So you’ve finally started a blog and installed WordPress. You’re ready to go, right?! Not so fast my friend. There’s a few things you need to do first after a brand new WordPress installation and before launch.
(and if you’ve been on WordPress for a while, this is a good list to double check everything is as it should on your blog!)
Change the admin username + password
Most installers by default set the username to “admin”. The issue with this is that hackers know this and exploit this fact when trying to hack into WordPress sites. One of the easiest and best security measures you can do is to change this username. It’s also a good idea to change your password, specially if you hired someone to installed WordPress for you.
Further Reading: How to change your WordPress username
Change Your Site Tagline
By default WordPress as the tagline “Just another WordPress site”. Nothing says WordPress newbie like keeping that tagline. Worst of all, it tell nothing about your blog and is a missed SEO opportunity.
Go to Settings > General and edit the tagline field to something that better portrays your blog and what it’s all about such as “Easy Slow Cooker Recipes for All”.
Change Default Permalinks to be SEO Friendly
When first installed, WordPress will default to a permalink structure similar to http://259west.com/?p=234, where 234 is the post’s unique ID. Simply put, this default URL structure is awful for SEO and user usability. You need URLs that are easy to read and understand – by both your readers and search engines.
This is accomplished by having keywords in your URL like https://www.259west.com/bloggers-nofollow-links/
To change your permalink structure on WordPress, go to Settings > Permalinks and choose the second to last option – “Post Name”.
Check Privacy Settings
By default this should be on the right settings but better safe than sorry! Specially when you consider that if this is wrong, your blog will not show up on search engines. Go to Settings > Reading and make sure the box for “Search Engine Visibility – Discourage Search Engines from indexing this site” is checked off.”
Add Categories + Set New Default
WordPress has a default category for your posts named “Uncategorized”. Because every post has to have a category, if you forget to select one before publishing a post, it will be filed under “Uncategorized” automatically. This label is bad for SEO and might confuse your readers so change it by going to Posts > Categories. Click on “Uncategorized” and change the name and slug to “Updates”, “Latest News” or something less icky.
Say No To Spam
I love WordPress as much as the next person but its one downfall is the spam situation. Even brand new sites can be subjected to a spam attack and it’s no fun, my friends! Better to play offense and prevent a bad situation than to try to clean up the mess after the fact. There are two great options on this front – Akismet and Anti Spam Bee. The trick with Akismet is to make sure you activate it otherwise it won’t do anything.
Install Google Analytics
Once you get your new blog going you will want to know if all your hard work is paying off – are you getting visitors? How many? Where are they coming from? The best way to track all of this is with Google Analytics. It’s the industry standard for a reason. You can install the code on your website manually or use a plugin such as Yoast’s Google Analytics plugin.
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Install Backup Plugin
Before you can get to all the fun and exciting parts, you need to take out insurance on your new blog, as it were. Truth is no host or website is 100% on the internet and a site can be hacked or content can disappear. Before that ever happens install a backup plugin so all your hard work is safe and sound.
And yes, you should install a backup plugin even if your host runs backups as well because you just never know! I recommend using VaultPress which will run daily backups automatically for you and makes it easy to restore your blog if the unthinkable happens.
Further Reading: How to backup your blog
Install A Security Plugin
Another must-have, a security plugin can save tons of headache by, as the name suggests, securing your blog against attacks. My top recommendation is WordFence – even it’s free version can go a long ways in helping you kept your site safe from hackers.
Install New Theme
This is truly the exciting part of a new WordPress installation – make it your own with a new WordPress theme. You can add one of the free themes available from the Repository or you can add a premium theme.
Now it’s time to get familiar with WordPress! Read the WordPress Glossary to learn the important terms all bloggers on WordPress should know!