15 Things To Do After Installing A New WordPress Blog

WordPress is one of the most easily installable content management systems available for web publishers. It takes less than five minutes to install a new WordPress blog on any web server. But the basic installation alone doesn't complete the essential blog setup necessary for running a secure and user-friendly website. Fortunately, configuring these basic yet extremely essential options is not that hard provided you know what to configure and how to configure. So, let's get started and learn to configure a basic WordPress installation with all the essential settings.
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Note: The order of these settings does not govern their priority. You can configure these settings in any order.

Configure Google Authorship

If you're setting up a professional or a business blog, you cannot ignore this essential setting to claim the authorship of content written by you or your team members. It also ensures that the author's thumbnail and a link to his Google+ profile is included in the search results. This greatly helps in creating trust and credibility among the readers and also ensures you get the credit for your content directly from Google.

Google authorshipThere are several ways to claim Google authorship for your content and these methods differ slightly when dealing with single author or multi-author blogs. Here we're going to discuss the simplest scenario where you're setting up a single author blog.

<link rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/XXXXXXXXXXXXXX/posts"/>

The most simple way to implement this feature is to include the <link> tag (given above) in your blog's header, i.e., it should be included between <head> and </head> tags. Replace all X alphabets with your Google+ profile number. If you're unsure about your Google+ profile ID, here's a handy guide to finding your Google+ profile number in an easy way.

Secure .htaccess and wp-config.php

Two important files that must be secured from intruders are .htaccess and wp-config.php that are present in the root directory of your blog. Both of them contain important data and directives to keep your blog working in good condition. If an intruder is able to penetrate into one of these files, he can bring down your blog in no time. Check for correct file permissions for these files and include the following code in your .htaccess file to prevent unauthorized access to these files.

<files ~ "^.*\.([Hh][Tt][Aa])">
order allow,deny
deny from all
satisfy all

<files wp-config.php>
order allow,deny
deny from all

The directives given above harden the security of these two files and keep your blog's sensitive information impenetrable. Since this configuration is related to security, you must complete this setting as soon as possible once your blog is up and running. You can also check out these important .htaccess directives vital for new WordPress installation.

Completely Fill Author Profile Details

This is yet another important configuration which is often delayed or ignored after installing a new WordPress blog. You must fill your author profile details as soon as possible as it is associated with two very important aspects. First, it correctly displays your details (thumbnail, description) if you've inserted an author box that pulls information from your profile. And secondly, it shields your login name or ID which is exposed whenever a new profile is made with incomplete details. You must fill out first name, last name, URL, display name (important - shields your login ID), website and biographical info.

Create Privacy & Copyright Policy

This step is most necessary for niche, business and professional blogs who not only offer services on their blogs but also monetize them with third-party ad networks. You must create privacy as well as a copyright policy for your blog and must provide a link for the same so that visitors can read it, if required. If you struggle to make these policies, you can use this free privacy policy generator, social media policy generator and Creative Commons license selection tool. In most cases, adding a copyright symbol with current year is good enough to declare your content ownership with all rights reserved with you.

Add A Sitemap To Google Webmaster Tools

If you're installing a completely new blog with no content, you must make an entry for the same in Google webmaster tools. It is followed by verification of ownership of your blog. If you're simply transferring your blog to a different server, you can skip the first two steps and must check that your new blog's sitemap is accessible in your Google Webmaster Tools dashboard. If you're migrating from Blogger to WordPress platform, you must delete the old blogger sitemap from the records and should replace it with the new WordPress sitemap. Here's a handy guide for bloggers about using Google Webmaster Tools.

Install Web Analytics Script

Tracking your blog's traffic is of prime importance to optimize and improve the overall visitors' experience. If you're using Google Analytics asynchronous tracking code, you must paste it just before the closing </head> tag. If you're using synchronous code or using some other tracking software, you can safely paste the tracking script just before the closing </body> tag. This is one of the most important steps that must be completed as soon as your basic installation is completed. Do not forget to tag important links (subscription, download) at the same time so that they can be tracked easily as well.

Configure Permalinks

Whether you're installing a completely fresh blog or migrating from WordPress or Blogger platform to a new host, configuring posts' permalink structure is of prime importance to avoid leakage of link juice and to retain all the external and internal traffic coming from different sources. In case, you're transferring your WordPress blog to a new host, you must set the same permalink structure present on the old blog. For new WordPress blogs, following permalink is recommended by SEO experts.

WordPress permalink structure

If you're transferring your blog from Blogger to WordPress, you must use the following permalink without any fail. You must configure this setting before importing posts from your Blogger blog.

Blogger to WordPress permalink structure

This permalink configuration should be completed immediately after completing the preliminary installation. Whether you're importing posts from a WordPress blog or from a Blogger blog, beforehand configuration of this step is necessary so that you can preserve the URL structure of your old content.

Configure www or non-www

It's a form of canonicalization that must be configured properly to avoid loss of traffic as well as for implementing better site-wide SEO. Every blogger has its own preference when it comes to prefixing www in front of posts' permalinks. Some like to prefix it, while others simply avoid it. Whatever is your preference, you must configure your preference so that all traffic is permanently redirected towards your preferred URL structure.

New version of WordPress automatically handles this redirection once you specify it in Settings → General → WordPress Address (URL) & Site Address (URL). In case, your preferred choice is not being redirected correctly, you may use the following .htaccess directives to redirect your blog's URLs correctly.

#Redirect www to non-www

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.yourdomain.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://yourdomain.com/$1 [L,R=301]

#Redirect non-www to www

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourdomain.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourdomain.com/$1 [L,R=301]

Use one of the directives given above that goes with your preference. Do not paste both directives as it may create an infinite redirection loop once a visitor lands on your blog. This setting is also considered as one of the most important configurations that must be completed for better SEO and for seamless browsing experience.

Integrate Social Bookmarking

We're living in an era where social media is of prime importance no matter what kind of online presence you have. It becomes more important when you're publishing content for masses. Social media helps in content syndication and for gaining new subscribers and followers. Integrating social sharing options to your WordPress blog helps in disseminating your content on various popular social media networks.

You can do this integration in two different ways. Either you can opt for a plugin-less solution or you can use a popular social bookmarking plugin like Digg Digg. Placement of social bookmaking links must be considered wisely so that it not only gels well with your blog's theme but is also easily accessible to the readers with different screen resolutions.

Setup Custom Error Documents

Generally, if a visitor lands on a broken link on your blog, he is shown an error for that non-existing page. This is very annoying experience for the visitor which can be easily avoided through an easy setup from your end. You must create custom error landing pages for such conditions and should configure redirection to these pages whenever a visitor is faced with one of the errors conditions. Following is the .htaccess code that can be used for this kind of redirection.

ErrorDocument 400 /404.php
ErrorDocument 401 /401.php
ErrorDocument 403 /403.php
ErrorDocument 404 /404.php
ErrorDocument 500 /500.php

If you're using a premium theme like Thesis, you never need to configure custom 404 pages for your blog as it's configured out-of-the-box the moment you activate this theme. Remember, creating these custom error pages is just half the work. You must populate them with relevant content so that visitors' can be redirected towards your main content on the blog. This is done easily by highlighting the best content on these pages along with a search box so that visitors can look for the information they need.

Configure Feed Subscription Options

No blog setup is complete without providing handy links for subscribing to post updates. Most bloggers use Feedburner as a distribution and delivery service for their subscribers. If that is the case, you must burn your new blog's feed with Feedburner and must provide a RSS and email subscription link in the sidebar or header. In case, you're migrating from Blogger platform, you must change the source feed in your Feedburner account and must fill the post feed redirect URL in your Blogger account as shown below.

Feed settings

Burning your default WordPress feed via Feedburner alone doesn't do the work. You must redirect it to Feedburner to complete the process. This ensures that if any subscriber uses your WordPress original feed for getting the post updates, he is properly redirected to Feedburner feed and his subscription is tracked automatically. Following is the .htaccess directive to redirect your WordPress feed to Feedburner.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !FeedBurner [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !FeedValidator [NC]
RewriteRule ^feed/?([_0-9a-z-]+)?/?$ http://feeds.feedburner.com/YourFeedName [R=302,NC,L]

Replace 'YourFeedName' with your Feedburner URI before pasting this code in your .htaccess file. You must place the feed subscription links at prominent places in your blog's layout. After configuring this setup you must do a test subscription to see whether everything is working fine or not.

Create Contact And About Page

The most important yet neglected pages on a blog are contact and about page. Out of these two, contact page is easy to make and generally contains a simple submission form. What matters most is an impressive about page. Do you know that your blog's about page is among the most-visited pages at any given time? Yet we do not pay much attention to it and simply complete it with a small introductory paragraph supplemented with an optional photograph.

About page is an excellent place to convert your traffic and you must come out with a plan to leverage the traffic landing on it. Here's an excellent guide to creating a performing about page that really converts.

Install Essential Plugins

Although I recommend using plugins very carefully on your WordPress blog, still you cannot ignore some of the most essential plugins that are so vital for proper and seamless working of the entire installation. I strongly recommend installing Akismet and Google XML Sitemaps as soon as your blog setup is complete. Nowadays a robust caching plugin is also an important add-on that must be considered if you're using a VPS or a dedicated hosting plan. Although blogs on shared hosting plans also use these caching plugins but they cannot get the desired performance due to conditional limitations imposed in shared hosting environments. W3 Total Cache is considered one of the best caching plugins available today and can be safely used on your WordPress blog provided you're well aware about its proper configuration.

Disable Post Revisions

An average blogger is not aware of the fact that every time you update your existing blog post, a new copy is made in your WordPress database. This creates large number of unused copies that not only makes your database heavy but also consumes extra storage space. By default, WordPress creates post revisions for you so that you can restore backwards, if required. Restoration is rarely used by bloggers and thus leaves very little significance for this feature. You must disable the posts revisions feature to keep just one copy of your post in the database so that it remains small in size and doesn't include redundant content.

define('AUTOSAVE_INTERVAL', 300 );
define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', false );

Add the code shown above in your wp-config.php file to disable post revisions and to set auto post-saving time to 3 minutes. You can increase or decrease the auto post-saving time as per your requirement. At a later stage, if you want to enable this feature, simply replace false with true. I'll strongly advice you to keep the habit of writing your posts on a local PC instead of directly writing within your live blog's dashboard.

Turn-off Pingbacks and Trackbacks Notifications (Optional)

Link notifications from other blogs can be a headache at times. This problem becomes graver when trolls and spammers target your blog and send bogus trackback notifications. If you're feeling that these notifications are introducing unpleasant conditions for you, you may consider turning them off completely. While installing your blog, go to Settings → Discussion and deselect - Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks).

If you've already imported your posts from your old blog, then this setting will have no effect on these posts. This setting only affects the new posts created by you. You must use the following SQL commends to disable these notifications for all the published posts.

UPDATE wp_posts SET ping_status='closed' WHERE post_status = 'publish' AND post_type = 'post';
UPDATE wp_posts SET ping_status='closed' WHERE post_status = 'publish' AND post_type = 'page';

Use phpMyAdmin console to run these queries. Make sure you've selected the right database before your run these commands. You must replace 'wp' with the actual database prefix you're using for your tables. Once these notifications are turned-off, you can use simple Google Alerts to get notifications of new inbound links for your blog.

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About Rajeev Edmonds

MintBlogger author - Rajeev EdmondsRajeev Edmonds has been blogging since 2006 about digital marketing, social media and of course about problogging. He specializes in WordPress installation and Thesis theme customization. He is the founder and editor of MintBlogger where he blogs about new media strategies.

Since April, 2012, he's making his living entirely from his blogging efforts. He holds a post graduate degree in computer applications and loves to dig in CSS/HTML code. Read more →

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