Installing WordPress is only half a battle won and setting up your WordPress for the win is the next half.
Having said that, setting up your WordPress dashboard doesn’t have to be that hard.
In fact, I’ll share the exact checklist I used to set up my portfolio of 10+ blogs.
With this out of the way, all you’ve to do next is add content and publish articles that rank.
Important Things to Do After Installing WordPress?
1) Familiarize yourself with the WordPress dashboard
The WordPress dashboard is basically the control panel for your website.
From here, you can create posts, manage comments, publish your articles, and much more. To access the WordPress dashboard, simply add “/wp-admin” at the end of your website’s URL.
This will lead you to the login page of WordPress where you can enter your credentials to access the dashboard.
Here is a quick overview of what you can access from the menu:
- Posts: Access the blog posts you write/publish
- Media: Allows you to upload or manage the media files to your blog
- Pages: Same as posts but generally used to publish static pages of your website. This includes the contact page, about page, and other sections that do not undergo frequent changes
- Comments: Allows you to manage and post replies to comments on your blog posts
- Appearance: This is one of the important options on the dashboard. It allows you to install themes on your website and personalize them based on your preference
- Plugins: The USP of WordPress. You can choose from thousands of plugins to do tasks like optimizing your blog posts for SEO, compressing image files, cloaking affiliate links amongst others, and much more
- Settings: Allows you to control your website and make it accessible for search engines, set up permalinks, writing settings etc. We will talk about it later in the article
2) Update your website’s title, tagline, and timezone
The first thing to do is to change the website’s title and tagline. This is important information about your site that appears when someone searches your site on search engines, on your readers’ browser tab or on social media (when your homepage link is shared).
- Your site’s title is your site’s name, and
- Your site’s tagline is a small catchy line that describes what your site is about.
For example, this site’s name is “Bluehost Tutorials” and the tagline is “WordPress Hosting & Domains”.
Here’s how to edit these:
- Go to the dashboard, click on the “Settings” section and then select the “General” option
- Update your site’s title and tagline into relevant ones
- While you are on the same page, consider updating your site’s address, date and time format (these appear as metadata of your posts giving users an idea about when a post/comment or content is published/updated on your blog
Check out the example screenshot below and replace everything according to your website’s attributes.
3) Manage WordPress Comments Settings
WordPress websites by default allow everyone to leave a comment on your post.
However, you can customize and filter what comments go through for your moderation.
For example, comments with a certain number of links (ideally, there should be no link inside a comment’s content but spammers jam-pack their comments with spam links) can be set to directly land in the spam folder.
You can also set how many comments to display on a page.
Below is a screenshot that walks you through how to set up comments after you install WordPress.
After this section, scroll down to manage a few more settings. These will help you automate comment moderation to a new level.
You can directly send comments to moderation (or trash box) based on the keywords they contain.
In the next section, we will choose how to set avatars for commenters. Follow the steps mentioned in the image below:
4) Set Up Your Permalink Structure
Your permalinks are the URL structure for your site. For example, some sites have dates on their URL, others have the category slug before the page slug while most others simply have the post URL after their domain.
Generally, if you’re starting a new site, the default permalink structure is fine. So, first-time website starters don’t need to do anything.
However, if you’re migrating from a site with a custom URL structure or want to have a specific URL structure rather than the default (and recommended) site.com/post-name permalink format, you can set it up by heading to settings > permalinks option.
Please Note: The second option should be used only when you are migrating from a different URL structure.
5) Setup your profile
WordPress allows you to have dedicated profiles for each author, admin, contributor etc. Authors can have their information displayed at the end of their blog posts using this.
To customize your profile, head over to users > your profile from the menu.
You can set:
- How WordPress displays your name on the frontend (usually in the post metadata or below the articles in the author bio)
- A short bio
- Link to your website & social media profiles (after installing an SEO plugin that we discuss later in the article)
- Your profile picture (using WordPress’ gravatar.com)
6) Set up an SEO plugin
According to the latest SEO statistics, 75% of visitors never crawl past the first page of Google. So, if you want to rank in the top 10 of the SERPs, you need to optimize your blog posts for the search engines.
That’s when a plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast comes into play.
To install it, simply go to dashboard > plugins > add new and search for WordPress SEO. Click on the install plugin and then activate it.
Please note: There are other SEO plugins like Rankmath or All in one SEO that do the same thing. You can choose anything you like.
After the activation, the plugin walks you through an easy setup process and you’re done in a minute or two.
Pro Tip: Installing Yoast will enable the social media handles (or URL) option for your user profile (discussed earlier).
7) Delete default WordPress content
At this point, you must have noticed there is some default WordPress content that needs to be gotten rid of.
- Delete default WordPress Post: Go to Dashboard > Posts > All Posts. You’ll find a post (titled “Hello World”) already published. Hover your mouse on it to see the “trash” option. Click on it
- Delete sample page: Use the same process to delete the “sample page” under the Pages menu option
- Delete sample comment: Go to comments > trash the only comment there
- Delete Hello Dolly: This is a default plugin with no use. Delete it (Plugins > Installed plugins > Delete
8) Install Recommended plugins:
As I said earlier, WordPress offers a plethora of plugins to help you manage, grow and maintain your blog. So, here are a few of them that you should consider installing:
- Akismet Anti Spam: to manage/filter spam comments
- Contact Us plugin: to build a contact page
- Table of content plus: to display a simple table of content for your articles on the frontend
- A cache plugin like W3 total cache, W3 super cache etc: to enable caching for faster website loading speed.
- A security plugin like Wordfence, iThemes Security etc: to secure your site from attacks and hacking attempts.
- A backup plugin like Updraftplus: to backup your site for worst-case scenarios (very important).
Pro Tip: Don’t get swayed away by the plugin options the WordPress repository offers. The fewer plugins you install, the better.
9) Add a Contact Us page
A contact us page is very important for you to publish.
It lets your readers, sponsors, potential collaborators or anyone interested in reaching out to you.
You can create a page titled “Contact Us” (go to dashboard > Pages > Add new) and add your contact details there.
Additionally, you can use a plugin like WPForms lite (this free version is enough for most if not, they do have a premium version) to create a form that people can fill in. You can enable spam protection using the plugin and place the shortcode on your contact us page.
10) Add important pages
Apart from your contact us page, there are a few other pages that you need to get in place before you launch your site in public.
- A disclaimer page: This page protects your site (and you) from legal liabilities. You can tell your readers about the nature of your advice, services etc and if you will be liable for anything that happens after following your advice (for example)
- A GDPR policy page: GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation is very important (especially, if your audience is from the European Union) and revolves around how you handle the personal data of EU citizens. Discussing GDPR compliance is beyond the scope of this blog post, so here is a resource to help you understand
Pro Tip: These pages are very crucial and hence it is recommended to take legal or certified help in case you don’t know how to frame them.
11) Install and customize your site’s theme
Now after all this backend stuff, let us discuss something more interesting.
Let’s make your site more beautiful, and optimized for better user experience and conversions.
The default WordPress theme is pretty limited but you can choose from 1000s of free WordPress themes from the WordPress theme repository.
To choose a theme, go to Dashboard > Appearance > Themes.
You can see your default WordPress theme here. Click on Add New to view the theme collection and then select one that fits all your requirements.
In case you want a single-page portfolio theme or a food blog theme or a theme for your agency website, WordPress has it all.
Some of my personal recommendations for free themes include GeneratePress, Astra and Neve.
Pro Tip: Most of these themes are great out of the box but if you want to customize them or need advanced features, you can always opt for premium themes.
I use Divi for creating quick landing pages and the freedom of designing my website with drag and drop builder and GeneratePress (for sites that are simple and minimal).
The next step is to customize your theme.
After you choose your theme, customization is pretty straightforward (depending on your chosen theme) and often comes with help and support from your theme developer.
12) Add a favicon
The only thing I can see most beginner site owners forget a lot is adding a site favicon.
A favicon is a small icon that appears on your browser tab (near the beginning of the name of the website).
It helps your readers identify your website amongst others. In fact, Google’s started showing favicons in the SERps.
Having a favicon (and having a well designed one) can create brand awareness and boost your CTR in the SERPs.
Now that you know how important a favicon is, let’s check how we can add one to our site.
- Go to appearance > customize > site identity.
- Now, scroll down to the section that says “site icon”.
- Upload your favicon image file there.
Points to remember:
- A favicon is a square file and its size is a multiple of 48px.
- The ideal favicon size is 512px *512px.
- It is recommended that you do not change your favicon file often (helps boost brand recall value).
We have now accomplished almost all the essential things to do after installing WordPress.
The next task is to publish content that helps your readers solve their problems and differentiates you from every other blog discussing the same topic.
Make sure to check out our guide on how beginners can ensure building a successful blog, the right way.
Lastly remember, blogging is not a destination, it is a journey. Your tasks of content publishing and optimization are never done. This is what makes blogging worthwhile.
So, what are you waiting for? Go customize and design your WordPress blog today!
Want to learn more about how to build & grow your WordPress website? Here’s a complete guide: