In this article, I’m only going to write about the important things to do after installing WordPress, things that should be at the top of your list. I’m going to tell you what settings you should implement, what to delete, and what plugins to install.
Things to do after installing WordPress
1. Add an e-mail and set your timezone
Go to Settings -> General, add an e-mail for notifications and select your desired timezone and format.
2. Discourage search engines from crawling your site
Until you go live with your site, everything will be pretty messy, so it’s best to prevent search engines from crawling and indexing your site.
Go to Settings -> Reading and check “Discourage search engines from indexing this site“.
This setting will add a robots.txt file with the following code:
The file can be viewed at YourDomain.com/robots.txt
It will also add this
<meta name='robots' content='noindex,follow' /> into your header.
Even though that command in the robots.txt is meant to prevent search engines from crawling and indexing your website, it’s still not 100% sure. Even WordPress says there: “It is up to search engines to honor this request.“.
It usually works, but if you want to be sure, lock down your entire site until it goes live. You could password-protect your directory through cPanel, but it’s easier to install a plugin like Password Protected. Web crawlers can’t access content in password-protected directories.
3. Change your permalink structure
The 3rd point on our list of things to do after installing WordPress, is changing your permalinks. The default permalink structure isn’t SEO or user friendly. So, you should go to Setting -> Permalinks and choose Post name. That’s the one recommended by us and many, many others.
4. Rename the Uncategorized category
When you install WordPress, amongst other default things, you get a category named Uncategorized. The reason you want to rename this, is because you or one of your editors might forget to select another category, or deselect this one when publishing a post. Such a minor error could make your users think that you are careless, or even unprofessional.
“Can’t I just delete it?”. Nope, you can’t. You can’t delete it because WordPress needs to publish a post in a category, so, if someone forgets to select one, WordPress will post the article in the default category.
In order to rename the Uncategorized category, you need to:
- Go to Posts -> Categories;
- Once there, hover your mouse over the Uncategorized category;
- Click on Quick Edit;
- Rename the category however you see fit (e.g.Miscellaneous, Other, etc.). Don’t forget to rename the slug as well;
Here’s also a video tutorial that we made:
5. Delete the themes that you won’t use or need
Another thing to do after installing WordPress, is to delete all the themes that you won’t use or need, except one (besides the one you will be using, of course). You should keep Twenty Thirteen, Twenty Fourteen, or Twenty Fifteen. You need to keep one of those themes because:
- Some themes require the activation of another theme while performing an update. The purpose of this step is to free the theme so it can be deleted;
- Usually, if you are having plugin issues, some plugin developers will ask you to activate another theme and see if the issue persists there as well. Now, I recommend having a testing site for such matters, and not using your official one.
Why should you delete the other themes? Because they unnecessarily occupy space, and some can be exploited by hackers, especially if you don’t update them.
To delete the unused themes:
- Go to Appearance -> Themes;
- Hover your mouse over a theme;
- Click Theme Details;
- Click Delete in the bottom-right corner.
6. Delete plugins that you don’t use
Deleting unused plugins should also be amongst the things to do after installing WordPress. Just like the themes, they unnecessarily occupy space, and just because they are deactivated doesn’t mean they can’t cause trouble/conflicts sometimes.
We recently had an issue with a pop-up plugin. An old pop-up kept appearing even though the plugin was deactivated. This was caused by two things: The plugin was still keeping stuff in the database, and W3 Total Cache was somehow triggering the pop-up.
So, even if a plugin doesn’t cause trouble on its own, when it’s deactivated, another one can trigger it.
Therefore, go to Plugins and start deleting the pre-installed ones that you won’t use, like Hello Dolly, Jetpack, Akismet etc.
Check the plugins that you want to delete, choose Delete from the drop-down list, and then click Apply.
Note: Some themes may require Jetpack, for example, in order for everything to work properly. Also, your hosting could install some plugins that it needs. So, be careful!
7. Secure your website
Installing a security plugin is very important. There are hackers which destroy WordPress sites in bulk, just for fun. We’ve been there in our WordPress beginnings, when we didn’t know much. Our site got wiped out just before launching time. Good thing we backed it up, though. But we’ve learned our lesson the hard way, and we didn’t have any problems since then.
So, we strongly recommend installing a security plugin like iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security). iThemes is full of security features and very easy to set up. Just follow the plugin’s recommendations and you’ll be fine.
It will also be great if you’d purchase some security features that the hosting company might offer.
8. Install a backup plugin
Install a back up plugin before starting to work on your website, and then frequently back up your progress, because you never know what can happen. Something can always go wrong, and all your hard work could go down the drain.
We’ve always used and recommended the BackWPup plugin. It’s very easy to set up and it does a very good job.
For those of you who might experience this “ERROR: Could not generate a WordPress export file.” when using BackWPup, we’ve written a post with a solution that works in most cases.
These are the most important things to do after installing WordPress. Of course, there are other important things as well, like installing must-have plugins, changing your site’s title and tagline, etc., but I only wanted to highlight the most important ones; the ones you should do right after installing WordPress. The rest can wait a bit.
If you start configuring your theme or something like that, right after installing WordPress, you can get carried away and forget about these small, but important steps.
Hope you enjoyed the post and found it useful! If you have something to add or ask, please leave a comment.