So you have just installed WordPress and are ready to share your wisdom, knowledge and brilliance with the world. Even if you have some experience with WordPress there are certain things which should be considered before you start posting and reveal your site to the world. Before you dive in and start writing your deathless prose, let’s step back a little and consider some things you should do BEFORE writing your first post. The items below are the minimum you should tackle to configure a WordPress install.
About 20% of the web is powered by WordPress and it is likely that most of the sites which you visit are powered by WordPress. If you are new to all this and even if you are not, it can be a little overwhelming. Here are some tips to help make your site as safe and reliable as possible.
The suggestions below are not designed in any particular order of importance but I think you should check them all and at least think about what you should do to keep your site stable and secure.
There are many options available in settings and this area should be the first port of call. Take your time and review them. Become familiar with what is there but if you do not understand what a setting does, leave it alone and look in the Help areas to find out.
There are three settings which are especially important and often overlooked, so do not forget to update them:
- Permalinks – In your WordPress Dashboard, navigate to the Settings page and find the Permalinks tab. Check out the common settings and choose one that is best for you. For example, the Month and Name setting is often used. I just use the PostName option but choose the option which suits you. If the name of the post or page in is in the permalink it will help with Search Engine Optimisation. Here is an example of the permalink I use.
- Timezone – Choose Settings, General. Ensure the time zone is set to your local timezone. This will ensure the timing is correct when posts are scheduled to be published or scheduled events such as a backup
- User Profile – Update your User Profile. Choose Users, Your Profile. Here, choose how your name will be displayed on the site and which email address is to be used for site notifications. Your password can be changed here if necessary
In each case, do not forget to save your changes. The Save or Update buttons are usually out of sight at the bottom of the screen so scroll down to find them. It is frustrating to make some changes and then find that they are not implemented because they were not saved.
Bots and hackers target WordPress sites to try to exploit common default settings.
There are a number of precautions which can be taken to reduce the likelihood of an attack being successful. There are a number of plugins which can help to protect your site. Some are free and others must be paid for.
As a minimum, try to find plugins and techniques which address the following.
- Change the admin username from admin to something else
- Change the table prefix in your database from wp_ to something else. There are tools available which will do this.
- Lock out users automatically after too many failed
- Get protection from Brute Force Attacks
- Enforce strong passwords for all accounts
- Monitor files for unauthorised changes
These areas of potential security risk are the minimum which should be considered. Do some research to find suitable plugins which will provide protection. A hacked site us both inconvenient and embarrassing.
Delete Default Content
A default WordPress installation is preloaded with default content such as a “Hello world!” blog post. You should delete the default comment and replace it with your own content.
Decide about Backups
Ensure there is a solid WordPress backup strategy in place. You will have expended considerable time and effort in building and tweaking your website so a sensible insurance policy is a backup system of some kind. WordPress does not have a built-in backup solution. Therefore find a backup solution which suits your needs and pocket. There are a number of plugins available which provide backup capability with varying degrees of sophistication. Some provide automated backups which can be scheduled, others require you to initiate the process yourself. Some allow separate backup of the site and the database, some backup everything. An important aspect of backup is to consider the restore process. A backup is useless unless it can be restored.
Once again, do some research. Most backup plugins have a free version or a least a free trial and a more sophisticated paid for version. Try a few out at an early stage to find one which suits your purpose.
If you allow comments on your site or blog, spam comments can be a pain. The regular appearance of a page of Chinese or Russian text is annoying as well as comments advertising dubious or irrelevant websites.
Check out the number of antispam plugins available and find one which gives you protection without being too repressive.
Optimise SEO for Your Site
There is no point in creating a site and then making it invisible. It needs to be found online. Set the site up to be SEO-friendly and generate traffic to your site. Plugins are again the answer. These will check what you write and suggest modifications to your text to improve search engine performance.
Change the Site Tagline
It will proclaim to the world that your site is a WordPress site, but it is not just another
one, it is yours. Your site is unique and your tagline should reflect this. The default tagline suggests that you forgot to customise the site. This tagline will show up in the site’s search results. If your brand has a tagline or motto, this is the perfect
place for it. A blank tagline is better than the default text.
Create a Contact Form
People will want to communicate with you if they have questions while browsing the site. A contact form can be easily be overlooked if your website is not your main method of contact with users, customers or potential clients. A contact form could be used to sort customer service questions from leads by having the user identify the reason for contact in a subject line or message body. A contact form can also be used as a means to collect names and email addresses and the addition of a Captcha arrangement will help filter out the humans from spammers and bots.
Connect with Email Lists
Email is an important component of revenue generation and the best way to deliver content directly to someone’s inbox. The key to this is to persuade your site visitors to subscribe to your email list. It is one of the best ways to ensure they stay engaged with your content or products.
Add a subscription box to a footer or side widget. An optin-in incentive can be added
by offering coupons or free resources such as an offer of a free ebook.
Some autoresponder programs have WordPress integrations to simplify the process of connecting your site to your email lists.
Track Metrics with Analytics
It is important to track your site’s analytics. Put the Google Analytics tag on your site. This can be used to track important data such as the total number of site visitors, how
long they stay, where your traffic is coming from, conversions and much more. Google Analytics also offers real-time tracking, so you can see how many people are on your site at any time.