Having a blog on your business website has its benefits, despite the time and effort it takes to bring it up to all that you want and need it to be.
If this is your first WordPress install (or you had your Web Hosting company install it for you), chances are that you may have missed a few key tasks that need to be done.
Here’s a checklist of the very basic, yet very important, things you will need to do:
Go over this WordPress install checklist Before you write your first WordPress Blog post:
- Make sure you are NOT using the default “Admin” for your username!
When you do one of those one-click WordPress installations it typically assigns the name “admin” for your username. Since the vast majority of people tend to leave that “admin” username that’s the first username hackers will try, and then it’s simply a matter of guessing your password. So, for security reasons, you want to delete that default Admin name. If you did not already change that to something else when you did the WordPress install, go to Users and add a new user, with a different email address than the one you initially used (you can always change your email address later) and assign yourself the role of Administrator. DO NOT DELETE the original “admin” user until AFTER you’ve logged out and are sure you can log back in with your newly created username.
- Change the permalinks.
When you installed WordPress your permalinks will look like this: http://yourdomainname.com/?p=123. Aside from the fact that this does nothing to help you with SEO, it looks messy and amateur. To change your permalinks, go to Settings > Permalinks. Select how you want your links to appear. I suggest using Custom Structure (Post Name). You MAY see a message at the bottom of the page letting you know whether or not your .htaccess file is writable. If you do see that message, follow the instructions.
- Change your blog name and tagline.
If you’re not using a company logo (image) on your blog the name and tagline will show up as whatever you used when you first did the WordPress install, with the default tagline (if you didn’t change it during the WordPress installation) of “Just another WordPress blog.”
- Adjust the time zone.
This is useful if you plan to allow for Comments. Go to Settings > General and set your time zone.
- Delete the default “Hello World” and “Sample Page” post and page.
Go to Posts and Pages. Hover over those titles and select Delete. Remember to empty the trash when you’re done.
- Change your theme.
The WordPress installation comes with a default theme. Each time there’s a new version of WordPress and new default theme is included in the WordPress install. It’s amazing how many people never go beyond the default theme to something more robust and far more professional looking. As a word of caution: Be very careful with your theme selections. Avoid themes that come complete with a thousand functions you will NEVER use. MOST — not all — premium themes have much better coding than the free ones. I could write volumes about theme selection, but that’s not what this article is about. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
- Delete unused themes.
I’ve seen Web Hosting companies automatically install dozens of their own themes during the initial WordPress install. In fact, I recently had to delete 20 themes that came pre-installed. Save the latest default version of the WordPress theme (will have the current year in the name of the theme) in case you need to revert to it for any reason and don’t want to go through installing the latest default theme.
- Install your Must Have plugins.
Your “must have” plugins will depend on the features you must have on your site. Some themes will also require certain plugins in order to function properly and will be included in your WordPress install. While there are thousands of plugins available, never use more than you absolutely NEED. As tempting as it might be to add lots of bells and whistles to your site, it’s in your best interest to not add plugins simply because you can. The more plugins you have, the slower your site will load and the more security risks you take. Make sure you select plugins from reliable sources AND that they are being maintained and kept up-to-date. Depending on the functionality that I will need for a particular site, these are the ones I start out with on almost every WordPress install:
Wordfence (a security plugin — both free and premium versions are available)
WP Contact Forms
WordPress Optimize (for cleaning up your database; which you will need to do on a regular basis)
- Create a Disclosure/Disclaimer Notice, especially if you’re going to have ads on your site. An affiliate disclosure policy is the law.
- Install your email list signup form.
Some of the most widely used email programs that also have a plugin available are Mailchimp, Aweber and Constant Contact.
- Create your Social Media sites, if you haven’t already done so.
You don’t need to be on every social site available. Select the ones that best suit your business and your target audience.
- Write your first blog post!
And then post on a regular basis! Do not ignore your blog or the search engines will also ignore it.
- Do not ignore the necessary WordPress and plugin upgrades you will NEED to do.
- Pay attention to your Title tags and descriptions. WordPress has an excellent article about how to add, edit, and optimize title tags.
As mentioned above, these are just a few of the tasks I take care of when I do a WordPress installation. However, these are the basics that you’ll also need to do after you (or your Web Hosting company) installs WordPress.
Once you’re comfortable with using WordPress then you can take on other necessary tasks such as adding extra security measures via your htaccess file.
You’ll need to be extra careful when editing your htaccess file as one character out of place in the code can take down your entire site…. which is one reason why you should ALWAYS have a complete backup copy of your entire site. With WordPress, a backup includes everything on the database, themes, and plugins; not just copies of your articles and images.