WordPress has become one of the most powerful and most-used blogging and Content Management Systems in the world in part due to its incredible flexibility and ability to be customized. So it is surprising to learn that the default installation is lacking in a few ways. But because of the great flexibility of WordPress, this is easy to fix in just a few minutes.
After any WordPress installation, there is a series of steps that I take in order to optimize the site, before I even think about what it will look like.
Remove or edit the Placeholder Content
There is a placeholder post titled ‘Hello World’. DELETE that, or edit it to be your actual first post.
There is a placeholder page called ‘About’. DELETE it or edit it to say what you want it to say.
Delete the user ‘admin’
If you used a one-click installation or had someone do it for you, you might have been given the default user name of ‘admin’. The problem is that hackers know that WordPress sites tend to have a user named ‘admin’ and even worse, the password is sometimes ‘admin’.
This is a huge security risk. You can not actually edit a username, so the solution is to create a new unique username and a more secure password, then DELETE the admin user.
Check your admin Email
Navigate to settings>general. Check the email address there and make sure you enter an email address you will actually check. This is the email used to notify you of comments, problems, etc.
Install and Configure Plugins
WordPress comes with two plugins already included. One should be activated and set-up and the other is a waste of time and should be deleted.
- Askimet – This is the WordPress spam protection. Activate this immediately. Once you do, you will be asked for a WordPress ‘API KEY’. You will need to go to WordPress.com to set-up an account there. Once you do, you will be able to find the ‘API KEY’ on your profile page. Copy it, return to your new site, and paste the ‘API KEY’ into the Askimet settings. You can find the Askimet settings in the admin menu under ‘Plugins>Askimet Configuration’.
- ‘Hello Dolly’ – This is a useless waste of space. Delete it. To say anything more would waste even more space.
When it comes to finding and adding more plugins, there are countless plugins available that can add a lot of capability to your site. Some are just for fun and completely optional, but others are highly recommended for any site and there is a list of plugins that I install on almost every site.
You can see my post about plugins here.
But here are two that shouldn’t be missed:
- All in one SEO Pack
- Google XML Sitemaps
Navigate to the plugins page in the admin section. At the bottom, you will see the ‘Plugin Browser/Installer’. Click on that and you can search for plugins by type or by name. You can then install them with one click right from there.
Each post and page that you create in WordPress has a permanent home called a ‘permalink’. This is simply a permanent (sort-of) URL that you can use to link directly to that post. When you first install and set-up WordPress, it creates URLs based on the ID number that it uses in the databse to keep track of everything. If you look at the URL, it will look something like this: ‘http://mysite.com/?p=1′.
The problem (besides being ugly – hence the name ‘ugly URL’ or ‘ugly permalink’) is that search engines use the URL as one of the most important factors for deciding what a page is about. Wouldn’t it be much better if you wrote a post about an event you just photographed and the URL could be something like ‘http://mysite.com/beverly-hills-wedding/’ instead of ‘http://mysite.com/?p=1′?
This is an easy fix in WordPress.
- In the admin area, navigate to settings>permalinks.
- Under ‘Common Settings’ you will probably see that ‘default’ is checked off.
- Under that is a series of options for more SEO friendly (and reader friendly) URLS.
- ‘Month and Name’ is best for sites with one author.
- ‘Day and Name’ would be better for a multi author site where you might expect tbe publishing a large amount of content.
The difference between ‘Day and Name’ and ‘Month and Name’ is simply that you can’t have duplicate URLS, so if you want a little more room to allow for potential duplicate titles, use ‘Day and Name’. This would make everyday start fresh, because you are using the day, month and year as part of the URL. The odds of even a big site creating duplicate titles in one day are pretty slim.
What happen if you do create duplicate post titles? WordPress simple puts a ‘-2′, then’-3′ after the title. Nothing breaks. It’s not terrible.But we went through all of this for prettypermalinks that actually mean something and don’t have meaningless numbers. Might as well try to keep it that way.
Add Ping Services
Ping services allow different blog and RSS listing services to be notified when you post new content to your site. The idea is to help get the word out and hopefully drive some traffic to your site. By default, WordPress only lists one ping service – pingomatic. You can find this by navigating to settings>writing. Towards the bottom, you will see a textarea where you can enter ping services and only one is listed – http://rpc.pingomatic.com/. But there are many more ping services out there.
There are two lines of thought:
- Use a small list of services that in turn ping several more.
- Directly use the list of all services so that you are not relying on a message to be passed on.
To use a small list of services that will notify others, copy this list and paste it into the ping services area under settings>writing:
To use a longer list of services to notify directly, copy this list and paste it into the ping services area under settings>writing:
- How ping services work – WordPress Ping Services. They also link to this detailed explanation of the two Ping lists.
- My post about plugins.
I have tried to include all of the suggested steps that I have found over time. If there are any that I missed that could be added to help this be a more complete list, please leave a comment and let me know. I will try to add anything that improves the process.