Congratulations! You’ve finally made the decision to start your blog and you’ve just completed installing WordPress. But before you rush to publish that first post, you must read this!
Installing WordPress is a big first step in setting up your website and for most can be a very overwhelming the process. If you need help with your installation you may be interested in my WordPress Blog Set-up services. If you’re trying figuring out what your next steps should be, here are five things that you should do immediately after installing WordPress to ensure you’ve got your site set up right from the beginning.
Setting your site name and tagline
Go to Settings > General and make sure all the info on this page is set up correctly. The main ones you should be worried about are your Site Title and Tagline. This is what will show up in a lot of different places to describe your site. They will show up in the top bar when anyone has your home page open, in Google search results, and much more, so make sure they are correct. No one wants to see that “Just another WordPress site” message – if anything screams newbie, this is it. Besides these two main things, all the stuff on this page should be configured automatically, but just glance over it to make sure it’s right.
Before you create any posts or pages, the first thing you want to do is configure your permalink by going to Settings > Permalinks. Here it will give you the option to select the format of all the links on your site. I like the Post Name option because it keeps things simple and hides the date from the link which is just unnecessary. This option is also great for SEO because the keywords are in the URL. However, if you have a post with a long title you have to make sure to adjust the link so that it isn’t really long.
There are a number of settings you will want to customize here. Go to Settings > Reading to configure the layout and organizational system of your site. Here you can decide whether you want your home page to be a standard blog roll by selecting ‘Your Latest Posts’, or if you want it to be a static page. If you are only going to blog, then a blog roll on the home page works well. But if you are trying to sell a product or service, a static front page is important! But don’t worry, if you are unsure, this can easily be changed in the future.
You can also decide how many posts you want to show up in your blog roll. Pick a high enough number to show an interesting array of posts, but not so many that it will slow down your site. I usually use somewhere around 15.
You can also choose to show either a summary or the full post in your blog roll. I usually select summary because it makes people click through to read the post, rather than revealing the whole thing. It also makes your blog roll a little more organized and succinct. You can also write a customized excerpt for each post if you want that will show in the blog roll instead of your full post.
You will also want to make sure that the ‘Search Engine Visibility’ box is not checked. If this box is checked, it will keep search engines from seeing your site.
Configure the post page
The post page is perhaps the most important page of the backend, but it’s where you will spend most of your time (actually writing content). This page has a lot of options, and you need to configure it so that it works for you! Go to Posts > Add New to get to the post editor page. Up at the top click on ‘Screen Options’ which will reveal a dropdown of all the settings that appear on the page. Deselect all the ones that you don’t think you’ll use. I don’t need things like Format and Excerpt because I don’t usually use them in this area. So I don’t show them to keep my writing area as distraction free as possible. You can also choose to show your post writing area in one column or two, depending on what works for you!
Since every post you write needs to be categorized, categories are something that you have to set up right away. ‘Uncategorized’ is the default category of WordPress, and in my opinion shows a real lack of organization and thought if I see posts left in this category. So, the first thing you should do is go to Posts > Categories, and change the name of the uncategorized post so that the default is something else. I have a category called Archives so that all my posts are there automatically, but yours can be whatever you want it to be. While you’re there you should create some other categories so that your posts can be sorted right from the get go.