In this article I will show you what are the top 10, probably most important thing to do after installing WordPress to your website. Is is quite a long read, but I really hope it will help a lot of you to properly set up a WordPress site.
1. Change Website Title and Description
Website title and description is a very important thing to set up properly, because this will be indexed and displayed in search engines like Google. The title tells the search engine what is your site about, so you should use related text and keywords to your site content when setting it up.
On this page you can also set up the time zone where you or your readers are located and change date format if required.
2. Configure Reading Settings
By default, WordPress will display the newest ten posts on the homepage. You can change how many posts you want to show on the main page or change the homepage to a static page, that will display a single page you choose. I would not recommend having more than 10 posts on your home page because it slows down your website.
3. Configure Discussion Settings
Managing discussion on your site could be difficulty if you have a lot of readers and they like to interact with the content or with each other. My suggestion is to manually activate each comment to avoid any problems and filter out spam 100%. If the manual approval is difficulty because of huge number of comments, you can activate the feature that only registered users can comment.
Probably you will want to deactivate email notification for new comments. At the start it is fun to receive an email when a new user commented on your site, but when you are getting hundreds of comments daily, you probably don’t want to get an email from your site every minute.
Having hundreds of comments on a page will significantly slow down the loading time. In this situation you can enable the feature to break the comment area in different pages and choose how many comments you want to display on one page.
4. Configure Permalink Settings
Unfortunately by default WordPress does not have a very good URL structure. For better search engine indexing and navigation purposes you will want to change the permalinks.
As you can see, there are couple of options you can choose from, but which you should use for your website? If your website will be a blog, probably you will want to use a permalink structure that has a date in it. If you are running a presentation website, the best choice is to use the “Post name” format for your link structure. You can also choose custom structure and create the links as you like.
5. Install your favorite WordPress Theme
WordPress comes with few already installed themes to the system. You can use one of them, however to have a different look for your website, you can choose from the thousands of free and commercial designs available.
6. Install necessary Plugins
Anti-Spam Plugin – it is not enough to manually moderate the comments you receive on your website. You definitely want a plugin that can detect spam comments. By default there is a plugin installed to the system, called Akismet, which is a great anti-spam tool, however it requires an API to activate it. It is also limited to few thousands of comments, and when it reaches the maximum number of comments it will shut down the whole commenting system and will have to purchase the premium version. If you are looking for a free and reliable anti spam plugin, I highly recommend this.
SEO Plugin – if you are serious about your website, and would like to have all the control in your hands when it comes to on page optimization, your should install the seo plugin developed by Yoast. It is available for free and there is also a premium version available, where you will get extra features and premium support. The Yoast plugin has all the features that is needed to optimize your website for search engines, from custom meta and title possibility to on page analysis, anything you can think of.
Social Sharing Plugin – you think social is not so important at the start? Website users not only want to share good content with their friends but some times they just like or re-tweet a page just to have it bookmarked so later they can access it again. So consider adding a plugin that enables your users to share your website easily.
Contact Plugin – you want to receive emails from your website visitors; if you don’t want to display any email address on your website, you can use a contact form plugin. For this you can use the Contact Form 7 plugin. This tool allows you to create custom contact form with custom fields. It has been translated to multiple languages and supports different captcha services and spam filtering. So far the plugin was downloaded over 25 million times.
Backup Plugin – it is possible that a server crash or a website hacking may destroy your hard work you put into building your site and uploading content. You want to be able to restore your files and database at any time if something goes wrong. For this reason it is recommended to use a backup plugin, that allows you to schedule backups and have it stored outside of your server. BackWPUp is a great plugin that will back-up your website and will push it to your Dropbox account or to another server you set up.
Cache Plugin – to speed up your website and reduce server load, you will need a caching plugin. It is recommended to only activate it when you are ready with website building/editing, when you start adding content. Probably the best choice for caching your website is the W3 Total Cache plugin.
7. Add Categories, Pages and Posts
If you choose not to install any sample data, most likely you will have one post, one page and one category on your site. At this point you probably know the exact structure of your website and the pages you want to add. If your website is a blog your will want to create multiple categories for different topics. You will also want to create few pages like terms and conditions, contact page, about page, and others.
8. Setup Menus
Now, after you added the pages you needed, it is time to create the menus. For this, first you will have to create a menu category and only after that it is possible to add menus items. If you have multiple menus on your site, you can have multiple menu categories as well with separate menu items. After creating the menu, it is necessary to assign it to a menu location. Usually this is a pre-designed position in the theme you are using.
9. Configure Widgets
Widgets are the boxes you display in sidebars, footer area and pre-made positions on your website. By default there are lots of available widgets like custom text, category display, latest post widget, search box, custom menu, calendar, and others. With simple drag and drop movement you can easily activate and deactivate the widgets you want to use. If you need other widgets and functionality on your website, such as slideshow or ad boxes, you can install new widgets just like you would install a wordpress plugin.
10. Delete all unused Themes and Plugins
During your website setup you probably installed to test multiple plugins and themes and you decided to not use all of them. It is fact that each plugin and theme use up a small portion of the disk space and database. You want to minimize as much as possible your website’s size and loading time. So it is recommended to delete all unused, not only because they may slow down your website, but they also represent a risk factor in your website’s vulnerability. Why should you bother updating unused plugins or why risk your site to get hacked because of an unused and outdated plugin? Just get rid of everything that you don’t need.
If you have any question or you want to add something to the list, please let me know in the comments.