You’ve registered your domain name, bought a reliable web hosting, installed WordPress, and you’re ready to write. But hold on just a little bit more. We need to make sure that your WordPress blog is setup properly. To do that we need to dive into the ‘Settings’ category and fiddle with some stuff there.
In general settings you need to fill out some basic information for your website.
This is the name of your website. Usually should be left as is, because you’ve entered that information during WordPress installation.
Pretty much self explanatory. Can be useful for using as a slogan if you’re using a text based logo, instead of an image based one.
These two settings don’t matter that much if you’re using an SEO plugin (and you absolutely should use one) like All in One SEO, or Yoast SEO. Since this data will be overwritten by them for SEO purposes.
WordPress Address, Site Address
These two should be identical, otherwise you may experience problems with logging in. If your web host has SSL turned on by default (like A2 Hosting), then you should use https:// instead of http:// in both fields.
It’s best to use SSL if possible, since Google announced that it will give a minor ranking advantage to secure websites.
Once you click ‘Save Changes’ you’ll notice that there will be a green lock in the address bar next to the URL with a word Secure. Most likely you will have to re-login by using the secure protocol.
Next thing to change on this page is your time zone. That way you’ll know exactly when your post goes live when scheduling posts.
Everything else is self-explanatory.
When you’re done, make sure you click ‘Save Changes‘ before proceeding to the next page.
2. Reading Settings
The next few things we need to change is on the ‘Reading Settings’ page.
Front page displays
You have two options here.
One is to show your latest posts, which is useful if you’re running a blog, which doesn’t require a home page.
Two is to show a page, which you can create under ‘Pages‘. Some WordPress themes require that you create different pages like ‘home’, or ‘blog’, in order for the theme to work properly. Usually, that’s covered in theme’s documentation.
Blog pages show at most
This is an important settings because it affect page load speed. The more articles you have on your home page the slower your blog will load, and that is another ranking factor in the eyes of major search engines. A good rule of thumb is to leave it to 5-6 posts.
Syndication feeds show the most recent
Leave this setting the same as previous one.
For each article in a feed, show
This setting can be left as is. It affects how your content is displayed in an RSS feed.
Search Engine Visibility
If ticked, this setting will prevent search engine bots from indexing your website. Usually, I have it enabled on a new blog until I reach 15-20 posts. Then I make sure that everything is set up and working properly. After that I ‘officially’ launch my site by ticking this setting off, and allowing my website to be indexed.
3. Permalink Settings
Changing your permalink settings is the most important thing you should do before you start writing posts.
What are permalinks? It’s a static (unchangeable) link to a page, blog, or entry, it’s also the URL you type in the address bar in your browser.
By default WordPress uses the ‘Plain’ setting, which looks something like https://pixelprofits.net/?p=123.
Why it’s so important? It’s very important for three reasons.
One, the default setting is horrible for search engine optimization. URL’s themselves are a minor factor in ranking web pages, but it’s a factor nonetheless.
Which means you should use it, because you’ll get minor advantage over the ones who don’t. And in SEO every bit counts.
Two, by using ‘Custom Structure’ you can make your URL’s both SEO friendly, and more appealing to your visitors. That way when a visitor clicks a link on your website, they’ll immediately understand that they’ve arrived at the right place.
Personally, I use a custom structure /%category%/%postname%/, which shows the category my post is published in, along with post’s name. But you can lookup various structure tags that are available on WordPress Codex.
Usually, it’s best to keep everything as simple as possible.
Three, this is the most important part. Imagine you wrote an incredible post that went viral. Lot’s of people started sharing it on social media, talking about it and most importantly linking to it.
But you used the default plain setting and the URL everyone’s linking and sharing is something like http://website.com/?p=123.
Now, if you decide to make URLs SEO friendly to get more juice out of them, it would be a giant pain in the butt. Changing the permalink on your website is a 5 second process.
The problem is everyone linked to it using the default permalink, which means that URL will no longer be available (it will be redirected automatically, but you lose SEO value), because of its’ new structure.
You will have to ask blog owners to change their links to the new URL. And that is a very long and frustrating process. To prevent that from happening, you need to change the default permalink structure to something you’ll be using forever.
There are many settings you can experiment with in WordPress, it’s a very large and complex content management system. However, these 3 settings I mentioned are the most crucial ones.
I wouldn’t recommend filling your new blog with content, until you actually follow the advice I outlined in this article.
Do you need to change anything else? Tell me in the comments below!