So, you’ve made the plunge – you downloaded WordPress and installed it on your web host. You’ve selected a theme and are ready to make it yours. Here are six basic set-up tasks you will want to complete before you get too far into customizing your theme and adding content.
- Don’t use admin. Originally, WordPress automatically created a user account named “admin” with an auto-generated password. Recent releases of the software have allowed the option to select a custom username and password during the installation process. Do not choose “admin” as your username. WordPress stopped creating that automatically, because many WordPress users were not setting up their own custom user accounts, instead using the generic “admin” created during installation. This gave spammers and hackers a known username and provided a security risk.
- Change your permalinks. The generic setting for WordPress page and post links is www.example.com/?p=123. This is a great set up for code purposes, but not so good for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You want the search engines to find you to catalog your content so people can find your website. The generic setting is skipped over by search engine spiders, so you’ll want to change them to something more appealing. From the WordPress dashboard, scroll down to the “Settings” menu, and select “Permalinks.” You will have the option to choose from pre-determined permalink options, or you can create your own option. Using one of those options will get rid of the code-y look, and provide the search engines some idea of what your content is, allowing them to catalog it properly. You will want to do this before you add much content, as sometimes issues arise changing the permalinks later in the game.
- Change the default category. The standard default category for new posts is “Uncategorized.” With most themes, the name of the category is displayed somewhere at the top or bottom of a post, allowing site visitors to click on it and read other posts in the same category. Having a post in an “Uncategorized” category gives the impression that you did not care enough about that post or the content to give it a category. I recommend you select something more generic (I use “General” on my sites). In the WordPress dashboard, select “Posts”, then “Categories.” On the Categories tab, find “Uncategorized” on the list, and click the Edit link under the name. Change the name to your new default name, and click save. This will provide a much nicer, cleaner look and impression, especially if you forget to assign your posts to a category.
- Turn on Akismet. Every WordPress installation includes the Akismet plugin. Akismet works to filter comment spam from your blog. If you are going to allow commenting, and you will want to do so, you will have to deal with comment spam. You can activate the plugin from the “Plugins” menu, but you will need an API key in order to do so. You can get this API key by registering on WordPress.com. Your custom API key will be in your profile.
- Add Sample Content. One thing I do with every new theme I use is create sample posts, pages and categories so I can understand how the theme looks with content and I can figure out where I want to place certain items. This saves me a lot of time down the road, when I have a lot of content. I rarely run into a problem such as “Oh, that won’t work there! Where else can I put this content!?” because I already have an idea how it will look. You can delete the dummy content later after you have added some real content.
- Be more than “just another WordPress” blog. Every WordPress has a setting for a tagline; the generic is “Just another WordPress blog.” This is certainly not something you want on your site – either change it to your own company tag line, or delete it altogether. You can change this setting under the “Settings” à “General” menu.
(Steve Cousino, ACC, CTA, LS is a four-year industry veteran and owner of Journeys By Steve, an affiliate of Sunnyland Travel Center in Springfield, MO. He specializes in cruise vacations, escorted tours of Europe and the Holy Land, group travel, and culinary-themed travel. He can be reached at email@example.com. Visit his website at http://www.JourneysBySteve.com)