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hosted by: John Dockins
hosted by: John Dockins

Top 12 Things To Do After Installing WordPress

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Show Notes

Welcome to episode 12 of Websites Made Simple podcast where we are covering The Top 12 Things To Do After Installing WordPress.

In this episode, I am covering the top 12 things you should do after installing WordPress.

So you set-up your hosting and have WordPress installed. Great. Now what?

Well, if you want to understand what the professional web designers do every time they create a new website then stick around and I will bring you on the inside. In this episode, you will learn what you should do immediately after installing WordPress so you too can start your website from a strong foundation.

So let’s get after it.

You'll Learn

Resources

1. Title, Tagline, and Time Zone

From the backend, navigate to Settings then General. Inside you will see the fields to update your Website Title and Website Tagline.

While you are there, let’s also ensure the URL of your website is correct and using HTTPS. If you have an SSL certificate installed, spoiler alert, you should if you want to rank higher in search engines. Then your URL should start with HTTPS.

Before leaving this section, go ahead and check the following are correct:

  • Administration email address
  • Checkbox if you want others to be able to register on your site and create an account.
    • If you do not have a need for registration of users, uncheck that box.
    • If you have a membership site, client logins, course logins, etc. then you will want to leave the box checked.

Select the appropriate New User Default Role – if in doubt I recommend setting this to “subscriber”

Lastly in this section, update the language if needed and set the correct timezone and the date/time formats of your choosing.

Make sure to click “save changes” before moving on

2. Setup Posts

First, navigate to Posts >> All Posts and delete the default content that is installed by WordPress. You will see a “Hello World” post listed. Just hover over the post with your mouse and click “trash”.

This removes the post from your list and places it in the Trash Bin. You won’t need this post ever so let’s go ahead and remove it permanently by navigating to “trash” which is listed near the top and just below the large heading “POSTS”.

Click into the trash bin and go ahead and delete the Hello World post completely. 

Next, navigate to Posts >> Categories

This is where you will create your Post Categories for your website. By default, WordPress adds in the category called “uncategorized”.

Do yourself a favor and delete this category now. Just hover over it in the list and click trash. Same process as with deleting the post earlier.

If you know at least one main category you will use for your Posts, go ahead and add those now. It is a good idea to at least enter the category you will use the most as we will set up this category as the default in a minute.

As an example, on my website, I created a category for “podcast”. This is the category that is selected every time I create a podcast episode show notes page.

3. Settings >> Writing

Now that you have created your categories, let’s go back to Settings, but this time go to Writing. Once there, go ahead and change the “Default Post Category” to the one you will use the most. Remember to click save changes and you are done here.

4. Settings >> Reading

Moving on, let’s check on how to define your FrontPage, aka Home Page, and the page that will be your default Post Page. From the left-side menu navigate to Settings >> Reading.

If you haven’t set up any pages yet, don’t worry you can always come back to this section later. Inside here you want to check the radio button for “A Static Page” and then select the correct page for your FrontPage and Post Page.

So if you have created a home page and blog page, find those page names in the dropdown respectively.

If you are just starting your website, this is a good time to mention that you can create a quick “coming soon” page and temporarily set that as your FrontPage. Then you can keep on creating your awesome website in the background.

Click save changes before moving on.

5. Set Your Permalinks

One thing you will want to change before creating any blog posts for your website is the permalink structure.

Let’s navigate to Settings >> Permalinks.

The recommended option here is the one that is labeled “Post Name” and at the time of this recording, it is the 5th option in the list. It will look like this:

johndockins.com/sample-post/

Using this option allows for good SEO because the keyword you will use for the post should also be in the post title and thus will also be in the URL. 

Don’t worry about having long URLs here at this time, you can always create shorter ones using a plugin like Pretty Links.

As always, click save changes and let’s move on

6. Settings >> Writing

Speaking of SEO, let’s set that up next. Here we are going to install a free plugin called Rank Math SEO. If you have heard about Yoast before, Rank Math is a competitor plugin and frankly offers for free what Yoast requires the paid version for. 

The reason you are going to want this plugin is that it helps you get good on-page SEO optimization and they make it really simple. Plus, if you are using Elementor page builder which I also recommend you do, Rank Math integrates very well with Elementor.

And as a quick reminder in case you have not heard me talk about SEO before, the entire point behind on-page SEO is to help search engines know what your post or content is about and to help get that content to rank higher without the need for paid advertising. This is called increasing organic traffic.

Before we install the plugin, let’s make sure we do a little clean up first. Navigate to Plugins >> Installed Plugins.

Some web hosts like to install plugins for you and those can vary from host to host. Some hosts provide a free caching plugin while others might just add a form plugin or Akismet Anti-Spam. Make sure you know what each of these plugins do and that you really need them. If not, go ahead and deactivate and uninstall now.

To install Rank Math, click on Plugins >> Add New. In the search box type in Rank Math. Once you see it in the results, go ahead and install, then activate.

Once that is done you should be prompted with the Setup Wizard. Please go ahead and take the time to set everything up now. This does require creating a free Rank Math account but it is worth it because this allows you to register your installation of Rank Math, don’t worry it is 100% free, which provides you with better support from the developers as well improved keyword suggestions.

I recommend picking the “advanced option” for install and again, don’t worry it is not any harder than “easy”, it just gives you a few more options to setup. If you need help setting Rank Math up, they have a wonderful guide on their website which I will link in the show notes. https://rankmath.com/kb/how-to-setup/

7. Delete Default Content

There are two more areas I want you to do some clean up on before we continue with installing a few more things. We need to remove the default page and comment that gets installed on every new WordPress installation.

So head over to Pages >> All Pages and go ahead and delete any pages that were installed for you during the setup. Just like you did with the Post “Hello World” hover over the page and click “trash”. Go ahead and go into the trash bin and permanently delete it from there.

Then do the same for comments. Go to Comments and trash the default one as well.

8. Theme

Let’s remove all the unwanted themes and install a good one.

Head to Appearance >> Themes. If you are using Elementor Page Builder, there are two themes I recommend. Either the “Hello” theme from Elementor or the “Astra” theme which is from Brainstorm Force. Hello Theme is free and there is both a free and paid option for Astra. 

Pick one and install it by clicking the “Add New” button near the top. Search for either Hello or Astra depending on your preference and then “install and activate” it.

Once the theme is installed, hover over the image of it and click “activate”. This will make the theme the one your website is going to use. From there, you are free to delete all other themes as you only need one. To delete them, click on the image of the theme in the list and look for the word “delete” in the bottom right corner.

There is a lot to cover about picking a good theme which I have covered in episode 6, WordPress Basics. Go back and listen to that episode if you want more information on themes and plugins…and why they matter which ones you pick.

9. Backups

Let’s move on to risk mitigation and cover backups for your website. I’m not going to sugar coat this one bit, if you do not take the time to implement a good backup and recovery mechanism for your website then you are headed for a bad time. It is not “if” you will need your backup, but “when”.

At the end of the day, we are dealing with technology and sometimes things just don’t go smoothly. I’m sure many of you have had to deal with your computer or smartphone at some point because either it broke, a new version of the operating system came out and crashed everything, or perhaps it was a pain when it came time to upgrade. 

I remember all too well the pain of a laptop crash not that long ago and I did not have a recent backup. Shame on me. Apparently I am a browser shortcut/bookmarking king because man, did I have a lot.

Trying to get all those shortcuts back was a major pain in the backside. For weeks every time I wanted to go to a website I had previously bookmarked only to realize I no longer had that little shortcut drove me nuts.

I know some of you feel me on this one so go ahead and raise your hand with me.

OK, so let’s not let that happen with your website. There are some web hosts that do offer backups of your website. But I do not recommend those as your primary backup and restore options.

Why?

Simply because in most cases the backup of your website is stored on the same web server as your website itself. So if the webserver goes down, gets hacked, etc. then guess what?

Your website and backups are both gone. There are plenty of horror stories to be found out there from people who made this mistake. Don’t be one of them.

Instead, I want you to install a plugin that is designed to make easy-automated backups and gives you full control over where you store them.

My go-to for this is Updraft+ plugin. They make a free and paid version but for this one, I highly recommend the paid version. It is not very expensive and the pricing starts at $42. Installing this and having your backups stored off-site in Dropbox, Google Drive, AWS…heck you can even have them emailed to you if you want but I would not recommend that option.

Something goes bad with your website, maybe you updated WordPress Core and it broke your site, maybe one of your plugins or theme updated and broke everything…or maybe you just made a very big oops and it would be easier to just restored from a previous state.

No problem, Updraft+ restore option is super easy to use and will have you back up and running in no time.

A word of advice…do at least a daily backup. You can do incremental backups throughout the day where it will only backup files that changed but do a full backup at least daily.

Also, be sure to keep at least 30 days of backups. This way if you do not catch something that is wrong with your website right away, you are certain to have a copy that you could restore from with minimal loss.

Please, take this advice and do this from the start. Thank me later when something breaks and you get your site back up and running in just a few minutes.

10. Website Security

Continuing with our risk mitigation planning, let’s talk for a moment about website security. Now, this could be a long topic by itself and why hackers are looking for your website…

Yes your brand new website that may not even be published yet, but for today I will keep it high level.

Just like having a good backup and restore plan, do yourself another favor and install a solid security plan. This starts with a robust plugin and my choice is iThemes Security Pro. 

This plugin does a lot and comes with a great Dashboard feature that quickly shows you how many lockouts, banned users, and brute force attacks you have received on your site. This is one of the more complicated plugins to configure and setup so I’m not going to act like it is not.

However, if you take each section one at a time you can turn your website into Fort Knox. 

The more traffic your website gets the more likely attacks against your website will also increase. Remember, in most cases the content you have on your website is not what hackers are after, but they really want access to either inject malware and bring your site down or they want access to use your site as an access point for when they do attack a website of value. 

There are also things you can put in that are not on your website that can help as well. One of the best around right now is Sucuri. Pricing starts at $199/year so it is not cheap but for those who really need that extra security for their site, this is a good option.

The best security you can get is to stop the malicious attack before it ever reaches your web server and thus your website. 

Think of security and backups like insurance. Might not be the fun sexy stuff but you will be glad you have it when you need it.

11. Google Analytics

I’m not going to go into how to set up your analytics account with Google on this episode so for today I am assuming you already have that created.

If you need some help with this you can find a set of instructions here

OK, starting from there the easiest way to connect Google Analytics to your website is through the plugin called Site Kit by Google. It is still relatively new as far as plugins go but this has been a game-changer.

It used to be rather challenging to ensure you got everything connected right and your website could start tracking traffic but with Site Kit that all changes.

Once you install and activate this plugin, you will be able to connect to your Search Console, Analytics, PageSpeed Insights, and AdSense. All right from inside the plugin. How awesome is that?

In addition, it installs a wonderful Analytics Dashboard in the backend that you can easily see all those juicy numbers without having to login to your Google Analytics account.

Set this up right away so that you are ready when your website goes live.

12. Complete User Profile & Site Icon

First, remember to create the tiny site icon that displays in the browser tab next to the URL. Typically this is a small icon file saved as a .ico file and uploaded under Appearance >> Customize.

And last but not least, go ahead and navigate to Users >> Your Profile.

Once there, go ahead and update anything you feel is needed including creating a Gravatar. Remember, if you create a blog post and want to show the meta data associated with the author, that information is pulled from the User Profile.

So go ahead and make sure your name and avatar image is set up now.

So there you have it, folks. The top 12 things you should do immediately after installing WordPress. Like many things in life, good planning and starting from a good foundation will help you avoid common pitfalls down the road.

As a web agency owner, I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I have seen one of these 12 things be missed from the start, and sometimes that means you missed out on something important like collecting your traffic and where it is coming from…or worse, you get the pleasure of rebuilding your website again because it broke and you don’t have a backup.

I’m here to help you avoid these common mistakes, step-by-step, but they only help if you take action. So whether you are just getting started or you have a website already, go through this list and make certain you have them all covered.

Don’t delay. Please.

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I am a proud affiliate of some of these tools. That means if you click the links and then make a purchase of those products, I will earn a small commission. Affiliate links absolutely do not cost you anything additional. 

All of the affiliate links are clearly marked for your benefit. Please know that I recommend these products and chose to be an affiliate because I truly  believe in them, use them, and know they work.

About the Show

Created for the non-techie entrepreneur, John Dockins reveals all of his website and online business strategies, income sources and killer marketing tips so that you can be ahead of the pack with your website and online business. 

Self proclaimed “coffee addict”, you’ll learn how to build authority online using content management systems like WordPress, email marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, and much more so that you can create something amazing without burning yourself out. 

about john dockins

YOUR HOST

John Dockins

Websites Made Simple Podcast

John is a family man who also owns his own web design agency and has won several design awards for his work.

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