10 important things to do when setting up a new WordPress site

Are you in the process of setting up a brand new WordPress website? Here are 10 things that I recommend you do as soon as you have installed WordPress.

So you’ve installed WordPress? Great! But now what?

I’m sure you are eager to get stuck in, but before you start creating pages and writing posts, there are a few things I recommend that you do to get your WordPress set up correctly.

Trust me; it’s better to get these tasks done and out of the way early on!

In this post, I’ll be sharing 10 important things you should do when setting up a brand new WordPress website. 

1 | Change the permalinks structure

One of the very first things I do when setting up a new WordPress website is update the structure of the permalinks.

Basically, a permalink is the URL of your posts and pages, and by default, the permalinks are set as “Plain” which means URLs are just your domain followed by a random string of numbers and letters, for example, https://hollypryce.com/?p=123.

Permalinks in this format aren’t very practical or SEO friendly, but fortunately, you can update the format of your permalinks.

To change your permalinks, hover over Settings in the left-hand menu then click on Permalinks.

Permalinks settings in WordPress | HollyPryce.com

From the options you can see here, I recommend you select the option called “Post name“. This will just display the name of the post.

Permalinks settings in WordPress | HollyPryce.com

I have a whole blog post all about why you should change your permalinks, plus loads of tips of making them more optimised for search engines, so do check that out.

2 | Update the timezone

When you install WordPress the default timezone is usually UTC+0, but you will need to change this to the timezone you are currently in.

Why? Because time is very important in WordPress! For instance, if you want to schedule a post to go live at 9am but your website is set up to use a different timezone then your post isn’t going to live when you expect it to!

To change the timezone, hover over Settings in the left-hand menu and click General.

General settings in WordPress | HollyPryce.com

On the General settings page, scroll down until you see the Timezone option. Click on the dropdown list and select your timezone, or a city.

Timezone setting in WordPress | HollyPryce.com

When you are done, scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes.

3 | Truncate posts

Did you know that by default your RSS feed will display the entire content of your blog posts?

This means that feed readers and websites like Bloglovin’ can display your entire blog post, and users can read your content without ever actually visiting your website. Annoying, right?

The best way to stop this from happening is to truncate your posts. This means that only a snippet of each post will be displayed in your RSS feed, and in order to read the rest of the post the user will have to actually visit your website.

To truncate your posts, hover over Settings in the left-hand menu and click Reading.

Reading settings in WordPress | HollyPryce.com

On the Reading settings page, look for the option that says “For each article in a feed, show”. You will see this is set to “Full text” by default, but if you change this to Summary then this will truncate your blog posts.

Show summary of article in WordPress | HollyPryce.com

For more information about the other ways you can stop feed readers from displaying the content of your posts take a look at this post.

4 | Set up a spam filter (like Akismet)

Nobody likes spam, and unfortunately, the comments section on WordPress websites can become a real magnet for spammy comments.

The good news is that there is a plugin called Akismet which detects and catches spam comments so that they aren’t displayed on your website. Any comments that Akismet believes are spam are sent to the spam folder for you to review and delete accordingly.

To find out exactly how to install and set up Akismet take a look at this post.

5 | Install an SEO plugin (like Yoast SEO)

If you want your new website to appear in search engine results then you need to work on SEO (search engine optimisation). And it’s good practice to start working on SEO from day one.

There are many ways in which you can improve the SEO of your website but creating great quality, shareable content is a great place to start. Installing a SEO plugin can really help you to improve your chances of appearing in search results.

While there are many SEO plugins to choose from, I highly recommend Yoast SEO. It currently has over 1 million active installations, so it must be good!

I have written a huge post about Yoast SEO and how you can use it to optimise the content of your posts and pages for search engines. If you’d like to read it, you can find it here. I’ve also shared a post about using Yoast to generate a sitemap that you can submit to the Google Search Console. Which brings us nicely on to the next task…

6 | Connect your website to the Google Search Console

Google Search Console (or Webmasters, as it use to be known) is a tool that allows you to track the search performance of your website. As I just mentioned, you can submit your sitemap to the Search Console so that Google can crawl and index your pages. It’s well worth setting up if you really want your website to appear in search results.

In order to start using the Search Console, you need to add your website to it and then verify it. There are a number of ways in which you can verify your website, and I’ve shared a post that walks you through the entire process.

7 | Connect to Google Analytics

If you want to know how many people are visiting your website, how long they are staying, what pages they are looking at, etc, then you will need to use an analytics tool.

The most popular analytics tool and the one I recommend you use is Google Analytics. As with the Google Search Console, you need to set up your account and connect your website, and I have created a tutorial to show you exactly how to do this.

Google Analytics can be quite overwhelming if you are a newbie because it contains so much information! My friend Holly has a written a fantastic post on using Google Analytics to get you started.

8 | Install a backup plugin

Creating regular backups of your website is so important! Even though you’ve only just set your WordPress website it is important to get into the habit of making backups to protect your hard work.

The good news is there are lots of free plugins that can help you to create backups. My personal favourite is UpdraftPlus.

UpdraftPlus has so many amazing features, including the ability to schedule automatic backups and the option to send your backups to a remote storage location of your choice.

I’ve shared a whole post on installing and setting up UpdraftPlus which you can read here.

9 | Update your user profile

When you set up a WordPress website, a new user is created. That’s you! You are automatically the assigned the role of Administrator which means you have access to everything in your WordPress admin area.

You can create additional users if you wish (make sure you read this post if that’s something you are interested in) but whether or no you decide to add more users I always recommend setting up your user profile for yourself.

To edit your user profile, hover over Users in the left-hand menu and click Your Profile.

Your user profile in WordPress | HollyPryce.com

Your profile page will look a little something like this:

User profile in WordPress | HollyPryce.com

I recommend working your way through this page and filling it in with all the correct information. You can add in your name and choose your display name, change your email address and fill in your personal bio.

You can also preview your profile picture here. Your profile picture is powered by Gravatar which is connected to the email address you added to this page. For more information about setting up a Gravatar account, check out this post.

Don’t forget to click Update Profile at the bottom of the page when you have finished editing this page.

10 | Upload a favicon

A favicon is the little icon that appears next to your website name in the browser tab. So for example, the favicon for Facebook looks like this:

Facebook favicon | HollyPryce.com

The easiest way to upload a favicon is via the Customise page. To access this, hover over Appearance in the left-hand menu and click Customise.

Once you are on the Customise page, click on the Site Identity tab.

Site Identity tab in the WordPress Customiser | HollyPryce.com

Then you will see an option called Site Icon. Click Select image and upload an image that you would like to use as a favicon.

Upload site icon in WordPress | HollyPryce.com

When you are done, click Publish and then refresh your website. You should now see your favicon in your browser tab!

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