The Internet is packed with sites built with WordPress, a Content Management System that provides features used to create, update and manage your site properly.
The WordPress installation comes with default options. To make most out of your online presence, you need to change things after WordPress installation.
We are going to discuss the WordPress features, and how to make them contribute to boosting your site rankings.
The Title, Tagline and Time zone of the WordPress site: After you install WordPress, the first thing you need to change is Title of the site, along with Tagline and Time zone settings. After logging into WordPress Dashboard, point at Settings at the left panel and click on General. Here, you can change the said options.
To change the Time zone, scroll down and select a Time zone or city from the list. Also, adjust the Date and Time format.
User Profile: During WordPress installation, the username you choose becomes your default profile. To change your profile name, email and biodata, point at the Users at the left panel and select Your Profile.
Permalink Settings define the structure of your site links. You can change the Permalink structure for improving SEO and Site Structure. From Settings menu at the left panel, select Permalinks. Choose your desired link structure.
Comments Settings: By choosing Discussion from Settings menu at the left panel, you can land on the page with comment settings. Here, change alerts on comments, default article comment settings, comment moderation and Avatar image settings.
Content related settings
Delete Sample Page and Post: By default, the WordPress installation contains a sample page and post. You can see the sample post to check the appearance of your current theme. At WordPress Dashboard, click on the Posts at the left panel, and you can see and delete the sample post now.
In the same manner, by clicking on the Pages at the left panel, you can also delete the sample page.
Setup Categories: Creating categories helps you arrange your site content under different categories. It also helps you improve your site link structure. By default, a WordPress installation contains a single category, named as Uncategorized. To create categories for relevant content types, click on Categories after pointing at Posts at the left panel. Type in the name and URL for the new category and, click on Add New Category at the end. Similarly, you can define more categories such as Products, Books, and Resources.
Delete extra Themes and Upload your Premium one: You get three themes by default in fresh WordPress installation. By clicking on the Appearance at the left panel, you can see the themes currently uploaded to WordPress. Log into your Hosting area to delete the existing themes. After logging into Hosting area, find the File Manager and browse to public_html/wp-content/themes.
Select themes and click on Delete on the Hosting Toolbar. After Deletion, you can upload your theme by clicking on Upload option on the Toolbar, or go back to WordPress Dashboard, Click on Appearance at the left panel and go for the Add New button. Here, you can search and install a theme from the WordPress directory, or upload one by clicking on the Upload Theme button.
Setup Widgets: Widgets are referred to small areas of content on the right side of your WordPress site. By clicking on the Widgets from Appearance menu at the left panel, you can see a list of available widgets. Here, you can add new widgets from the list, remove or rearrange according to your matter of taste.
Install important plugins
SEO and Analytics: As plugins affect your site performance, you should focus on choosing the right plugins. For WordPress SEO, the Yoast SEO plugin outranks others. Yoast helps you optimize your content for Search Engines, by helping you adjust things properly, including Title, Meta Description, Keywords, Links, and Images. Let’s proceed and install Yoast SEO by pointing at Plugins and clicking on Add New in the WordPress Dashboard left panel. At the next page, you can install Yoast by searching the WordPress Plugin Directory.
After the Yoast has been installed, Activate it.
Similarly, Google provides a plugin for site analytics. Analytics help you track your site traffic and performance, and give you actionable tips to improve your site rankings. Let’s install Google Analytics, an analytical service offered by Google. In search area at Plugins page, type in Google Analytics Dashboard, and install the first one that appears.
After installing and activating; at Installed Plugins page, click Settings for the plugin. Next, click on Authorize Plugin button.
Next, click on the Get Access Code. You will be redirected to Google Accounts page. Log into Google account and proceed. When a code is given at the next page, copy and paste the code into Google Analytics Settings page in your WordPress site. Once finished, the plugin can now track your site performance.
Security: WordPress sites are easily hacked if not secured properly. To secure your WordPress site, you can take manual precautions. Also, you can use plugins such as WordFence and Sucuri, available for free download.
You can download WordFence and Sucuri in the same manner as you did Google Analytics Dashboard. Head to Add New Plugin page and search the Google Plugin Directory.
Backup: Backup is important for your WordPress site. A Backup plugin helps you protect your site data, including posts, pages, database, and files. The Backup apps store files on cloud services or download to your computer. Backup plugins help you backup your site on demand or schedule and help you choose files to include in the backup package.
UpdraftPlus is one of the most popular backup plugins for WordPress. You can download UpdraftPlus by searching the WordPress plugin directory.
Caching: A Caching plugin helps you speed up your WordPress site. It performs server-side data optimization, which aims at delivering static pages to visitors of your site. Cache plugins usually cache data like HTML pages, improving the speed of your site.
WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache are the most popular cache plugins for the WordPress. You can install one by going into WordPress Plugins Directory in your WordPress Dashboard.
Sharing the content: To market your content on social media, you need a sharing app installed on your WordPress site. A sharing plugin shows buttons for different social media sites. Visitors click on sharing buttons to share your content on social sites.
Install a sharing plugin by searching the plugins directory. Once the results are shown after searching for share, you can proceed to install the first plugin from the results.
Harden WordPress security
Change the default admin username: A default admin username helps hackers hack your site easily. To break the security of your WordPress site, hackers use Brute Force attacks against your site login portal. If default usernames or passwords are found, it can cause your site hack.
If your WordPress username is the admin, create another user with a strong password. You can create a new user by going into Add New User option at the left panel.
After you create a new user, you can safely delete the old user.
Limit Login Attempts: Changing default username helps you prevent your site from Brute Force attacks. Another measure is limiting the login attempts. You can limit the login attempts on your WordPress login page, which helps you block malicious users that attempt to hack your site by guessing and entering possible passwords.
The Limit Login WordPress plugin is used for the said purpose. If it detects login attempts with invalid passwords, it blocks or denies the concerned user. This security measure also empowers your site against Brute Force attacks.
Use Two Factor Authentication: Two Factor Authentication steps forward to bolster your site security. It helps you build Two-step Authentication, by asking the user to enter a secret code generated by an app such as Google Authenticator.
Google Authenticator creates code unique to each user. The code is valid for a short span of time. 2FA helps you protect your site even if your password is hacked. You can read more about Two-Factor Authentication.
Update your Themes and Plugins: With the passage of time, themes and plugins expose security loopholes. If not updated on a regular basis, can cause your site exposure of sensitive information.
Be sure to update your themes and plugins on a regular basis. In your Dashboard, you can see if you need to update your theme.
Similarly, the Plugins page, you can see the plugins that require an update. In the same manner, if your WordPress core is outdated, you can see the Update option on the Dashboard Updates page. Before updating WordPress core, it is recommended to backup your files.
Password Protect your WordPress Admin Directory: WordPress Admin Directory (wp-admin) contains sensitive files specific to the admin user. If hackers get access to admin directory, your site falls short of keeping security measures.
You can password protect your admin directory by using the cPanel built-in option, Password Protect Directories. Log into your Hosting provider account and go for the Password Protect Directories option. Follow the on-screen instructions and protect your wp-admin directory.
Advanced WordPress settings
Configure your site address, WWW or non-WWW: According to SEO, there is no hard rule regarding your site address. Make sure to choose one and stick to it for life. If for example, you change your site URL after months, it will result in losing a significant amount of ranked pages on Google.
By clicking on Settings at the left panel in your WordPress Dashboard, you can change your site URL, add or remove WWW. By default, a WordPress installation comes with address without WWW. However, it is a matter of taste to change your site URL.
Reading Settings: You can change the appearance of your Home page by setting up the Reading Settings. Go to Settings at the left panel and select Reading from the menu.
Here, you can change the Home page settings. By default, your Home Page is set to display your Latest posts. If you want a specific page as your site Home page, you can set the Static Page option, and choose a page of your choice for the purpose.
Setup Menus: Menus are displayed at different locations in your site, including Header, Footer, and Sidebar. To create a menu and include your pages, click on Menus under Appearance at the left panel in Dashboard.
At the next page, you can create a new menu.
After creating a menu, by checking the Automatically add new top-level pages to this menu box, new pages you create will be added to the menu.
Also, clicking on Manage Locations tab helps you set locations for the new menu.
Similarly, you can include pages, posts and custom links in your new menu.
Delete Revisions History: WordPress saves post revision history while the user edits a post. The purpose of Revisions is to restore the entry after any loss.
Revisions populate your site database. If you don’t edit your posts often, you can disable the feature or delete the past revisions. You can use the Better Delete Revisions plugin for the purpose. Go to Add New page and search for the Better Delete Revisions in the WordPress Plugin Directory. Install the seventh entry in the search results, Activate the plugin once installed.
Now, go to Plugin Settings, and click on Check Revision Posts button. To delete your post revision history, click on the blue button on the next page.
After deleting revision history, you can optimize your database for speed and greater performance.
Setup a Google Search Console account: Like Google Analytics, Search Console helps you unlock measures that boost your SEO. Go to Google Webmasters Portal and click on Search Console green button.
Login with your Google account and add a Property at the next page. Enter your site address and verify by following the on-screen instructions. You are asked to download and upload a file to verify your site. Once verified, you can use the Google Search Console measures to improve your site rankings on Google.
Explore different tabs at Console Dashboard. You can see the site traffic, top pages and crawl errors to help you improve your site performance.
WordPress is a feature rich CMS. By tracking things from scratch, you can improve your site structure, ranking and SEO with Plugins, Analytics and Search Console data.
This write-up addressed tips used to take your site off from the ground. By following the advice in this article, you can configure your site general settings, install important plugins, harden security and track your site performance.
For more information on WordPress, browse more tutorials on improving WordPress performance.
Did you notice the value in this article? Or are you struggling with WordPress performance? Let’s talk in the comments.