Congratulations, you just set up a WordPress blog, now what? WordPress is pretty much a turn key platform but there are still a few things you need to tweak in order to unleash its full potential.
In this article, I will share with you 7 options that I like to set right after installing a WordPress blog. Obviously these settings will not fit every one but I think they are good base for a solid blog.
Deleting the Default Admin User
Security first, right? When setting up a WordPress blog, the system will automatically create an Admin user. Hackers sometimes hack their way into your blog through this Admin user (don’t ask me how). The solution is to this is simple: we just have to create a new user and delete Admin.
- Log in to your WP admin panel.
- Go to Users > Add New.
- Create a new username. My advice is to NOT use your name for the username and to use a strong password with letters and symbols.
- Make sure you set the role of this new user to Administrator.
- Finish adding the user.
- Log out.
- Log back in under your new user credentials.
- Go to Users and delete the Admin user.
Your blog just got this much safer and it took you just about 2 minutes.
Setting Up Spam Protection
Next on my list is to make sure those spammers don’t waste your time. WP comes with a great plugin called Aksimet. It’s a spam filter for your comments.
To set it up, follow the following instructions:
- Go to Plugins > Installed.
- If Akismet is not activated yet, click on Activate.
- After activation, you will get this message: Akismet is almost ready. You must enter your WordPress.com API key for it to work.
- If you don’t have one yet, you will have to register for a free WordPress account (different from your blog).
- Create your account and get your API key.
- Copy/paste your new API key in Akismet.
- Make sure to check the box that says Automatically discard spam comments on posts older than a month.
- Click Update Options.
You are now very well protected against spam comments. Akismet is a must-have! Don’t think you’ll be safe from receiving spam comments because you won’t.
Installing A Temporary Theme
When you install WordPress, it usually comes with pre-installed themes (aka templates). I like to get my own themes and I cannot stand the default theme that comes with WP so I usually install one very quickly, until I find a better one.
To do so,
- Go to Appearance > Themes.
- Browse the various themes that are available.
- To see a preview, simply click on the thumbnail of the theme you want.
- If you like it, click Activate.
You now have a not-so-boring-looking blog. Later on, I suggest you get a better looking template. There are thousands of them available online. Just search for “WordPress themes” or similar queries.
I like going through all the settings of my blogs, one by one, to make sure everything is set to my liking. The first settings to tweak are the General Settings. From there, you can change the following information:
- Blog title – you can change this at any time.
- Blog tagline – you may change this at any time as well.
- The admin email address – make sure it’s correct.
- Membership – I make sure to uncheck that box because I do not want people to register for an account on my blog.
- New user default role – leave it to subscriber.
- Timezone – make sure to select the timezone you are in. It’s handy when you receive email notifications because they will display the current time in your area.
There is more information available there but that’s all I really care about.
There you can change a few settings that are almost useless. I don’t touch any of these settings except XML-RPC under Remote Publishing, which allows me to publish posts from iPhone apps and more.
These are the settings for relative to people leaving comments on your blog. You obviously want people to leave comments, but you don’t want them to abuse it by spamming you either. Here is a screenshot of what my discussion settings look like.
This way, I receive an email anytime someone posts a comment on my blog. I don’t have to moderate comments unless they contain one link or more. That’s how you recognize some of the spammers out there. They come to your blog and leave a comment full of links.
If someone leaves a genuine comment with a link, I then have to approve it manually, which is never a burden.
Basically, permalinks are the structure of your URL and how they appear. This is a pretty important one to me because it will influence how search engines will index and rank your content. By default, WordPress will display your URLs like this: http://www.domainname.com/?p=123. It’s ok but it could be more descriptive.
I like to set up my custom structure like this:
This way, my posts URLs will display as follow: http://www.domainname.com/title-of-my-post.
See the difference? Doesn’t it look cleaner and more professional? Google will love you for that!
As I mentionned at the beginning of this article, these settings may not apply to your usage of WordPress but I’ve found them to work incredibly well for me and my clients. If you have any question, please feel free to ask by leaving a comment below.