So you’ve just installed WordPress. Exciting time ahead!

You may be eager to install a new theme and start creating content for your site, but it’s a good idea to take some time to change some of the default settings and to optimise your site before proceeding so that you start on the right footing. Below I’ve listed 10 things you should do after installing WordPress but of course, it’s never too late to do them, even if you’ve had your WordPress site for a while.

1. Change / remove the tagline

When you install a new WordPress site, the default tagline is left as “Just Another WordPress Site”. Doesn’t sound very professional, does it? Depending on your theme, it may not appear on your site and that’s why you may not have noticed it. But this tagline will still show up on Google search results. So make sure you change or remove it.

Go to Settings –» General.

2. Change the time zone, date and time format

These are also under Settings –» General. Date and time format will affect date/time display for your blog posts. Setting the correct time zone is particularly important for scheduling blog posts and other scheduled events such as automatic backups.

3. Delete sample content

Delete the “Hello World” post and “Sample Page” page that are created automatically. Go to Posts –» All Posts and Pages –» All Pages, hover over the titles and click Bin.

4. Delete the Hello Dolly plugin

I’ve never known why this plugin is included. It doesn’t serve any purpose. Just delete it and save some space. Go to Plugins. Find Hello Dolly and delete it. You may have to deactivate it first.

5. Add a favicon

A favicon (short for favourite icon) is a small icon that represents a site’s visual identity and helps people to easily and quickly recognise your website. Web browsers use them in the URL bar and/or on tabs.

Since WordPress 4.3, you can add a favicon easily from within the WordPress dashboard. Go to Appearance –» Customise. Then click on Site Identity. Below Site Icon, click Select Image to upload your favicon and click Save.

6. Change the permalink structure

A permalink is the URL used to link to your content. It should be permanent, and never change. Hence the name permalink.

The default permalink structure in WordPress is

http://www.yoursite.com/?p=xxx

where xxx is an ID that WordPress assigns to your page or post. Now, not only is this ugly and not very user friendly, it’s also not good for SEO because it doesn’t contain readable words.

So, let’s go ahead and change that.

Go to Settings –» Permalinks. Under Common Settings, select Post name and click Save changes.

From now on, the URL will reflect the title of the page / post. For example, let’s say you’ve written a post called “10 Healthy Meals You Can Cook In 15 Minutes”. When you save the post, the URL will automatically be formatted as: http://www.yoursite.com/10-healthy-meals-you-can-cook-in-15-minutes/

7. Disable comments on static pages

Comments are for your blog posts, not for your pages. Unless you really want your visitors to leave comments on your About page? I know I don’t!

It’s easy to disable comments on your pages. Go to Pages –» All Pages. Hover your mouse over the desired page and click Quick Edit. Then uncheck the checkbox next to Allow Comments. Click Update to save.

8. Create a new admin user

This is an important step that most people don’t do. By default, WordPress creates an admin level user called admin. Why is this bad? Because every hacker knows this and it’s the first user name they use when they try to bust into your site. So I highly recommend creating a new admin user that’s not called admin.

Just after WordPress is installed, you’d be logging in with this admin account and since you’ll be the only user so far, you won’t be able to delete yourself. So you’ll need to create a new admin level user, log in as that new user and delete this default old one. It’s best to do this before you create any posts or pages to save headaches later.

Go to Users –» Add New. Fill in the details. Don’t use any user name that’s too generic or easily guessable.

Make sure that next to Role, you select Administrator from the drop-down. And make a note of the password because you’ll need this to log in with the new account.

Now log out of WordPress and login as the new administrator. Then go to Users –» All Users. Hover over the old admin and click Delete. If you’ve been blogging for a while and have old posts that were created using the old admin account, WordPress needs to know what you want to do with those posts. You’ll get the option to re-assign these posts to the new admin as shown in the screenshot below. Then click Confirm DeletionBe careful not to choose “delete all content” by mistake!

9. Create post categories

If you’re going to blog, then you should create categories for your posts. If you don’t, all your blog posts will be assigned the “Uncategorized” category by default.

Having post categories will make it easier for you to organise your posts, and help your visitors find relevant content on your site.

To create post categories, go to Posts –» Categories. Create your categories to your heart’s content. Then, assign all future posts to one or more categories.

If you want to set a default category for all future posts, go to Settings –» Writing and select a category for Default Post Category.

10. Complete your user profile

Go to Users –» Your Profile. From here you can select an admin colour scheme, and choose whether or not you want to show the toolbar at the top when viewing your site while you’re logged in.

You can also fill in your details. Enter your first and last names, and then select a “Display name publicly as…” option. This will apply to places on your site where your name is shown. For example, author archive page and author name in posts. I recommend changing this to something rather than your username, as showing your username in public is not a good idea for website security.

Depending on your theme, Biographical Info may be shown under your blog posts so I’d fill that in too.

 

Are you worried someone could hack your WordPress website?

If you aren’t, then maybe you should be!

If someone can get into your website, they could:

  • delete everything
  • change your passwords so you can’t get in aymore
  • write malicious things about you or your company on your site
  • [insert other horrible thing you can imagine here]

With so many millions of WordPress websites out there now, you need to protect your site from hackers.

There are so many ways your site can be hacked, that it is hard to even imagine, let alone explain them all.

But in this post I am going to cover a few of the main things you should be careful of, and what you can do to protect yourself.

Today is the time to get busy protecting your WordPress website, not the day after it is hacked.

Your WordPress Website is a Hacker’s Target

Maybe now you are a little intrigued. Or perhaps a little worried.

Is your site a target too? Are hackers trying to get in as you read this. Maybe!

It is time to pay attention…

Protect Your WordPress Website

By adding a few plugins to your site, you can severely reduce the chances of a hacker getting in.

There are two main areas you need to protect.

Put up a shield around the code

The first is the code itself. That confusing stuff those crazy programmers have written to make all those bells and whistles on your site.

And even just WordPress itself. You gotta protect it as well.

All that code can be used against you, just not in a court of law!

It all needs to be checked for malicious code injection and general nastiness, as well as being protected from attempts at changing it  later (here come those evil hackers).

But never fear, there are ways to protect yourself…

Some of the plugins you might want to consider for protecting the code and backend are:

Wordfence Security

 iThemes Security (formerly WP Better Security)

And a security door for your login

There are so many dodgy characters lurking around the front door of your WordPress website.

You really need to make sure you have all the locks secured and maybe even a bar on the door.

And if that doesn’t work, maybe you need a doorman as well.

I currently recommend Login Security Solution.

It takes care of limiting logins, alerting you to attempted hacks, enforces strong passwords and much more.

Do you need https (secure connection) for Your Wordpress Website

There is another element of security that you need to take care of, sometimes.

You might have heard about people snooping in your email. Reading your private thoughts.

Well that can happen quite easily on your website, because the information sent between you/your reader and your website is not secure.

Normally that is ok .In fact, on a normal blog it is rarely an issue.

But if you have an ecommerce website, or a membership website, you might want to think about getting a security certificate for your website and the resulting “https”.

If you do need a certificate, you will first want to contact your web hosting company, as they will be best positioned to either help you or give you a provider. Once you have the certificate, you also need to install it on the web hosting server.

WordPress Security in a Nutshell

If you inform yourself a little, and apply the right protection, your WordPress website should be quite secure.

So take an hour or two out of your week and get onto these things now.

Before your site is backed, not after.

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How to Schedule Automatic Backups in WordPress

Have you ever thought about what would happen if something went wrong with your WordPress website? Or what if you mistakenly deleted posts that you wanted to keep? Are they lost forever or did you automatically back up your WordPress?

Well, luckily if you have installed a plugin that backs up your WordPress site for you, then you are safe. But what if you haven’t?

Well, you can solve that today by following this step by step guide on how to install UpdraftPlus. This free plugin will automatically back up your WordPress website for you, so that you don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Why do you need to back up your website?

When you have a WordPress website it is incredibly important to regularly back up your website. Why? Well, there are a few things that can go wrong that could mean that all of your data is lost. A few examples of things that can go wrong are:

  • hackers messing with your website or blog
  • hosting problems that could mean a loss of all your data
  • or you could make a mistake and mess something up that you don’t know how to fix

And these are just the tip of the iceberg.

To make sure that you are protected from losing all your content and settings, you can luckily automatically back up your WordPress website pretty easily.

Why UpdraftPlus?

There are many backup options and plugins out there. But the best and most commonly used one is UpdraftPlus. Not to mention, it has a great free version that does all you need.

UpdraftPlus is a plugin that makes it possible for you to schedule your automatic backups. And it provides an easy interface to restore your WordPress website when you need to. It stores your backups on a cloud service of your choice such as:

  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • or on their own cloud UpdraftPlus Vault (for Premium users)

Because the plugin stores your backups on a cloud service, you don’t have to turn on your computer or anything. It will be able to automatically back up your WordPress without you lifting a finger once you’ve installed it.

So how can you start using UpdraftPlus and setting it up in such a way that all of your blog content and settings are protected? Well, here is a step-by-step overview of what you need to do to safeguard your website.

Step 1: Download & Activate the Plugin

The first thing you need to do before you can start using UpdraftPlus to automatically back up your WordPress website is to actually download and install the plugin. You do so as follows:

Add Plugin UpdraftPlus

  1. Go to Plugins in your WordPress dashboard and click on Add New.
  2. Type in “UpdraftPlus” in the search bar.
  3. Find the “UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin” and click on Install.
  4. And Make sure that you click on Activate after you’ve installed it.

Now you’ve installed the UpdraftPlus plugin on your WordPress. However, it is not functional yet, there are a few configurations you have to complete before it will start making automatical backups.

Step 2: Configure UpdraftPlus Back Up Settings

So after the first step of installing the plugin and activating it, you can move on.

In the second step, you will have to make sure that all the settings are the way you want them to be. This includes setting up a backing up schedule.

UpdraftPlus Settings

To do this, you have to go to Settings and select UpdraftPlus, this will lead you to the dashboard of the UpdraftPlus Plugin which looks like this:

It can be that you don’t have the green text (yet), that’s because you haven’t scheduled any backups yet and that’s what the green text is. It shows you when the next backup will be made. So you can ignore that for now.

Your next step is to select the Settings tab and to set your schedule for the plugin so that is can automatically back up your WordPress website.

You need to set a schedule for both the database and the files of your WordPress. The database contains all your posts, pages, and comments, while the files are all the plugins, themes, images and other uploads.

I would say that the database is the most important part to have a regular backup of, because that changes the most. In the settings tab, you have to choose how often you want UpdraftPlus to make a backup and how many backups you want to keep.

For example, the plugin can automatically back up your WordPress content once a week (1.) and you want to keep the last two backups in your storage location (2.). You need to set this up for both your WordPress files and your WordPress database.

Once you’ve chosen how often you want the plugin to make a backup, you can move on to the next step.

Step 3: Choose Storage Location

If you scroll down in the settings tab, you will encounter all the icons of the possible storage locations. The location of your backup is really important. You do not want it to be linked to your hosting or to anything that could disappear if something goes wrong with your website.

UpdraftPlus gives you a lot of options, but I would say that Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive are probably the most commonly used ones. They are all three cloud storage services, which means that it doesn’t take up any storage on your computer, but rather in a cloud somewhere on an external server.

If you don’t have any of the options in the dashboard, then you could use your email address. But I would advise you not to do that, because it doesn’t work with every email provider and it’s more difficult to restore from a sent email than from a cloud.

Instead of using your email address if you don’t have any of the other options, you can just set up a free Dropbox account right here.

When you have decided which storage option you want to use you click on the icon of the service you want.

Here, I will be using Dropbox to show you how to set that up. And don’t worry, you can, later on, change to a different storage option by repeating this step, but with another option.

So click on the Dropbox icon and this screen will pop up:

UpdraftPlus Dropbox authenticate

Here you need to click on the link next to Authenticate with Dropbox. When you do this, a box will pop up and all you have to do is click on Allow. This step is to make sure that Dropbox doesn’t block the backups when they are added to your Dropbox account.

Step 4: Save Changes & You Can Automatically Back Up Your WordPress Website

The last step is to scroll down in the settings tab and click on Save Changes. Do not forget this step, because then your backups will not be scheduled in.

To check and see if you succeeded in setting up your automatic backups, you can just go back to the Backup/Restore tab of the plugin.

UpdraftPlus dashboard

At the top of this tab, you will see underneath “Next scheduled backups” whether or not you succeeded. If there aren’t two dates standing there in green, then you will have to go back to Step 2 and repeat the process. And don’t panic if your dates are both the same, because that just depends on your settings.

Extra: Create A Manual Backup

Now, if you would like to make a manual backup, then you can also use the UpdraftPlus plugin. Your manual backup will be stored in the same place as your scheduled ones. The only difference is that you actually have to do it yourself.

To manually back up your WordPress website. You go to the dashboard of UpdraftPlus and click on the Backup Now button. Don’t worry, it doesn’t happen straight away, there is another step.

manual backup UpdraftPlus

Once you’ve clicked on Backup Now in the plugin’s dashboard, a window will show up that looks like this:

This is where you can decide what you want to back up and whether you want to delete it together with your automatic WordPress backups or not. Once you’ve made your choices, you click on Backup Now and the plugin will start to make the manual backup.

UpdraftPlus Conclusion

So as you can see, it is relatively easy to set up UpdraftPlus to automatically back up your WordPress website or blog. And once you’ve set it all up, you don’t have to think or about it anymore.

I would definitely recommend this plugin to everyone who doesn’t have an automatic back up plugin yet. And even to those who do, but aren’t happy about their current plugin.

Hopefully, this guide was helpful to you, if you have any questions you can leave them in the comments.

And be sure to subscribe, share on social media and comment on this post!

Ah, WordPress plugins… the golden nuggets that largely set WordPress apart from any other platform. In this post I’m going to go over a list of some of the best WordPress plugins (or at least, my favourites!) as of 2017.

These are the plugins that I add almost immediately to every WordPress site I build. Combined, they speed up my workflow dramatically and make maintaining a site that much easier. So, if you’re seeking a list of the best WordPress plugins to download onto your site to get started, these are a few I highly recommend!

Without further ado: here’s my list of the best WordPress plugins!

1. Custom Permalinks

This is a pretty simple plugin that allows you to set your page permalinks to whatever you want, overriding the hierarchy that WordPress sometimes tries to force on your links. The Custom Permalinks plugin makes it so you can simply type whatever you want in that little permalink box — easy peasy!

Custom Permalinks WordPress Plugin

2. Disqus

Disqus replaces the WordPress commenting system with one that is attractively designed and organized into threads, making it easy for you to moderate and respond to comments. Commenters are also able to sign in using their social media accounts, set their own avatars, and more.

Overall, using the Disqus plugin makes for a much nicer commenting experience than WordPress’s default system. Plus, since Disqus is widely used across the Internet, many visitors will recognize the UI and perhaps feel more comfortable commenting themselves. Both of these can help promote engagement on your blog posts.

3. Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator

Your favicon is the little tiny icon that shows in the left corner of your website’s tab in someone’s browser. It is also shown next to your site when someone adds it to their bookmarks.

Pixeltropes Favicon

See, mine is the little feather.

Although favicons may be viewed as a relatively minor detail, I actually consider them to be quite important because, in my opinion, they add a sense of professionalism to your site (in other words, a favicon makes your site seem more legit). It’s a personal touch which also helps create recognizability with your readers and demonstrates attention to detail.

In any case, Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator makes it so easy to add a favicon that there’s really no reason not to! Plus, not only does it sort out the favicon, it also sets up the icon to be used for buttons on smart phones and other operating systems where someone may save your site URL.

It’s really an all-in-one solution — upload your image at the specified dimensions (which at the time of this writing is 260 x 260px) and it’ll take you to a page with your icon superimposed into all the appropriate places it might end up. You can tweak some individual settings from there, but in many cases you just need to hit ‘save’ and you’re done!

4. Redirection

Another simple but massively useful plugin is Redirection, which allows you to do exactly what it says on the box: redirect URLs. This is especially useful if you change a link but still want the old URL to redirect to the new one so you don’t lose any traffic.

Redirection WordPress Plugin

It’s honestly as easy as this.

5. Relevanssi

Relevanssi (which I presume is a fun way of spelling ‘relevancy’) improves the default WordPress search engine. It comes with tons of options to configure (though they’re pretty good at explaining what each one does) but arguably the most useful feature it provides is what’s known as fuzzy matching: this means that if user’s search term doesn’t match anything on your site precisely, but it partially matches something, it’ll display those partial matches. The default WordPress search isn’t so good at doing that.

This is a really useful feature (hence why it’s on this best WordPress plugins list) because it’s unlikely that your users will know the exact wording you used in your post when they’re conducting a search. Relevanssi makes that less of an issue by providing smarter results.

And, again, it has tons and tons more options and features than that — if user experience is important to you (which it should be!) definitely don’t give this one a miss!

6. Disable Emojis

This is another which does exactly what it says on the box: disable WordPress from automatically translating your text smileys — such as 🙂 — to emojis in your WordPress posts.

Disable Emojis Plugin

It’s not you… it’s me. Okay, no, it’s you. #sorrynotsorry

As much as I adore a good emoji, I like to be in control of when and where they show up and I’m not too keen on WordPress automatically translating my text smileys into them 🙂 Disable Emojis prevents that from happening — simple as that!

7. WP Maintenance Mode

Sometimes, there are changes that we have to make to our site while it’s live, and depending on what those changes are, we may not want visitors to stumble upon the pages in question while edits are in progress.

WP Maintenance Mode allows you to activate “maintenance mode” so that if users visit your site while you’re working on something, it’ll let them know that it’s currently down for scheduled maintenance and that you’ll be back soon.

WP Maintenance Mode Plugin

I like the simple and straightforward design of this maintenance page — no nonsense, just tells you what you need to know. Don’t overcomplicate things, especially for a page which (ideally) won’t be used a ton!

Naturally, it’s best to keep how much you activate maintenance mode to a minimum. But, sometimes it can’t be avoided, and this is a great way to ensure good communication to your site visitors.

It even has an option for users to leave their email addresses to be notified when it’s back up (I don’t always use this feature myself, but it’s still a good option to have), as well as for you to leave your contact info and/or social media links for them to check out while they’re waiting.

Just don’t forget to deactivate this one once you’re done with your changes! 😉

That’s all for now!

Just a quick note on WordPress plugins… as useful as they are, sometimes things can go wrong (the joy of technology!). It’s always good to occasionally test out any functionality you’re depending on from your plugins to ensure they’re still working as expected.

And, of course, always keep your plugins updated both for bug fixes and security reasons (it’s super easy and quick to do this from the Plugins pane on WordPress — if you have to, try setting a recurring reminder in your phone to complete your plugin updates!)

So long as you’re a bit discerning about which plugins you download (such as paying attention to reviews, level of support provided, and whether or not they are kept updated relatively frequently) the issues you may run into should be few and far between.

And the best part? If a plugin doesn’t work for you, in the vast majority of cases getting rid of it is as simple as deactivating and deleting it. Done! Easy peasy.

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