19 Essential Things to Do After Installing WordPress
Feeling overwhelmed looking at the infinite number of WordPress settings? You’re not alone!
Setting up WordPress after you start your blog might feel daunting but they’re as quick and easy as setting up your new phone.
After reading this post…
…you’ll have a WordPress website that is perfectly optimized and ready for blogging!
Make sure to bookmark this page or share it with your team for easy access and faster implementation every time you launch a new site.
So, here’s the list of 19 essential settings to do after WordPress installation to have a smooth functioning website.
1) Change Basic Site Information
The first thing after you finish WordPress installation is, making some important changes on your site. These include:
Here’s how to update your site’s basic information before launching it to the public:
- Go to WordPress Settings -> General page and start changing the site title,
- Change the tagline (//refer to this guide to choose the effective blog taglines),
- Change the WordPress URL,
- Add your email address in the respective box (this will act as your default WordPress email address and will relay you all admin correspondence), &
- Change the time zone based on your location.
- Once done, click on the “Save Changes” button.
Since, you’re already in the settings panel, let’s configure a few more WordPress settings before heading to other things.
Related read: How to find the your niche in blogging (100+ blog niche ideas to use)
2) Choose Default Post Category
Categories are topics or broad subjects your blog content (when you publish articles) will revolve around.
For example, if you have a blog around dogs, your main categories can be dog grooming, dog food, dog breeds, dog health etc.
WordPress needs all your posts to have at least one category.
By default, WordPress has “uncategorized” as your blog’s default category. This doesn’t look good and you can change it to any of your primary categories. Don’t worry you can always choose and change your blog post’s categories while writing it in the post editor itself.
To change your default category you need to first create a category. You can do it by going to Posts -> Categories -> Create a new category
Pro Tip: You can create as many categories as you want (but usually limit it from 4-6 so that your blog topics remain targeted), but you will only select one of them as the default category below.
To select the default category, go to settings -> writing -> default post category -> save changes.
3) Setup WordPress Comments Settings
Comments are an excellent way to interact with your readers and build a strong community.
In your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings -> Discussion page to set up the comment settings. On this page, you can enable, disable, and set up comment moderation.
Follow the image below to set this up according to WordPress comments best practices.
4) Setup WordPress Permalinks Settings
WordPress permalinks are how your blog’s URL will be. It is essential to change it consciously because it remains permanent (changing them can be done but not recommended unless extremely needed like in case of a re-branding).
To change the permalink structure, go to settings -> permalinks
Select the permalink with “post-name” option. This is the most user and search engine friendly option out of all. Leave everything else untouched in the page and click “save changes”
Please Note: If you’re migrating a previous site with a different URL structure, make sure to maintain it so that you don’t lose rankings. You can add any customized permalink structure by selecting “custom-structure” option.
5) Delete Default WordPress Content
In your brand new WordPress site, you’d also have some default content already uploaded to the website. This includes a sample “Hello World” post, a sample comment and a sample page.
These usually don’t add any value to your site so it is better to get rid of them.
To delete the default WordPress content head over to your dashboard.
- Delete default post: On the left sidebar, click on posts -> All Posts. Head over to the “Hello World” article and click on the red ‘Trash’ link.
- Delete default page: Similarly, do it for pages as well. Go to Pages -> All pages and delete the sample page.
- Delete default comment: Next, we will delete the default comment by heading over to comments section and click on the “trash” link for the sample comment.
Please Note: We need to delete unused plugins and themes from our new site. Let’s tackle a few “more important” things before we head to that section.
6) Remove Unused Plugins and Themes
Wondering what else to do after installing WordPress?
Well, you need to delete and get read of default WordPress themes and plugins as these are mostly not useful and add to the bloat of the site.
Steps to remove or delete default WordPress themes:
- Step 1: To remove the theme go to Appearance -> Themes.
- Step 2: Now click on the theme that you don’t use on your site and in the bottom right of it you would see a red “Delete” button click on it.
- Step 3: Repeat the process until you only have only one theme.
Steps to remove or delete default WordPress plugins:
To delete all default and previously installed plugins (if you’ve tested out a few till now) head over to “plugins” option from the left panel and click on “installed plugins”.
Now, delete all plugins that are not necessary and not in usage currently.
Please Note: Plugins do consume a lot of your site’s resources so make sure to keep the ones that you absolutely must.
7) Setup WordPress SEO with Yoast
One of the most essential settings after installing WordPress is to install a SEO plugin for your website.
Now, in order for your site to be visible and perform well you need a SEO plugin that will help you:
- submit your sitemap to search engines
- optimize your blog posts for SEO
- redirect your broken URLs
- Setup meta titles and descriptions (the site title and little chunk of text you see below it when you search for something on Google)
- Manage on page SEO and technical SEO
- Prevent duplicate pages by helping you to setup rel=canonical tags etc.
You don’t need to get overwhelmed because you won’t use all of these settings as soon as install them but you will use some of them while you write blog posts etc and then expand as you proceed.
For SEO plugins, Yoast SEO is by far the best WordPress SEO plugin out there and is my recommendation too. Yoast is free and has a easy on-boarding process to help you set it up correctly as soon as you install it.
Go to Plugins -> Add new -> type WordPress SEO -> And you’ll usually see Yoast SEO as the #1 option with 5M+ active installs.
Click on install now to install it. Then click on Activate it option (appears in the same button) and move forward setting it up.
Please Note: DO you see another plugin suggestion alongside Yoast’s? You can download either of them, both have same key functionalities, I just prefer Yoast because that’s what I use.
8) Install Essential Plugins
WordPress repository has plugins for every task you want to perform. However, you don’t need to overthink and only install the ones that you need while starting your site.
Here’s a list of plugins and a reason as to why you should install it after starting your WordPress site.
- Yoast SEO: for managing SEO, adding sitemap etc.
- WPForms: to create functional contact forms without coding
- Akismet Antispam: protects your blog from spam comments
- Pretty Links: to convert long, boring affiliate links into short, clickable links (only if you’re into affiliate marketing)
- Table of Contents Plus: automatically create a table of content for all the articles on your site
- W3 Total Cache: To boost your site speed using caching technology
- UpDraftPlus: for taking timely backups of your site (important!)
- iThemes Security – to keep your site secure from hackers and other threats.
9) Install Google Analytics
After changing all the necessary site information, it’s time to track the number of visitors you get on your site with the help of Google Analytics.
There are two methods to install Google Analytics on your WordPress site. But first, you need to create a Google Analytics account for your website. Refer to this guide.
Now that you’ve setup your Google Analytics account, it’s time to integrate it with your WordPress site. There are two methods to do it:
Method 1: Integrate Google Analytics using a WordPress plugin
If you don’t want to get into the technical hassles, there are plugins that help you install Google analytics tracking codes to your site with just a few clicks.
Apart from the ease, they also provide you with a stats dashboard right inside your wp-admin dashboard with details like page views, searches, unique referrers to your website.
I use and recommend Google Analytics Dashboard for WP which is free with over 1M+ downloads.
Here’s how to install Google analytics to your site using GADWP plugin:
Step 1: In your Google Analytics dashboard go to the Admin tab.
Step 2: Click on the “Property” tab and go the Tracking Info. In there, go to Tracking Code.
Step 3: Here, instead of copying the code you need to copy the Tracking ID.
Step 4: Come back in your WordPress dashboard and go to the plugin settings page.
Step 5: Click on “Authorize Plugin” and finally click on the “Get Access Code” link.
Step 6: Lastly, copy-paste the code and click on the “Save Access Code” button.
The next method will show you how to install analytics without using a plugin.
Method 2: Copy paste the code in your site’s header file
If you don’t want to install a plugin to integrate your analytics to your site, this method will help you do just that.
Step 1: In your Google, Analytics dashboard go to the ‘Admin’ tab.
Step 2: Click on the “Property” tab and go the Tracking Info. In there, go to Tracking Code.
Step 3: Now, copy the code given under the website tracking section.
Step 4: Come back in your WordPress site and go to Appearance -> Theme Editor
Step 5: Finally, on the right side search for “Theme Header”.
Step 6: Lastly, paste the copied code before the closing of tag.
10) Setup Google Search Console
Google search console (GSC) provides you monitor and maintain your site’s SEO health. It shows you how your site is performing on Google. You get information about:
- site indexation issues (is your site visible to Google)
- any penalties you might get from Google including tips on how to avoid it
- sites are linking to your site
- mobile usability, AMP and other site issues like schema markup etc
Here’s how to integrate Google search console to your WordPress site:
Step 1: Head over to the official site of Google Search Console here and click on “Start Now” button.
Step 2: In the left side of the screen click on “Add Property” after which select “URL Prefix” and enter your site homepage.
Step 3: From the available options “HTML Tag” and copy the code.
Step 4: Now go back to WordPress and head over to Appearance -> Theme Editor
Step 5: Finally, on the right side search for “Theme Header” and paste the copied code before the closing of tag.
Remember, to insert the correct URL while verifying your site. If you have an HTTPS site and you submit an HTTP site it GSC will see it as a different site.
11) Setup WordPress Security
WordPress CMS by default is a highly secure platform.
Nonetheless, you still have to take safety precautions to keep up to date with your site security.
Having a secure password, hidden or changed admin URL, and installing all the themes and plugins to its latest versions (from authentic sources) are some of the WordPress security best practices.
If you plan to secure it even further, in that case, you need to install WordPress security plugins like Wordfence or iThemes Security.
Initially, you can try out the free version of the plugins. Once you find the one that suits you the best you can consider upgrading it to their premium plan.
Most guides on what to do after launching a website miss another important thing to do.
These are pages with legal information about how your site provides data, what personal information it collects from the readers and what ways it uses for blog monetization.
These are those boring pages that nobody reads on your website but the absence of whom might lead to penalties of million of dollars for you in legal battles.
For the purpose of example, I’m using DiscalimerGenerator.net. Here, you need to put your site URL and site name and the tool will automatically create a disclaimer policy text which you have to copy paste in your WordPress site.
Speaking of making your WordPress website legally equipped, let’s not forget GDPR!
13) Make Your Site GDPR Compliant
This is one of the most essential things to do after WordPress installation.
Most sites haven’t mentioned in their list of important WordPress settings after installation is because they’re not updated.
GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation and aims to give all “European Union” citizens more control about how their personal data is collected and regulated on sites they visit.
GDPR came into effect in May 25, 2018 and failing to make your site GDPR compliant might entitle you to a fine of up to $20 or 4% of your business.
GDPR isn’t as scary as it seems!
GDPR implementation is easy. Here’s a list of WordPress GDPR plugins to make your site GDPR compliant.
14) Update Your WordPress Profile
WordPress does have a provision to set up your profile so that your readers might get to know a little more about the author or person behind the blogs.
To complete your WordPress profile customization you need to go to Users -> Your profile.
Here, you can:
- choose a color scheme for your admin dashboard,
- choose your display username (the name that will appear below your blog posts as your author). By default WordPress adds your username as your display name but you can customize it to add your full name or nickname.
- fill out your author bio. This will often be a short description about you and should give an idea about who you are as a person behind the blog post.
You can also add multiple profiles if you plan your site to be a multi-author site.
15) Add a Contact Form
Adding a contact form is very essential for every site owner.
A contact form helps:
- your readers to get in touch with you
- sponsors, customers and potential clients inquire business opportunities
- Get contacted in case your site has any issues
For most starters, WPForms Lite (free) will do. But if you need more features (like payment option, collect files, and more) you will need the their premium version. Here’s my WPForms review in case you want more details.
16) Select Your Theme & Customize It
A WordPress theme helps you control how your site looks and feels on the front-end. But the default WordPress themes are useless, almost always.
That’s where you need to select a theme that meets your site’s needs. Here’s a rough criteria for selecting your theme.
It is important to select your theme wisely because it should be:
- optimized for speed
- clean coded (again for faster loading and SEO advantage)
- SEO optimized
- Secure (never install a free theme or premium theme that is available for free across the web)
- has features like optimized for AdSense (if you’ll use it to make money off your site) etc.
We use and recommend Elegant themes (read our Elegant themes review) and Divi for most of the time. You can also save using our Elegant themes coupon.
In case you’re looking for free themes (which is okay!) or themes with specific features you might want to check out:
Warning: Don’t use premium themes that are available for free in Facebook groups, forums or GPL or group buy sites. There are high chances these contain malicious codes and act as gateways for hackers to get into your site.
Always choose themes (and plugins) from reputed vendors or directly from the WordPress repository.
17) Create Categories and Setup Custom Menu
Categories will help you bifurcate your content.
For instance, you can add a Blogging category and add all the article that are related to Blogging in that category. Similarly, you can do so for all other categories which will create a better site flow for your visitors to understand.
Here’s how to create categories in WordPress:
- Step 1: From the left navigation menu hover over the ‘Posts’ tab and click on ‘Categories’
- Step 2: In the “Add New Category” option enter the category name, in this case, we will take Blogging.
- Step 3: Enter slug of the category and keep the parent category to “None”.
- Step 4: Finally, click on the “Add New Category” button.
Once you set up category in WordPress, it’s time to show it on your site and for that, we need a custom menu.
Here’s how to create a custom menu with WordPress:
- Step 1: Go to Appearance -> Menus.
- Step 2: From the “Add menu items” select the “Categories” option.
- Step 3: Select the “Blogging” category which we created a while ago.
- Step 4: At the bottom select display location as well.
- Step 5: Finally, in the top right corner click on the “Save Menu” button.
To confirm the changes, head over to your site and see if you see the categories displayed in your menu or not.
18) Setup Spam Protection
When you start blogging actively you’ll also get a ton of spam comments from irrelevant sites.
These don’t add any value to your site, instead do harm by ruining your site’s reputation in front of both users and search engines.
Avoiding spam comments should be your #1 priority and you can do so by using the Akismet Anti-spam plugin. It’s free and does a fair job keeping spam away.
Still, make sure to review each comment before approving them to your site.
19) Add Your Site Favicon
Favicons or site icons (or the small icons you see at the beginning of the tab when you open any web page) are always essential as they help you create a branding that people can relate and recognize your site with.
But did you know?
Favicons have now become even more important because Google’s new search pages now display your site’s favicon before your site’s title in the SERPs.
This can seriously impact your click through rates and search performance.
Here are some tips on selecting the perfect favicon for your site:
- Choose a favicon that defines your brand and matches the overall branding of your site.
- The size of the favicon should be a multiple of 48px square (like 48x48px, 96*96px etc). The usual preferred size is 512x512px.
- Don’t change the favicon image frequently
How to upload a favicon or site icon to your website?
- Go to appearance tab from the left side panel in your dashboard
- Click customize -> site identity
- Scroll down to the site icon section and upload your favicon image file
- Save and publish
Over to you: 19 Essential Settings After Installing WordPress in 2021
After the initial WordPress installation, there’s a lot to do on your site. I hope this post acts like a checklist of important things to do after WordPress installation every time you launch a new website or blog.
If you have any further queries related to things to do after WordPress installation feel free to leave a comment down below and let me know.
If you liked this article, you’ll definitely love our definitive guide to blogging for beginners.