How to setup WordPress: An essential start

WordPress CMS

WordPress CMS – /wp-admin

So, you have just installed WordPress on your server and have setup a connection to your database. What’s next? This article details a list of essential tasks that I’d recommend you complete before writing any content.

Setup WordPress CMS

Before we start, let’s take a look at the content management system. If you haven’t already done so, from the home page of your WordPress blog, type /wp-admin in the url box on your browser and login.

Don’t be put off by the amount of menu options. Over time as you learn about each of them, you will appreciate how much control there is. For the time being we’ll keep it simple and just focus on the bare essentials.

To the left is a vertical menu system. As you click on each option in the menu, a different management page is displayed. In most cases each menu item has child entries offering more specific functions and controls.

Don’t be afraid to click on each link in the menu system to familiarize your self with the available settings.

Tweaking the settings

Let’s start by changing a few of the most important settings. There will be many options on the following pages that we will be ignoring for the time being. Remember, we are just making a start and covering the critical areas first.

General Settings

  1. (menu)->Settings->General.
  2. Let’s give our blog a proper title and tag line.
  3. Site Title: Make it short, to the point and descriptive. Include the top keywords or phrases. Example: Growing Roses.
  4. Tag Line: This is the sentence that will appear beneath your Site Title. Within a dozen or so words, expand on your title. Be informative, concise and avoid waffle. Example: A learning platform for gardeners interested in growing roses.

Permalinks

(menu)->Settings->Permalinks.

A permalink is the structure of the url (web link) for each page post that you create. It should be constructed in such a way that it is readable to the human visitor, whilst portraying the essence of the page to the search engines.

  • Choose Custom Stucture from the Common Settings.
  • Use of the following stuctures for your Permalink:
    • /%category%/%postname%-%post_id%
      Example: www.growingroses.co.uk/rose-care/when-to-prune-roses-256/
    • /%category%/%post_id%-%postname%
      Example: www.growingroses.co.uk/rose-care/256-when-to-prune-roses/
    • /%category%/%post_id%/%postname%
      Example: www.growingroses.co.uk/rose-care/256/when-to-prune-roses/
  • Click on Save Changes.

Whatever structure you opt for, it’s advisable that you include the unique post_id number in there somewhere to avoid conflicting post names.

Indispensable plugins

Now we can relax a little. The most important settings have been dealt with. We should turn our attention to plugins to bring into focus our goal of dominating the search engine rankings. Plugins are third party  ‘apps’ (I use that word liberally) that enable different functions on your WordPress blog. If you need to add a shopping cart, calendar, forum, statistical analysis, etc, then you’ll need to download and activate plugins.

There are a scattering of professionally written pay-to-download plugins. However, the vast majority are free. Some give you limited but surprisingly generous access to features.

To download, install and activate a plugin:

  1. (menu)->Plugins->Add New.
  2. Type in the search box a phrase and trawl through the results for the most relevant result.
  3. Click on Install Now and follow the on-screen instructions.
  4. Click on Activate Plugin.

Many plugins require a little extra attention. A new link may have appeared in the main vertical menu system. Sometimes it will have it’s own parent category, but may be filed under SettingsTools or even Appearance->Widgets. If this is the case, you may have to click on that link to further refine your plugins interaction with your site.

Here is a list of plugins that I couldn’t do without. I’d highly recommend you install each of them to setup WordPress for a successful future:

  • Captcha – to stop comment spam.
  • Facebook Like – for Liking and Sharing via FaceBook.
  • Google Analytics for WordPress – requires an active Google Analytics account (it’s free!).
  • WordFence Security – Secure your website with the most comprehensive WordPress security plugin. Firewall, malware scan, blocking, live traffic, login security & more.
  • WordPress SEO (Yoast) – an excellent plugin for the best SEO control.
  • WP Super Cache – Speed up your website with this very fast caching plugin.
  • Updraft Plus – Backup and restoration made easy. Complete backups; manual or scheduled (backup to S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace, FTP, SFTP, email + others).

Sorting out the widgets

  • (menu)->Appearance->Widgets
  • The Sidebar panel represents the side menu on your website (right hand side fo the Widgets manager).
  • Drag and drop items from Available Widgets (or Inactive Widgets)  over to the Sidebar panel to add them to your blog.
  • New widgets can be found by searching for plugins (see Indispensable plugins).
  • To remove an existing widget from your Sidebar, roll out the drop-down on the widget’s header and click on delete. I recommend you remove all widgets for now and just keep Search and Category in place.
  • Depending on your template (we’ll cover this in a later article), you may have more than one Sidebar panel to populate with widgets.

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