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14 essential WordPress settings for beginning bloggers

14 WordPress settings for beginning bloggers

Welcome to your WordPress dashboard!

Before you start writing blog posts, you should configure some essential basic WordPress settings

You already have a WordPress hosting provider, a domain name, a WordPress theme and you have installed WordPress.

If you haven’t completed all these steps, yet, please, start with the following tutorials before you proceed with this post:

>> How to start a blog in 9 simple steps <<

>> The 15 best WordPress themes for bloggers << 

It’s almost time to start writing your blog posts, but before you start I suggest you to change some of the default WordPress settings and to create a few standard pages. I know WordPress can be quite overwhelming at first, but believe me, you’ll get used to it!

Since WordPress is new to you and it would take a lot of time for you to figure it all out on your own, I have compiled a list of some essential basic WordPress settings for you, that are important to set up before you get started.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra. So it’s a win for everyone! Please note that I won’t link any products I don’t believe in or don’t resonate with my blog site. Thank you!

Edit permalinks

Before explaining how to change permalinks, allow me to first explain to you what a permalink actually is. A permalink is the part of your URL that is pointing to a specific blog post. It’s the part that comes after the domain name, for example, https://she-can-blog.com/how-to-start-a-successful-blog-in-2020/

(By the way, I really regret this permalink. I didn’t create it correctly and now I can’t change it anymore 🙁 Can you guess the mistake I made? You can find the answer later in this post!

By default, the publication date of posts is included in the permalinks in WordPress.

This is what a default permalink with the publication date looks like https://she-can-blog.com/2020/09/10/je-eigen-blog-starten-in-2020

Or, they look like this: https://she-can-blog.com/?p=123 

Not so pretty, right? You don’t want your links to look like this, you want them to be as short and concise as possible, it’s easier to remember for your readers and it’s better for the SEO of your website. Aside from that, it just gives a more professional look to your blog.

You can only set up your permalinks once, right at the start of your blog. After that, the structure of all your URLs will remain the same forever (permalinks -> permanent links). That’s why it’s important that you do this correctly.

By the way, you cán change the permalinks later, but it’s something you should avoid. By changing the links later, you will break all the old links you ever posted on social media. When someone clicks on an old social media post, they won’t be able to find that page! To prevent that, you’ll need to use redirects, which search engines aren’t too fond of. Too many redirects van result in lower rankings in the search engines.

Another reason why a publication date is impractical to add to your permalinks:

As I already pointed out earlier in this post, I regret adding “2020” to the permalink of one of my blog posts. Why? Because when it’s 2021, 2020 isn’t relevant to readers any more. They’ll want to read posts with the most recent updates. Even if I update the content of my post to the 2021 changes, the URL still has “2020” in it. 🙁

How to set up your permalinks?

  • Go to Settings in your WordPress dashboard 
  • Go to Permalinks, check the box that says “Post name” 

That’s all!

Set up Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one of my favorite – slightly addictive – free tools for my blog! You can use Google Analytics to track how many visitors you are receiving, where they’re coming from, how much time they spend on your site, how many pages they visit, how they got to your blog, and much more.

Analytics gives you truly invaluable information, and it’s absolutely for free! And with all this free data, you can keep track of the growth of your blog! You can see if you’re driving more traffic to your blog, which posts are popular, and which aren’t.

How to install Google Analytics

  • Go to Google Analytics and create an account  
  • Go to Settings 
  • Click on Tracking code
  • Copy the code and paste it in the header of your blog
  • To find your header go to Appearance and click on Theme Editor. Here you can find your header.php file and paste the code between the <head> tags.
  • Now go back to Analytics and go to Filters -> Add Filter -> Choose a filter name and add your own IP-address (whatismyip.com). This is to prevent Analytics from tracking your own visits to your website.
  • If you bought a Premium WordPress theme, you received documentation with it, which also gives you basic instructions for your WordPress settings. Don’t forget to read this documentation as well.

Title en tagline

The Title and the Tagline are the first words your visitors will see. They also appear on the browser tab of a web page. So, it’s important to write a proper title and tagline, because they help you to establish your brand identity and it’s important for your website’s SEO.

You enter your brand name in the Title field, and the tagline is basically your slogan. Write down what it is you do, and what you stand for, so all your visitors instantly know what they can expect from you and your blog.

To edit your title and tagline:

  • Go to Settings
  • Add the title and tagline

These are my title and tagline:

Site Title & Tagline Example

Favicon (Site Icon)

See these icons in the tabs of the websites you opened? Those are favicons. This is mine:

Favicon Example (1)

Many bloggers forget to add a Favicon, but I strongly recommend you to create one right away! It helps with the branding of your website and it’s useful for website visitors who like to have many different tabs opened at the same time. I have to admit it, I’m on them 😉 Do it for us, it’s so much easier to recognize your website in the chaos of our opened tabs! I’d be forever grateful. 😉

To set up a Favicon, you will, of course, need one first! You can easily create one with the free version of Canva.

  • Open a square design in Canva
  • Don’t use full words, it won’t be readable
  • Don’t use a detailed illustration, you can’t see that clearly either
  • Open some of your favorite websites for inspiration
  • Keep your favicon as simple and clear as possible

Favicon ready?

  • Go back to your WordPress dashboard
  • Go to Appearance
  • Go to Customize
  • Go to Site Icon
  • Change image
  • Upload your favicon
  • Done! 

Visibility search engines

There is one checkbox in your WordPress settings that blocks your entire website from the search engines if it’s marked. You obviously want to avoid that, because, without the search engines, you don’t have any organic visitors. Therefore, verify if this checkbox is ticked off, and you’re not blocking your website’s visibility.

  • Go to Settings
  • Go to Reading
  • Make sure the checkbox “Search engine visibility” is NOT checked!  

Menus, pages, categories

A WordPress theme usually comes with a navigation menu that appears at the top of your page. To design the navigation menu you first need pages and categories.

But first let me start with a short explanation of what menus, pages, and categories are and how you use them. By the menu I mean the navigation menu you always see at the top of a website, and your home button, your categories, About me page, Contact page, and Legal pages will be attached to it.

Pages and posts

First, you need to create a few basic pages, but before you start, it might come in handy to understand the difference between Pages and Posts. Posts are created for your blog posts, they show the publication date of the post and appear on your Blog page. They also have a comment section below every post.

Pages don’t show a publication date and don’t have a comment section. They’re intended for static content, in other words, content that doesn’t change, such as About Me, Privacy Statement, and Contact pages.

How to create pages: 

  • Go to Pages
  • Click Add New
  • Create a Contact, About Me, Privacy- and Cookie Policy page

Categories are used to divide the main topic of your blog into sub-topics and to organize your navigation menu. You are required to classify each post into a category. If you do this consistently, it will also have a positive effect on the SEO of your website. It’s helping the search engines to understand your website better.

How to create Categories:

  • Go to Posts
  • Click Categories
  • Enter the name of your Categorie
  • Save

Also, change or delete the “Uncategorized” category here. When you don’t give a category to your posts WordPress will automatically put them into the Uncategorized category, which is not helping your SEO.

If you’re worried you might forget to set your categories sometime, you can also assign a different category to be the default category:

  • Go to Settings
  • Go to Writing
  • Go to Default Post Category and select the desired category.

Now that you’ve created the categories and pages for your blog, you can attach them to the navigation menu:

  • Go to Appearance 
  • Go to Menus
  • Add your menu items here and drag and drop them in the right order

Widgets

Widgets are blocks of content that you can place in the sidebar or footer of your website. You can place anything you want in the widget section: your recent posts, your Pinterest or Instagram feed, ads, the tag cloud, your blog archive, a short About me, and much more!

Widgets are really easy to set up:

  • Go to Appearance in your WordPress dashboard 
  • Go to Widgets 
  • Drag the desired widget to the sidebar or footer  

Tip: Create images in Canva to direct your visitors to other blog posts. Like I did, with a widget directing to my Pinterest Profile Checklist. You can see it in the sidebar! It’s a great way of displaying your other posts!

You can also see an ad for Grammarly in my sidebar. I added this by using one of the banners that Grammarly made available in their affiliate program for their affiliates. Just add the affiliate link to it! (To do this you need to use the Image widget by the way!)

For some widgets, you may need extra code, images, or a link which I will explain in more detail in one of my future posts. 😉 For now, for a more detailed explanation about Widgets, I refer you to this post on Individualobligation.com.  

Language

Do you want to change the language of your WordPress dashboard to another language?

  • Go to Settings 
  • Click on General 
  • Go to Site language 
  • Choose your language

As a non-native English speaker, I still chose to keep English as the language for my WordPress language. I read and watch a lot of WordPress tutorials, and most of them are in English anyway. Changing the language of my dashboard would just confuse me.

Timezone

Check if the time zone is set correctly. If you want to publish your posts automatically at a specific time in the future, you will want WordPress to publish your posts according to the time zone you’re in.

  • Go to Settings 
  • Click on General 
  • Go to Timezone 
  • Change the timezone to your location

Home and Blog page

WordPress uses your homepage as the page where your blogs appear by default. If you want another page as your homepage, this is how to change it:

  • Go to Settings
  • Click on Reading
  • Go to Your homepage display’s and choose the page you want to set up as your homepage and which page you want to use for showing your blog posts

I use a landing page as my homepage, and I don’t want to display my blog posts there. That’s why I have chosen for a Static Page here. 

My homepage settings look like this:

Your homepage displays example - She Can Blog

If you want to display your blog posts on your homepage, you don’t need to change anything here.

Legal pages

The legal pages of your blog are just as important to your blog as the content itself. You need to add legal pages to your site to inform your visitors about the way you collect, and use their data, to inform your readers you’re promoting affiliate links, to inform about the cookies on your website, and last but definitely not least, to legally protect yourself from lawsuits.

I’m not a legal advisor, but I felt this subject is too important to skip when it comes to setting up your blog. That’s why I want to refer you to Amira’s Legal Bundle with all the templates you need. Amira is a lawyer and created a full website full of legal templates and information about the legal part of blogging.

There is one more setting you shouldn’t forget after you created your Privacy Policy page:  

  • Go to Settings
  • Click on Privacy
  • Go to Change your Privacy Policy Page and choose your Privacy Policy page from the dropdown menu
  • Click on Use this page
Privacy Policy WP Example (2)

Gravatar

A Gravatar is your profile picture. It is visible when you respond to comments, as well as when you leave a comment on other people’s blogs. You can use your own photo (which I recommend!) or your logo.

  • Go to Users
  • Go to Profile
  • Go to Profile Picture
  • Add your photo or logo

Summary

You have now properly configured the most important basic WordPress settings so that you don’t need to worry about them later on. Now that your settings are configured, you will also want to install a few plugins. For example, a plugin to protect your blog against hackers, to make a backup, to set up an anti-spam filter, and to optimize your images. Proceed here for my basic package of free plugins that I recommend to every blogger!

Do you know other important WordPress settings, that I haven’t mentioned here? Let me know! Leave a comment in the comment section below.  

And don’t forget to share this post with other bloggers on social media! Sharing is caring! <3  

X Angie

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23 thoughts on “14 WordPress settings for beginning bloggers”

  1. Angie, these are must and easy steps to be done once WordPress installation is finished.
    These simple steps will be definitely helpful interns of SEO too.
    Amazing stuff good read

  2. Permalink is a must! I love to make it simple for every post that I write and avoid using date from the very beginning 🙂 Thanks for these great tips xxx

  3. Such a comprehensive post, I didn’t know all of them and I think they will be very useful to apply, thank you for sharing 😊

  4. Mihaela | https://theworldisanoyster.com/

    Before I even started blogging, I bought an online course to go by. I consider it a good investment, but I am still saving your post for further reference.

  5. Before I bought hosting, I hated the date I publish the blog post being in the url. I am glad that I got rid of it because it keeps the URLs short. It’s a lifesaver on Twitter with the word limit

    1. I also really don’t like to see the dates in URLs. And you’re right about Twitter, too! Didn’t think about that because I use a link shortener to post on Twitter.

  6. Briana | Next Destination Unknown

    Excellent suggestions for setting up WordPress properly! I feel like so many people have no clue what to do after installing WordPress. With this post, they’ll be off to a great start with using WordPress!

    1. Thank you so much! I was also clueless when I started with my blog. I hope I can make it a bit easier for new bloggers. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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