The Best WordPress Settings To Optimize Your Site

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Now that WordPress is installed, you need to go through the admin area of your site to update the WordPress settings. The default settings are not the best, especially when it comes to search engine optimization. So these are important steps to follow and they need to be done before you start adding content to your site.

WordPress Settings For Posts

Wordpress-Settings-Posts

By default, WordPress includes a sample post when you install your site. You should delete this post by clicking on the trash link under the “Hello World” post. There are specific settings you should use within your post for SEO purposes, but we’ll cover that in a separate post (aka article).

The only additional step under the Post section is Categories. WordPress includes “Uncategorized” as the default category. You cannot delete this category, so you’ll want to rename it. If you click on the Quick Edit link, you can rename this category to something specific to your website. Even a general miscellaneous category is better than uncategorized.

Wordpress-Settings-Categories

Settings for Pages

Wordpress Settings-Pages

WordPress includes a sample Privacy Policy and Form as part of the install. A privacy policy is required for all websites so you can leave this page and edit it before publishing. And at this point I would leave the sample form page as well. You may choose to add a contact form and this page can be edited and renamed.

Settings for Plugins

Wordpress-Settings-plugins

By default WordPress has several plugins installed. Akismet is an anti-spam plugin that has been popular for years, but now they charge for commercial sites to use it. So if your site is for personal use only I’d recommend activating this plugin, but for commercial sites I don’t think it’s worth the fee.

You will have to activate most of the default plugins. This is essentially like flipping a switch and telling WordPress that you want the plugin turned on. If it’s deactivated then the plugin is installed but turned off. For any of these plugins that you aren’t sure about at the moment, feel free to keep them installed, but if you decide that you don’t need (or want) them, then be sure to delete. The fewer plugins the better.

General WordPress Settings

Wordpress-Settings-General

Under the Settings section you’ll see several different sub-sections. The first is “General”. In this section you will want to put your website name, slogan, email and select your preferred date and time formats. Your website may not display the slogan, but it doesn’t hurt to enter a tagline, or target keywords in this section. Be sure to use a valid email address so that you don’t miss important emails regarding your site. One other thing to note under this section, be sure that “Anyone can register” is NOT checked off. If you check this box, it opens up your site to being spammed by random people registering on your website.

Writing– there aren’t any settings to worry about at the moment. The default settings are all OK. Once you have your categories set-up you may want to update this section to choose a default category.

Wordpress-Settings-Reading

The reading section is another area that doesn’t require a lot of changes to the default settings. The only suggestion I’d make is to limit the post feed to a “summary” instead of the full text. There are two reasons why I suggest this. First, it forces people to visit your website to finish reading the article. And second, it prevents people from stealing your content. Some people just use RSS feeds to gather data and limiting the length of your feed prevents people from copying your article.

Discussion Settings

Wordpress-Settings-Discussion

The discussion settings define how your site handles comments. So this is a subjective area and you may choose to handle it differently. But if you choose to allow comments on your website, this is what I suggest.

Require people to include their name and email in order to leave a comment. I allow anyone to post a comment, but all comments should be held for moderation. I also leave comments open indefinitely, so I remove the checkmark from the line that closes comments after 28 days.

Wordpress-Settings-Permalink

The permalinks section is the most important setting that you need to double check. Why? Because the permalink impacts search engine optimization (SEO) and you want to get it correct before you start posting content. The worst thing you can do is change your permalink structure after you’ve published content because this will break the links to your website and cause lots of problems.

The permalink is the format of the URL for your website. You want the URL to be as short as possible and SEO friendly, so you should go with the post name setting. This makes your URL easy to read and write.

That’s it for WordPress Settings that you need to worry about when getting your new website up and running. There are additional settings specific to post, pages, pictures, etc. but we’ll cover those as we go into each of the areas in more detail.

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