The last few weeks I was working with some of my new niche blogs powered by WordPress. Even though I am using WordPress for more than 2 years I still had confusion whether everything is ok or did I missed something. So I made a check list of 25 things to do after a fresh WordPress installation. The list is going to be little lengthier with more than 2700 words, but it is mainly intended for blogging newbies and covers basic things about SEO, WordPress security, branding etc. I hope this will helpful to all those who are new to blogging and WordPress. Here is the checklist of 25 things to do after starting your WordPress blog.
1. Change the default permalink structure
This is the first and most important step you should do after every WordPress installation. A permalink is the URL that points readers to your blog entry or post. It is an extremely important function of blogging and is how your readers will link to your post in their browser. By default the default WordPress permalink will look like https://rojish.com/?p=27 . As you can see this is not user friendly as well as not good for SEO. So you have to change your blog’s permalink structure to one that tells a search engine and users the contents of your post.
To change your permalinks first go to Settings >> Permalinks. Now choose Custom structure. Enter /%postname%/ in the box and save changes. Now the URL to your post will be the title of your post!
2. Decide whether to use www version or non www version of your domain
WordPress gives you the option to pick up either www version or non www version of your domain. Search engines will treat the www and non-www version of a page as two different pages. So if not corrected, this can cause your blog to have hundreds or thousands of duplicate pages. There are many hot discussions going on whether to choose www version or non www version. But my suggestion is that whichever version you choose, just stick with it, don’t try to change it later. Personally I prefer the www version. To change your blog address go to Settings >> General and enter the www version or non www version of your domain. WordPress will automatically update your htaccess file to redirect the non-www version to the www version.
3. Set up your feed and redirect it to FeedBurner
FeedBurner is a free service that is loaded with options that you will not get with the default WordPress feed. It provides you statistics; feed optimization option, feed branding, multiple subscription options for readers and much more. FeedBurner is part of Google Service, and it can be linked to your Google Account. Log on to http://www.feedburner.com with your Google Account and create your feed.
Once created the feed successfully, you need to redirect your feed so that when users try to visit yourdomain.com/feed/ they are redirected to your FeedBurner feed page. This way you can keep track of the subscribers on your blog. I recommend using FD FeedBurner Plugin to redirect your feeds easily.
4. Build your sitemap and submit it to Google
Sitemaps, as the name implies, are just a map of your site – i.e. on one single page you show the structure of your site, its categories, the posts etc. Sitemaps make navigating your site easier and having an updated sitemap on your site is helpful for both your readers and for search engines and it is an important way of communication with search engines as well. Google Sitemaps uses a special XML format that is different from the ordinary html sitemap for human visitors.
You can create an XML sitemap easily with the help of a plugin called Google XML Sitemap.
The plugin supports all kinds of WordPress generated pages as well as custom URLs. Additionally it notifies all major search engines every time you create a post about the new content. Also, once you created the sitemap make sure you add it to the Google Webmasters Central. It will help you get all your posts indexed faster.
5. Setup the ping Services
Update services are tools you can use to let other people know you’ve updated your blog. WordPress automatically notifies popular Update Services that you’ve updated your blog by sending an XML-RPC ping each time you create or update a post. In turn, Update Services process the ping and updates their proprietary indices with your update. You can learn more about this and get a giant list of 100 pinging websites from this post which I have wrote some time ago.
6. Update user profile
By default many themes show post authors profile information’s like short bio at the end of blog posts. So make sure to update your profile information. Begin by clicking the Users link.
Click the Edit link for the user you want to edit. There are several sections of options you can change. When you’ve made the changes click the Update Profile button to save changes.
7. Create an About Me page
An about me page is an essential tool to establish who you are as a blogger and help readers understand what your blog is about. Having a compelling about me page is one of the best ways to convert your website surfers in to loyal readers. Try to include your story, your experience, links to your guest posts etc.
8. Create a Contact page
Your contact page is where you provide various ways your visitors can get in touch with you. If a visitor wants to get in touch with you, whether to pay a compliment, talk business or just ask a question, how can they do so? A contact form is a must have for every contact page. Adding your facebook, twitter profile links are also good.
9. Install All in One SEO Plugin
If Content is the King, then SEO is the queen. SEO is one of the most effective things you can do online, getting your website optimized in such a way that the search engines will reward you by sending traffic your way. All in one SEO plugin is the all in one solution for your blog’s SEO. This plugin will optimise your WordPress blog so that your posts and pages are indexed more efficiently by the search engines. This plugin lets you add independent Titles and descriptions to your blog posts. It avoids duplication of content and auto generates descriptions. There are tons of other features too, if you care about the SEO of your blog then this is a must have.
10. Install a caching plugin
WordPress platform is built in PHP language. Each time you visit your blog, WordPress will go through a lengthy process to build everything you see. First it will process the PHP code which will make numerous calls to your database and finally output HTML for your web browser to display. This process will slow down your website and increase the load on the server. But caching plugins will help you to serve static files from your dynamic blogs and serve them to your visitors and thus increasing your page loading speed. There are many caching plugins are available but I recommend to use either W3 Total Cache or WP-Super Cache because they gives the best performance.
11. Install a backup plugin
Do you know the worst thing that can happen in your blogging life? It is the situation in which you lose all your posts and other stuffs from your blog. This can be due to some nasty hackers or can be due to your mistakes. In any case if you don’t want to see losing all your hard work you need to take periodic backups of your blog. Taking backups manually can be time consuming but fortunately there are some free plugins which automate the process. WP Database Backup and Automatic Backup plugin are the best among them. You must have at least one of them installed in your blog (preferably Automatic backup plugin which backups your files and folders too.)
12. Install Anti-Spam Plugins
Spammers are the most irritating group of people you have to face in blogging career. You have to prevent them messing your blog from the day one itself. Akismet is the answer to comment and trackback spam. It has been developed by the actual team behind WordPress. Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not and lets you review the spam it catches under your blog’s “Comments” admin screen.
Another useful plugin is Growmap Antis Spam plugin. This plugin will add a client side generated checkbox to your comment form asking users to confirm that they are not a spammer. A combination of Akismet and GASP plugin will prevent 99% of spams.
13. Install WP SmushIt
WP Smush.it is a free WordPress plugin which will automatically optimize all images already uploaded or new images for better page loading speed. It converts GIFs files to indexed JPGs, it strips unused space from the indexed images and make the images loading faster by reducing its size. Images sometimes have all sorts of meta data attached that aren’t needed, and sometimes they could just be smaller by compressing them in smarter way without losing any quality.
14. Remove Blog Roll
Does the blogroll still have the same value it once did? I often felt that it is a waste of your blog’s real estate. The links in a blogroll are not valued nearly as much by Google as in-content links are. If you want to acknowledge other thought-leaders in your industry then mention them and link to their blogs in your articles and delete that boring blogroll from your sidebar. Use that space for something generating clicks, building your email list, converting sales, or contributing to the value of your blog.
16. Create a disclaimer page
A disclaimer is a statement that basically holds you and all who blog on your blog, harmless from prosecution. This is not a must have page, but it is good to have one. You can see that all most all popular blogs have a disclaimer page. You create similar ones easily using free disclaimer generators like this.
17. Create a Favicon
Favicon.ico is, generally, the small graphic/animated icon which web designer put them on the title of the webpage. Favicon appears in front of the web address in visitor’s browser’s address bar. Also, favicon could appear on title bar and in front of the title in bookmark listing. Having a favicon will help you in branding and to stay different from other websites. Creating a favicon is very easy and there are many online tools available for it, this one is my favorite.
18. Set up Analytics for your blog
When you operate a blog, there are often many factors about your marketing efforts that you should know in order to be effective. Without a blog analytics tool you will not have any idea how many people are visiting your blog or from where are they coming. If you do not know where they are coming from or how they came to arrive at your blog, how can you fine tune your marketing approach to increase your traffic in the future? Google analytics is the best and it is free to use. Statcounter is another good tool I use along with analytics.
19. Limit Login Attempt
By default WordPress allows an unlimited number of login attempts using the login page or by sending special cookies. This allows password to be brute-force cracked with relative ease. Limit login attempt plugin will limit the number of login attempts possible both through normal login as well as using auth cookies. It blocks an internet address from making further attempts after a specified limit on retries is reached, making a brute-force attack difficult or impossible.
20. Prevent Visitors from browsing folders
In many cases, the default WordPress installation allows hackers to use their browser as a file browser to look through the contents of the folders on your server. There is a potential problem letting people know what plugins you have, or what versions they are. If there is some known exploit that is linked to a plugin, it could be easy enough for someone to use it to their advantage.
The first thing you have to do is to create a blank index.php file and upload it to your wp-content/plugin directory and wp-content/themes directory. This will solve the problem to a certain extend. But if you need a complete protection you need to edit .htaccess file in your WordPress root directory. Make sure to have a backup of your .htaccess file before attempting this.
- Open your .htaccess file in a text editor (sometimes this file may be hidden in FTP, make sure set your FTP app to “show hidden files”).
- Add the following two lines in the bottom and then save the file.
# prevents directory listing
Options All –Indexes
21.Disable Post Revisions
Every time when you save a new post or pages, WordPress creates a revision of that post or page. If you edit a post 5 times you might have 4 copies of that post as revisions in your database. As your blog grows this will get fill in your database and slows your website.
To turn off this feature, add this following code to wp-config.php:
22. Install Broken Link Checker
From a search engine spider standpoint, when a broken link is found, that equates to a dead end. If the missing page returns a 404 error, the search engine will identify the page as non-existent and catalog the pages linking to it. Having so many links pointing to 404 pages will give a negative score for your website. As your blog grows it is near impossible to check each and every link manually. Fortunately this is a very useful plugin called Broken Link Checker which automates this tedious task. This plugin will check your posts, comments and other content for broken links and missing images, and notify you if any are found.
23. Get a Gravatar
A Gravatar is a free globally recognized avatar, which is a pic that travels with you and appears beside your name when you comment on Gravatar-enabled blogs. Do you want to be faceless while you comment on other blogs? If you are a regular blog commentator and if you have a good Gravatar then people will remember you and your blog. Branding is an important thing in blogging isn’t it?
24. Add different Subscription Options
Your blog has an RSS feed, but don’t limit subscription option only to that. Many people still don’t know what RSS is and you have to provide some subscription options to them also. Why not add an email subscription option? You can easily set it up using FeedBurner. Also don’t forget about Facebook and twitter (I know I don’t need to tell that, because many people create their blog’s facebook/twitter account even before writing first post 😉 ).
25. Write good quality content
Okay, you can skip all the 24 steps above if you are not doing this step. Why should you do blogging if you are not planning to write good contents? Take your time, do some research and write awesome posts by keeping your readers in mind (not search engines).
This is my check list of things to do after installing your blog. This is the most basic things, and I hope this is useful for at least some of you. Please share your comments, also you can add points if I missed something.
Typical geek, night owl, gadget freak, budding entrepreneur, WordPress & Ruby enthusiast.