WordPress Beginners Tutorial: Avoiding the Top 7 Newbie Mistakes

wordpress beginners guide

On most Thursdays, I'll be bringing you tutorials on techie things we bloggers need to deal with. This tutorial is by my colleague, Jack Bishop. 

WordPress is a leading out-of-the-box solution for website owners who need a quick blog or site without the extra cost and hassle of custom coding.

With WordPress, you can have a website up and running in minutes. With the ease of installation comes some common mistakes, especially if you're new to WordPress and handling a website altogether.

Here are seven common newbie mistakes that you should avoid.

Forgetting to Set Up Permalinksjack01

Permalinks turn the “?p=123” at the end of your URLs into a “/my-content-topic/” structure. WordPress gives you several ways you can organize your URLs. You can organize them by date, category or post title.

The advantages of using permalinks are that you have a more easily remembered URL for users and they are more search engine friendly.

Your permalink settings are found in the administration panel under the “Settings” section. WordPress has a number of template URL setups you can use to organize your blog.

If you're new to WordPress, take advantage of the URL templates and avoid using custom URLs for when you accidentally make a mistake in your permalink code structure.

Keep WordPress Up To Date

WordPress deploys updates regularly to fix security holes and other software bugs. Hackers use scripts that continually scan the web to find insecure WordPress sites where owners haven't updated the software.

Always update your WordPress version to the latest immediately after a new release. With newer WordPress versions, you can set the software to update automatically.

Installing Insecure Plugins or Never Updating Plugins

Plugins are probably the number one way WordPress owners get hacked. Always be careful with plugins you install.

It's better to install a well-known plugin than one that isn't regularly maintained by the plugin owner. The plugin owner must update his code every time a new WordPress release is deployed. If they don't, your plugin might be rendered useless, which then affects your blog. Poorly coded plugins leave your site insecure and vulnerable. Don't install plugins just to install a functionality that you don't need.

Leaving the “Hello World” Initial Post

Each time you install WordPress, a sample post, a sample page and a sample comment are included after the installation. You can delete these properties or rewrite them to update the content.

Most site owners use the initial content as a road map for building their first blog page, post and comment. The difference between a page and a post is often difficult for newbie WordPress owners to understand, so editing these properties is easier than deleting them.

However, you must do one or the other, because leaving them up sends poor quality signals to search engine algorithms such as Google.

Disregarding Backups

It's easy to get tied up with regular blog posts and management, but backups should never be disregarded. Don't put backups on the back burner. Decide how many days of data loss you can live with and make that your backup frequency.

For instance, if you create a post every week, you can probably get away with backups once a week. If you create new posts every day, you should set up backups every day.

Remember, you don't just back up the WordPress software. You also need to back up the database, which carries all of your critical data.

Clicking “Publish” Too Soon

With Google tightening up its algorithm and releasing content penalties such as Panda, it's critical that you only publish your content when it's ready. You should write, edit and revise your content before clicking “Publish.”

Don't publish content just to publish something on your site. [Tweet “It's better to publish one excellent post a week than ten average posts a day.”]

The algorithms judge quality not quantity. Users prefer quality over quantity. Hire an editor if you need edits. An editor can turn a bland, ungrammatical blog post into something enticing to readers.

Implementing Poor Passwords and No Login Security

You might be surprised by the number of attacks on your WordPress log-in. Wordfence is a WordPress plugin that protects your log-in page. It audits login attempts and tells you when an attempt to log in is made.  It also scans your site for any other vulnerability.

There are several other protection plugins available, so you should choose at least one to protect your site from being hacked. Once a hacker has access to your administration panel, he can add content, edit pages or even delete your blog posts and pages.

The above is a list of a few common newbie mistakes. You can avoid the hassle of losing data, using poor SEO URL structures and getting hacked by taking note of these issues and avoiding the issue when you start your blog.

Jack Bishop has been designing websites since before the days of the DIY design. With a knack for clean and contemporary looks that function successfully, he often blogs about his experience and insights into crafting great websites for today's users.


  1. says

    Hi Jack,

    That permalink really is a biggie. Be professional, get your SEO down and draw in more targeted traffic. Patiently go through these basic tips to start off on the right foot. You want to impress as much as possible from Day 1. I’d add for posting frequency that 1 excellent quality post weekly works but you can add 1 or so shorter, but quality posts linking up to other bloggers. Sort of like a roundup. These can give you a little break, boost your traffic and you’ll also draw in more readers as you freely promote your fellow bloggers. Fab strategy for making friends and for growing your business network too. Thumbs up on all of these Jack!

    Tweeting and signing off from Savusavu, Fiji. Have a fun weekend Sue Anne and Jack.

    Ryan Biddulph recently posted…Island Hopping Tuesday: Photo of the DayMy Profile

    • says

      Hi, Ryan,

      So true about the permalinks! And roundups work great – thanks for mentioning them!

      Have a great weekend!

  2. says

    Hey Sue Anne,

    You mentioned the correct points for which someone must take care of. Many newbies are committing such mistakes when Migrating to WordPress from any other CMS(Content management system). You did a great job by making them aware about such common mistakes.

    From now, I will prefer to update wordpress whenever a new update will come which I was not doing in Past. 🙂

    Thanks for writing!
    ~Nitin Singh
    Nitin Singh recently posted…5 Techniques I Used To Hit The Charts of My Social Media TrafficMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks for commenting on the post, Nitin! I always update WordPress when there is a new update. I’m glad you are going to also.

      Happy blogging,

  3. says

    I deleted “hello world”. I’m changing permalink like yours. I agree we are not suppose to click publish too soon. I always ensure that my blog post must be a minimum of 350 words, have 1 image, not use short form, have proper SEO and after that I publish.. 🙂
    myrujukan recently posted…Rujukan dan Tarikh PTD M41 2014My Profile

    • says

      Sounds like you are doing everything right! I would recommend writing longer posts (up to 2000 words) and only publishing once a week. If you are under 1000 subscribers, guest post more often than posting on your own blog.

      Thanks for commenting,

  4. says

    Great tips Sue and Jack.

    I have a couple tips to add:

    TAGS! Newbies, they go crazy with it. You have no idea how many clients I’ve gone through that used 100+ tags in each post! And to top it all off, each tag was indexed, not providing any value. Some were already penalized when I got to their site.

    I would also advice setting up an SEO plugin as early as possible. Do it once, reap the rewards long term.

    You mentioned permalinks -> what a doozy. That’s a really great first pick. A lot of new bloggers get confused with that one. 🙂

    Have a great weekend!
    Dennis Seymour recently posted…SEO 101: What Gordon Hayward Can Teach You About Link Building Using Link BaitsMy Profile

    • says

      Hi, Dennis,

      I had a good laugh when you said “tags”! Isn’t that the truth!

      Thanks for commenting,

  5. says

    Hi Sue and Jack,
    Thanks for a great post! I agree with all the tips here. I would even add that some of these newbie mistakes are done even by bloggers who have been blogging for some time. So I think this post adds value to everyone.

    I love the idea of making backups regularly and not just once a week. I also picked up a tip from Remarkablogger or Michael Martine in the past. He suggested creating a test blog installation on wordpress in a different sub-folder (not the same where the current blog resides) where one can test things out if I can remember correctly. I love the idea and wonder if testing the backups we make for functionality and completeness using the test blog would be a good idea. I have not tried it out and just got the idea by reading this post.

    I also love the tip about quality and not just quantity. Right now, I am trying to publish twice a week. I will be honest that publishing two good posts (at least in my opinion) is quite a challenge! At least for me, this seems to be working.

    Harish Kumar recently posted…9 Effective Ways To Bust Through Excuses!My Profile

    • says

      Hi, Harish,

      Thanks for stopping by to read and to comment! I also like to make backups more often. I’m with WPEngine and they do a backup every night.

      I like your tip of the sub-folder idea.

      I would recommend getting a different guest blogger to do one of your posts each week. It really lets you concentrate on writing one epic post per week.

  6. says

    Thanks for the article.

    I use a couple of plugins that help make WordPress a little more secure. One is the Stealth Login plugin which lets you create custom URL addresses for login. The other one I use is called Login lockdown which limits the amount of login attempts a user gets and also notifies you if there’s unusual activity.
    Robert recently posted…The Top Five Stupid Myths About FreelancingMy Profile

    • says

      Hi, Robert,

      I also use Login lockdown and really like it. Thanks for letting us know about Stealth Login.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

  7. says

    Hi Jack and Sue,

    Nice tutorial indeed.

    All the points you have mentioned are really necessary to keep in mind and we should avoid repeating it.

    I am already avoiding these all mistakes except the last too. Now, I would take care and try to avoid these mistakes.

    I am already using “Wordfence” plugin. It is great one and has lot of features.

    I was not aware about that clicking “publish’ too soon can really harm.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful tutorial with us. Have an enjoyable Sunday!
    Nisha Pandey recently posted…How to Create PR 9 Backlinks in a Cool and Effortless WayMy Profile

    • says

      Hi, Nisha,

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.

      Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  8. says

    Hi Sue Anne,

    These are excellent tips and some I wish I knew when I first dove into WordPress.

    I think security is one that is really overlooked and as you mentioned backing up our data is a huge part of keeping our information protected. I just created a infographic about keeping our sites safe and through my research, I was shocked to learn that 30,000 sites are hacked everyday!

    Also, I think you tips on Plugins are on point! When I started with WordPress I had basically no coding knowledge. Yes, I went crazy on the plugins and they caused a 500 Server Not Found Error. Let’s just say that was a long night.

    Excellent tips Sue Anne. Have a great rest of the weekend!
    Steven J Wilson recently posted…The Recipe Needed To Build A Successful Blog [Infographic]My Profile

    • says

      Hi, Steven,

      I don’t think any of knew these issues when we first started out – I know I didn’t.

      I was a plug-in queen also!

      Thanks for stopping by the blog to comment,

  9. says

    Thank you for sharing this. I have most of it covered Although I wasn’t aware that publishing to soon was a problem. or the securing issue and using word fence.
    Robbie van’t Wout recently posted…Daily Blogging ChecklistMy Profile

    • says

      Hi, Robbie,

      Securing is really key – I had my first site hacked and it was a tough and expensive two days. Anything you can do to prevent that is well worth it.

      Thanks for your comment!

  10. says

    Thank you for sharing this – I love your post.

  11. says

    Hi Sue!

    Really informative and helpful article… Permalinks should be changed right after installing wordpress or else it will surely cause a huge problem after the blog gets indexed in Google. Permalinks like “/p23” does really create a problem when it comes to SEO. Search Engines will put more weight on the article if it has a search engine friendly permalink.

    Anyways thanks for the awesome share!

  12. says

    Hello Jack and Sue,

    According to me, a blogger must have some basic knowledge before launching WordPress site. He can take help from expertise or read books. Another thing, new bloggers install lots of plugins & makes the site slow.

    You added nice tips in brief. So a blogger can understand it clearly & apply accordingly.
    Osho Garg recently posted…4 Things Contractors Need on Their SiteMy Profile

  13. says

    Hello Jack and Sue,

    This is why Pro Bloggers advise newbies to start with blogger platform and when they get some knowledge, then go with WordPress, because a beginner might feel WP difficult and may make these mistakes or more dangerous mistakes related to seo.

    • says

      Quite a few people that start with another platform then come to me and say they wished they had started on WordPress.org.

      I understand your point, Atinder. It’s easier on the other platforms when you are new. But I feel you need to take a bigger view of your business and do what’s best in the long run. At this point in time, that’s usually using WordPress.org.

      I really appreciate you coming over to the blog to comment!

  14. says

    Hi Sue ,

    That’s so true, getting started is the most important beginner move.

    Some of the tips here do work best if you implement them from the start. Shortening your permalinks and getting in the habit of labeling your images, for example, both help boost your search engine results if you adopt those habits early on. And having a single media folder just makes your life easier!

    You’re right, though: it’s never too late to fix these little details. They’ll make a difference whenever you do them.

    Wonderful job on this post – it crystallizes really key information into something digestible.

    Good Work!!

    • says

      Hi, Dennis,

      Thanks for being part the Successful Blogging Team and commenting today.

      Better late than never on the little details, right?

  15. says


    please help me, Recently I have started one blog.but my problem is how many posts post to my blog daily in seo basic.becanse my blog traffic is very very low..please tell me what type of guide lines i have follow and how to increase my traffic…

    I am waiting for your reply..

    I have read all comments in ur website…it’s very use full information..

    • says

      Writing more blog posts won’t increase your traffic when you don’t have much traffic, Kakarala. Try blog commenting, guest blogging and some social media to start getting more traffic.

      Thanks for your question.

  16. says

    What a great post, i remeber making some of the same mistakes while starting with WordPress years back.

  17. says

    This is a great post thank you. There is so much to learn when we are starting our blogs and websites and I know I definitely made the permalink mistake.

    I currently have a WordPress website under brute force attack but I invested in blog defender course, so I have wordfence, iThemes Security and Backupbuddy plugins all helping me stay as tight as I can be.

    I see many people installing plugins such as wordfence but never learning how to set up correctly.

    Also, security starts with your PC. You really need to be using the best Anti-Virus protection on your PC in order to help protect your Blogs and Websites. Some of the most familiar brands are letting us down hugely, so do your homework before investing in Anti-Virus Protection.

    I am really looking forward to reading more on your blog and picking up great tips.

    Thank You

    Ian G. Howarth.

    • says

      Excellent points, Ian! Security is something most bloggers don’t even know about. Thanks for filling them in.


  18. says

    Thanks Sue, even though I thought I was quite intermediate blogger I didn’t realize that updating backend might be so important.. Very, interesting post and blog!

  19. says

    I’m always open to ideas of how to keep my readers longer on my blog. So far I’ve been writing longer posts and been doing internal linking which helped a lot. I wold like to look into uberflip to see how this works.

  20. says

    All the points you have mentioned are really necessary to keep in mind and we should avoid repeating it.

    I am already avoiding these all mistakes except the last too. Now, I would take care and try to avoid these mistakes.

  21. says

    Great and Informative post about to avoid common and basic mistakes which newbies always ignore.Each and every point is explained in detailed.All this point i will keep in mind and Avoid these common mistake.Thanks for sharing Sue.
    Chirag recently posted…Google Zero Gravity Tricks Which Will Amaze YouMy Profile

  22. says

    This is terrific information, Sue. I’ve been blogging for several years on Word Press, mandysmithsthoughts.com, and I haven’t paid any attention to permalinks. Now you’ve given me some homework. I’m really glad to have discovered your website today, thanks!

  23. Nancy says

    If new bloggers use too many plugins which ones should we pick?

    • says

      A backup plugin, an SEO plugin, a caching plugin, Google Analytics, WP Smush (for images) are the best to start with, Nancy.

      Thanks for your question!

      • Nancy says

        Thank you for the quick response. I am getting into that paralysis of analysis phase!
        If you do not mind I will be back with more questions after reading more of your info!

        Thanks again

  24. Mary Ainsworth says

    Very helpful, Jack. I’m setting up soon, and I’ll be checking all these points before I go live. Thank you 🙂

  25. Poovanesh says

    Hi Sue Anne
    A really informative post. You advised 5 plug ins only. I have nearly 20. Is that too many ? My blog is not live yet. So i have no idea about the upload speed of the site yet. Please advise if there are other plug ins that woukd be ok to add. I’m now debating about whether to delete some.

    • says

      If they are all necessary, it’s fine. Just check site loading time, like you said.

      Thanks for your comment.

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