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Setting Up WordPress

When I install WordPress on a new site I have a list of things that I do every time to ensure that my WordPress installation is going to be optimized for SEO, and easy for me to use – not necessarily in that order. Please keep in mind that there’s a lot more to SEO optimization than I’m sharing here, but these are the basic steps you should take after installation.

To follow these instructions, please log in to the back end of your WordPress installation. You do this by going to http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin, and entering the username and password your chose or were emailed during setup.

Step 1 – WordPress Settings

The very first thing you should do is if your password was assigned to you, change your login password to something you’ll remember. You’ll do this under Users -> Your Profile. Just so you know, all the links I refer to can be found down the left-hand side of your control panel. Once in your profile, scroll toward the bottom and enter your preferred password twice, then update. Don’t forget your password!

While you’re there, I recommend choosing your Nickname. If you originally setup your account with ‘Admin’ then your nickname will usually be admin. Your nickname is your pen name, so it can be your name, or really anything you want. Feel free to be creative as this is the name your readers will see when they read your blog posts – assuming you plan to write any.

Next let’s go through our WordPress settings. Click Settings (toward the bottom). In the Site Title, enter the name of your site. This name should include the #1 keyword you want your site to rank for in the search engines. Take your time and think about it. If you have a dog training site the title could be ‘The Dog Training Experts’ or something similar. Under your title you’ll have a tagline field. This is where you’re site description goes. Some themes use this, others don’t, but it’s best to put your tagline in either way.

Also on the settings page, make sure you enter a working email address that you check. This email is used by many plugins – like contact form plugins, and is important.

Moving on, go to Settings -> Writing. The most important thing to change here is the size of the post box. By default the post box is only 10 lines. I change it to 30 as it gives you much more room.

Now go to Settings -> Permalinks. This is very important as WordPress by default uses a poor permalink structure from an SEO standpoint. You’ll want to check Custom Structure, then enter /%postname%/ and click save changes.

What this does is gives you urls that include your keyword phrases, so instead of this:

http://yourdomain.com/?p=342

you’ll have this:

http://yourdomain.com/your-keyword-phrase/

Obviously the second example does a better job of telling Google and other search engines what content is on the page, and this leads to better search engine rankings.

Step 2 – WordPress Themes

I find a theme to install before I install plugins. I think this is important, as some themes include custom plugins that replace the need for the plugins I typically use.

There are literally thousands of free themes available for WordPress, but I strongly recommend against using any of them. Why? because it’s next to impossible to get any support for free themes, and free themes are rarely updated to keep up with the ongoing changes to WordPress. Also, free themes are rarely tested on different browsers and different operating systems, and you get what you pay for.

That being said, it doesn’t have to cost a lot to have a professional or impressive looking WordPress site. Many ‘professional’ themes cost in the $70+ range, but I recommend against using them, and against spending that kind of money. Why? Because my favorite themes come from a fantastic site – Themeforest.net, and generally cost between $20 and $40. On Themeforest chose WordPress from the Categories drop down at the left, and prepare to be amazed by the level of quality you can purchase for such a small amount of money.

Click Here to Visit Themeforest

Please keep in mind that these themes do require setup, and some are more complicated than others. I’ll run through theme setup in my next post. Oh, btw, my links and buttons to Themeforest include my affiliate link. For the record, other theme sites pay affiliates far more for referrals. I recommend Themeforest because the cost is low and the quality is high – not because they pay good referral fees. I do appreciate you using my links, and I know you’ll be as impressed with Themeforest as I am.

Next time I’ll discuss theme setup, and in my final WordPress setup post I’ll talk about plugins.

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