How to Optimize the Basic Settings on a New WordPress Site

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This is a direct follow-up to the previous SwissMadeMarketing Bootcamp video where we saw how to build a new website from scratch. In this next step, we’ll take a look at the basics settings in WordPress and how to optimize them – for ease of use as well as search engine optimization.

Watch the video below for all the details:

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Hello, I’m Shane Melaugh and welcome to this new edition of the SwissMadeMarketing Bootcamp.

We are looking at how to build a website from scratch and this is part 2, where we will go into configuring the website. So, in part one we built up the website using WordPress and you saw how quickly you can get a website up and running with that. Now if you login to your admin panel, (as a reminder, your admin panel is accessible through your site’s URL followed by “/wp-admin”) it takes you to this screen, where you can manage your WordPress installation and your website content.

Now what we want to do is we want to look at the basic settings down here. By the way: all of these tabs have a drop-down; you can click on these little arrows and it drops down and shows you all of the submenu items.

Now we are going to have to look at just these, the necessary basic settings before we go into plugins and themes and actually there is not that much you need to change in the basic settings. The first thing you want to look at is when you go into the writing tab: one of the things is the size of the box, which is for editing the posts. The standard setting is 20 lines and just so you see what that refers to let me open up one of the posts. If I go into the post view this basically just refers to the size of this box or the height of this box, rather. So, depending on your screen size you might want to make that bigger or smaller. I like to set it to 26 lines or so, but since I’m shooting these videos in a smaller window, I’m going to leave the setting as it is.

Then the rest of this stuff really isn’t that important down here. I do want to comment on this: you can add sites that get pinged (notified) as soon as you update one of your posts or create a new post and a lot of people recommend that you paste in a huge list of services to ping whenever you update your blog. I personally have never seen this make any kind of a difference so I don’t change anything here.

Next up are the reading options. The one thing that is quite interesting is that you can choose between displaying your posts on the front page, i.e. your blog on the front page and displaying a static page. Many themes will override these options but just for your basic themes here’s the difference: if I go and visit my actual blog and I put up some post here, you can see on the front page this is the blog which means it shows my latest post on top followed by the next post, followed by the next post and so on. This is the standard blog view. Now what you can do in the reading settings is set a static page instead, so I can select the front page. I’m just going to choose this page called “this is a page” and I’m going to save the settings. Now if I go back and I simply reload the page or reload the home page, you’ll see that now it is no longer showing the blog, it is showing the page that is called “this is a page” and that I just quickly created. This is a feature that can be quite useful if you want to show your main post or your main piece of content on the front page to everyone that comes in regardless of what the latest post on your blog is.

The other reading settings concern how many posts the blog shows and how many posts are inside your RSS feed as well as whether you want to show the full text or a summary in your RSS feed. I recommend you change that to “summary”, because that makes people actually visit your sites rather than just read all your content in an RSS reader. So we select that and we save changes. Just as a side note for the RSS feed: I’m also going to show you how to use feedburner to get some more features there.

The next options we are going to look at is the privacy options. This is just a safety check, but make sure that the top option is ticked, where it says “I would like my site to be visible to everyone including search engines”. On certain installations of WordPress it can happen that search engines are blocked as the default setting. That is obviously not great if you are trying to attract search engine traffic so make sure that the top option is ticked here.

Then finally, this here is a very important option, it’s probably the most important option for SEO purposes: the permalink structure. The permalink structure concerns the structure of the URLs of your website. Now the default structure appends “?p=”, followed by a number to display your posts and that is what you see in the URL bar of your browser. Needless to say, this is not great because first of all, these URLs don’t look appealing. They look kind of robotic, nobody can really relate to these numbers and secondly it is not good for search engine optimization, because you want to have your keywords, your relevant words in the URL itself.

What you want to do is you want to select “custom structure” down here and there are two options that I recommend. The first option I recommend is to either use post name and that is “/%post.name%/” (that’s how you set up this URL structure) or you go with category name followed by post name and that is “/%category%/%post.name%/”. These are the two possible URL structures that I recommend.

In practical terms this is what it will look like: if you use the postname URL structure then the actual address of any given post or page will look like this. It will be your site URL, a forward slash and then the name of that post or page with hyphens in between words. That is a pretty good way of structuring your URLs. The other option also adds a category name in beween the domain URL and the post-name. Both of these options are good in terms of SEO, the drawback of the second option is that URL can become very long and long URLs generally tend to get fewer clicks than short URLs.

My personal recommendation is that you use the second structure (including categories) for very large sites. That’s if you intend to make a huge site with thousands of posts. It can be good to keep the categories separate. For any other site simply go with the post or page name at the end. So, once again in your settings that will be this code here “/%postname%/”. That is the perfect custom URL structure to use. So you do that and you save changes. Those are the most basic settings. This gets you kind of on the right track with your SEO and with your site’s setup and all of the other stuff we will do using specific themes or more importantly plugins that we use with WordPress. In the next video we will continue on the topic of basic setup. We will start looking at setting up analytics, setting up plug ins and stuff like that.

Shane Melaugh

About

Shane Melaugh is the Chief Marketing Officer of SwissMadeMarketing who is responsible for most of the video- and marketing-related stuff you see on this site.