Here is a checklist so you can get started with WordPress smartly, organizing everything intelligently, taking reasonable steps against spammers and hackers, and leveraging strong tools to boost your growth.
- #1 – Set up automated backups.
- #2 – Check the primary username.
- #3 – Get WordPress API key & Akismet.
- #4 – Set up permalinks.
- #5 – Hook into Feedburner.
- #6 – Get fundamental plugins.
- #7 – Install a premium theme.
- #8 – Dump extraneous themes and plugins.
- #9 – Add the blog to Google Webmaster Central.
- #10 – Put up a Contact and About page.
- #11 – Change your title.
- #12 – Verify the speed of your hosting environment.
It helps to go through a short to-do checklist right after installing WordPress, so your experience with the CMS can be as strong as possible moving forward. The good news is that the majority of these items only need to be performed once.
If you are planning to build a lot of websites using WordPress, it’s a good idea to bookmark this page or put together your own to-do list as a Google Doc so you don’t forget any of these items in the future.
#1 – Set up automated backups.
Backing up your data is about saving and storing it, but also about properly and quickly restoring it as needed. Think about it: if your site goes down, it’s key that you’re able to restore everything ASAP.
A plugin you can use for backups is BackupBuddy. You can also discuss the backup policies and options with your WordPress hosting provider.
#2 – Check the primary username.
Are you auto-installing WordPress? If so, there is a good chance you will have the username admin. Make sure that you don’t. Otherwise, change it immediately, notes Joe Fylan of Elegant Themes. “Another good idea is to make sure you’re not using your administrator account for non-administrative tasks,” he adds. “If you’re publishing post or pages, create a separate account with author privileges.”
#3 – Get WordPress API key & Akismet.
Go to Settings > Akismet Configuration to activate this plugin. It cleans your site of the truly absurd amount of trackback spam that otherwise appears on your WordPress. To get this tool to work, sign up for a free API key from WordPress.com.
Along the same lines in terms of limiting spam, you can use Disqus, which replaces the standard commenting system with one that many businesses and bloggers prefer.
#4 – Set up permalinks.
Go to Settings > Permalinks to implement this feature. The default option is just to give the page a number, but that’s not good SEO. The best option is customizing. To feature your title in the URL, in the text box for custom permalink, insert this:
#5 – Hook into Feedburner.
Feedburner unifies all your feeds into one, explains Hongkiat Lim. That way “your subscribers can subscribe to one regardless of its type,” he says. “Feedburner also comes with a chiklet, allowing you to show off subscribers’ figures as well as promote subscription.”
#6 – Get fundamental plugins.
Beyond the anti-spam tools mentioned above, you want to have a few other types of plugins in place:
Security plugin – You can take many steps to harden the security of WordPress, but consider a strong plugin such as iThemes Security. WordFence is an alternative that also gets very high ratings.
Post revisions plugin – It’s easy to make a mistake with a post, so it’s good to have saved revisions. You will likely end up with quite a few revisions stored within the editor, taking up space within the database. If you are just getting started, you can use the plugin Revision Control. If you already have quite a few revisions in your installation, try a plugin such as WP Clean Up or WP Sweep.
SEO plugin – The Yoast SEO plugin helps do what you’d expect from better search engine presence: drive more visitors to your site. By improving your SEO, you’ll both provide better content for the search engines and improve user experience. The reason this is a first-and-foremost concern is that you want everything you do to be optimized upfront rather than having to go back and improve this aspect later. The other advantage of Yoast specifically is that it creates a sitemap for submission to Google.
Caching plugin – Caching makes your site load faster. That helps tremendously, both with Google and with engagement of users. Options include W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache.
#7 – Install a premium theme.
Consider using a premium theme. Fylan is biased on this front since he’s at a theme shop, but he points out there are typically three major ways in which paid themes are preferable to free options, including better functionality and better support. Perhaps most importantly, though, they are typically more secure. “Individual themes are hacked more often than the WordPress core,” says Fylan. “Using a well maintained premium theme usually means you’re lowering your risk of succumbing to a security threat.”
#8 – Dump extraneous themes and plugins.
Once you have your theme and plugins in place, it’s good to sweep out any that you aren’t using.
You may think you want to keep around these unnecessary items, to shelve a theme or plugin in case you want to use it again.
The problem is that each is a potential way for your site to be exploited. Delete them. Keep your WordPress streamlined.
#9 – Add the blog to Google Webmaster Central.
Google Webmaster Central lets you do the following:
- Submit a sitemap to Google
- Check how your site is indexed
- View instances of Google bot crawling
- See statistics on your traffic
- Diagnose any traffic problems you are having.
#10 – Put up a Contact and About page.
If you want people to trust your site from day one, let them know who you are. That simple page is the first place anyone will go who wants to know who you are or otherwise gauge credibility.
#11 – Change your title.
The site title is of course critical to your success and growth. Go to Settings > General to locate the title.
The title should be about 50 characters (more below on length). It should provide the name of your business and its location, or something similar. In other words, it should say “Bob’s Tire Emporium | Lincoln, Nebraska” rather than “Cheap Tires, Discount Tires, Low Price Tires | Lincoln, Nebraska.”
Regarding the length, keep in mind both for the full site’s title and for each page’s title, Google usually displays only 50-60 characters (based on how many fit within a 512-pixel display). Keep your titles under 55 characters, and they will display correctly the vast majority of the time.
While this issue is important, it’s worth noting that you actually don’t have full control over it in terms of the search engines. “[S]earch engines may choose to display a different title than what you provide in your HTML,” notes Moz. “Titles in search results may be rewritten to match your brand, the user query, or other considerations.”
#12 – Verify the speed of your hosting environment.
As mentioned above, and as is sort of a #1 priority in terms of the Internet, speed will determine your success with WordPress, both with user experience and with SEO. The Total Server Solutions Cloud, with its SolidFire SSD-based SAN-storage backend, is able to provide lOPS levels that are unmatched by virtually any other cloud hosting provider. Order your cloud now.