefit from far more frequent backups.
You can back up your WordPress installation by making a copy of your WordPress database using phpMyAdmin or another tool. Alternatively, you can also use tools like WordPressBackUp or BlogVault’s Real Time Backup plugins.
5. Fight Spam
Comment spam is not only annoying; it also bloats your WordPress database with links to things like pornography and malware. All WordPress installations come with basic spam prevention tools. In your WordPress Dashboard, navigate to “Settings” – “Discussion,” where you can set various parameters to help with spam comments. Basic spam prevention techniques include moderating comments with more than a few links in the body, only showing previously approved comment authors, and closing comments for older articles.
Make it harder for spammers to leave comments with CAPTCHA plugins, whichrequire would-be commenter pass a simple test to leave a comment. Popular CAPTCHA plugins for WordPress include recaptcha and Sweet Captcha. One downside with CAPTCHA-based spam prevention is that, while spambots are still very much in use, spammers are known to employ people to circumvent CAPTCHA systems. Meanwhile, a legitimate commenter may become frustrated at strict CAPTCHA tests, and might opt not to leave comments because of it.
Prevent suspected spam comments from showing up on your website with Akismet, one of the most popular spam prevention plugins available. Akismet scans comments as they come in, holding them in a moderation panel until they can be reviewed. It’s one of the default plugins installed with WordPress, and free to use on personal and non-commercial sites. Business users can buy the premium version of Akismet for $5 per month.
GoDaddy Managed WordPress is built from the ground up for maximum performance, security and ease of use. Click here to experience the difference.