A successful WordPress installation is just the first step to start exploring this amazing source code. WordPress is an open source that gives you limitless customization so you can indulge your wild imaginations. However, before thinking about other unique customizations, you need to do the following 10 things immediately after installing WordPress to make it work smoothly later.
1. Acquaint yourself with the wordpress dashboard
When you’ve just installed WordPress, the first thing you’ll want to do is get familiar with the WordPress dashboard.
It’s the control panel for your site, so you’ll be spending a lot of time in it throughout the rest of this post and the rest of your site’s life.
You can access your WordPress dashboard by appending /wp-admin to the end of your site’s URL — for example, yoursite.com/wp-admin. If you haven’t already logged in, WordPress will prompt you to before you can view the dashboard.
The main dashboard gives you a basic summary of your site. To access additional areas, you’ll use the sidebar menu on the left:
Each menu item on the left will also include a number of sub-menus when you hover over it.
To create new content, you’ll use the Posts and Pages menus:
- Posts — these are blog posts.
- Pages — static pages, such as your ‘About’ or ‘Contact’ pages.
To manage your site’s extensions, you’ll use the Appearance and Plugins menus:
- Appearance — install and customize your WordPress theme, which controls your site’s appearance.
- Plugins — install and manage your WordPress plugins, which add new functionality to your site.
Finally, when you’re just getting set up, you’ll spend a lot of time in the Settings area. However, once you configure all of the settings, you’ll mostly ignore this area in your day-to-day site management.
Once you feel comfortable working in the WordPress dashboard, you’re ready to dig in to the rest of these tips…
2. Change Username, Nickname, Display Name and Password
WordPress websites get hacked everyday, and more than often this happens due to poor login credentials. Hackers don’t try to hack websites manually. They use brute-force scripts to try and get into your precious website. That’s why it’s crucial to configure a good username and a password that nobody else can possibly guess.
When you installed WordPress, you probably had to configure a username. In the WordPress admin dashboard, you can’t actually change that username. If you’re happy with the username, awesome. If you’re not happy, simply create a new user and configure it the way you want it to be.
3. Enter Key Website Information (Title, Time Zone, Profile)
After installing WordPress you’ll need to enter some critical pieces of information for the visitors of your website.
• Site Title and Tagline
On the your WordPress dashboard (which will be accessible right after installation) navigate to Settings > General.
Here you will be able to input the name of your website, and a tagline that tells what your website is all about. Many websites choose to use the tagline space to display a brand motto.
• Time Zone
While still in the General section, scroll down to adjust date and time format you want to be displayed on your website, as well as the time zone it operates in.
Profile information is implemented some WordPress themes, and if you are blogging, your profile may be represented alongside uploaded posts. It’s a good idea to fill out this short section early.
From your dashboard navigate to Users > Your Profile. From here you’ll be able to input your username, basic contact info, a short biography, and a profile picture.
4. Set Your WordPress and Site Address URLs
If you happen to be using WordPress in a different directory than your web root (for example, if you installed WP in a blog directory), then you’ll need to let WordPress know that by modifying these two options (Settings » General).
In the WordPress Address (URL) enter the full URL of the directory containing your WordPress core files. Following the previous example, if you installed WordPress into a directory called blog, then the WordPress address would be http://example.com/blog (where example.com is your domain). If you installed WordPress into your web root, this address will be the root URL: http://example.com.
In the Site Address (URL) enter the address you want people to type in order to reach your WordPress site. The Site address (URL) should be identical to the WordPress address (URL) unless you are giving WordPress its own directory (as explained above).
5. Install Google Analytics
As a website owner, you need to understand your audience, what they are looking for, and how you can help them find it. These insights help you make smarter decisions to grow your business.
This is where you need Google Analytics. It shows you how many people visit your website, where they came from, and what they did on your website.
The easiest way to install Google Analytics is by using MonsterInsights. It is the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress and shows beautiful analytics reports right inside WordPress.
6. Install a WordPress Theme and Uninstall Unused Themes
By default, a WordPress installation comes with several free themes. One of these free themes will be the one that is activated.
Choosing a theme is an important step because a theme has a huge impact on the success of your WordPress blog. A theme should match your expectations in regards to look and feel. A theme should be a good reflection of your brand. In addition, a theme should be well-programmed and regularly updated.
You can either keep using a free theme, or you can decide to purchase a premium theme. It’s important to delete any themes that you’re not using, as they can make your website a lot heavier. Just like with plugins, only use what you really need. In other words, you should really just have one theme installed.
7. Choose Plugins
Just like themes, plugins are found on both WordPress’ plugin directory, or can be found on third-party developer websites.
Plugins are great because they extend the functionality of WordPress websites, and they’re essential for most websites. This is because WordPress is packaged with everything needed for blogging alone, so additional website features such as product and service listings, two-factor authentication logins, payment processing, and more are only possible via the installation of plugins.
8. Change permalink structure.
Your WordPress site’s permalink structure controls the part of your website’s URLs that comes after your main domain name.
For example, if the URL of a post is ‘yoursite.com/things-to-do-after-installing-wordpress‘, then the permalink structure controls the ‘things-to-do-after-installing-wordpress‘ part.
It’s an important consideration for both user experience and search engine optimization (SEO), because you can use the words in your permalinks to provide important context about the content of a post.
However, many fresh WordPress installs use an unoptimized permalink structure based on numbers, such as ‘yoursite.com/?p=123‘.
To fix that and choose an optimized permalink structure, you can go to Settings → Permalinks.
For most websites, the best option is to choose the Post name structure. However, if your site posts time-sensitive news, it may also make sense to choose a permalink structure that includes the date.
For most blogs, you shouldn’t include the date in the URL, though, because you may want to go back and update the post in the future. In that situation, it can get confusing if you updated a post in 2020 but the URL structure still indicates it was published in 2017:
9. Setup WordPress SEO
SEO, short for Search Engine Optimization, is used by website owners to get more traffic from Google and other search engines.
WordPress is pretty SEO friendly out of the box. However, there is a lot more that you can do to optimize your SEO and get more traffic to your website.
The best time to set up your website’s SEO is right after installing WordPress.
We recommend using the all in one SEO plugin. It is the most comprehensive WordPress SEO plugin on the market, and it takes care of all the important SEO settings out of the box.
10. Install Caching
Studies show that 1 second delay in page load time can lead to 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.
As a website owner, you need to make sure that your website is fast and performs well even under high traffic.
This is where caching comes in. It allows your website to quickly serve cached copies of your pages to users instead of generating them on the fly. This reduces server load on your website and improves your page load speed.
There are a lot of caching plugins available for WordPress, but we recommend using the WP Super Cache plugin. See our guide on how to install and setup WP Super Cache plugin for detailed instructions.
Caching alone can significantly improve your website’s speed. However, there are lots of other things you can do to make it faster. See our complete guide on how to improve WordPress speed & performance.
11. Defend your Website
A platform made with security in mind, after installing WordPress you’ll already have a fairly secure website. The real trick to keeping your website safe is good security practices.
Strong passwords, a hidden administrator URL, and ensuring that your website is updated to the most current version are all musts to protect your website.
WordPress security plugins are available to enhance your website’s defenses further by bringing added features such as two-factor authentication password protection.
Two-factor authentication requires a second user-specific code that changes over time in the password process to make passwords exponentially stronger.
Additionally, to demonstrate that your website is secure for visitors to visit, you’ll want to enable a SSL connection. SSL connections defend against outside attempts to intercept the data sent between your website, and they come with SSL certificates.
SSL certificates show up as a padlock icon in browser URLs when visiting SSL websites, demonstrating that they have a protected data connection for their visiting users.
12. Setup Spam Protection
Spam comments can be quite problematic. Most of them contain links to malicious websites known for distributing malware. Spam comments can affect your search rankings and your website’s reputation.
You can enable comment moderation in WordPress to prevent any comment appearing without approval. However, as the quantity of spam grows you will be spending considerable time moderating comments.
To fix this, you need to install and activate the Akismet plugin. It is a WordPress anti-spam plugin and one of the only two plugins that come pre-installed on every WordPress website.
13. Setup WordPress Comments
Comments play an important role on most blogs. They are a good indicator of user engagement and allow you to build a community around your blog.
Simply go to Settings » Discussion page to setup comments. From here you can enable or disable comments, setup comment notifications, and enable comment moderation.
14. Setup a Default Category
WordPress posts are required to be filed under at least one category. By default, WordPress uses the ‘Uncategorized’ category as the default category. If you don’t change the category when writing a blog post, then it will automatically be filed under the default category.
To change the default category, first, you need to visit Posts » Categories page to create a new category. This will be used as your new default category.
After that, go to Settings » Writing page. Here you will see the default category option, you can go ahead and select the new category you created earlier.
Finally, you can go to Posts » Categories page and delete the ‘Uncategorized’ category.
15. Change WordPress Email Address
Most users add their own email address when installing WordPress. This means their first user profile and their website’s email address are the same.
To change this you can go to Settings » General page and enter the new email address you would like to use for the website.
Make sure that the new email address is active, as WordPress will send a confirmation email to that address.
You can use any email address here. However, it would be best to use an email address that shows that this address is for automated emails sent from your website.
If you want to use email accounts using your own domain name, then please see our guide on how to create a free business email address for your WordPress website.