WordPress first steps

When I install WordPress, I install a comprehensive set of plugins and configure them for use.  With 2 good friends having recently started WordPress blogs, here are some minimum things I do for each blog I set up.  I’ll follow up with more advanced things later.

Change your category of uncategorized to a category name that will describe your most general miscellaneous topic, and no, don’t use miscellaneous.  Your audience is not helped by “uncategorized”.  And Google/Bing won’t know where to file you.

In Settings-General, set your time zone.  You’ll thank yourself later.  Well actually you won’t, because you won’t know the silly problems it saved you from.

Akismet spam filter - usually downloaded with WordPress.  For blogs making money there is a licensing issue for which people turn to the TypePad spam filter.  It’s essentially the same, I believe.  This requires registration for a “key” – this is probably the most important thing you will do for yourself because spam will overpower your blog faster than a fox in a hen house.  The spambots seem to sense the presence of the filter and they stay away.  It’s fantastic.

Check the Discussion settings and make sure it makes sense to you.  I don’t have any particular advice here.  Remember that on each post and each page you can disallow comments individually.

Check the privacy settings.  Under Settings, Privacy, there is a setting to block search engines.  Some automatic install programs from hosting companies block this by default.  I say to you my friend, be found!  Seriously though, choose whatever you want.  (On my host, “Quickinstall” blocks search engines; “Fantastico” does not.)

I highly recommend:  Beginners delete the W3 total cache plugin, if it is installed.  On my host, “Quickinstall” installs it with WordPress; Fantastico does not.  If you have the WP Supercache plugin installed, it is fine to use – although troubleshooting this is an intermediate/advanced technical skill.  If you turn it on, you have a 99% chance of it working fine, and if that is your experience then great.

For SEO and general navigation, I recommend setting the permalinks to something simpler than the default:  Usually I do just the post name:  /%postname%/, but sometimes, like on this blog, I put the year in the middle: /%year%/%postname%/.  On network installs, the word “blog” gets inserted in there and for the interim, that’s not negotiable.  If you don’t have the word “blog” in there, you’re good.

No, I don’t know what to make of the Hello Dolly plugin, but being in the know, I have my suspicions.  Have you seen the clip of Carol Channing boxing with Mike Tyson?

Please feel free to comment below.  If you are a beginner who has had an “aha” moment with WordPress, I’d like to hear about it.  rob@wpgeniusbar.com