The top 10 reasons why your WordPress website isn’t very good

Ever wondered whether your WordPress website is any good?

Your suspicions may be unfounded! In “the top 10 reasons why your WordPress isn’t very good”, we take a look at the most common mistakes that people make when it comes to their WordPress websites. People often come to us asking for specific help with something that needs tweaking on their website. But all too often, they are oblivious to the real issues with their site.

We’re here to tell you gently that there’s a good chance that your WordPress website isn’t very good. Be honest, how many of these mistakes are you making with your website?

1. You actually have more than one live website

It doesn’t matter whether your main website has a “www” prefix or not, but it’s really important that you choose one as the preferred domain, and redirect the other one to the main one.

Let’s say your website is outerbridge.co.uk. Try typing www.outerbridge.co.uk into your browser url box. Then type in just outerbridge.co.uk (without the www). Both addresses should take the user to exactly the same location. In other words, the user should end up at exactly the same web address. In our case, the www version is automatically directed to the non-www version.

Why does this matter? If you don’t do this, Google will see your site as 2 separate (but identical) websites. This is very bad indeed for your search engine optimisation because Google will view one of the websites as duplicate content. Plagiarism is a big red flag as far as Google are concerned, so your Google rankings will be adversely affected. The same is true for http versions of your site – they should always be redirected automatically to the https version.

For more information about redirecting domain urls, please see this support article from Google.

2. What’s https?

Never heard of https? Then we’re sorry but, yes, your WordPress website is not very good. If you still don’t have https: in front of your domain name, your website does not have a valid SSL certificate. In other words, it’s not secure. An SSL security certificate is what gives you an https prefix at the start of your domain name. Non-secure sites just have http. Some browsers also show a padlock (often a green one) before your domain name to indicate a secure site. SSL stands for “secure sockets layer”, and it’s really important that your website has a valid (and correctly configured) SSL certificate. You can check your SSL score by typing your website’s url into this free SSL checker from Qualys.

There are 2 main reasons why you need an SSL certificate. The first is that customers need to know that their data is secure if they are filling in contact forms or buying things online. Browsers warn people if a site is not secure, and many customers will abandon a purchase or interaction without one. The second reason is that Google gives preference to https websites over http ones. So, if you don’t have an SSL certificate then you will rank lower in Google search results.

3. Your website doesn’t work properly

We’ve seen it all. Menus that you can’t click on, social media links that don’t work, images that don’t load, contact forms that don’t send, mobile websites that you can’t read, typos, out of date information etc. Test your website thoroughly before it goes live. People who’ve built their own websites can be very defensive about them. So if you are too close to your website, ask someone else to test it for you. Websites are not static – they can and do change over time. Things can stop working. Also, you might have seen your website so many times that you don’t actually “see” it any more. Ask a friend or an independent third party to test everything and let you know what doesn’t work for them. You will be surprised what you find!

4. Your website isn’t fast enough

The brutal truth is that these days, no-one is prepared to wait several seconds for your website to load. You can check your website’s performance using this free page speed tool from Pingdom. There are 2 main things that affect your website’s speed. One is the way it’s been built. A good developer will build with speed in mind, but a bad one won’t know how to do this properly. If minifying javascript and render-blocking CSS are all a bit beyond you, hire a web developer to speed up your site.

The second big factor in your website speed is the web hosting you are using. There’s no point investing money in a website if your hosting is not up to scratch. We’ve seen people spend thousands on a website, and then buy cheap shared hosting for $3.99 a month. It’s madness. It’s like buying a Ferrari and putting bicycle tyres on it. Find out more about why cheap hosting probably isn’t what you should be looking for.

5. Your plugins are out of date. Or WordPress. Or your theme…

If you are running any WordPress plugins on your website (and let’s face it who isn’t?), you should know that you need to update them regularly. Whenever there’s a new version, backup your site (in case the update goes wrong) and update your plugin.

Many people don’t realise that they need to check that their plugins are still being supported. If there hasn’t been a new version for a long time, there’s a good chance that the plugin’s developer is no longer supporting it. This means that it will eventually stop working, and it could leave your site vulnerable to hackers or just not working. We talk more about the need to keep your plugins and WordPress up to date in updating WordPress themes and plugins.

6. No one can find your website

There’s no point in having a great website if no one can find it in search engines. Don’t just type your company name into Google and think it’s good enough that it appears. Most potential customers will be more likely to search for, say, Devon Florist than Blooming Marvellous. Make sure you work on your SEO actively and often, otherwise you won’t come up in Google search results. We recommend the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress – it’s a great way to support your SEO efforts and there’s a free version which gives you a really good start.

7. You never change your website

If your content is old and outdated, customers will be given the impression that you don’t have pride in what you do. Fresh content gives people a reason to revisit your website on a regular basis. It also helps hugely with search engine optimisation. Search engines like Google love fresh content; they will index your site more often as a result and they will promote your website in search engine results. You can find out more about why you need to update your website in our blog post why fresh content is so important for your website.

8. You don’t have a backup

If you don’t have a backup of your website, you are asking for trouble. If anything goes wrong, all your hard work could be for nothing. We can’t say it often enough. Backup often and always before you make any changes. Make sure you backup both the files and the database. And don’t assume that your host will do it for you. It’s your responsibility. Make sure you can restore your site from a backup and test this out before you need it so that if the worst happens, you know what to do. You can find out more about backups in this blog post: why, how and how often to backup your website.

9. You don’t know if your website is down

Would you know if your website was down? How can you tell whether it’s unavailable to customers? Many people assume their website is always working, but we know differently. Many hosting companies claim 100% uptime, but how do you know there haven’t been any outages? If your website is down, make sure you know about it. Needless to say, this is particularly important if you are taking a risk with with poor hosting. We monitor all our customers websites so that in the unlikely event of a problem, we can get working on the issue immediately.

10. No “calls to action” (CTAs)

Once a visitor comes to your website, presumably you want them to actually do something. Whether it’s visiting your online shop, giving you a call or sending you an email, make it easy for customers by including a great call to action on each page. This article from Hubspot gives lots of great examples of how successful companies use effective “calls to action” on their websites.

If your WordPress website is not up to scratch, why not get some help from the experts?

So there you have it – our top 10 reasons why your website might not be as great as you think. We hope that you haven’t found out that your WordPress website is not as good as you thought it was. But if that’s the case, why not contact us to find out how we can help you.

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