“I’ve just launched my new WordPress site… Now what?” – you’re thinking.
So your site is finally available to the world, and that’s great! You can start using it to further your goals, and eventually grow your blog/business/portfolio or whatever else your desire is.
But there are still a handful of things that you should do right after launching a WordPress site to set yourself up for success:
1. Make sure you’re visible to search engines
The no.1 thing you need to do is allow Google to index your WordPress site.
Even though in most cases WordPress sets this up correctly on its own during install, checking if things are in order can never hurt.
Just go to your wp-admin, then Settings / Reading.
Look for “Search Engine Visibility” and make sure that the checkbox labeled “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” remains unchecked:
2. Integrate your site with Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a tracking and marketing tool that every website owner should use.
It tracks your audience and their actions on your site. It comes with detailed information about everything related to your site’s content and visitors, such as the most viewed pages, conversion rates, the number of visits per day, in-depth user profiles, bounce rates, and lots of other essential stats.
The tool is free and can be easily integrated with your WordPress site through an embed code provided by Google. Alternatively, you can use a plugin like Google Analytics by MonsterInsights.
3. Activate caching
Speed is one of the keys to keeping your visitors on the site. Who likes to wait for a page to load, right? No one!
In fact, if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of people abandon it, according to Kissmetrics.
How to avoid this?
Caching is a fairly complicated process, but to simplify it a bit, it’s about fetching the dynamic output of a WordPress site, storing it in the cache, and then serving it to every new visitor from that cache, instead of asking WordPress to generate it anew. Doing it this way takes a lot less time.
4. Get yourself a CDN
Another recommended step is to hook your site up to a CDN service (Content Delivery Network). A CDN is a solution that takes the content from your site and stores it on a network of servers around the world. Then, when a visitor comes to your site, they get served from the location that’s nearest to them. Hence, they can see your site much quicker than they would otherwise.
5. Install a backup plugin
Backup plugins will keep your site content in a safe place, in case anything bad ever happens and you need to restore your site to a previously working state.
I really can’t emphasize this enough. Backup plugins are truly invaluable!
One of the better and extremely affordable solutions right now is the Personal subscription to the Jetpack plugin. For the low price of $3.50 / month you get daily backups, one-click restores, spam filtering, and 30-day backup archive.
6. Improve the security of your site
There’s a lot of bad things that can happen to a WordPress site … hacker attacks, malware, viruses, etc. Protecting your website from all that with a firewall of some kind is always a good idea.
Sucuri is one of the best WordPress security services out here. It provides malware detection and cleanup, monitors your site for hacks, mitigates DDoS attacks, and more.
You can also use the aforementioned Jetpack plugin here. If you pick a plan that’s higher up the ladder – $9 / month – you will get daily scans for malware and threats with manual resolution.
7. Set up Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) should be a must-have item on your list. It will help you optimize your site SEO-wise and point you towards some of the issues with the structure of your site that you should address – to make both your visitors and Google happy.
More specifically, with GSC, you can learn about things such as: the health of your internal link structure, external links pointing to your site, any sitemap problems, your popular keywords, the indexing status of your site, any crawl stats and errors, security issues, and much more. A true goldmine.
8. Change your logins
The easiest way to break into your WordPress site is to just guess your login and password. As abstract as it sounds, it’s really the case. There are software scripts and bots that go through hundreds of thousands of passwords and try their luck with each one.
That is why you need to make sure that your login details are strong enough.
Some things you can do:
- Create a new user profile for all editing purposes – the role of “Editor.” You can do it in the wp-admin, Users / Add New.
- Limit the login attempts allowed before the site is locked down. You can do it with a plugin like WP Limit Login Attempts.
- Use only safe passwords.
- Store your password data with LastPass.
9. Change your site’s basic information
Customize your site’s title, tagline, time zone, and favicon. It’s very important to have an identity, Google will appreciate that.
To do it, go to your WordPress dashboard and then to Settings / General.
Also, change your permalink structure. Use something that is friendly and describes the content of each individual page.
To change the permalink structure, go to Settings again, and then click on Permalinks. You’ll see a couple of possibilities there. The best option is to use your post names in the URLs:
10. Create a sitemap.xml file
Sitemap.xml is a file that lists all of your website’s URLs. Google uses this file to understand how your site is organized and what sort of information is there. As a result, it will be easier for Google to index everything.
To create a sitemap, all you have to do is install a plugin called Google XML Sitemaps. Just a few clicks and you’re good to go.
That sums up our top 10 recommendations for new WordPress sites.
Granted, there are many more things you could do, and myriads of plugins you could get to enable new and exciting functionalities on your site. But just be careful … not all plugins are safe and optimized. A good rule of thumb is to stick with the things that you really need and that really make your WordPress site better in the long run.
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