22 Things You Should Do After Installing WordPress

By Cenay Nailor | Wordpress

Jun 09

I know the list sounds long, but trust me, do these things right after installing your new WordPress blog, and you will start to see immediate traffic, it won’t take as much work to manage your blog, and your visitors will love it!

Little Tweaks With A Big Impact

First and foremost are those little annoying tweaks, that left undone now, can have repercussions later. (These are presented in no particular order since I make sure ALL are done before I install plugins or start posting.)

  1. Update Your User Profile:
    I say this one is first because some of the other steps below will require you to log back in, and who can remember that crazy randomly generated bit of garbage they call a password?

    Dashboard | Users | Your Profile

    Change the password to something you stand a chance of remembering before you do anything else. Then, when you get kicked off (and you will for some of these settings), you can get back in without referring the email they sent you.

  2. Change Your Blog Tagline:
    Yes, it true. If you leave it as WordPress creates it, you are branded as a noobie from the word *go*. By default, WordPress inserts *Just another WordPress Blog* as the tagline. Go change it.
    You should be stating your purpose, provoking thought, asking a question – anything but *Just another WordPress Blog*.

    Dashboard | Settings | General

    Be creative, this is one of the first things your visitors see.

  3. Permalink Structure:
    Right out of the box, WordPress will display a link structure something like this for your posts: http://www.YourDomain.com/?p=101 which means absolutely nothing to you, your visitors or Google. Get rid of it.

    Dashboard | Settings | Permalinks

    There are five different options there, and while this post isn’t about a best SEO practice, I will mention that using either Day and Name or Month and Name do nothing for you from an SEO standpoint. I hope I don’t have to say that the Numeric option doesn’t either.

    I use a custom structure that let’s me benefit from the category name (as a part of the URL) and the Post Name. It looks like this:

  4. Decide on WWW or not:
    Again, by default, WordPress just includes your blog’s domain name here. If you plan to be giving out your link as www.MyDomain.com, then you should change it now on your blog. Since this affects your tracking analytics, it’s best to do it up front.

    Dashboard | Settings | General

    Please note, doing this will log you out. Just log back in with your handy new password.

  5. Discussion Settings:
    Boy, we could write a whole book on this topic, but let me just hit the highlights. You want folks to comment on your blog. You just don’t want the pill pushers and porn queens to have the run of the place.
    I setup comment moderation with 3 or more links (I use CommenLuv which inserts one link, their web URL is a second link, so 3 would be if they included a link in their comment. If you don’t plan to use CommentLuv, change this to 2).

    You can also include a list of words that are *iffy* in the box below this setting. Any comment with that word would *trigger* moderation. (Moderation just holds the comments until you stop by and approve or trash the comments).

    The Comment Blacklist box is where I spend my time. I include a list of words that I really don’t want on my site such as viagra, penis, enlarge, and the names of several popular drugs. I have nothing against the 60-something year old man who wants to improve performance, my site is just not the place to promote that. I also include words of a sexual nature, including rape, porn, xxx, sex, virgin, lesbian, gay, etc. Trust me, this helps.

  6. Activate (Turn On) Akismet:
    This often overlooked step can mean the difference between 384 spam messages a day, or not. Akismet is one of the very best *anti-spam* plugins and comes preinstalled with WordPress.

    Use it. One note though: WordPress requires an API key, something you can only get by registering on the WordPress.com site (profile only, no blogs required).

    Once you register, they will send an email with your API key. Insert that in the appropriate place in your Dashboard. (Once you activate Akismet, it will be at the top of every Dashboard page until you activate it).

  7. Turn Off Post Revisions:
    Post revisions is a great idea that WordPress takes to an extreme (in my mind, you might disagree). The basic premise is this. Every X seconds, WordPress will create a backup of your post.

    Great, right? Here’s the rub.

    Each *revision* it saves creates a new record in your database (making it bigger) and WordPress has the annoying habit of displaying a complete list of every revision you ever made in your life, when you go in to edit a post.

    If you are like me, and blog via a Desktop Client, you already have a backup of your post.

    So, to turn off this annoying feature, open your wp-config.php file in Notepad or something similar and add this line somewhere near the other define you find in there.

    define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', false); 

    You can optionally just reduce the number of revisions WordPress will keep on hand by adding a number as the second parameter

    define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', 3)

    Where the number (3) represents the numbers of revisions (not counting the auto-save) you want to keep on hand.

  8. Setup Categories:
    At least one. No, you don’t have to know the entire category structure at this point, but it is helpful to have at least an idea of the categories you will use most often. Once you have created your most often used category, change the default category to this.

    Dashboard | Settings | Writing

    Change the default post category to your newly created category. While you are on this page, here’s a Bonus Tweak: Change the Size of the post box from 10 to 20. By default, WordPress will create the “post body” box to be 10 rows high. I don’t know about you, but this feels a little crowded to me.

  9. Setup Ping Services:
    This one isn’t strictly a *do-it-before-you-do-anything-else* kinda tweak, but will go a long way to getting you that coveted traffic.

    By default, WordPress added one ping server to the list of possible servers you can use. (Just one?) So, I went out and found some of the best servers. I just copy the list into the area for other update services. Rather than include them all within the body of this post, I am attaching a text file you can download and copy from. Copy the list (or select the ones you want) from the  List of Ping Servers

    You can update them at Dashboard | Settings | Writing

  10. Install Google XML Sitemaps
    Google XML Sitemaps generates a compliant XML-Sitemap for your site, allowing the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Ask, MSN) to easily index your site. Every time you edit or add a post, the sitemap will modify itself unless you tell it differently (see below).

    Click here for Google XML Sitemaps plugin.

    This part is optional, but highly recommended! Go to Google Webmaster Central and log in with your Google Account (you do have a Google Account, right?). On the first page, there will be a link to “Verify” your site. Follow the instructions there.

    Once that’s done, you can then click the *Add Sitemap* link from the first page and put in the URL to your sitemap, which will be something like this (non-working) link: http://www.yourDomain.com/sitemap.xml

  11. Install A Database Backup Plugin:
    WordPress is software that is driven by a database. All your posts, pages and links are stored in the database. If it crashes, your entire *blog* could be lost, so take a minute and install a backup plugin to protect yourself.

    I have tried three or four, but the one I like best (and make sure is on all my blogs now) is the WP-DBManager Plugin.

    Once installed and activated, just go to Dashboard | Database (it’s on the bottom) and select DB Options. Select the maximum number of backups to keep on hand (mine is 10) and setup the auto-email feature. This will send a zipped copy of your database backup to your email address. Sweet, huh?

  12. Change Media Settings:
    WordPress will (somewhat) auto-size your content based on when and where you insert it into a post. If your theme allows 400px for the content width, and your max width for a large picture is 1024, you have a problem.

    You can manually resize any photo, but taking the time to update these media values before you get started is a real time saver.

    Dashboard | Settings | Media

    Adjust according to *taste*, but make sure your large size is no wider than your post content area as defined by your theme. For example, mine is 580px to fit in this area.

  13. UPDATE! WordPress has changed since this was written so this is now causing errors, just skip to the next one!

    Change Plugin and Theme Location:
    Okay, don’t be scared, but this is moving a little towards the advanced side. First, the logic behind this…Wordpress is open source software. It is maintained by a whole team of community minded folks who are constantly improving it and adding new features. As a result of all this busy activity, from time to time you are going to have to upgrade your WordPress software (and yes, it’s still free).

    However, the upgrade process (without the proper plugin) can be a little scary and a bit tedious. To prevent accidently overwriting your plugins, themes or special settings, there is a way you can move your static (unchanging) files to a different location.

    It can be anywhere on your webserver. All you have to do to implement this strategy is copy the entire directory (wp-content) to another location and then tell WordPress where it can find those files. Like we did to turn off revisions, just edit the wp-config.php file to include the define statement shown below.

    define(’WP_CONTENT_DIR’, ‘http://www.yourdomainhere.com/assets/wp-content’); 

    Don’t forget to upload it back to your blog’s root folder.

  14. Prevent Visitors From Browsing Your WordPress Folders:
    Okay, there are the curiosity seekers, and there are hackers. I don’t want either one accidentally wandering around my WordPress installation. For ANY reason. There are a couple of ways you can prevent this. One is simple, one is not so simple. Select the method you are most comfortable with.

    • Method 1
      Create an empty text file and save (name) it index.php. Upload this file to wp-content (wherever you placed this), wp-admin, and wp-includes. The empty file will be read when they navigate to that location and display a blank white page, rather than a list of your files.

    • Method 2
      Add the following line to your .htaccess file that exists in the main WordPress installation directory.

      Options All -Indexes 

      This will turn off the auto-feature to *list* files that exist in a directory without a default page.

  15. Make It Harder To Hack Your Site:
    Along those same lines, I want to make it a bit harder for the hackers to find weaknesses in my installation. Knowing my WordPress version can provide them with enough information to attack me, I remove the temptation. (And no, it doesn’t happen often, but yes, it does happen).

    I remove the little snippet of code that is present in almost every theme out there.

    <meta content="WordPress 4.3" name="generator" /?>

    And while that’s almost enough to discourage most, you can completely remove the feature from WordPress by adding this line to your theme’s function.php file.

    <?php remove_action('wp_head', 'wp_generator'); ?> 
  16. Change The Location Of Your Upload Folder:
    By default, WordPress will put any photo’s you upload to a directory called wp-content/uploads. First and foremost, uncheck the “Organize my uploads into month and year based folders”. It makes absolutely no sense in the real world, and we like working in the real world.

    Dashboard | Settings | Media

    You can optionally tell WordPress to use any folder on your webserver for the default location, but if you plan to do this, include the *path* to your folder, and the full URL as well. (ie: *path* would be ../../images if you want the photo’s to go to http://www.MyDomain.com/images. (The ../ tells WordPress to move up one directory))

  17. Add Your RSS Feed To Feedburner:
    Yes, you can use the built in RSS feed that WordPress installs, but Feedburner is such an excellent feed content delivery and tracking system, why would you want to? Burn your feed with Feedburner, and then either install a Feed plugin that will force all your feeds to your Feedburner account URL, or update the theme header.php file to add the following line:

    <link title="Title of Feed " href="YOUR FEEDBURNER URL GOES HERE" type="application/rss+xml" rel="alternate" />
  18. Activate Your Analytics:
    Keep track of your users and traffic, there’s a lot you can learn from who visits, how they found you and where they go from your place.I recommend Google Analytics, Woopra, Firestats and Psychic Search. Other good analytic services available include Mint and StatCounter.

    You have a couple options here. The first is plugins (always recommended for the value they add to your blog), or manual theme edits. For example, Google will provide you with a little code snippet. Just open the footer.php file and just above the closing body tag, add the chuck of code.

    I prefer a good plugin like Ultimate Good Analytics. Both Psychic Search and Firestats are plugins as well. Woopra is a service that also offers a plugin (optional).

  19. Custom 404 Page:
    It happens, people make mistakes… they type the address wrong, or you move a page. They land from the search engines from a link that no longer exists. Bam! 404 Error. (A fancy-non-geek-way of saying the dang thing is just gone).

    Now, you can just hope it doesn’t happen (it will), or you can plan on it now, and get the most use out of that page. Do you offer a product? Place a mini-sales letter on your 404 Page Template with a link to the full letter. Add things like your Top Posts, or Most Actively Discussed Items to the 404 page to give them options to consume your content.

    A 404 page doesn’t have to be a death-sentence. Give the visitor options and she won’t leave your blog just yet./p>

  20. Help Google Love Your Blog:
    It’s a sad fact that most bloggers don’t do this step until they have been blogging a while and realize there are things they should be doing to optimize for the search engines. You can be ahead of the game if you install Yoast SEO or All In One SEO right away, and start completing the extra fields they give you.

    I won’t go into detail here (that’s a whole ‘nother post), but each of them offers fields for Title, Description and Keywords on the New Post screen. You should complete all three. Make sure you use your primary keyword for the post at least once in the title and description, and place 1-5 keywords in the keyword field.

  21. Create a Contact Me Page:
    Do not over look this important step. You want to be accessible. You want them to feel you are a real person they can reach out to. If you don’t provide a way to *connect*, they won’t. And they will wander off, never to be seen or heard from again.

  22. Create a Visitor Site Map: This is different than the one you created for the search engines… this is a page that provides a quick overview of everything on your site.

    Don’t assume your navigation is working for your visitors (it might not be). The more ways you provide for them to find your valuable content, they more they will.

    If your theme doesn’t include an archives.php file to allow this, get Dagon Design Sitemap Generator or SRG Clean Archives. Both are plugins and make this process almost painless.

Anything Else?

I know, I know… this post was a little longer than I had planned, but these are the things I do to every new WordPress blog I create (90+ and counting). I have found these tweaks to be the absolute minimum required to get a blog that is easy to maintain, and gets found by the search engines. And though I mentioned some very important plugins, there are many more you should consider using.

And while this isn’t the sum total of what I do to setup a blog, I would value hearing what YOU do when you setup a blog (if you have already), or come back and comment to tell me if I missed something.

Please share so others can save a step or two.


About the Site Owner

Cenay is a self-proclaimed geek with mad technical skills she loves sharing with Videos, Coaching and Articles. Need help? Click the Book 30 Minutes to find out if this is a good fit.

Leave a Comment:

(72) comments

Thanks Malika! What did you think? How many of these things are done on your blog? Have any to share that missed?


Thanks Cenay. Nice one. Especially for the ‘simple’ option in tweak 14, lol. Though I have to say, since checking out your stuff I’m getting pretty confident at fooling with php stuff anyway.


@Susan – What? You didn’t think that was simple? Have I got a video for you! Hahahaha.

Just kidding.

I know some of this stuff seems scary until you start digging into it a little. And if you need help, you always know who to call, right?


Great blog. As someone who spends a whole bunch of time on the web using WordPress this information is very timely. Thanks for the great effort.


I just got a laugh… saw a Tweet go by in the Twitter time line… Sanssecret says there is a #23 — Ask Cenay.

But, she is right… need help, you can call on me.


Thanks Cenay for all your good info. Can you give me more info with regards to the custom 404 page as to how I can complete your suggestion? Thanks


@Rosemarie – It’s standard HTML — so if that scares you, hang on.

Basically, you go to your Dashboard | Appearance | and Editor, locate (on the right side) the 404.php file (most themes have them). Click to open in the editor.

Using header tags, paragraph tags and clickable links, you just let the visitor know what you are offering. You can check out my 404 error page by clicking this link Not A Real Page

I suggest typing it up in a real page on your blog, then switching to the HTML tab and copying the code. Then in your editor, paste the newly created HTML.

I will create a post with more detail soon.

Thanks for the question!


Great info Cenay … Though I have done many of the items listed (XML SiteMap; Dagon, Contact, All in One, etc.) there are still a number of tips I have not (mostly the code changes). Seems I have a little more work to do :) …. You’ve been Dugg and added to Delicious!


@Jim Hickey – I really appreciate you taking the time to Digg this article. I harbor the secret hope of being on the first page of Digg one day.


This post just goes to show you the TYPE of post you should be putting on your blog. Lists and How To’s! This is still the number one post bringing in traffic on the blog.


@JJ – I use Headspace2 to control access for the search engines. I believe that WordPress uses a *virtual* type robots instructions. The file isn’t real but WordPress embeds the instructions at the header.

With Headspace2 (and other plugins, but we all know how much I love Headspace) you can specify a post/page you don’t want to be included in either the index of following.

You can also include a robots.txt file if you like, that disallows specific pages. I don’t believe they will conflict or cause problems.

Hope this helps.


hi there. super helpful, thanks! one question: i do want to change to “www”, but am not sure how. you say it’s as simple as going to Dashboard | Settings | General in WP, but does this mean i change the “wordpress address URL” and the “blog address url” to include www? i’m nervous that if i change these to www, it will mess things up. my site is new, if that matters. thanks for advice on this!


@Jen – Yes. Dashboard | Settings | General. Update BOTH the wordpress and blog URL, save changes. A word of warning. WordPress will require that you log back in. This is normal since the URL changed.

I would suggest getting the redirection plugin if you plan to make additional changes (like categories or post titles), but for just the URL, you should have zero problems.

Here’s a video if you want to know more about the Redirection plugin and how it will stop your SEO leaks when you do change something.



@Cenay Nailor

Thanks so much! Worked perfectly. I am becoming a quick fan of yours – you provide excellent information ; )


Hmmm. Hope it’s okay to ask a follow up www question. I changed my site to include the www (the way you recommended), but when i search for my business name via Google, the site comes up without the www. So if someone searched for my business, they would click on the non-www link. Will this self-correct over time with usage? It’s a new site. Thanks for your input.


Yes, the Google index is *cached*, which is a fancy way of saying saved. The cache itself isn’t updated every day so it will take a little time, but it will *self-correct*. With the aliasing being done on WordPress, typing it EITHER domain.com or http://www.domain.com will get there them.


Great article! was already doing around 70% of these, but the remaining 30% will be taken care of soon. just changing the default uploads folder is going to save me alot of headaches! i just tried setting my /wp-content folder to another location and it broke everything.

i think you need to have this instead:

define( ‘WP_CONTENT_DIR’, $_SERVER[‘DOCUMENT_ROOT’] . ‘/assets/wp-content’ );

in the codex it mentions a WP_CONTENT_URL definition as well. i don’t know if you need both.. i tried that variation both by itself and in conjunction with with the WP_content_dir definition and neither seemed to work, so i am just guessing that the above definition is fine.

thanks again for the great post.


need them both (i was mistyping my url) after all

define( ‘WP_CONTENT_URL’, ‘http://example/blog/wp-content’);


and you have to set the plugins directory so that all the plugins will play nice. not sure the benefits of #13 outweigh the difficulties i’ve run into in the past 24hr


Hmmm. Sorry you have run into difficulties. I have noticed that some plugins do hardcode the location they assume they are installed to, which can create problems.


After several fresh installs of wordpress, I am back up and running, but I will be keeping my /wp-content right where it is. ;) also WP-DBmanager was a lifesaver, so i second your rec for that.


Great tips and nicely explained. You have 5 or 6 that I haven’t taken care of.
.-= Tony´s last blog ..Fixed Social Buttons – A Great WordPress Plugin =-.


This was exactly what I was looking for. There were only about 5 items I had not figured out on my own, but being new to wordpress it was great to know I am headed down the correct path. Those 5 items were also invaluable and would have taken me quite a long time to figure out. I don’t blog personally, but I do maintain several for others. Great work!!!
.-= Philip´s last blog ..I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian =-.


Hi, That was great information. I’m very new to this and only wish I had read this article before. I have a little confusion in my mind about sitemaps.
On #10 you recomend intalling Google XML Sitemaps plugin. Then you ay to go o Google Webmaster Central, Add and Verify your Website, and then “Add a Sitemap”.

So are we adding a sitemap for the same website on two occasions (1st on the Google XML Sitemaps plugin and 2nd time on Google Webmaster Central) or am I not interpeting this correctly. What is the correct procedure?
.-= Gil´s last blog ..David Beckham Has Serious Achilles Tendon Injury =-.


Gil…they do two different things.

Google XML Sitemap plugin generates the sitemap.xml from your content.

Google Webmaster central allows you to submit the generated sitemap to Google for consideration.

FYI: A blog will ping Google, so technically speaking, a submission isn’t supposed to be required. I am a belts and suspenders kinda gal tho, and don’t like taking chances.


You certainly have some agreeable opinions and views. Your blog provides a fresh look at the subject.


Thanks for the list especially on “Turn Off Post Revisions” and Ping Services


Great list every new wp blogger should read



I am a greenhorn novice trying to develop a website. As I am in my sixties, I am on a steep learning curve. I enjoy your helpful articles and videos. I have two queries about your ‘Pingback’ comment (#9 in your list) in the article above.

1. As I have no knowledge of the performance characteristics of the pingback services in the extensive list you have referred your readers to, is it OK to actually insert the complete list into my site? I am a little overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the list.

2, Will having such a large list of pingback services within my site have any effect, favourable or otherwise, on SEO? Will they be regarded by search engines as links and therefore help the ranking level in some way?

Thanks in advance,



Graham, I appreciate the question.

First, the pingback servers are there to help search engines discover new content. All we are trying to do is get our new content found. And since there are literally hundreds of servers out there, by addressing just a few, we are ensuring the search engine visit our sites quickly.

Now, as to the list of ping servers I placed in the body of the article, I recently updated it to be a smaller list, of proven servers. They come and go and it was time for an update. You can copy and paste from below, or download the ping-list.txt file to save for future blog setups. Your choice.

As for your second question: “Will having such a large list of pingback services within my site have any effect, favourable or otherwise, on SEO? Will they be regarded by search engines as links and therefore help the ranking level in some way?” This will affect SEO only in the sense that you will be inviting the search engines to come to your site and crawl it again.

In order to get found by your target market, you MUST be in the search engines (regularly). They will not regard these as links, since they are simply notification servers. The ranking help comes from having the search engines crawl all your content on a regular basis.

I hope this helps.



Cenay, I just found your blog via a recommendation from a forum I frequent, and all I can say is wow! For a layman like myself, the info you’re sharing is priceless. Thanks,


Hi where exactly in my functions file do I add



Hi Cenay

Using point 14 – I can’t seem to change my htaccess file without it crashing my site and using method 1 there seems to be a index.php in each of the 3 folders mentioned which I don’t wanna overwrite.

Also point 15 – my theme won’t allow me to remove the name generator, is there an alternative method?

Please help.


I just want to say thanks. This is awesome. I’ve added all of this to my to-do list.


Hi, what a great list , nice tips!! why do you keep the number 13, I almost have done it, only after copied the folder I releases the title of the tip :) thanks for sharing, keep the good job


Hi. First of all, I owe you a huge thank. Your tutorial guided me to moved from wp.com to wp.org. You’re so professional. However, I encountered a problem that I simply can’t understand. What happened is that after I’ve imported the xml to the new site, and when I search my site, nothing shows up. Do you know what caused that?


Wow Marshall, I do not. If you would like to provide a valid link and a little more detail, I will try to help you resolve it though.


Thanks for willing to help. Just resolved it. It appears that it was my mistake while typing the url. Thanks anyway. Your site is awesome. I’ll be back to learn more.


Dang, don’t you hate when that happens?


[…] Are you more of a checklist webmaster? I have an article I wrote with all 22 things documented in one long list. You can see that article on my primary blog. It’s called 22 Things You Should Do After Installing WordPress […]


Real, real newbie here. Working on converting my blogger blog to wordpress.org. I have a domain and hosting site and many of the 22 items finished. I’m just stuck and dumbfounded on where to find the wp-config.php. Is it found on my host site and if so where- under databases? or is this something I do in the actual wp-admin site?


@Mindi — the wp-config.php file is located in the location where you installed your blog. In other words, mine is located at cenaynailor.com/wp-config.php.

The only way you can see or edit it is to download to your computer first. If you used a service like Fantasitico or EasyApps to install WordPress for you (rather than a manual installation), then this step is a requirement.

You will need an FTP client and host credentials in order to see it. You can optionally see and edit it in the File manager of your hosting account. Again, look in the root where WP was installed.

Hope this helps!


Really good post Cenay … I do most of these things but there’s a few there that I didn’t do … but will from now on!


[…] 22 Things You Should Do After Installing WordPress […]


This is a great list of things to think of when you set up a new site. Most of them, I do automatically already, but I did pick up a new thing or two to add to my blog set up. Great job.


Hi Cenay,
Thanks for the tips. I do most of these things already and the rest I will be doing from now on. I never counted each task though. When you put a number to it, it’s much easier to explain to people what I’m ‘doing all day.’ :D Now I can point hubby to this post when he asks.

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