As I mentioned in my previous blog ‘11 Misconceptions about WordPress‘, WordPress is a powerful tool to build your website. With its wide variety of themes and plugins, WordPress has the flexibility to grow with the changing needs of your clients and business.

Although WordPress is easy to install, there are some essential steps to setting up your website to make sure everything is up and running correctly from the start. These steps help you to protect your site from hackers and spammers, improve your SEO and ensure that your site loads as quickly as possible.

So here are the 10 essential steps to setting up your WordPress website quickly and easily.

Changing your admin username. When you first install WordPress on to your domain, the username is often set as admin. It’s recommended that you change this to protect your site against hackers who can try to log in to your site using the default admin username. You can change your username by going to Users > Your Profile on the WordPress dashboard – use something else such as your own name.

Limiting log in attempts. You will sometimes get an option to install the Login LockDown plugin as part of the WordPress installation process. It’s a good idea to check this option as Login LockDown limits the number of attempts people can make to log in to your WordPress dashboard. Again this protects you from hackers trying to access your website.

Giving your site a title and tagline. Once you’ve logged into your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > General on the left hand menu and add your Site Title and Tagline so people know what your site is about. The title appears in the browser tab when people view your website. You can also have it appear in the header area of your site rather than a logo on some themes.

Setting up your home page. Depending on whether you are using WordPress to set up a simple blog or a fully functioning website, you can choose what appears on the home page by going to Settings > Reading in the left hand menu and choosing your front page as either a static web page if you’re building a website, or to show your blog posts.

Changing the URL structure of posts/pages. You can change how your page or post URLs appear in the browser address bar by going to Permalinks in the Settings menu on the WordPress dashboard. Permalinks are the URL that appears when people click on one of your pages or blog posts. The permalink is set by default as yourdomain.com/?p=123 whereas you really want it to display the name of your page for SEO purposes. Click on the ‘Post name’ option so that the name of your page or post appears in the URL.

Preventing comment spam. You will notice that a plugin called Akismet is automatically uploaded when you install WordPress. Akismet helps protect your blog from spam comments so they don’t appear below your blog posts. Just activate the Akismet plugin, add in your license key if you have one, or click on the link to create an account.

Making image search easier. WordPress will automatically add any media files that you upload – such as images, PDFs, audio – into separate folders by month and year. The problem with that is that it can be difficult to find media if you try to search for something on your web server. To get round this, go to Settings > Media and deselect the checkbox where it says ‘Organize my uploads into month- and year-based folders’.

Optimising image files for faster site speed. WordPress automatically creates different size images when you upload an image file, eg thumbnail etc. However, this can overload the server and slow down your site if you have a lot of image files. Go to Settings > Media and in the Image sizes section, change the sizes for Thumbnail, Medium and Large to 0. It’s also recommended to resize images to the correct size before you upload them. For example, if you want to add an image to your slider, check the height and width of the slider and resize your image accordingly before uploading to the media library.

Uploading essential plugins. There are some essential plugins that you need for your website. The 3 main ones that I always upload to any website that I’m creating are: WordPress SEO by Yoast so you can set up how your pages and posts appear in the search engines; W3 Total Cache to help improve the speed and upload times of your web pages; Wordfence to protect your website and alert you of any issues such as someone trying to log in to your site.

Completing your profile. It’s a good idea to complete the bio on your profile on the WordPress dashboard and add in links to your social media profiles. This info is used by WordPress if you upload an author bio plugin to display a short bio at the end of your blog posts for example.

So these are the 10 essential steps to setting up your WordPress website.

We can help you to get your website up and running the right way. Check out our Website Design Services to find out how you can get a website that will promote your services in the best way and attract people who want to do business with you.

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About Valerie

Valerie helps solo entrepreneurs create a clear online marketing strategy so they can get in front of their ideal clients and attract them to their business.

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