What are the first steps to take after installing WordPress? I know you are ready to dive right in and start writing your first post, but first be sure to take plenty of time to pick a theme and change the settings on WordPress to fit your blog or website needs. Need some help deciding what needs to be done?
1. Select a WordPress Theme
Ready to customize your site to fit your blog or website goals? You can choose premium themes, but there are actually a ton of free ones so you’ll want to check those first. To get to the list of themes, from your WordPress admin panel, click on Appearance>>Themes>>Add New.
You’ll find a feature filter that is particularly useful, and from here you can choose different options such as layout, features and subject. You’ll also want to decide how many columns you want and what features you’ll want to be able to customize. Don’t forget that choosing a responsive theme is vital to your blog or website.
This is where the fun starts! Click on Apply Filters and see what themes fit your criteria and catch your eye for layout and design.
2. Enter your Blog Name and Tagline, Timezone, Date and Time Format, and Email
Enter the name of your blog, and if you wish, add a tagline. The tagline is a good place to tell the world what your site is about! Enter a short phrase or slogan to identify your blog. Enter your admin email address. To make these changes, go to Settings>>General.
3. Set Up WordPress Permalink Structure
What are permalinks? They are the URL’s of content that you publish on your site. Default permalinks are not SEO friendly, but it’s very simple to change them. Simply go to Settings>>Permalinks. There are several options to pick from such as Day and Name, Month and Name, and Custom. It’s commonly recommended that you pick the post name for your permalink.
4. Check Search Engine Visibility
Don’t forget this one! Make sure that you go to Settings > Reading Settings > Search Engine Visibility to confirm that this box is not checked.
5. Remove Default Content
After you’ve installed WordPress, you will see that there is a default “Hello World” post, a sample comment and sample page. Now’s a good time to delete those so you don’t forget to do it later. From your dashboard, go to Posts>>All Posts to delete the sample “Hello World” post. To delete the default sample page, go to Pages>>All Pages. Then you can click on Comments to delete that default.
6. Add New Categories
Categories make it easy to organize your site and for people to find your content. Categories can be set up when you set up your site or as you write your posts. To add or change categories, go to Post>>Categories. There will be a default posts category called Uncategorized. After you add your own categories, you can delete this if you want.
7. Install Crucial Plugins
Plugins add features to your site, and the list of plugins you have to pick from is endless! Some of the most significant ones for you to consider installing are:
Jetpack: Offers “30+ features to optimize your site, speed, and traffic”. A favorite feature is their in-dashboard traffic statistics. Jetpack also offers traffic and SEO tools, security and backup services, discussions and community, writing and content creation.
WordPress SEO by Yoast: “ is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin that exists today for WordPress.org users. It incorporates everything from a snippet editor and real time page analysis functionality that helps you optimize your pages content, images titles, meta descriptions and more to XML sitemaps, and loads of optimization options in between.” (Side note: Yoast also has a great SEO blog on their site!)
Anti-spam: Akismet is a popular plugin to reduce or eliminate spam comments.
Security: It’s very important to protect your site from attacks. Do your research to find the best plugin to suit your needs. WordFence came highly recommended to me, as well as Bulletproof Security and Secure WordPress.
Backups: Another important plugin to install from the start of your site is a backup. You don’t want to lose all of your hard work in case of malware attack or if your site is somehow deleted. Choose a plugin that will backup automatically on a repeating schedule and help you restore your data quickly when you need to. I am currently using Updraftplus to backup MyNewTwist.com.
8. Update Discussion Settings
The discussion settings (Settings>>Discussion) gives you the option to allow readers to post comments on your posts, if their comment must be manually approved, and if you want to be emailed when a comment is received. There are several other comment selections on this page as well.
9. Create an About Me Page
The About Me page is a great way to introduce yourself to your visitors. Many people say that this is one of the most highly trafficked pages on their site. You can link this page to your menu or add a widget to your sidebar.
I think that the content of your About page depends a lot on your reason for your site. Are you blogging mainly for fun? You could list random things about yourself like your hobbies or the reason for starting your blog. Include a photo of yourself if you like.
Is the purpose of your blog or website to promote your business? Tell people how you can help them. Let them know what your skill sets are or what you are knowledgeable about.
10. Add A Contact Page
Adding a contact page is important for every website so that you have an easy way for readers to get in touch with you.
If you installed the Jetpack plugin earlier, you’ll see that they have a contact page option. Contact Form 7 is another popular plugin. You can use their Captcha feature to help screen out spam, and it will also allow you to have multiple forms.
11. Update Your Profile
Go to Users>>Your Profile, and take a few minutes to fill out this page. There are several things to enter here like your name and publicly-displayed name. There are also fields for your social media handles.
Once you have completed these steps, you are well on your way to getting your site set up. I will continue in my next post with some optional steps you may be interested in. Be sure to check back or sign up for my email list so you won’t miss it!