WordPress Post-Installation Basic Configuration Checklist

Okay so you managed to install WordPress for the first time.

Congratulations! But… you do realize you STILL need to clean up and configure its settings inside now right?

I thought I was supposed to blog away when I first installed mine but oh sorpresa… I couldn’t be more wrong!

Writing blog posts is what you do AFTER your initial configuration, not before.

I wasn’t aware of this when I first got my first WordPress blog up and running so I don’t want you to do that mistake either.

WordPress Post-Installation Basic Configuration Checklist

This is the basic configuration process I normally follow whenever I’m installing WordPress for the first time.

You can find all these categories in your WordPress dashboard under Settings.

General Settings

  • Set the site’s title
  • Set the site’s tagline
  • Set admin e-mail
  • Uncheck membership box
  • Select timezone
  • Select Date Format
  • Select Time Format

Important: LEAVE ALONE both settings for WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL).

Writing Settings

  • Size of the blog post: 50 lines
  • Uncheck “Convert emoticons like :-) and :-P to graphics on display” (if you like smileys leave that checked!)
  • Default post category – you can select a default category by creating a category first under Posts/Categories
  • Update Services – you can extend the default update services (http://rpc.pingomatic.com) by googling for “WordPress ping list 2012” and introducing the new values in your update services textbox. Use a line break between each service.

Reading Settings

  • Blog pages show at most: 10 posts (you can lower this value if you want)
  • Syndication feeds show the most recent: 10 items
  • For each article in a feed, show: Full text (don’t shoot yourself in the foot by showing an excerpt)
  • Encoding for pages and feeds: UTF-8 (don’t mess with this)

Discussion Settings

Discussion settings has a lot of checkboxes but it is pretty easy to understand.

In this section the only thing I actually change is the default avatar to display a Gravatar logo. (I’ll show how to personalize that image later)

Some people like to ALWAYS approve their comments, you can do that by checking this box:

  • An administrator must always approve the comment

I like to approve the FIRST comment and the rest of the comments from the same person to be automatically published.

You can do that like this:

  • Uncheck: An administrator must always approve the comment.
  • Check: Comment author must have a previously approved comment

Media Settings

I normally leave all these at their default values, except for this one:

  • Uncheck: Organize my uploads into month- and year-based folders

The reason I don’t like to organize in months and years is that I find it more difficult to find media like this.

Many people prefer to have the month and year structure so it’s really up to you.

Privacy Settings

This menu just has one option (Usability Tip for WordPress Developers: They should probably change this somewhere else, it would be one less menu).

Anyway for this setting, either you want the search engines to start indexing your site or you don’t.

There’s no really rule of thumb for this, many say the world will collapse if you allow search engines to index your site if you don’t have any content yet and the truth is that who will actually decide this are the spider bots (search engine crawlers).

It would be a smart choice to allow the search engine indexing to happen when you actually start publishing some content though.

Permalink Settings

Select the postname ratio button or use:

  • custom structure: /%postname%/

If the site you’re planning to build is going to have menus like “WordPress, list building, etc” and you would like your articles to be automatically fed into those menus, then use this value instead:

  • custom structure: /%category%/%postname%/

That’s the current structure I’m using on Marketing With Sergio but if I had understood how all of this worked before, I would have gone with the postname only.

It’s really no big deal but if you choose your permalink structure correctly from the beginning, you’ll be happy forever. ;-)

That is IT for the settings, now we jump on the WordPress clean up!

WordPress Post-Installation Clean Up

This is not crucial to do and in fact, you might want to keep this content in your site, at least until you decide what WordPress theme you’re going to use.

Deleting the content that WordPress automatically places there for you, actually has a purpose and it is to let you know how things look like.

Normally I already know what I’m going to do, so I just get rid of everything, so if you want to do that is just a few extra steps.

Deleting Default WordPress Content

  • I go to Posts/All Posts, check the box for the hello world post and trash it.
  • Then I go to Pages/All Pages, check the box for the Sample page and trash that as well.
  • Note: The comment published goes away with the deleted post, so no need to try to hunt for that comment down.

Cleaning the WordPress Sidebar

For the sidebar there’s a million (maybe more?) different opinions on what you should have, what you shouldn’t have, etc, etc.

The ONLY thing I really can’t stand to see on a blog, is being able to see the Log-in Admin links.

I always get rid of every single thing on the sidebar and start adding widgets as I see necessary.

To do that, you go to Appearance/Widgets and look for the main sidebar in your right and then you can start deleting everything there.

Don’t worry, whatever you delete from there, means you only deactivated it.

And if you’re concerned about getting rid of your admin log in link… (assuming you didn’t do any manual ninja WordPress installation) just go to yourdomain.com/wp-admin and you’ll get the Admin welcome screen.

WordPress Post-Installation Basic Configuration Checklist Video

Anyway I did a video where I show most of these steps, maybe it’s easier to watch? Who knows, here it is!

I think I may have been a bit fast or a bit slow… but I’m planning to create a course very soon and I’ll be as SLOW as needed so don’t fret on these details.

Permalinks Bonus Video: Categories/Postname vs Postname

Thanks to Patrick Griffin in the comments, I made this quick video to answer how to use the categories/postname structure in your permalinks.

As your categories are part of your URL, they can get SEO weight but you also can be repeating words like this (using categories):




And you could easily go away with no categories:


But you wouldn’t have the ability of creating menu based on categories on this one.

So it’s really a matter of preference.


For more advanced WordPress users…

You should know that there is WAY more to this initial checklist such as:

  • Setting pages
  • Installing plugins
  • Configuring your plugins
  • Deciding what your sidebar structure is going to be like
  • Picking a WordPress theme
  • Getting to know your theme
  • Dabbling with the CSS
  • Extending functionality with PHP edits
  • Building a child theme
  • Etc

As you can see, I just wanted to keep this short and straight to the point for people that may not understand WordPress basics just as well.

So I hope you’re digging this content as it is taking a lot of time to produce but that’s perfectly fine with me. ;-)

Take care and speak soon!


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    • Linda
    • May 16, 2012

    Excellent information here for the newbie, Sergio!

    Are you adding all these tutorials to Barry’s Video Challenge log? I see he is still allowing them and I know you had planned on participating till your PC took a dump. They are all really good!

    Hope your day has been going GREAT!

    1. Reply

      Hey Linda, glad you are liking the information! ;-)

      Right now this is for newbies mostly but it will become really advanced very soon so I hope you’re ready for that! haha

      I’m afraid I didn’t take Barry on his video challenge. I went through a number of hoops at the time that I can’t even remember what happened.

      Thanks for letting me know, I’ll try to catch up with him and see what happens, take care and hop you have a great day as well. ;-)

    • Wim Netour
    • May 16, 2012

    Hi Sergio,
    I like what you’re doing here, starting your first blog can be intimidating :)
    Just wanted to as you a question here.
    I noticed in the ‘discussion settings’ page you did not turn of ‘Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article ‘.
    This setting automaticaly posts a comment on another blog you link to in your article. This seems a bit spammy to me. Do you recommend leaving this on or do you normally turn this setting of yourself?


    1. Reply

      Hey Wim, thank you for your support and yes, first blogs CAN be intimidating for sure! ;-)

      I always leave that setting ON unless it’s a client’s site.

      Here’s a quick scenario between two bloggers/marketers:

      If I’m linking to your site, it’s my way of saying “your content rocks” but it’s your final decision to approve (or not) the trackback/pingback in your site.

      It is not automatically published.

      I get about 3 to 5 daily links to this site, mostly from really bad places and I never approve those but if I get a genuine link from a related article and from a good site, I am more than glad to approve it and give the link back.

      You can see this in action here (some friends that have linked to this site):

      This is a personal preference of course.

      Some bloggers don’t like the trackbacks since they want to have their visitors focused on their site only but so far I don’t have a problem that my visitors leave to other related places as long as I know they are good sites.

      Hope that helps and thank you for commenting Wim. ;-)

    • Patrick Griffin
    • May 17, 2012

    Hey Sergio,
    Great post as ever but I have a couple of questions.
    I was told that once I had installed WP that the very first thing I had to do was to go to Permalink settings and do this:
    custom: /%category%/%postname%/

    Now I notice that your advice is:
    custom structure: /%postname%/

    Now I know you say it is not a big deal, and I believe you, but I also like to know why something is being recommended in these situations. I guess I like to know the reason behind the stuff I am doing rather than being told “Just do this.”

    So my questions are:

    1. Why is custom structure: /%postname%/ preferable to custom: /%category%/%postname%/ ?
    2. Why would not change this setting from one to the other some weeks or months after starting a blog?


    1. Reply

      Hey Patrick,

      Really glad you asked my friend because I was starting to think that people don’t like the explanations at all. LOL

      A1. I answered this on video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLRd2_Sy2IY

      A2. Because even though WordPress is “smart enough” to re-link everything internally, your outer links are still going to be pointing at URLs that don’t exist anymore.

      It can be done but it involves dealing with plugins or rewriting your .htaccess configuration file.

      Also have in consideration that SEO is going to be lost almost immediately with this change and as Google gets more childish with each day, I don’t really think big G would love this but sure enough, it IS doable.

      Hope that helps and thank you for the great questions! ;-)

        • Patrick Griffin
        • May 17, 2012

        Hi Sergio,
        Thanks for the extra bonus video.
        I see what you mean having just checked a couple of my recent blog posts.
        So I have a post link which is this:

        and this:

        I see that the options I have are eg:
        [average] Use categories and posts and get this:
        (i) patrickgriffinonline.com/blog/words-wednesday/words-wednesday-20-words-that-never-were/

        [good] Use categories and posts but edit the post title to make the link look good and get this:
        (ii) patrickgriffinonline.com/blog/words-wednesday/20-words-that-never-were/

        [best] Use posts only and get the post title I want AND the link I also want.
        (iii) patrickgriffinonline.com/blog/words-wednesday-20-words-that-never-were/

        Now I know why you made the recommendation which you did and I know why I will have to leave things the way they are on my current blog.

        Great stuff.

        I learned from this today.


        1. Reply

          That’s EXACTLY 100% right Patrick.

          Glad you learned something today as that’s the whole point of this blog.

          PS. I edited your two fictious links (ii & iii) to not have broken links on the site and the first one in the examples as there’s a previous link pointing to the same location.

          Just stupid Google SEO stuff. LOL

    • Patrick Griffin
    • May 19, 2012

    Hi Sergio,
    This is the first ever blog post where I have ever left three comments before so when that happens you know it is certainly capturing my imagination.

    Firstly I was just going to do what I am going to mention here and then I thought I would like to hear your thoughts on the matter and also that it might be useful information for your blog readers.

    I don’t take SEO all that seriously but you have inspired me to take it at least a little more seriously than I do now.

    After reading your last comments about broken links it occurred to me that I probably have a lot of broken links on my blog. I link to a lot of things for the ease of my readers so they check out the subject I am writing about in more depth if they want.

    Now I am never going to go through each post and check all the links manually – that is crazy.

    Then it occurred to me that there is probably a WP plugin which does that, so I checked and there are.

    My question is do you recommend using such a plugin and, if so, do you have any recommendations for a particular plugin.

    WP BrokenLinkChecker v1.5.1 by whiteshadow seems to have a good rating and is up to date so I thought I might start with this one.

    Maybe some of your other WP expert readers have their own views?


    1. Reply

      Hey Pat,

      You’re 100% right man. There’s a bunch of really talented wordpress people that visit the site regularly but they don’t interact here that much.

      I wouldn’t be so picky about the plugin, if it has a good rating and has been updated recently (like yours does) then it’s a green flag for me.

      I can recommend you to install it, run it, fix the broken links and (personally speaking) I would uninstall it and run it every two months (of course this depends on how much you update your site and how much you link “outside”).

      Thanks in advance for doing the research, I’ll try that plugin myself and see if I have any surprises waiting for me.

      Great job and take care Pat! ;-)

      PS. SEO is a joke to me (thanks to Google) but we can’t still completely forget about it so I applaud that you are at least concerned in providing a good experience for your visitors.

    • Cararta
    • May 20, 2012

    Hi Sergio!
    I must do something wrong sometimes when working in admin. I have several sites that the labels disappear from vision part of the page or post editor. Have one I just installed, used Fantastico and left if vacant for a day or so, went back to removed WP ‘s Hello world post & page and the labels are gone from the editor? They were gone when I logged in and clicked on pages, all, edit.
    Help! It is a nuisance, have to hover to find out what is where!

    1. Reply

      Hey Carolyn,

      From the description you’re giving me here I don’t have the slightest clue on what the problem might be.

      Feel free to send me admin login details for the site (domain + user + password) so I can take a look and see if I can spot anything weird. ;-)

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