I’ve put together a list of tips and tricks for WordPress that will be useful to any beginner. These are the things I’ve learned over the years, often the hard way, and things I wish I knew about when I started using WordPress all those years ago.
Some of these may seem like no-brainers, but they bear saying. There’s definitely some stuff on this list that I knew when I started, ignored, and regretted. So, maybe some of these will just hammer home the importance of something you’ve been putting off 😉
WordPress Tips & Tricks
Jump on in, and if you have any suggestions to add to the list then please let me know in the comments.
#1) Keyboard Shortcuts
WordPress makes use of some very common keyboard shortcuts for things you commonly do – you know, like write an article 😉
You can do ctrl+b to bold something, ctrl+i for italics, etc. Shortcuts everyone is familiar with, plus some distinct to WordPress.
Other than typical keyboard shortcuts, there’s also some formatting shortcuts should you prefer.
You can find a full list of keyboard shortcuts, and where they can be used, on the official WordPress site.
#2) Use a Responsive Theme
There are so many themes in WordPress that finding the right one is often a monumental task. There’s one thing you should always be looking for when hunting down a new theme though, and that’s a responsive theme.
A responsive theme is a theme that automatically adapts to different screen resolutions. So, it’s a theme that looks good on a monitor, a tablet, or a smart phone.
This is unlike the old days when you had to have a separate mobile theme. Today, a good theme is responsive, so you only need that one theme to handle any viewing device. This makes things so much easier than it used to be.
So, make sure themes you look at say they’re responsive. If they don’t say it then move on.
#3) Deactivate & Remove Unused Plugins + Themes
Every plugin you use in your WordPress site will slow it down. Some plugins use more resources than others, and in turn have a larger impact on speed, but ultimately every single one will slow your site down.
First, you only want to install plugins you need. If you have plugins installed that you are no longer using then be sure to deactivate them. A deactivated plugin will not use any resources and slow down your site.
I also recommend removing any plugins that you aren’t using. The reason is for security. It’s rare, but some plugins can be exploited even if they aren’t active, so don’t take the chance. Plus, deleting unused plugins will save disk space on your server.
The same is true for themes. Many of us install a ton of them to check them out. I must install 10-15 whenever I’m theme hunting. However, when you’re done testing, just go ahead and remove those themes. There’s no sense using valuable disk space with your host for something you aren’t using.
#4) Use an SEO Plugin
Out of the box, WordPress is decent at getting you traffic from search engines. However, if you really want to promote your site, and generate a lot of organic traffic, then you need to get yourself a good SEO (search engine optimization) plugin.
Now, there’s a few SEO plugins for WordPress, but I personally recommend using Yoast SEO. I’ve used some others over the years and none have come close to offering the range of features that Yoast has.
Ultimately though, the choice is yours on which plugin you use, and I haven’t seen one that is bad at its job, just some are better at it.
Either way, get yourself an SEO plugin and you’ll thank me later.
#5) Get a Caching Plugin
Relating to SEO is caching. I say that because the speed of your site has an impact on your rankings with search engines.
Anyway, a caching plugin will significantly speed up your site. Admittedly, they can be a bit of a chore to setup, but they are worth the time you put into them.
Once you’ve got your caching setup and configured, then you can just sit back and let it do its thing. So, you only have to go through the process once.
If you’re unfamiliar with caching, what it is is basically taking a picture of your site and delivering that to visitors. See, WordPress has to run code and scripts every time someone visits it to display your article, page, etc. The code that runs takes time to do its thing and then display it for your site’s visitors.
So, what caching does is saves the result of that code that ran, takes a snapshot of that article, saves it, and then delivers that saved copy to visitors.
By delivering the saved copy, the code doesn’t have to run to display the article, and in turn it becomes that much faster.
The bigger your site, the more articles, the more speed savings you’ll see by using caching.
My recommendation for this is W3 Total Cache. I have used it for years and years very successfully.
Now, I also use WP Rocket on sites for my job (programmer at a web hosting company), and it has worked well. WP Rocket is a premium caching plugin, but you’ll find it’s a lot easier to configure initially.
#6) Backup Your Blog
WordPress doesn’t have any native backup features, so it’s up to you to implement a backup system.
There’s a very easy to use plugin called UpdraftPlus that makes backups really easy. I use this on a few of my sites and it works great.
If you have a self-hosted WordPress site then there’s a good chance your web host does backups of your site and database for you. However, don’t assume that, and always check with your web host.
In fact, seek out web hosts that provide this. Don’t go with cheap hosting if it doesn’t have backups. It’s not worth the money you save.
#7) Put Consideration Into Your Web Hosting
Web hosting is something that’s seriously underrated, not to mention that people new to the whole WordPress blogging thing are probably unaware of just how important web hosting is.
Having a good web host is like having a good engine in your car; and really, the metaphor couldn’t be any more accurate. The better the hosting, the faster your site loads. Good web hosts are also able to deal with influxes of traffic, which every site will get periodically.
There’s also the technical side of things. When something goes wrong on your site, you need to be able to contact someone who knows how to deal with the issue. Not only that, but to deal with it professionally and promptly.
This is why there are web hosts out there who cater to WordPress hosting, because WordPress is a platform that requires some special knowledge when it comes to hosting. So, choosing a host who specializes in WordPress will really help you out.
Here’s my recommendations:
- Bluehost – I will admit, I have not used these folks. However, folks I respect have sworn by Bluehost for affordable hosting on new WordPress sites.
- KnownHost – These are the folks I use for all of my websites. You can find cheaper, but they’ve been amazing with anything support related, and they have quality servers.
- WP Engine – An all-inclusive web host for WordPress sites. If you’ve got a bit of money, and need a host who talks WordPress, then this is your best choice.
#8) Always Keep Everything Updated
The biggest thing to realize with updates to WordPress, themes, and plugins is that part of those updates is security. Sure, it also means new features and bug fixes, but security is the big one.
If you use a lot of plugins, and you don’t keep those updated, then you are putting your blog at risk. Same with WordPress and themes. Using outdated anything in a WordPress environment is a gamble.
See, often times a hacker will find an exploit in a particular version of WordPress or a plugin (even themes). The developers are made aware of the exploit and they in turn fix it and push out a new update.
If you don’t update to fix that security risk then a hacker could do any number of malicious things to your site. I’ve been there, dealt with it a lot over the years, and I can tell you that it’s not fun to fix.
When you log into your WordPress site, and you see there’s an update for something available, go ahead and run that update. It only takes a few seconds and keeps you safe.
Now, if you’re like me and you have a lot of WordPress sites to keep updated, then check out ManageWP.
ManageWP is a service that lets you update all of your sites all at once, and it’s even free. This is what I use to keep all my sites up to date.
#9) Use a Firewall Plugin
Relating to keeping things updated is using a firewall in case things do get through, or try to at least. A firewall does many things, and keeping would-be hackers out of your site is top among them.
A good firewall will also run scans on your WordPress site to make sure something hasn’t slipped through. It will also offer brute force protection for logging into your site, plus a lot of other useful features.
The firewall I use and recommend is WordFence. I have used WordFence for a great many years, since it came out, and it’s a great plugin with a lot of awesome features. It has login protection, site scanning, notifications of problems, plus more, and they are leading the charge against hackers and exploiters within WordPress.
You honestly will not find a better firewall for WordPress than Wordfence.
Hopefully you’ve learned a few things from the above list. This is something I’ll continually add to and refine as I come up with more. So, keep checking back!