I got a message the other day through a “find-a-service” site I’m listed on. It was from “Lauren.” Lauren writes:

Need a Web Programmer.

I have had a WordPress website for 5 years. The web designer turned out to be a fraud and insane. Since then, I’ve had to have it “redone” because it was a mess and I was getting Malware constantly. Go Daddy is my host and they told me it had to be rebuilt, so that’s what this last guy did. He didn’t do what I asked him to do. He said he would help with the backend work, but didn’t. I need help on the backend and redesigning as I can’t get an honest or reliable person to help me. I have gotten robbed. They charge, say they fix it, there are problems and I can’t get a hold of anyone. My SEO is non-existent and each person that has said they were helping me, did nothing but charge me. Since I’m not a web designer, nor do I know the business, I am getting taken advantage of over and over again and I’m sick of it. Please help!!!

Lauren, I’m not responding to your request on the find-a-service site. I don’t want to work for you after all you’ve told me about the previous people who’ve worked for you. I don’t want to be the next in line to be called an insane fraud.

But I’m a sucker for calls of “Please help!” So here are a few tips.

1. Don’t Blame Others.

Especially publicly. You make it sound as if your previous designer was probably your ex-wife and you just can’t find enough bad to say about her. You didn’t have any clues during the five years of running the site? Then she turned out, all of a sudden, to be insane? Maybe it’s all true.

Some people do go insane. Some people don’t do what they say. There are bad apples. Focusing on them, however, makes moving on difficult.

I’m sorry you feel you’ve been robbed. I’m sympathetic. I’ve been robbed a time or two myself. But don’t take it out on me. We haven’t even met yet.

2. Malware happens.

You’d think that after all these years of having to buy Norton Anti-Virus subscriptions people would know that. Your website is no different. If anything, it’s probably more exposed.

Lots of people have written extensively about how to bullet-proof WordPress. There’s a lot you can do for yourself without having to be particularly geeky. You can find out a lot more about it here.

3. Go Daddy may have sexy commercials, but their service generally sucks.

And you’re probably paying too much.

Making changes to your hosting setup on Go Daddy is slow. Their file manager interface sometimes works. They often overload their servers, so page response times can be slow. Paying for an email plan in addition to your hosting plan is like throwing good money after bad.

As long as you’re looking for a new web designer find a new hosting service, too.

4. Rebuilding a WordPress site is actually pretty easy.

Save a copy of your wp-content folder (along with all it’s sub-folders), and your wp-config.php file. Delete the rest of the files, and then upload brand new ones you can get rom here. Now that you have a clean set of files, copy your own wp-content folder and your config.php file back. Presto!

Now, if it doesn’t work you know that what’s messed up is probably in your config.php, your theme, or you have a bad plug-in. You can post a new help needed advert saying,

“My WordPress site has gotten messed up. I think the problem is somewhere in config.php, my theme, or a bad plug-in. Can someone please help me do a little troubleshooting?”

See how much nicer that sounds?

5. You get SEO (Search Engine Optimization) by consistently publishing stuff people are interested in.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is taking you for a ride.

There are a few things you can do to help yourself. Use tags wisely. Include keywords in your titles. Use appropriate headings. Don’t link-bait.

The proof that content determines SEO more than any other factor is proved by Google sending any traffic to this site at all. (Miraculously enough, it does!)

You Get What You Pay For

So, Lauren, there you have it. You probably didn’t really want any of that advice. You probably think I’m an insane fraud like your former web designer/ex-wife. But at least I didn’t charge you for it.

And, hell! You get what you pay for.

Sometimes more.