My WordPress Post-installation Checklist

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You’ve installed WordPress. But you’ve still got a lot to do before the blog’s ready for visitors. There are a lot of easy little tweaks that I like to make to the WordPress blogs I build, so I decided to make a check list for future reference. These quick steps help improve a WordPress blogs usability and visibility in search engines.

  1. Change the password

    First things first. Go to user preferences and update your password.

  2. Turn off visual editing

    While your changing your password uncheck the box that says ‘Use the visual editor when writing’ and save your user preferences. This will give you more control over post content.

  3. Customize permalink structure

    In Settings > Permalinks. I change my permalink structure to %category%/%postname%. This makes posts more easily identifiable just by URL. See here for more details.

  4. Burn your feed

    I want people to be able to subscribe to my content. So I burn a feed using Feedburner.

  5. Install Feedsmith

    Now, so that people can subscribe to my new Feedburner feed I install the Feedsmith plugin (originally by Steve Smith). Then copy the feed address from your Feedburner account and paste it into the Feedsmith plugin page in your WordPress account area.

  6. Apply the theme

    I’ve already designed my blog in Photoshop and written the XHTML/CSS in NotePad +. Now I have to upload my images and my theme and apply my theme.

  7. Edit your body tag for custom body ID’s on different pages

    It’s very handy to have different body ID’s on different pages, so you can use that id to style various elements on the page differently depending on what page you’re on. I use this method on StyleWired, but because the start body tag is in the header include we need some php code to generate different ID’s on different pages. Like this:

    [code lang="html"]

    id="home"
    id="interior" class="post_name; ?>">
    [/code]

  8. Highlight Author Comments

    I want my comments to be differentiated from visitors comments so people can easily identify my replies. So I change the code in the comments include, as described on Matt Cutts’ blog. Alternatively you can install the Highlight Author Comments Plugin by Rob Marsh, however this is less customizable.

  9. Install Google Analytics

    I want detailed analytics and I don’t want to pay for them. Great — here comes Google again. Login to Google Analytics, add your new websites profile, copy the code and paste it into the footer include, right before the closing body tag.

  10. Write your blogs pages

    Now I write my blogs pages. These would most likely include an about page, a contact page and maybe a few others. Then link those pages up as planned in the design phase.

  11. Install Contact Form 7 Plugin

    On my contact page I want to use a contact form so people can contact me easily. Contact Form 7 by Takayuki Miyoshi seems to do the job nicely. Once installed create your contact form and add it to the contact page.

  12. Write your first post

    I need to write my first post and make my first category, just so that I can get on to the next step.

  13. Install Page2Cat plugin

    Download and install the Page2Cat plugin by Pixline. Then edit the Archives page in your theme using the instructions on this page. Now I can add introductions to my categories, which in my opinion improves usability greatly.

  14. Install SEO Title Tag Plugin

    Download and install SEO Title Tag by Stephan Spencer at Net Concepts. This gives you better control of the titles of all the pages on the blog. You need to change the title element in the header include as instructed on this page. You’ll also want to go into the SEO Title Tag options and customise your page titles.

  15. Install a Favicon

    Design a 16 x 16 pixel image. Upload it to a Favicon generator (or you can use Photoshop and save the file as a .ico file). Put the favicon on to your server in the root of your website. Then add:

    [code lang="html"] [/code]

    to the header include before the closing head tag.

  16. Add your blog to Google Webmaster Tools

    Go to Webmaster Tools and add your URL. Verify your site by creating an HTML page and putting it on your server as directed in Webmaster Tools

  17. Create an XML Sitemap

    Install Google XML Sitemaps plugin by Arne Brachhold. Probably no need to generate your site map just yet though as you’ll probably want to get your blog properly up and running first.

  18. Create a Robots.txt file

    You might like to add a robots.txt file to instruct robots on how to crawl your site. If you have date based archives linked up on your blog you might like to no-follow them using the robots.txt as they are already spidered via other more keyword rich links — e.g. the category links.

  19. Sharpen your URL’s

    If your website.com doesn’t automatically forward to your www.website.com you might want to ‘sharpen your URL’s‘ — making non www. URL’s forward to www. URL’s. Why? Purely for SEO reasons — so that search engines only index one version of your website meaning all the linking power of your pages is concentrated in one version of your website and other websites only link to one version of your website.

  20. Back-up your WordPress blog

    Download and install the BackUpWordPress plugin by Roland Rust. Then back up your blog regularly and before any major changes that may cause irreversable/unfixable errors.

  21. Drink a cup of tea

    That’s it your done.

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