It seems that after you’ve registered a domain and installed WordPress it’s time to start writing content, right?

Not quite.

Before writing your first masterpiece there are still things you should do immediately after installing WordPress. This is the last and most crucial step before you can actually start blogging. Promise.

What do I mean by that?

As I mentioned earlier, WordPress is a highly customizable piece of blogging software which gives you plenty of options to make it your own. WordPress is good out of the box, but we want to make it even better so the only thing you’ll need to worry about is writing great content.

1. Change WordPress settings

The first thing to do after installing WordPress is we need to fiddle with a few settings. Let’s start with the basics.

Navigate to the Settings tab.

General

If you didn’t fill out these settings during the installation process it’s time to do so.

WordPress site title settings

Site title will show up in the header of your website, in the title of each post (shown on tabs of your browser), and in search results like so. It’s mandatory to fill this field out.

WordPress site title shows up in search results.

Tagline is not as important and most websites don’t use it. Tagline is useful when you don’t have an image logo and want to add a slogan of some sort. Generally, I ignore it.

Next you should set your timezone, date and time format.

WordPress timezone settings

These are important settings for post scheduling. When you’re done, don’t forget to press Save Changes.

Writing

Next go to the Writing tab and here we need to do one thing – update the list of Update Services. You can get a list of services here. Just copy and paste the list and save. Basically, when you post an article, WordPress automatically notifies these services about new content. This helps search engines index your content faster.

WordPress update services settings

Moving on to the Reading tab.

Reading

The first setting allows you to show either a static page, or a list of your latest posts. This depends on how you want your website to look like. If you want to use a landing page, or a traditional homepage select A static page and choose the page you want to show up.

You will have to create the page first. This can be done from the Pages menu.

WordPress reading settings

If you want to show your latest posts then choose the first option.

Some premium WordPress themes require a static page even to show your latest posts. If you’re not sure whether your theme requires that check your theme’s documentation.

The next step is to decide how many of your latest posts should appear on the front page. A good rule of a thumb is to keep the number between 4-6.

This ensures your website loads quickly both on desktop and mobile. Page speed is an important ranking factor when it comes to search engine optimization.

The last option is the most crucial in here. Make sure this setting is unchecked. Otherwise, your website will not be indexed by search engines. It’s off by default, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

WordPress search engine visibility setting

Next navigate to Permalinks.

Permalinks

Permalinks are unique static URL’s of your posts and pages. By default WordPress comes with Day and Name setting. However, unless you are a major news website with hundreds of new articles per day it’s best to change the setting to Post Name.

WordPress permalink structure

There are a few reasons for it.

One, it looks better.

Two, it’s an easy way to increase search engine rankings, because evidence suggests the closer the  target keyword is to the top-level domain the higher you rank. This means exact match domain names still hold a lot of weight.

Three, the keyword will show up bold in search results, which might increase CTR. Hence, more traffic and even better rankings (higher CTR tells search engines the page is valuable for its’ visitors, of course it’s only a minor factor).

URL length correlations in search rankings

Once you decide on the structure of your URL’s avoid changing them ever. Otherwise all your hard earned backlinks will become obsolete and restoring them is not a very pleasant activity.

Hit Save Changes and we are done with the settings.

2. Install essential WordPress plugins

Now we can move on to installing WordPress plugins. Like I’ve said multiple times WordPress is an amazing piece of blogging software – it’s great out of the box. However, there are some areas where it’s lacking. To solve this we can install a few plugins.

Many articles about plugins you find on the web are misleading. You don’t need 15, 20, 30 plus plugins for WordPress. The general rule of a thumb is the less plugins you have the fewer exploits hackers can use to hack you.

Plus, lots of clutter will most likely make your website load slower and who wants that?

We are going to stick to absolute essentials.

To install plugins simply go to Plugins > Add New. Use the search field to find what you need.

WordPress add plugins screen

SEO plugins

Search engine optimization is very important, especially early on. By optimizing each of your articles from the beginning you’re setting yourself up for success. Once you get a little bit of traction and others start linking to you it will be much easier to snowball in terms of organic traffic.

The are two very popular WordPress plugins for SEO, which are All in One SEO and Yoast SEO. Both of them are free, but there are also premium versions with additional features. Probably 95 percent of bloggers will be happy with a free version no matter which plugin you use.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO banner

Yoast SEO is a great SEO plugin because of its’ ease of use and integrated page analysis. This plugin is highly recommended for beginners. The plugin analyses content as you write and provides tips on how to make your content better in terms of readability and search engine friendliness.

I’ve only been using this plugin for a little over 4 months, but so far it’s better (at least for beginners) than the one I used before, which is our next choice.

All in One SEO

All in One SEO Pack banner

All in One SEO is a good alternative to Yoast SEO. This is the plugin I’ve used for the majority of my blogging life and I have never been disappointed with it. It’s a little bit less intuitive than Yoast, but it gets the job done. Although, I recommend it for more advanced users, because it does not have the tools to help you analyze your content.

Caching plugins

Caching plugins increase page loading speed by pre-loading (caching) the page for the user. Without a caching plugin a user sends requests to the server and the server creates a page every time the request is sent.

This requires a lot of processing power, especially if you have a lot of traffic. Caching plugins create a static page and save it on the server, which is then downloaded by the user. The page is saved on the server until the cache refreshes. This saves a lot of horsepower and results in significantly better loading times for your website.

In other words, caching plugins are a must. Use one.

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache banner

W3 Total Cache is one of the most popular free caching plugins for WordPress. It works really well. The only downside is it’s a little bit too complex for non-tech savvy users. However, it works fine out of the box so you don’t need to fiddle with anything if you don’t want to.

WP Rocket

WP Rocket banner

WP Rocket is the fastest caching plugin for WordPress according to these benchmarks, but it’s not free. For $39 it’s the best plugin when it comes to features, user friendliness and, most importantly, speed (it’s even better after the 3.0 update).

Do you actually need it? Not really, especially when you’ve no idea what you’re doing. But somewhere along the way I recommend you upgrade. Probably when your blog becomes larger with more articles, images, comments etc.

Comment spam plugins

Once your blog gets noticed by search engines it becomes a target for spammers. To avoid dealing with spam as much as possible you should install plugins, which help filter the majority of spam out. There are many plugins that try to deal with this problem, but the best comment spam plugin for WordPress is Akismet. Antispam Bee comes close second.

Akismet

Akismet banner

Akismet is my favorite anti-spam plugin because it does the job exceptionally well. There are very few false positives and I literally never have to worry about comment spam. It requires registration, but is free for personal use. Once you get your blogging business going you can upgrade and get access to premium features for only $5 a month.

Antispam Bee

Antispam Bee banner

Antispam Bee is another great free plugin for fighting comment spam. It’s open source with a nearly perfect 5 star score. Comes with a ton of great features such as trusting commenters with a Gravatar, treating BBCode as spam, and matching commentators against public anti-spam databases.

Contact form

The last plugin to get after installing WordPress is a simple contact form. Contact Form 7 is the most popular with lots of great features, and is not overly complicated.

Support for reCaptcha ensures you won’t be bombarded by massive amounts of spam via the contact form on your website (I mean you will, it just won’t get to you). It’s easy to setup, just copy and paste a short code into a page and save. You can take see how it works on my Contact page.

3. Find your perfect WordPress theme

The final step after installing WordPress is finding a perfect theme, which suits your needs both in design and functionality. What I love the most about WordPress is the ability to create incredibly good looking websites without any coding whatsoever.

It doesn’t matter whether you need a blog, full website, landing page, or anything in between. You can build anything with WordPress without breaking the bank. There are plenty of free themes to choose from if you don’t want to spend extra on top of domain registration and web hosting.

However, if you need more than just looks then consider investing into a premium theme. Premium themes come with a built in framework which allow you to change anything you want in a few simple clicks.

The best marketplace for high quality premium themes for WordPress is ThemeForest. For around $60 you can get an incredible theme with lots of features, great design and 6 months of support.

For example, PixelProfits runs on Jevelin – a multi-purpose responsive theme with lots of incredible features. At such a low price it beats hiring a developer any day of the week. A custom WordPress theme may end up costing you thousands of dollars, and who has the money for that?

Be warned, picking a theme for your website is a very addicting and time consuming process. It’s best to pick something you initially like and stick with it. Don’t spend weeks looking for the perfect theme. You will never find it.

Better get your blog up and running as fast as possible and focus on the most important – writing great content.

To sum up

After installing WordPress you shouldn’t rush to write content. Instead you should change a few settings, install essential plugins, and find a theme which suits you and your niche. After that you’re free to create.

Good luck!

If you found this guide helpful, or it feels incomplete feel free to let me know in the comments below. Don’t be shy!