15 WordPress To-Dos To Start Your Site With A Bang

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Things to do after starting

You’ve decided to start your own site. You may have even purchased a domain name and installed WordPress. Hopefully my step-by-step guide helped. You create an article about your goals for the site or something you think your future audience is interested in. Then you hit the publish button and wait for the traffic to flood in. But nobody shows up.

Successful content marketing is not only about publishing a post. There’s a lot more groundwork to be done. WordPress features many customization options, even before you start considering all the different plugins. Let’s look at this to-do list I go through as soon as I install a new site. Implement the following tips in order to launch your new site with a bang and give yourself a better chance of success.

Wordpress site launch checklist

Replace the default admin user account

(In Users > Your Profile)

  • You don’t want “Admin” to be the name of the author in the byline of the posts you publish
  • Create a new username which displays your full name in post bylines
  • Delete the default admin username
  • This will make your site harder to break into

Clean up the generics

  • Delete the generic “Hello World!” post (In Posts)
  • Delete the generic “Sample Page” page (In Pages)
  • Delete Hello Dolly plugin (In Plugins)

Activate comment spam blocker

(In Plugins)

Fill in “Site Title” and “Tagline”

(In Settings > General)

  • You don’t want your site to be branded as “just another WordPress site” (the default tagline)
  • Write your title in “Site Title”
  • Explain what your site is about and why your site is unique in “Tagline”

Don’t allow user registrations

(In Settings > General > Membership)

  • WordPress allows your visitors to register for membership accounts on your site
  • This is not necessary if you’re not running a membership site and it invites spam
  • This if off by default but just make sure “Anyone can register” is ticked off

Update ping services

(In Settings > Writing > Update Services)

  • Pings help you automatically notify different online services when you publish a new post
  • I don’t think I’ve ever received any visitors thanks to this but it’s a 2-min, one-time job so I keep doing it
  • See more on ping services that WordPress recommends

Make your site visible to search engines

(In Settings > Reading > Search Engine Visibility)

  • Make sure your site is visible to everyone, including search engines
  • Your site is visible to search engines by default but it has happened that bloggers ticked this box and were later wondering why search engines didn’t index their sites
  • Make sure the “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is ticked off

No thanks to email updates

(In Settings > Discussion > E-mail me whenever)

  • WordPress notifies you via email when there is a new comment on your site
  • That might be a bit distracting so I change the default option to no emails

Make permalinks short and pretty

(In Settings > Permalinks)

  • Your permalinks are simply the URL’s of your articles
  • You don’t want your article URL’s to be called something like: domainname.com/123
  • You don’t want your articles URL’s to be too long either
  • The default permalink structure: /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/
  • You do want to make your URL’s unique, descriptive, short, user friendly and attractive
  • On this site I use the custom option field called “Post name”
  • By doing this my permalinks look like this: domainname.com/post-name

Start tracking visitor numbers

Create a sitemap to help Google

  • Having an XML sitemap is very important if you want Google to be able to crawl, find, and index your articles. See more about it here
  • Use a plugin like this to help you create a sitemap

Add your site to Webmaster Tools

  • Create a Google Webmaster Tools account and verify your domain name. In Webmaster Tools Google gives you information they have about your site, your inbound links and search engine rankings
  • Submit your XML Sitemap directly to Google via Webmaster Tools. By doing this Google will crawl your new site and index it quickly
  • In Settings in your Google Webmaster Tools choose your site Preferred domain – either with or without www. Make sure this is consistent with the URL you use in your WordPress settings (In Settings > General > WordPress Address URL)

Setup social media accounts and other subscription options

  • Create a Twitter profile, a Facebook page, a Google+ page and whatever else social media profile that is relevant for your audience
  • WordPress has a feed by default (yourdomain.com/feed/) but to be able to offer email subscriptions and to be able to track your feed stats, it is best to move to FeedBurner
  • In Feedburner you can optimize your feed footer to include links like Subscribe to comments, Tweet This, Stumble It and much more (Optimize > Feedflare).
  • Most people don’t use RSS, so make sure to offer the email option (Publicize > Email Subscriptions)
  • Include your new social media accounts and Feedburner subscription options in a widget in your sidebar so you can start building your audience straight away

Get a great looking theme design

(In Appearance > Themes)

  • You may not want the WordPress default theme to be your main design theme
  • Find the theme you like and activate it – some help for finding themes is here
  • Many themes would allow you to easily change the favicon
  • And would allow you to add your own unique header image in Appearance > Header
  • Most themes also have user-friendly navigation menus which you can setup in Appearance > Menus
  • Same with the sidebar elements which you can add in Appearance > Widgets

Watch the video below where I walk you through the WordPress settings and the admin interface:

Creation and promotion of the content

And that’s it! Your site is now ready. You have adjusted all the settings and optimized your WordPress. Next step is creating and promoting your content. Get that “About me” page up. Include a contact form within it so people can get in touch.

Focus your content on a topic you’re passionate about. There are very few core, fundamental keys to blogging, and consistency is definitely one of them. Remain consistent with your site for at least 6-12 months. The reason most sites “fail” is simply because the author stops updating them. The hardest part is the initial hurdle, so decide now that you’re going to keep at it.

Make it easier on yourself by preparing a number of articles for the launch. If you want to keep to a consistent schedule, they’ll save you when life’s typical interruptions come into play. I always have a number of ideas in a draft document that I could work on and publish. Start your site with a bang by having some great content ready in the works. Go through this marketing routine after publishing each new post. Good luck!

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