Every time we do a new WordPress install there are a number of important tasks we should complete.
Miss out on these and you will miss out on a lot of traffic and success and income.
Even if you are familiar with some of the tasks in this New WordPress Install Checklist – chances are you will be missing out on some key tasks, that can make the difference between success and failure.
New WordPress Install – Checklist and Guide
Getting the best out of your new WordPress site requires some tweaking and changes to the standard setup, starting with….
1. Create a SEO Friendly Permalink Structure
This is the first and most important task in every new WordPress install for me.
Permalinks are the permanent URLs (address in simple words) to your individual blog posts, pages and categories. The URL to each blog post should be permanent, and never change hence permalink.
To change WordPress permalink structure, go to Settings -> Permalinks and select your desired permalink structure.
Your URL structure should be as simple as possible. It is recommended to use Post name as your permalink. It is more readable and search engine friendly.
Bad permalink Structure: http://www.example.com/?p=123
Good permalink structure: http://www.example.com/image-seo
Google recommend that you use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in your URLs. You should read article about simple URL structure by Google to learn more.
2. Delete Default Post/Page And Rename Category
Don’t forget to delete (or Edit) default sample post and page. Go to Post > Categories and rename default category.
I am always quite amazed at the number of blogs that still have their default “HELLO WORLD” first post!. Please don’t let that happen on you next new WordPress install!
3. Create Welcome Post And About Page
After deleting default post and page create a welcome post and about us page. About us page is very important, Read 9 Simple Tips For Making An About Us Page That Works For Your Brand by Ben Austin at MOZ blog.
4. Complete User Profile
Go to Uses > Your Profile and complete your profile. Add your first name, last name, website URL and Biographical Info. Signup for Gravtar.com account and upload your picture.
‘Your Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. Avatars help identify your posts on blogs and web forums, so why not on any site – gravatar.com’
5. General Settings – Title, Tagline And Time Zone
Go to the Settings > General settings page to add your site title and tagline. (wp-admin/options-general.php)
Also, when there, select time zone, date & time format and site language.
If you want to allow people to register on your site select Anyone can register checkbox and set default user role for new members.
6. Choose A Mobile Friendly Theme
In February 2015, Google announced that the mobile-friendly update will boost the rankings of mobile-friendly pages. Read FAQ’s about Google’s Mobile Friendly Update.
Conversely, pages designed for only large screens may see a significant decrease in rankings in mobile search results – Google Developers Blog
Choose your theme wisely. Make sure it is fully responsive and mobile friendly. There are thousands of free and premium themes available.
Default WordPress themes such as TwentySixteen and TwentyFifteen are very popular themes. You don’t need a theme with hundreds of features you may never use. Choose a theme which suits your needs.
If your theme is not responsive and mobile friendly, install and activate the mobile theme for your site. JetPack has a mobile theme module.
7. Widgets And Navigation Menus
Add necessary widgets to your sidebar area. Recent post, recent comments and categorize widget are common.
Create a navigation menu and add the most important link in the main navigation menu. Make sure your navigation menu has a logical structure and menu is responsive and mobile friendly.
Recommended Read: 17 Major Main Menu Mistakes – an article by Marvin Russell on how to optimize your navigation menus.
8. Install Essential Plugins: Akismet And Jetpack
JetPack is one of the most popular plugin with more than 30 modules for different features. You can activate JetPack stats module to view how many people visit your website daily.
JetPack’s mobile theme can make your website mobile friendly and with sharing module you can add social media sharing buttons. Site Icon, Site Verification Activate and Sitemaps are very useful features.
Spam is a challenge for Bloggers – but fortunately there are Plugins that will help – such as LH Zero Spam
LH Zero Spam blocks registration spam and spam in comments automatically without any config or setup.
And of course there is also the Akismet: Anti-Spam Plugin for WordPress
9. Install SEO Plugin + Read SEO Basics
Search Engine Optimization is a must for every website and blog.
Install Plugins such as: Project Supremacy (14 Day Free Trial), Yoast SEO, All in one SEO or any other SEO plugin to optimize your content for Search Engines.
Read some articles about SEO to learn how to write SEO Friendly Content.
Optimize every blog post for Search Engines. Target keywords.
Optimize images for SEO as well – see Optimize images for SEO
Read Google’s image publishing guidelines and follow these guidelines for better search engine ranking.
10. Verify Website And Social Media Account
Make sure Search Engine can crawl your website properly. Go to settings > Reading and make sure * Discourage search engines from indexing this site* option is unchecked.
Use Yoast SEO or Jetpack Site Verification module to verify your website. Add your websites to Google webmaster tools and Set preferred domain (www or non-www).
The preferred domain is the one that you would like to use to index your site’s pages (sometimes this is referred to as the canonical domain). Links may point to your site using both the www and non-www versions of the URL (for instance, http://www.example.com and http://example.com). The preferred domain is the version that you want to use for your site in the search results – for more information see Google Search Console Help
11. Create Contact Page
Make it easy for people to contact you. Create a Contact us page and add a contact form. Contact form 7is the most popular plugin to create contact forms, if you are using Jetpack, Go to Jetpack Settings page and activate contact form module.
12. Optimize Website For Speed
If your website takes too much time to load, You will lose your visitors. 83% of visitors expect sites to load in less than 3 seconds. So make sure to choose a reliable and fast hosting provider. The excellent infographic below (from KISSmetrics) explains how loading time affects your bottom line! [Click image to view]