WordPress / Website FAQ

Got a website or a WordPress question? Use the form below to ask it here! I’ll post the answer on this page, so your question can benefit someone else who has the same problem.

    Web Development

    Why isn't WordPress Sending Website Emails?

    If you’re not getting emails from your WordPress website, there are a few ways to fix it.

    1. Sign up for an email service like MailChimp or Mandrill

    MailChimp provides a way to ensure emails from your website get delivered, and it’s free, provided you don’t exceed the limit. It’s also a great platform to use if you want to start email marketing, and when you sign up for their service you get both for one low price! Mandrill is another service that provides email delivery from your site, and integration with both is relatively easy to set up. Sign up for the service, install a popular SMTP plugin, connect the two, and your email woes are over!

    2. Route your website email using your hosting email account.

    Instead of paying for a service, you can set up a free email account with whoever you use for hosting and use an SMTP plugin to sync with your host’s mail server to deliver the emails. You won’t have to pay a dime! All you need to do is know the username and password for the email address you wish to use, the mail server URL (this will vary by host), and the SMTP port number. Once you specify those values to your SMTP plugin, you will start getting emails from your site.

    How do I make my WordPress website faster?

    In today’s web, speed is one of the most important factors to consider when building a WordPress website. Not only does site speed impact how your customers encounter your brand, it’s also an SEO rankings factor. Here are a few things that you can do to improve your WordPress website’s speed.

    Consider your hosting company. Choosing the wrong host can seriously impede your website’s load times, and can do you more harm than good. GoDaddy and Bluehost are among the worst performers for site load times, and there are many others. Before choosing a host, consider doing some research of your own to see which hosts are the fastest and base your decision on that. Personally, I recommend SiteGround as a host that not only meets performance benchmarks but also doesn’t cost a whole lot.

    Make sure your images are optimized for the web. It’s important to make sure your images are thinned out before you upload them to your site. Adjust the size and quality in the tool you plan on using to edit your photos, and also consider using a free plugin like Smush to optimize your photos once you’ve uploaded them to WordPress. Images are usually the main culprit if your site speed is slow, so keep that in mind as you start to build your pages.

    It could be your theme. All WordPress websites use themes to control their visual appearance, and if your theme is bloated and slow, it could be hurting you more than it’s helping. Some themes rely on lots of outside resources to work, and that can really slow your website down. One of the worst themes you can use (in terms of speed) is the Divi theme. Even with optimized hosting, and a lot of internal tweaks, it still isn’t fast enough to be a good option for most website owners.

    When to use a WordPress page or post?

    To the casual user, pages and posts may appear similar but they’re two very different things.

    Pages are often used for static content, usually centered around one topic. Pages don’t support comments, and they don’t wind up in the post loop either. This means you can’t use them as blog posts.

    Posts are like pages in that they can contain static content, but they support user comments, and that is the chief difference. They’re also included in the post loop, meaning they would show up as posts on your blog page. Posts also have another big advantage. You can assign categories to them, meaning you can create collections of posts around different topics. Pages don’t support categories at all.

    The best time to use a page is for cornerstone content like an about page, a contact page, or a privacy policy. The best time to write a post is if you’re looking for community interaction, or if you want it to show up as part of your blog.

    How to fix the "Website Not Secure" message in Chrome?

    The “Website Not Secure” message in Chrome means that your site isn’t using encryption when transmitting data to the server. Without an SSL certificate, all your customer’s details are visible to attackers and anyone else who may be snooping in on your web traffic. Not only does this put your customers at risk, it will also hurt your SEO ranking, so resolving this message should be a priority.

    Luckily, most hosts provide a free “Let’s Encrypt” SSL certificate that provides the requisite encryption to your site as part of your hosting plan. All you have to do is activate it, and then configure it to work with your site and the “Website Not Secure” message will go away.

    What WordPress version am I using?

    Finding your WordPress version is super easy, and I’ll walk you through the steps.

    1. Navigate to the Dashboard tab of your WordPress backend. Top left of your screen. Just move your mouse up to the upper left-hand corner of the black bar and you’ll see it.

    2. Click on the “Updates” tab once you have opened the Dashboard submenu. Once the updates tab has been opened, look to your right, and you should see an announcement that lists your current WordPress version and if you need to update.

    Search Engine Optimization

    Why isn't my site ranking better?

    There are so many factors you need to consider when trying to diagnose a major SEO problem, it can be hard to tell at first glance. Here are a few factors to check for:

    1. Is your site loading fast enough? If your site is taking too long to load, this could be one factor that’s hindering your search engine performance. Google wants site owners to aim for an under half-second load time. Any longer, and it will hurt your rankings.

    2. Is your content long enough? If your site uses thin content or very short passages, there’s not enough information for Google to think your site is an authority on your topic. Each page (where appropriate) should have at least 300-400 words.

    3. Do you have quality backlinks? A “backlink” is a link from another site that points back to yours. Backlinks can be both good and bad. If a spammy or malicious site links to you, this can hurt your standings with Google and other search engines. If a highly reputable site links to you, this will enhance your standings because it’s a signal to Google that your site has valuable information. Backlinks are good, but avoid getting into schemes where you trade backlinks or even worse, pay for them. These practices can hurt you far worse than they help, and Google is smart enough to know if you’re trying to game the system with link schemes.

    4. Are you linking to helpful content throughout your site? Linking to internal content helps Google figure out what your site is about, as the text of these links not only provides context to your content—they also tell Google what keywords you want to rank for. A good internal linking strategy is essential for every website, so it’s important that your website has one.

    5. Write for humans, not search engines and avoid keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is repetitively using the same words and phrases over and over again. Not only is this content hard to read, but it can also signal to Google that you’re trying to game the system and that’s a huge no-no. Ultimately, you need to write copy on your site that’s intended for humans to read.

    These are a few, but not all of the different factors that can come into play if you’re trying to figure out why your site isn’t ranking better. To get the full story, you need an SEO audit to identify the gaps where your website is lacking. From there you’ll be able to fix what’s broken. If you need help in this area, SEO is something I specialize in. I can do a complete site audit and help you get your rankings back on track. Contact me today to schedule a free consultation.

    How to clean up SEO damage from hacking?

    If you’ve been hacked, chances are there are potentially thousands of pages now on your site advertising everything from porn to online pharmacies. Your first step is to make sure every page has been deleted by going into your site’s hosting using FTP, and removing anything that looks suspicious or malicious.

    After that’s been done, you’ll need to log into Google Search Console and begin the process of telling Google to ignore the deceptive pages that have been indexed. You will likely need to do this one URL at a time.

    Once you’ve flagged all the pages, Google will begin the process of cleaning up your online reputation. It will start by forgetting the pages you told it about, and over time the number of indexed pages will begin to decrease. Eventually, the hacked pages will clear up altogether, so long as you’ve deleted the malicious files and told Google to ignore them.

    How to know what keywords are right for my site?

    Picking keywords for your site to target can be tricky. You want to find keywords that have enough eyeballs on them (we call it search volume), matched with a lower level of ranking difficulty. If the ranking difficulty is lower, but the number of eyeballs looking at that search term are also high—we have a winner.

    To pick the right keywords, you have to also look at your competition. What keywords are they using? With what success? Sometimes copying what’s working for your competitors can be of benefit to your own efforts. You can study them to learn what’s working and what isn’t, and that will help you in the long run.

    How do I get quality backlinks for my site?

    To get quality backlinks for your site, you first need quality content. Content that’s trending, relevant, or is currently being discussed at length on social media is a great way to generate ideas for a post that will likely get shared and generate links back to your site.

    A good place to start to discover trending content is to look at Google Trends. Google Trends lists what’s hot right now on their search platform, and if you can find a trending niche—boom! You’ve got shareable content for your site.

    Another good way to attract backlinks is by writing a helpful article about a popular topic in your niche. What’s happening in your industry? Do you sell a product that could benefit from a Buyer’s Guide? Does your market want to know how to use a popular product? Any of these topics would be good for an article that covers this niche.

    Web Maintenance

    Do I have to update my WordPress site?

    If your WordPress site isn’t updated, you won’t be receiving the latest patches and bug fixes, and you could be risking attacks by spammers and hackers. What’s worse, you won’t be running the most modern versions of your theme, plugins, or the WordPress core. This will cause you to miss out on advances in technology that could be potentially beneficial to your site or to your business. Not only that, if you wait long enough, eventually your site could be so out of date that it breaks. The longer you wait to update, the more difficult it will be, so make sure you keep your site up-to-date on a regular basis.

    How often should I update my WordPress site?

    WordPress sites should be updated once a month, or once a quarter at the latest. When you update your site, you should make sure you update the WordPress core, your theme, as well as all of your plugins. If updating your plugins breaks your site, you need the help of an expert to diagnose the problem and come up with a good solution.

    I'm getting a lot of spam email messages from my site. What should I do?

    If your inbox is starting to get inundated with spam messages from your website contact form, don’t worry! There are two things you can do to stop it, and these steps will take you less than an hour.

    1. Install the Stop Spammers WordPress plugin With little to no configuration required from the start, Stop Spammers will filter most of the spam you’ll find coming through your contact form. It’s a free plugin and it’s very effective at filtering out unwanted messages.

    2. Setup Google reCAPTCHA to work with your contact form Google reCAPTCHA uses artificial intelligence to easily determine if a contact form submission is from a human or a bot. Simply sign up for the security keys from Google’s reCAPTCHA website, and connect them to your contact form. Once enabled, users will need to pass a test before they can send a message. If the software detects that the user is human, the message goes through. If it detects the user is a bot, the message will be rejected. This one simple tool can pay dividends down the road in your efforts to keep less spam out of your inbox.

    Should I be backing up my WordPress website?

    Keeping regular backups of your website is insurance against the numerous threats facing the web today. Backups mean you can easily restore your site in the event something goes wrong. Not only should you be taking regular backups of your site—you should be doing so every day!

    When you hire David Repasky Consulting to start handling your website maintenance, you’ll get a free subscription to ManageWP. This service takes cloud-based backups of your site as frequently as you like, along with many other helpful services. Not only will we be alerted when your site goes down, we’ll be able to restore it within minutes. When combined with vulnerability reports, it’s a great way to make sure your site is well maintained and ready to withstand anything.

    Web Hosting / Servers

    Should I pay for an SSL certificate if my host gives me one for free?

    Paying for a premium SSL certificate may seem crazy when most hosts provide an SSL certificate for free. However, there are situations where you may benefit from the extra protection afforded by better encryption. For example, if your site processes credit card payments, you’ll need a more secure certificate or else you could be putting your customer base at risk. You would also need a paid SSL certificate if your site stores or transmits sensitive data such as health data or personally identifiable information like social security numbers.

    Do I have to have hosting with the company that manages my domain name?

    If you have a domain with a company like GoDaddy, you’re not obligated to use them for hosting. By making a few changes to your domain’s DNS settings, you can point that domain at any hosting company and take advantage of a good deal or faster speeds.

    For most people, their domain is more of a longer term purchase with the domain registration going back 5, 10, or even 15 years. Several years ago, the hosting marketplace looked very different, with fewer companies and limited options. By 2022, the landscape has exploded with more options than ever, so it’s not uncommon to see a domain with one company and hosting with another.

    What is web hosting and why do I need it?

    Web hosting is a fancy way of describing the network of servers that store the files that make up your website. Without hosting, you’d have no way of “serving” the files to your customers. While it is possible to host a site yourself using your home internet and an old computer, this option is not recommended because you’d be opening your home wifi to external threats.

    If the computer storing your files were to break or go offline for any reason, your site would be also be offline for as long as it would take to repair the connection. Self-hosting therefore isn’t very reliable, and while it may save you some money, it’s not a good option.

    By spending around $100 – $200 a year you can have your website files professionally hosted on a server. Hosting companies usually guarantee 99.9% uptime and will be faster and far more reliable than hosting on your own. Hosting companies also provide great customer support if something happens, making the investment well worth your time.

    What is a domain name? Do I need a domain name?

    Domain names are used to translate the series of numbers that make up your website’s IP address into a series of words that are easier to interact with. By mapping the words in a domain name to an IP address all your customers need to do to find you online is type your name into the address bar of a browser and your site will begin to load.

    While you technically don’t “need” a domain name to have a website online (you could just use your website’s IP address), domain names help make it far easier to find you. If you make things easier for your customers, these practices will pay dividends down the road. A domain name can be purchased for $15 a year, and is well worth the investment, especially when it comes to growing your business.

    David Repasky

    WordPress Website Consultant

    For 10 years, David Repasky has designed and built WordPress websites for happy clients around the country. He’s also certified in SEO and Google Analytics. He and his wife live in Houston, TX.