installingwp1

The WordPress 5-minute install is great, nothing complicated about getting your blog up and running (most of the time). But once you install WordPress there are a number of other steps that you need to take in order to get the most from your blog.

Use the following as a to-do checklist for your future installations and you’ll keep yourself right.

1. Change the Admin Password and Manage Your Authors

WordPress gives you some random concoction of a password that you’re *never* going to remember so the first thing you need to do is change this to something memorable.

Manage your user settings via the Users panel, and you can add any additional blog authors here.

2. Edit Permalinks

By default your articles’ urls will look something like www.leemunroe.com/?p=396. This url structure is poor for SEO and poor for usability (makes no sense to your users).

By changing your url structure to something like www.leemunroe.com/25-hot-female-web-designers you can include the post’s keywords in the url and it makes more sense to your users.

  1. Go to Settings > Permalinks
  2. Under ‘Common settings’ choose ‘Custom Structure’
  3. Enter %postname%/ in the field
  4. Or if you prefer to have the category in the url as well, enter %category%/%postname%/

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3. Upload Your Theme and Activate It

  1. Download a theme or design your own
  2. Unzip and upload it to wp-content > themes
  3. Activate it via Appearance > Themes (then just click on your theme)

4. Add Your Categories and Change the Default

When you install WordPress the default category is ‘Uncategorized’ and this just looks ugly. Assume at some point you’re going to post an article and forget to select a category – what would you want that post to come under by default? I tend to use News or something general like that.

  1. Go to Posts > Categories
  2. Click on ‘Uncategorized’ to edit it – change it to ‘News‘ or similar
  3. Add your other blog categories

5. Activate Akismet

Akismet is a plugin that blocks comment spam and if your blog allows comments then trust me, you’re going to get spammed.

Fortunately Akismet comes with WordPress, you just need to activate it.

  1. Go to the Plugins page in the admin area and activate Akismet
  2. To complete Akismet activation, WordPress requires an API key. You can get this by registering on WordPress.com then viewing your profile.
  3. Now go to Plugins > Akismet Configuration, and paste in your key.

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6. Install Google XML Sitemaps

Google XML Sitemaps generates a compliant XML-Sitemap for your site, allowing the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Ask, MSN) to easily index your site. Every time you edit or add a post, the sitemap will modify itself.

Click here for Google XML Sitemaps plugin.

Now go to Google Webmaster Central and log in with your Google Account. On the first page, there will be a link to “Verify” your site. Follow the instructions there.

Once that’s done, you can then click the “Add Sitemap” link from the first page and put in the URL to your sitemap, which will be http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml

pro-sitemaps

7. Install WordPress Database Backup

Always good to have a backup in place. Things may go wrong with your server, or you could even make a mistake yourself.

WordPress Database Backup will backup your WordPress blog, and you can even set it so it will email you a backup on a weekly basis, so you don’t have to do anything yourself but activate it.

Click here for WordPress Database Backup plugin, or read a complete guide to automatic backups on Pro Blog Design.

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8. Test Your Blog With Dummy Content

You’ll not know what your blog will truly look like until you have thoroughly tested it with multiple posts and all types of formatting applied.

Save yourself some time by using this sample post collection from WP Candy.

Import the sample post collection (Tools > Import > WordPress) and your blog will compile with sample posts including comments, parent/child categories and formatting, allowing you to thoroughly test it and make any theme alterations.

9. Add your RSS feed to Feedburner

First edit your RSS settings. Settings > Reading and you can edit how many posts you want to show in your RSS feed and whether they should show the full post or not.

Now you want to burn your feed with Feedburner. Feedburner will provide you with stats on your feeds and automatically ping services so your new content is updated immediately along with a whole host of other services.

Once you have signed up to Feedburner, use the FD FeedBurner plugin to automatically redirect subscribers to your normal WordPress feed URL to your FeedBurner one instead.

10. Activate your Analytics

Keep track of your users and traffic. I recommend Google Analytics. Other good analytic services available include Mint and StatCounter.

Optional

Here’s a few optional to-dos. Not as major as the above but you still might need to check them.

Change your Media image sizes

Change your image sizes depending on the size of your content area.

Settings > Media

Change your blog tagline

Your tagline may or may not be included in your theme but it’s most likely included in your RSS feed.

Settings > General

What else?

Is there anything else you do after a fresh WordPress install? Please share.

Further Reading

About the author: Lee Munroe is a freelance web designer from Belfast. You can see his other writings on web design and WordPress at his blog, or follow him on Twitter.

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