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Wordpress Tips or "How to Not Be a Luser"


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Carolyn Shelby's presentation from the "WordPress SEO and Installation" session at PubCon Las Vegas 2012. The deck recommends not relying solely on plugins to manage and administer your WordPress site and encourages site owners to learn basic items that will help improve security and reduce reliance on "other people's magic".

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Wordpress Tips or "How to Not Be a Luser"

  1. 1. Wordpress Tips and Tweaks or “How to not be a Luser” Presented at PubCon Las Vegas 2012web: | phone: 312-212-3633
  2. 2. Definition of a Luser  Lazy + User = Luser  Has no idea how any of the plug-ins work, yet completely depends on them for all functionality… and I mean ALL.  Installs every shiny new gizmo, widget, gadget that gets featured on the Admin Dashboard  Creates problems for himself and doesn’t bother to learn how to fix things, just cries on public forums for someone to tell him the magic cure to his current WP ails.web: | phone: 312-212-3633
  3. 3. First and Foremost KEEP YOUR WORDPRESS INSTALLATION UP TO DATE WITH SECURITY PATCHES AND UPDATES.  Security is YOUR concern. Don’t be blaming WordPress or anyone else if you’re not doing your due diligence. Optional but recommended: Learn to use the CLI  Using the CLI (command line interface) won’t make you bullet proof, but being able to take full advantage of shell access will make detecting and recovering from hacks much faster and easier.  If you learn no other use for the shell, learn to use “grep”… it will become your new best friend.web: | phone: 312-212-3633
  4. 4. Learn to Love Your DB Learn how to backup, duplicate (copy), and restore your database. (Usually via phpMyAdmin) On a regular basis, log in and check your tables. Do periodic “Optimize Tables” or “Repair Tables”, esp if you see any “overhead”. Create a development environment to do your theme development… and to test upgrades to see what breaks BEFORE you put them into production!web: | phone: 312-212-3633
  5. 5. Learn to Love Your DB Learn how to do searches from w/in PHPmyAdmin.  If you’re ever hacked, you’ll need to be able to find the offending entries and remove them. Speaking of being hacked… have a good idea of what tables are supposed to be in the DB.  Often, hacks create new tables and give them “real-ish” sounding names. If you aren’t familiar with what should and should not be present, you might not notice. Make sure your “collation” method is UTF-8 General…  It changes how your data is sorted by the DB, and it can increase the speed with which your content is served from the DB.web: | phone: 312-212-3633
  6. 6. Over Reliance on Other People’s Magic People over-rely on plugins and theme frameworks to do all of the work for them.  Not all plugins are benevolent, or even benign.  Plugins don’t necessarily play well with each other or with your theme.  Not understanding how things actually work makes it difficult to fix things when they break.web: | phone: 312-212-3633
  7. 7. Avoiding OROOPM Don’t use plugins for things you can easily adjust with a template tweak.  Automating unique meta titles and descriptions  Adding breadcrumbs  Special pages for customized displays (this is what custom page templates are for) Avoid relying on plugins to do things you should know how to do anyway, like:  Database back-ups and restoresweb: | phone: 312-212-3633
  8. 8. A Little Paranoia is Healthy Some templates and plugins you can get (even directly from can be bad for your site  Forced backlinks to sites you don’t know  Trojans  All kinds of other evil  Or…they just might not play nicely with your other plugins or even your theme.web: | phone: 312-212-3633
  9. 9. Identifying Evil  Have a dev environment for testing  See what’s going to happen BEFORE you put it on your live, production website.  Remember to sync up your Dev DB and your Live DB regularly so that the tests you conduct can be reliable  and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT USE THE SAME DB YOUR PRODUCTION SITE USES  Open files before installing them and scan for things like “.cn” or “.ru”… or viagra, cialis, et al.  Read the Changelogs on new releases/updates PRIOR to installing said new release or update.web: | phone: 312-212-3633
  10. 10. How to not be a Luser  Learn HTML  Learn some basic PHP and some basic WordPress template tags  If you’re really cool, learn the WordPress loop. You’ll be able to do awesome customizations w/o plugins.  Learn how to do database backups and restores.  Learn to RTFM  Learn to have some faith in your own skills.web: | phone: 312-212-3633
  11. 11. The Codex is Your Friend  – bookmark it!  Add “codex” to the end of a question or concern you’re having and you’ll almost always get the a result right from the WordPress horse’s mouth.  Try searching for the exact error message you’re seeing (in quotes) and add codex to the query.  Ex: “error establishing a database connection” codexweb: | phone: 312-212-3633
  12. 12. Favorite Plugins  Efficient Related Posts  Get Custom Field Values  Excerpt Editor -- allows you write (and include HTML) in excerpts for *pages* too!  Search and Replace – helpful when you’re configuring your dev environment or moving domains.  Quick Cache  Gravity Formsweb: | phone: 312-212-3633
  13. 13. Carolyn Shelby CSHEL Search Strategies, Twitter: @cshel Email: carolyn@cshel.comweb: | phone: 312-212-3633