Setup tips for new WordPress websites

If you build websites for a living, setting up WordPress for yourself or your clients becomes at times a redundant task. This is also here for the ‘Do-It-Yourself-ers’ (DIY)

The following tips are for post-installation (after you have installed WordPress) on to your website host or local development environment.

By no means is this a definitive list of top things to do after installing WordPress, but for purpose of our clients and many others who are new or learning WordPress, there is how we do it. In no particular order, we perform the following ‘best practices’ on our websites.

Overview

We use the new WordPress setup checklist for the majority of website that we set up for our clients. Many developers and website designers will have their own methods, best practices and ways of setting up WordPress.

Our goal with the checklist is to provide transparency and consistency in the websites we build and manage.

Feel free to absorb as much as you can for your own website and if you find anything that could be of interest to others, please add it in the comments below.

Media Library

The media library is where you upload and store your images, PDF files and anything additional that you would place on your page or post.

Rename the uploads folder to ‘files’ or to something you wish to work with.

A few suggestions would include:

  • media
  • assets
  • images

Use the following plugin:

WP Original Media Path

We tried a number of things via the ‘wp-config.php’ file on the web server, but plugin is easier/faster for most users and won’t break your WordPress setup

Delete, rename or remove

Adjust the following so that at least it looks like you’ve put some effort in to your website.

  1. The default ‘Hello World post

WordPress Admin Settings

The WordPress admin, otherwise known as the ‘Dashboard’, most commonly located at ‘/wp-admin’.

Here you will find lot’s of goodies to tinker with.

Permalinks

One of the very first things we do is adjust this thing called permalinks.

You’ll find it under ‘Settings > Permalinks’

Timezone

WordPress settings for timezone

Review this setting as it will affect posting dates. Although we would like to be somewhere near Puerto Vallarta, we set ours to Vancouver, as we’re located nearby in the Fraser Valley.

Reading

We set our article feeds (RSS) to Summary – probably not as important anymore, but from old days, bots can scrape and do things with your content on other websites (not sure if that’s as much the case anymore)

If you want to be listed in the Search Engines, the yes, keep the ‘Search Engine Visibility’ box un-checked

Reading settings WordPress

Discussion

This one can be fun and can also be tied to number of comments, or comment spam, your website will receive.

Many of the items here are by ‘trial/error’ and you will need to go back in to re-adjust at times.

Few tips here include:

  1. Setting comment moderation to ‘1’ or more links
  2. Yes to ‘Comment must be manually approved’
  3. Default Avatar to ‘Gravatar

Privacy Setting

Definitely set this up as all websites should have a ‘Privacy Policy’ web page. This is new in WordPress 4.6.x+ and related to GDRP. If running an e-commerce website or collecting information from users, yes to privacy policy.

Google, Bing & More

Have your website say hello to Google, Bing and other search engines.

Many things one can do in this area, but in short form, here are a few:

Google Analytics

What to know where you website traffic is coming from? You may not, but your clients will.

Our favorite plugin for this is:

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics (formerly GADWP)

After installing the plugin, you will need to authorize it with your Google Analytics account.

Here are some settings we use:

  • Track downloads
  • Exclude Administrators for being tracked.

Google Search Console

Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, here one can find a ton of information about your website.

This is your technical toolbox for troubleshooting issues and Search Engine Listing or SEO errors.

  • Who’s linking to your website
  • Links to your website
  • Mobile usability – issues with mobile devices
  • Structured data information for schema & microformats
  • HTML improvements & recommendations such as meta descriptions, missing title tags, long and short description tags.
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
  • Google Index status – how many pages are in the Google database
  • Googlebot crawling issues or errors
  • robots.txt for blocked pages, posts, images or other assets on your website.
  • Sitemap.xml submission to let the search engines know what pages you have on your website.
  • Website security issues

Here you will need your ‘sitemap.xml‘ file which you can get from your favorite SEO plugin.

Web Pages

The basic website should include a few basic web pages which are most common in many websites.

In no order, these pages include:

  • About
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Services (if applicable)
  • Sitemap

About Web Page

This web page is about you, your business and your website.

On this webpage, one could include information about how long you have been in business, who commonly are your customers, where and what service area you do business in, what you provide, etc.

Visitors to your website want to know more about you and your business as it is a great way to gain trust with new customers.

Contact Web Page

Let people know what the best method is for people to contact you.

Most commonly on a contact web page, one would include:

  • Business Name
  • Address or mailing address
  • City, state or province
  • Phone or fax numbers
  • Contact forms or email addresses
  • Links to your social media properties such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or other.
  • Map of where your business is located.

Privacy Policy

If you’re collecting information from people from your website, having a privacy policy is recommended and considered best practice.

Let people know what you are doing with the data, if your selling their information to 3rd parties and how long you keep the data on file are some few examples.

Terms of Service(s)

This tells people in better detail what your terms are for services provided. Many websites that have a membership or subscription model online provide a terms of service for new accounts, cancellation, returns and more.

Sitemap

Two types of sitemaps exist, one created as a web page to provide an overview of all web pages on your website and another sitemap, most commonly known as the sitemap.xml file, that is submitted to the search engines such as Google, Bing and others.

Examples of sitemaps would include our sitemap web page, which is a directory of web pages and blog postings, and the other being the sitemap.xml

WordPress Themes

This one is a bit tricky as websites can utilize one of the following types of themes.

  1. Free WordPress Themes
  2. Premium (or paid) WordPress themes
  3. Custom built/custom designed themes

Child Themes

If you’re working with free or paid WordPress themes, having a child theme is highly recommended.

In the child theme you can add custom styling via CSS, modify or add code via the ‘functions.php’ file, and add assets such as images or javascript that is all separate from the main theme you are using.

This way, when you update your main theme, all your customizations are not lost.

More information of child themes can be found:

Maintenance

This one is applicable for when you are overwriting existing websites or replacing and old website.

Redirection

Turn on the Redirection plugin and let it start collecting data about 404 web pages. These web page provide clues to where traffic may be going or where you may have existing search engine rankings.

After a few days (sooner than later), you can redirect the web page to the new web page URL you have set up in your new WordPress website.

Robots.txt

Review your existing robots.txt file or performs a site search in Google (hint: site:your-website.com) and find web pages and such that can/should be removed from the index.

Free Downloads & Resources

 

Thoughts?

Feel free to comment below and add your favorite setup tips.

 

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