THE ESSENTIAL 8 STEP CHECKLIST FOR YOUR WORDPRESS WEBSITE11 of October 2016
You’ve made it! You’ve purchased your domain name, you’ve connected your domain to WordPress, now it’s time to setup your WordPress site for real! If you’re new to WordPress, all its features and functions may seem daunting but this checklist will provide you with the essential things you need to perform in order to get your site up and running. If you don’t do these things, your site will still work fine, but these simple additions can help improve your traffic (yay!), usability (gasp!) and the safety of your site (the crowd goes wild!).
Although the 8 steps outlined in the Checklist for your WordPress Website SOP details the how to of making these changes, the following will explain in more detail why you should do them.
STEP 1 – PERMALINKS
One of the first things you should do is to set up your permalinks. The default setting in WordPress is the date your post is published. This is no good for SEO, and will prevent your potential customer finding you in Google. Changing the settings to display ‘Post Name’ will improve your chances of people finding you organically in a search engine.
STEP 2 – CREATE A BACKUP
It doesn’t matter how experienced you are with using WordPress, things can occasionally go wrong, which is why you should begin to backup your site immediately. There are plenty of free and paid services available, although one which will automatically backup your site daily, is much preferable to one that has to be done manually. Backing up your site allows you the option to ‘roll back’ to a previous version of your site.
It might sound quite extreme to already begin thinking about backing up your site, especially if you’ve only just started to add content, but setting up your site can be both time consuming and costly, and forgetting to set up a recurring backup could create unnecessary issues.
It’s a good time to note that any big changes you wish to make on WordPress would be best undertaken in ‘Staging’. Staging is a copy of your site where you can test plugins or new features without affecting your working site. If you make changes in Staging, you can then move your changes over to your live WordPress site. There are several services that provide a built in Staging platform, such as WPEngine.
STEP 3 – SAFE PLUGINS
One of the great things about WordPress is the numerous free and paid plugins that you can download for your site. These range from simple functions, such as creating an alphabetical list of all your blog posts to more essential plugins like Redirection, a plugin that does exactly what it says on the tin, and redirect URLs to another place.
When you’re looking for a plugin you should take into consideration several things: The first is when the plugin was most recently updated. If it was more than six months, then the plugin is probably no longer being updated and may not have been tested with your version of WordPress. Since WordPress releases updates regularly, plugins that have not been updated, or have not been tested with the newest WordPress version can easily become problematic, and sometimes cause other plugins to stop functioning correctly.
You should also check to see how many other users have downloaded the app, and read a few reviews. You can also check to see if there any user test reviews or comparison posts online to see if the company who makes the plugin has a good reputation. You can also check the plugins website for more information. It’s also worth noting that if you decide to use WPEngine, there are some plugins that are essentially banned from your WordPress site, because they conflict with their system. You can find a list of plugins that are not allowed by WPEngine on their site.
Since WordPress is open source, anyone can create and publish a plugin for us to use. Although there are some extremely talented developers out there (I really heart a good plugin), there are also some not so great plugins, so it’s really important to check out the plugin before installing something that may not only affect the usability of your site, but also compromise the security of your site, leaving it open to hackers.
STEP 4 – SECURITY
We talk a lot about WPEngine on SOP Templates, and that’s because they keep our site and other sites that we’ve worked on extremely safe and have some great additional functions that are well worth their small monthly fee. Although we don’t want to scare you out of starting your website or blog, it’s really important to be aware that there are hackers just waiting to find a teeny tiny hole in your website, and this is where WPEngine, or security plugin comes into play.
STEP 5 & 6 – GOOGLE ANALYTICS AND WEBMASTER TOOLS
If you intend to use your WordPress site to sell products you’ll almost certainly want to connect your site with Google Analytics. Although, it’s not too difficult to set up, you can always pass it onto a freelancer, by sending them our Setup Google Analytics on WordPress SOP.
When you first begin your site, using Google Analytics may seem overly technical and overwhelming, but don’t ignore the wealth of information gathering in Google Analytics, that you can access later. Even if you have no intention of using the data from Google Analytics as you begin to build your website, once it’s up and running, you may find time to learn more about Google Analytics and begin analysing your traffic.
STEP 7 – SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and is the method of getting traffic to your site. There are many elements of SEO, and you can take a look at this great SEO infographic for more information. Since SEO is such a large topic, you can start considering your site’s SEO with the use of a plugin that provides a checklist of areas you should cover in order to (hopefully) rank well in Google. Of course, these plugins don’t help you choose successful keywords, but use the keyword(s) that you have chosen to make sure your page is packed with them.
One of my favorite plugins is Yoast SEO. The plugin that provides you with a ‘traffic light system’ that indicates how many times your chosen keyword is found in your blog post.
The plugin has a criteria that each blog post must meet in order to get a green ‘light’. If you have no keyword or your keyword does not feature in your blog post, you may have a red ‘light’. The criteria covers things areas such as page title length, word count and meta description. This plugin also has some cool Social Media features that allows you to create custom article titles and add different images for Facebook and Twitter posts.
STEP 8 – CREATE SOME CONTENT!
Deleting the ‘Hello World’ page, is really the last step before you actually get to put some great content on your site. Whilst failing to remove this page will not be a disaster, but if you forget to remove or change the page, Google will eventually index it, resulting in a facepalm moment!
Although this list may make it seem like there are an awful lot of things you need to set up when first creating your site, once these things are implemented, you can pretty much leave them to do their own thing. It’s better to tick off this whole list before adding your content so that you don’t regret it later. Even better, outsource these tasks to a freelancer and make life even easier!