Before you start writing you will want to change the default settings on your WordPress blog to match what you want. By getting these settings right in the beginning instead of waiting you will be saving yourself time and many problems.
- Blog Title – Enter your blog’s title here. It should be close to your domain name.
- Blog Tagline – Fill in your blog’s tagline if you know it already. If you don’t have one yet, don’t worry. Start to think of a line that will describe your blog in a few words in an original way and enter it once you’ve decided.
- WordPress address (URL) – This box should contain the URL that is the same as your blog url. You do not have to use the www part of the URL if you would like to leave it off. You may want to keep it because most users are familiar with the www.
- Blog address (URL) – This is the URL that you want your blog to show up on. It’s where you decide to include the www or not. You need to make sure the WordPress and Blog addresses match.
- Membership – Since you are just creating a blog you do not need to check this box because readers will be able to interact without needing to register.
- New User Default Role – Leave this as subscriber, since you did not check the membership box.
- Timezone, Date Format, Time Format, and Week Starts On can all be set to your personal preference.
- Size of the post box – This controls how big the box that you write your posts in. I keep mine at 25 lines.
- Formatting – This is one you can set based on personal preference. I personally do not like emoticons converted and instead prefer text smileys. ;)
- Default Post Category – This controls what category your posts are put into by default. It uses “uncategorized” for default posts. Once you have set up categories in your blog you can come back and change this.
- Default Link Category – This controls what category your links are put into by default. Once you have set up your link categories (i.e. blogroll) you can change this.
- Remote Publishing and Post via e-mail are two things I wouldn’t worry about in the beginning. You can always come back an enable them later if you want to utilize them.
- Update Services – This section tells WordPress to notify the services you specify when you publish a new post. To start enter this url in the box: http://rpc.pingomatic.com That service is a main one but there are other services you can enter in the box to let them know you have updated your blog. Click here for more information about update services and a longer list of options.
- Front page displays – Check the selection for latest posts. This is the most common setup and what you will see most blogs use. The static page option allows you to turn your blog’s homepage into a single landing page. This means that when visitors first visit your blog instead of seeing your latest blog posts they will see the page you have chosen to show. This can be a good option if for example you take a break from blogging and want to leave a page explaining why or if you are promoting a page for sales through your blog.
- Blog pages show at most – This controls how many posts are shown on the front page of your blog and any pages after that. A lot of WordPress themes use this setting to control the homepage feature, so remember it is here. You can set this to show a number of posts between 1 and 10. A lower number generally means you will get higher pageviews. I recommend showing at least a few posts on your homepage giving new visitors something to read.
- Syndication feeds show the most recent – Generally this is set at 10 posts, which will show when someone checks out your feed before deciding to subscribe.
- For each article in a feed, show – This is debated among bloggers on whether it’s better to show full text or summary which forces people to click through to your site to read the rest of the post. I recommend showing full text because I feel it is respectful to those readers subscribe to read the blog and expect to be able to read it from their email or feed reader.
- Encoding for pages and feeds – Leave this setting on UTF-8.
- Default Article Settings – I check all three. It’s a good idea to do so because you want people to comment and know when they link back to your blog.
- Other Comment Settings – These are just personal preference, but the ones I enable are the comment authors must fill out name and e-mail, enable threaded (nested) comments 5 levels deep (anything more than this and the space to write gets too small), and break comments into pages (I allow 50 comments per page). I also have chosen to automatically close comments on posts older than 180 days, in order to cut down on the number of spam comments my blog receives. This is a good idea once your blog has been around for a while.
- Email me whenever – You can check these boxes in order to get an email any time someone comments or a comment gets held in moderation. It’s a great way to know when you are getting comments in case you want to respond right away. You can also choose only to get notifications for comments held in moderation, so you know when to log in and release them.
- Before a comment appears – This is also something that is personal preference. You might want to moderate all the comments on your blog before they appear, so you would check the first box. Or if you are like me and trust people once they have proven themselves, you can check the second box which allows people to freely comment once they have had an approved comment on the blog. You can check both boxes or neither depending on how involved you would like to be in moderating comments before they appear.
- Comment moderation – This helps cut down on spam because most spam comments have lots of links in them. On my blog I hold comments with more than two links. Some people hold any comments with one link, but I don’t do this because sometimes people will leave me comments with links to good reading material or recipes. This is personal preference and completely up to you.
- Comment blacklist – This allows you to set WordPress to automatically mark any comments as spam if they contain words or names that you don’t want on your blog. If you’ve had trouble with mean commenters you can use this section to send them straight to spam so you don’t have to see them.
- Avatars – This is another personal preference for you as a blogger. If you like avatars that show up next to a commenter’s name you can enable WordPress to show them on your site and choose an option for people who don’t have an avatar (I leave it blank if people don’t have one). If you don’t like avatars then click the “don’t show avatars” button.
In the beginning I wouldn’t change any of the settings on this page.
Set your blog visibility to allow everyone to see your blog including search engines.
Permalinks control your blog post’s url. WordPress’s default structure includes a lot of numbers. Generally it is regarded that the best structure for permalinks for SEO is
I learned this lesson too late and made the decision to stick with my cumbersome dates included permalink system that makes it harder to remember specific links. You can make this decision or decide to change them for what many bloggers consider better link structure. Make sure you find and install a plugin (discussed later) for redirection to your old permalink structure or when readers click the old links they won’t get the right post. If you do plan on changing your structure, wait to do so until you have the plugin for redirecting in place. If you set it up in the beginning you will have nothing to worry about.
The shorter the link with the least amount of unnecessary information the better for your links. To change this you should check the “custom structure” box and enter: /%postname%/
This will list your blog’s domain and then the postname following it without any of the dates or other information. The only problem with this is that you will have to be careful with post title and should try to avoid using the same title for multiple posts, as that will end up adding numbers to the end of your permalink.
I leave everything on this page set to the default and make sure I check the box to organize my uploads into month- and year- based folders so I will be able to find anything easily when I need to.
And that is it for the WordPress settings! The majority of these are set for good and you will never have to change them unless you decide you want to change things up.