10 things to do right now for a better WordPress site

If you want your website to be successful and useful to your readers, there's always something to improve. This article presents a checklist of 10 things to do right now to drastically improve your WordPress site quality, loading speed and usability.

Use a caching plugin

Caching makes dynamic websites a lot faster to load, so you should definitely implement it on your WordPress install if you haven’t already. Many free and premium plugins offer caching: WP Rocket, WP Super Cache, and more. My favorite and the one used on all my sites is W3 Total Cache.

Stay updated

Every day, hundreds of WordPress websites get hacked because the site owner didn’t keep his install up to date. This includes the WordPress core and all plugins and themes you’re using.

Also – if you don’t use a theme or a plugin, always delete it from your server. Need help with upgrading? The Codex has an extensive article about it.

Optimize your images

Images are generally over 50% of the total weight of a web page. In order to increase your site loading speed and ensure a comfortable user experience on mobile devices, optimizing images is a must.

The easiest way to do is to install and use WP Smush. Available in both free and premium versions, this super handy plugin will reduce the size of your images without altering their quality.

For more information and additional tips, check out my image optimization guide.

Reduce spam by using Disqus

Comment spam is definitely a nuisance. It adds valueless content to your site and can hurt your SEO because of the spammy links. While there are countless options to reduce comment spam (captchas, Akismet, etc.) the most efficient in my opinion is to use Disqus, a plugin that replaces WordPress native commenting feature by an independent, JavaScript based comment system.

Warn your visitors about old posts

One thing extremely annoying with blogs is outdated content. If you started blogging a few years ago, there’s no doubt that your blog features posts that are now completely outdated.

While the best solution to the problem would be to keep every post on your blog up to date, it can be a tremendous amount of work. In that case, the best you can do is to warn your readers that the post they’re reading is old and might not be up to date. If you’d like to do that automatically, you can find a great code snippet on WP Engineer.

Use a modern theme

A great WordPress theme looks good, but is also optimized for speed/SEO, and provides a great user experience to your readers. If you’re looking to create your own theme, check out my tips for creating awesome WordPress themes. If you prefer not spending time on developing your own theme, feel free to browse my lists of fastest WordPress themes, themes for web development and web design or give a try to Meridian Themes, a new premium theme vendor which specializes in beautiful and usable themes.

Look out for broken links

Broken links are hurting your SEO and provide a negative experience to your readers.

To find out broken links on your site, you can either use this handy tool or even better, the Broken Link Checker plugin which finds broken links and allows you to remove them by a single click.

Always keep mobile devices in mind

In 2017, more than 50% of people are accessing internet from a mobile device. So it should go without saying that your site has to be well-optimized for smartphones and tablets.

Mobile optimization consist of mostly two things: Speed optimization, since sites are often accessed from WiFi connections which aren’t always the fastest ever; and responsive design, which ensures that visitors get a readable and usable site regardless of the device they’re using.

Use a quality server

To check your server speed, there’s a great tool called Pingdom. Simply enter your site url and Pingdom will let you know everything about your server performances: general grade, load time, faster than X % of other sites, page size and the number of requests. If your grades are low, you should think about moving your site to a better server.

I’ve listed below my current top 4 web hosting companies for WordPress.

NameProsPrice (Starting at)
WP EngineManaged WordPress Hosting. 100% made for WordPress!$29/month
VidahostGreat quality, very fast. Hosting CatsWhoCode. Super fast support.£2.99/month
HostGatorWordPress specific hosting. Cheap but still good.$4.99/month
KickassdHigh performance SSD hosting for cheap.$7.99/month
InMotion HostingCheap but still good.$4.99/month

Looking for more choices? DesignBombs has an interesting article about managed WordPress hosting, as well as a WPEngine coupon and their own comparison of the current best WordPress themes.

Don’t forget promotion

Writing great posts should be the priority of a blogger, but promoting the content you’ve created should always come as the close second. Promoting your blog posts will attract new visitors and clients, and could lead some of your best articles to go viral.

Hope this list will help you to improve your WordPress website quality! Any other tip you’d like to add? Feel free to post them in the comments.

  • realbasics

    Excellent write-up for items 1-10.

    I’d add an item #11: Get an SSL/TLS certificate.

    And Item #11a: Get hosting through a company that offers free, preferably 1-click, instant SSL/TLS certificates.

    This rules out a number of otherwise adequate-to-excellent hosting options. WP Engine, to its credit, and Kickassd offer free SSL. HostGator unsurprisingly doesn’t provide free SSL. The otherwise excellent InMotionHosting and Vidahost charge as well.

    I’m aware that in the grand scheme of things the cost of a commercial certificate may not be high compared to the cost of hosting for sites with very high traffic. But given it’s increasingly both a security requirement for all sites with forms (ecommerce, login, for now) and a performance requirement for HTTP2 it’s an annoyance to have to purchase them separately. It’s also yet another obstacle for moving from an underperforming host to a better one.

    Again, that doesn’t take anything away from an excellent post. Thanks!

    • SiteGround offers free SSL certs via Let’s Encrypt and it is very one click. Granted, Let’s Encrypt certs are limited but they are free and satisfy the minimum standard which *should* be sufficient from most “blogs”. However, If you plan on any self hosted eCommerce Let’s Encrypt is not the way to go.

  • Under your “Use a Quality Server” section you list HostGator. As a , more or less, former HostGator client I will tell you that they are everything, except quality.

    As mentioned elsewhere they do not provide a “free” SSL cert unless you purchase a more expensive package. They do not participate in the Let’s Encrypt initiative either and will not install a Let’s Encrypt cert. If you purchase a third party cert from Commodo, Symantec, et. Al they will charge you to install it and then will drag their feet on it.

    As for customer service, there is none. I *still* have open tickets on my HostGator account from over a year ago that I sorted out myself but they never answered. In the rare event that I have actually gotten a response from Support they used the flow chart method and if your issue deviated or you phrased your questions in a way that the rep couldn’t figure out they won’t help.

    If you purchase a domain from them and try and transfer it out they will drag their feet using the old chestnut of “It’s automated, it will transfer when it does” which is somewhat true but more often than not they simply won’t release it. I battled for a solid week to move a domain from HostGator to another registrar. I finally resulted in a Twitter and Facebook campaign wit the threat of a BBB complaint and like magic, my domain was transfer in an hour.

    I’ve been double billed, had a site locked with no reason or explanation other than “an issue has occurred”, some truly substandard speeds – One server I had a site on had over 800 sites on it. Every hosting problem you can imagine, HostGator will give it to you.

    Please, stop recommending HostGator, or any other EIG owned or partnered company. They are awful.

    • Joe Guster

      I agree with HostGator not being a quality host. I’m a former client and had all of the same problems. I’ve since moved to A2 Hosting which offers a variety of tiers depending upon your needs.

  • sahir

    Thanks for this info. Keep up the neat work. I’ll be returning often thanks for sharing…live matches played in WordPress site i think is easy to boost your site but some errors occurs when i try to stream live matches on my site… Any best them for video uploading site?

  • Wonderful Tips. Thanks very much for sharing. (Y)

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  • Ann Taylor

    thanks for your tips! if any WordPress developer comes across this list, one more tool – MotoPress Demo builder – will be a necessity to showcase a demo and provide a trial for WordPress products: http://www.getmotopress.com/plugins/demo-builder-plugin-for-wordpress/

  • Ivanka Trump

    In that case, the best you can do is to warn your readers that the post they’re reading is old and might not be up to date. The DMA Shows, which ensures that visitors get a readable and usable site regardless of the device they’re using