10 most important things to do after installing WordPress.
Out of the box WordPress works just fine, however there are a number of things you can do to improve performance, security and overall functionality of your new website. In this article WordPress 10 most important things to do we cover what we believe are the most important things to do after installing WordPress.
The first and most important thing to do it add a security plugin.
1. WordPress settings menu
Change or check the following WordPress settings:
Settings – General – Add a meaningful site Title & Tag Line. No one knows how much emphasis Google and other search engines give to the Title and Tagline but especially for the tagline try and add words that describe best the purpose of your website.
Change the Time Zone to your local time. This may already be set but if using a Host in another part of the world you may find the zone needs set to your locale time.
Settings – Reading – If you are just starting to design your new amazing WP site then tick the checkbox :
Warning – Don’t forget to “untick” this box when you set the site live!
Settings – Permalinks – I recommend changing the setting to Post Name. This produces an SEO friendly URL for each page and post and is also easier read by humans.
2. Install a Security Plugin
WordPress powers around 25% of the world’s websites (Jan 2016) and is a favourite target for hackers. There are many simple measures you can take to help secure your new shiny WP site. The first and most important thing to do it add a security plugin. There are many to choose from, some free and others are free with a paid upgrade option.
This is the best known and most used security plugin for WordPress and has a paid upgrade option. When you install Wordfence you are greeted with a plethora of settings which at first seem overwhelming, however the defaults work just fine and you can study the advanced settings when you get time. I would suggest after you have played with the Live Traffic logging you disable it, unless you have a particular reason to keep it running. Reports suggest that turning it off greatly reduces the plugins server load.
All in One WP Security and Firewall
This one is gaining popularity as an alternative to Wordfence and is a free plugin. Settings are numerous as with Wordfence, however it also has a very nice feature that is missing in Wordfence. In All in One WP & Security settings under Brute Force there is a setting to rename your Login URL for WP. Many scanning programs look for the URL www.mysite.com/wp-admin as it is the default login URL for WordPress. By adding a random word instead of admin the traffic and nuisance from scanning and human hacker attempts is greatly reduced, as is the risk to your site. Set your login page here…
Warning – To prevent locking yourself out of your site do not close the Admin page. Test the above setting by opening a new browser and logging in to the new login URL to prove that it works. Oh, and of course be sure to bookmark or write down the new login URL!
3. Hide your Site
When developing your site you don’t want the world to see your part finished efforts. There are several good plugins to hide your site, my favourite is Coming Soon by Seedprod. This free, with paid add-ons plugin is easy to set up and is very versatile. Check the maintenance mode box and you can preview your pages but the rest of the world is shown a coming soon page which you can customise with an image, text , and/or links.
A whole topic on it’s own and beyond the scope of this article, however there are a couple of plugins that can make your SEO work quick and effective without being an SEO guru!
SEO by Yoast
This popular SEO plugin, SEO by Yoast has a unique “traffic light” system that can analyse your content and chosen keywords and shows a Red, Amber or Green light depending on the results. While not completely perfect this system does well and can make SEO easy if you are just starting out. Another feature I like is that it automatically adds the FB Opengraph data and Twitter data for your page, increasing your SEO visibility.
All In One SEO Pack
This SEO Plugin and Yoast’s are both close as far as popularity goes and there is little to choose from as far as functionality is concerned. Some are reporting that All in One SEO Pack is more powerful than Yoast but I have not been able to test this. My suggestion is to try both plugins (one at a time of course) and see which user interface you prefer.
5. Back Ups
Another crucial but often overlooked operation is backups. Your host may back up every day or weekly or some other time period, but there is something to be said for having your own independent backups and having them available if all goes wrong. There are many ways to do this. You can do backup form your Cpanel or Plesk panel but they tend to include the entire webspace stuff, not just the Public_html folder or Httdocs folder where your WP site normally lives.
Several good plugins are available and as always there are some excellent paid for solutions if your site is business critical. Updraft Plus is a simple to set up plugin that works well and has the ability to restore not just all of a website but different sections such as the database, content, plugins and themes individually. It can also be set to make a remote back up to Dropbox, Amazon etc. Back up WordPress is another popular plugin to take care of your database and site file back ups. This one is not as automated as Updraft when restoring. Back Up Buddy is the probably the best paid option available and is a very comprehensive package.
6. Add a new Admin and change Display Name.
By default WordPress creates the Admin user as ID 0 in the database table. Many hackers are aware of that when they try to access your WP site. To make your site safer go into Settings – Users and create a new admin user for your own use, and then change the role of the original Admin to subscriber or delete it altogether.
Warning – To prevent locking yourself out of your site open a separate browser and test the new login user to make sure it works, then change the original or delete it.
Security Tip – In Settings – User give your users a meaningful Nickname. In the example below the admin name is Tony the Tester, however his nickname is TT. If he authors any posts or pages his nickname appears instead of his admin name, thus preventing hackers form finding the true admin name.
7. Create a Child Theme
Whatever theme you decide to use for your new website I always advise adding a child theme. In simple terms a child theme is a copy of the original theme you have chosen and is used as the main theme of your site when activated. The main reason to add a child theme is that any coding changes you might make to your Style.css file when tweaking the functionality of your site will be safely stored. Then any future updates that are done to your main theme do not overwrite your Child theme and undo your hard work!
You can create a Child theme manually by following this excellent article in the WordPress Codex or by using a plugin. One that makes the task easy is Orbisius Child Theme Creator. This free plugin also has a nice editor window for cutting and pasting code or direct editing. If you are unsure which Premium Theme you really want then you may wish to read our Review of Extra the latest in the Elegant Themes stable and grab yourself a lifetime 20% discount off all 88 themes!
8. Install an Anti-spam plugin
By default WordPress comes with the Akismet plugin installed. This is an excellent plugin for dealing with spam, which if your site becomes popular will attract many spammers. At the time of writing Akismet is free for non-commercial use but all other use requires a subscription. An alternative that is very affordable (currently $8 per year) and has a great track record and performance is Anti Spam by Cleantalk.org. The developers have produced a plugin that can protect comments, form submissions, forums and other opt ins from spam with no need for questions, puzzles, maths or Captcha images. Set up is easy and you get a great dashboard with analytics and other useful info.
9. Install Caching
Why install a cache plugin? WordPress loading times can be improved dramatically by installing a caching program. Caching helps take the load off your server and make your site much faster. This is great for SEO as Google gives ranking weight to fast loading sites. There are a plethora of caching plugins and it is impossible to say which one will work best on your server. My advice is to try several of the more popular and test using Pingdom or GT Metrix and compare results. Most Popular – WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache. Another newcomer that I have tested and have been very satisfied with is Comet Cache. Simplest to set up is Comet Cache – pretty much works out of the box, next is WP Super Cache and last is W3 Total cache.
UPDATE: Since writing this article a new plugin has appeared which has outperformed all the other caching plugins I tested. WP Fastest Cache is also very easy to set up, and there is a paid option that adds more features.
Be careful when testing any caching plugin as they will make changes to some of your important system files such as .htaccess and can result in crashing your site, so make backups of files before you do any tweaking.
10. Hints & Tips
So you have pretty much got the site tuned up now but there are a few more little things that can be done to improve it and also improve security.
Update plugins and delete unused
If you have plugins you don’t need then delete them. Every plugin is a potential weak link for your site as hackers often find vulnerabilities in them that can be used to corrupt, damage or gain access to your site. Also make sure you update your plugins when a new version is released as very often they contain important security updates.
Delete unused themes
For the same reason as the plugins you should only keep your active child theme, parent theme and one of the basic WordPress themes such as Twenty Fifteen. Keeping a standard theme such as Twenty Fifteen is useful because if you find problems with your site you can switch to a known good theme to do some troubleshooting.
Delete default content
WordPress adds a sample page and post when it is installed which should be deleted. Also added are the Akismet plugin and Dolly plugin, both of which can be safely deleted if not required.
Add a Sitemap.xml file
This file tells search engines how to find your important pages, images and content on your site. Add it using your favourite SEO plugin or by installing a stand along Sitemap plugin of which there are many to download.
Google Search Console
When getting close to launch I suggest adding your site to Google Search Console formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools. You can then track the indexing of your pages once launched, see the search phrases viewers are using to find your site and see also see how your sitemap is performing.
I hope you have found the WordPress 10 most important things to do article informative and have implemented the steps I have outlined to help make your site even more awesome! There is much more that can be done to really make your site special and in some future posts I will cover other specifics. You may also find our Top 10 Copyright Free Image websites article useful if you need some cool images for your website. Until the next time, good luck, and may you create a truly amazing website that rocks!
Alan is the Owner and Designer at Arttdigital.com He is passionate about web design and pours his energy in creating websites that not only look professional but are also functional and attract the right audience for his clients needs. If you need a new site or a revamp of a current one why not get in touch with us today and let us get your new project rolling!