Zombie Plugins and Ghoulish Themes: Monstrous Mistakes Marketers are Making with WordPress

by Jenna Sindle

Digital Series, Part Two of Three.

Welcome to the second installment of  Modern Marketing Today’s digital series. This three article collection focuses on the latest statistics, trends and tactics with popular digital marketing tools and tech. In today’s article we will discuss what’s new with WordPress and the mistakes many marketers are making with the platform.

Last week’s article observed marketing automation trends and challenges. Read it here.

WordPress is a free and open-source CMS (Content Management System). It is the most popular online blogging system in the world, supporting more than 60 million websites.

Check out this wpmudev chart comparing WordPress usage with other CMS platforms.


In the digital age there is a growing emphasis on technical capabilities in the marketing world. It is exceedingly important that marketers be familiar with popular tools like WordPress. Considering the ease-of-use built into these platforms, it’s easy to dazzle with WordPress, but not effortless.

Below, Eldon Marr, Director of Digital Media, and TJ Deaver, Digital Associate, both with Strategic Communications Group, share their insight into common marketer mistakes with WordPress, talk “zombie plugins” and share their predictions for WordPress evolution in 2017.

What are the biggest mistakes marketers are currently making with WordPress?

Eldon Marr, Director of Digital Media, Strategic Communications Group

Eldon Marr, Director of Digital Media, Strategic Communications Group


Using the default permalink structure:

When each post is created and published in WordPress, a permalink (a permalink is a permanent static hyperlink to a specific blog post in your WordPress blog) is also created. By default the permalink structure is something like www.yoursite.com/?p=123. Not only does this look bad, but it’s also not good for SEO or readers. It’s important to put some good keywords in the permalink structure to get the most out of SEO and also to catch the eye of a user just from reading the link.

Not backing up WordPress installation:

Another huge mistake is not creating a backup for a WordPress site. It is a disastrous situation when you lose years of work within a few seconds without the ability to restore. I strongly recommend that everyone using WordPress have either an automatic or manual backup process, especially prior to updates and changes.

Ignoring WordPress and plugin updates:

WordPress is constantly being updated to improve speed, efficiency and user interface. Updates often are released when a bug or vulnerability is found. Updating WordPress and its plugins can help to keep your site protected from malicious intrusions and help to ensure uptime for the site as well. A new version is created for a reason. Therefore, you should never ignore a WordPress update.

TJ Deaver, Digital Associate, Strategic Communications Group

TJ: One of the biggest and most common mistakes made on WordPress is the use of an inappropriate or defective theme. Choosing the perfect theme is crucial; the structure of your design plays a vital role in search engine ranking. There are three things to keep in mind when choosing a theme – ease of use, functionality, and a modern design.

Also, the WordPress dashboard is not enough to get detailed insights on your site traffic and activity. Google Analytics offers a wide range of tools to monitor your site traffic, keep track of visitors’ behavior, and gather information on which keywords can generate the most traffic. Marketers should use Google Analytics  and sign up with Google Webmaster Tools.


What are “zombie plugins” and why are they an issue?

Eldon: Zombie plugins are those plugins that were installed and forgotten in a WordPress environment and can now potentially pose a threat to a website. These plugins can slow down your site, conflict with other site functions, cause a site to go down and, most importantly, open the site up to security vulnerabilities. Unupdated plugins are prime targets for hackers.


What’s new with WordPress? What should marketers be turning their attention to as we head into 2017?

Eldon: I’ve been using WordPress for over 10 years and there have been many improvements over that time period. The latest versions of WordPress are more user friendly when it comes to things like installing new themes and plugins as well as creating new posts and pages, but these things are not what has me most excited about 2017.

As WordPress has gained popularity there has been an uptick in the hosting options available and now we are starting to see some really robust and reliable hosting packages emerge. Since WordPress sites can often be bogged down by plugins and other customizations it’s a relief to see many hosting providers now including plugin impact analyzers and free CDN (Content Delivery Network) services to improve site speed.

I’m also excited to see what new tools are developed for managing multiple WordPress sites using a graphical interface with version control features.

The best place to keep up-to-date with all things WordPress is https://wordpress.org/news/.


What are your current favorite WordPress plugins?



  • Akismet: An advanced hosted anti-spam service
  • Ninja Popups: Allows you to create user-friendly pop-ups that help you increase your newsletter subscribers and downloads


Remember, WordPress is not a difficult platform, but you must keep up with the latest advancements and dedicated yourself to continual learning to succeed. If you do you will quickly rise above fellow marketers who are ignoring or not taking advantage of WordPress’ features and functionality.


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