Congratulations on installing WordPress. What you do after installing WordPress is crucial to your success. This article will cover the most important things to do after installing WordPress.
Establish General Settings
On the left side of your WordPress dashboard, find the Settings link. Here, you’ll add the important settings for your blog/website. Some of these things will be prefilled depending on how you installed WordPress.
- Site Title
- WordPress Address (URL)
- Site Address (URL)
- Administration Email Address
- New User Default Role
- Site Language
- Date Format
- Time Format
- Week Starts On
Allow or Disallow Comments
Allowing comments on your blog comes with pros and cons. A great blog that earns a strong follower base can benefit from comments by potentially ranking higher on Google and other search engines.
Comments can be a positive signal to Google that your post offers quality content to users. On the other hand, spammy comments could hurt your rankings.
If you are going to permit comments, be sure to watch for spam.
Your reading settings in WordPress (found in the left column under settings) allow you to change your home page to be a particular page or blog post (static page) or a digest of your latest posts.
I like to change Blog posts to show more posts as I optimize my category pages to rank on Google. I know some SEO’s will say to not allow Google to index Category pages, but I find a lot of search engine traffic is earned by including and optimizing them.
For each post in a feed, it’s best to include a summary which is a snippet of the blog post rather than the full content appearing. Think of these feeds as “directories”.
And of course, we want Search Engine Visibility to be included so we do NOT check the box next to ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’.
Set Up Your Permalinks
When building a WordPress website, one of the first things you should do is modify the permalinks. Permalinks are the permanent part of your website’s URLs. WordPress posts and pages have a URL that consists of the domain name, followed by the permalink.
Avoid a plain structure that’s comprised of meaningless letters and numbers, such as example.com/?p=547.
To make your website’s permalinks SEO friendly, you must change them.
Go to the “Settings” menu in the WordPress admin dashboard and select “Permalinks.” Next, click the radio button for “Post name,” followed by “Save Changes” to complete the process.
WordPress will then update all your website’s URLs with relevant titles rather than generic letters and numbers.
WARNING – If you change the Permalink settings after you have published pages, the old URLs will be invalid creating 404 Error Pages. Be sure to have a plugin installed first that does automatic redirect or you will manually need to fix those redirects one by one.
Set up an Automated Table of Contents
There are many available WordPress Plugins for setting up a table of contents. To add a Plugin, find the Plugins link on the left. Once you open that, choose ‘Add New’. Next, add a keyword to the search box.
The Yoast plugin now offers it’s own table of contents gutenberg block!
In this case, type table of contents.
You’ll want to choose a Plugin that is marked as compatible with your theme, has a significant number of active installations, and has a recent “last updated” date.
If the plugin is not being updated regularly, it could make your website vulnerable to hackers.
A Table of Contents Plugin such as Easy Table of Contents will allow you to choose which headings become part of the table of contents. You can choose to only include H2 headings or add H3 and so forth.
You can change the colors, width and so forth.
The Table of Contents can increase the user experience by allowing them to click and go to the area of your blog post or web page of which they are most interested.
The Elementor Page builder also has a Table of Contents widget.
Install Your SEO Plugin
This is not mandatory. Today, search engines like Google, and Bing are pretty smart about deciphering what the title and description should be.
That being said, if you plan to work strategically to rank on Google earning positions in the ‘people also ask box’, a featured snippet, site links, and so forth, having a WordPress Plugin with Schema Markup is smart.
While many choose Yoast, a popular SEO plugin with premium add-on features, you should also explore All in One SEO and SEOpressor, both of which I use and appreciate.
To me, the major drawback with Yoast is the hefty annual renewal fee for the premium version. For those of us that have a portfolio of websites, this fee really adds up.
Set Up Google Analytics
Whether you think you’ll ever understand it or use it, Google Analytics should be installed. At some point, you may want to look at it to see how pages on your website are performing.
If you work your way up to measuring conversions, run paid ads to your website, or earn income through publishing with a platform such as Google Adsense, you’ll want to be able to access this data.
You can’t add the data after the fact, so do it now.
Personally, I also like to add Clicky to my blogs. While Clicky has a small fee, the at-a-glance dashboard helps me measure my content day to day without diving into anything too complicated.
Set up Google Search Console
Formerly branded as Google Webmaster Tools, GSC is a free web-based analytics tool offered to webmasters that provides insight into a website’s performance on Google.
It’s not the same as Google Analytics. They work together. Here’s an article comparing Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
After adding and verifying your website, GSC will display metrics about your website’s historical performance on the search engine.
The tool also includes features to modify or enhance your website’s visibility on Google, but its primary function is performance reporting.
In addition to mobile usability, you can use GSC to check whether your website has received manual actions.
Since Google’s servers power GSC, it offers the most accurate and detailed view of your website’s performance on Google.
It’s also used for adding a sitemap to Google.
Not all webmasters will benefit from using GSC. But if your digital marketing goals include high search rankings on Google, you’ll achieve greater success by using GSC.
If not already activated, head over to settings -> reading and toggle the blocks to on. This way, you can use Gutenberg blocks to help you build your content.
Learn more about WordPress Gutenberg here.
Popular page builders like Elementor, Beaver Builder, and Thrive Architect also use content blocks.
Set Up Categories
When you create a new post, it will automatically be placed under a default category. This default category can be changed by clicking on Settings -> Writing, and then use the drop-down menu.
The drop-down menu will feature categories you have already established. You may want to create one main category that your blogs will default to. Each time you create a new blog post, you can select the category it fits with.
On the other hand, Pages can simply be part of the main website or fall under a parent page.
Tags will help users find your content using your search box. Posts, Pages, Tags and Categories can each be indexed by the search engines or disallowed.
You’ll probably want to add a form to use on your contact page. Forms can also be used on any pages and posts to allow users to submit questions, ideas, or to subscribe.
Here are a few popular form Plugins for WordPress.
- Ninja Forms
- Gravity Forms
- WP Forms
Add Your Key Pages
Generally, a website has a few key pages. These are cornerstone content pages that are evergreen, meaning they never “expire’ and are not time-sensitive.
- Contact Us
- Meet the Team
Set Up Your User Profile
WordPress uses your user profile in various forms and widgets. This is your author profile, essentially.
To access your profile, find the ‘Users’ link on the left and then choose ‘Your Profile.’ The top options will be for your general preferences.
These can all be changed later.
To create your profile, add your First Name, Last Name, and a Nickname. You can then choose how you would like your name displayed by clicking the arrow and accessing the drop-down menu.
You’ll also see a field for your email, which should be populated and your website.
Next, add a short bio. Choose a Profile Picture.
You can also click the Gravatar link and register a Gravatar to use across WordPress Websites.
You can change your password here as needed.
If you are going to use author archive pages, you can add a title and description there as well. This is ideal if there will be multiple bloggers on your WordPress website.
Each author can have their own archive page (like a directory) of everything they have written.
You may also see 3 boxes at the bottom of this section. Here, you can choose the layout of your website such as sidebar then content, wide theme, content then sidebar, possibly 2 sidebars, etc.
With the Genesis framework, which I use, you can change the preferences page by page as well. One might be a wide page with no side bars, and another might have the sidebars.
Put Security in Place
WordPress is well known to have vulnerabilities that hackers can take advantage of. It’s essential to have some sort of regular backup in place along with security software such as WordFence.
Check with your WordPress Hosting Service to see if they already provide regular backups and security.
A WordPress Maintenance Plan is a good idea.
You’ll want to keep your themes and Plugins updated regularly. When updates are suggested, you will see red icons in your dashboard letting you know that an update is required.
You can then click to approve the update and it happens automatically. Major core updates will caution you to perform a backup before updating.
You might also want to consider adding a WordPress security plugin like Wordfence.
Set Up Your Menu
In my experience working with coaching clients, WordPress Menu’s can be the most challenging to learn.
The Menu is a list of main items the visitor can use to navigate your website. These are most often key pages and social links.
Menus can appear in the header, footer, and sidebar. There can also be multiple menus in an area. Drop-down menus can also be confusing.
In this guide, I teach you how to set up your WordPress Menus.
You might also want to explore the following for your WordPress Website.
- Upload a Favicon (or Site Icon)
- Create and add your Logo
- Canva Pro for Copyright Free Images and Templates
- Pinterest for Business to Grow Your Blog
- Social Snap, MissingLettr or another Social Media Marketing Tool
- Install an internal linking tool such as Link Whisper or Thirsty Affiliates
- Set up a Lead Magnet and Email Funnel using Optinmonster, ConvertKit, or Keap (or a combination like I do). You’ll want a great CRM!
- Head over to my Youtube Channel and Subscribe to learn more about blogging!
- Add the Grammarly Chrome Extension to help with typos and passive voice!
- Add WooCommerce and open your store!