Now that you have installed WordPress and have a basic idea about the components and functions of the platform, the next step is to customize the settings. There are six sub sections under settings and we will go through each section that needs to be tweaked.
Please note that all these changes I do here are based on my personal experience. The whole purpose of this tutorial is to familiarize the different settings available in WordPress.
You can change the site title and give a tagline if needed. You should see the title you have given at the time of installation. In case you need to change it, you can do it right here. Tagline is not an essential thing but, if you have one in mind then insert it in the tagline field.
One important element here is “Wordpress address” and “site address” fields. There are no hard-code rules as what to use. You can go with either with ‘www’ or without ‘www’ (which is commonly called the ‘naked domain’), and this will depend on your personal preference.
There are no specific advantages or disadvantages of using one over the other in terms of SEO. Be consistent and stick only to one version. However, it is recommended to use the ‘www’ version instead of the naked domain as it brings some technical advantages when your site is growing. A good technical read about this topic can be found here.
If you need to change other elements like email, time, then they can be done here. There is no need to change any other elements here.
You can keep most of these settings as they are. There is no real need to change these. However, it is recommended to upload a good list of update services which will help your posts to index quickly.
Whenever you publish or edit a post in your site, WordPress pings these update services. By default, WordPress updates all the major ping services but there is no harm in having your own list.
You can download the list I am using on all my sites, here.
This is one important settings section in the WordPress dashboard. This is where you can set up a custom home page instead of the default page. Also it is very important to disable the option called “Discourage search engines from indexing this site”.
Most people still think that WordPress is a blogging only platform where creating static home pages is not possible. That is absolutely incorrect. WordPress has matured over the years and its capabilities have become endless. You can create any type of site based on the WordPress platform and even on your own platform.
Under reading settings, you can set a custom home page as well as an alternate blog page. Also, you can change the number of posts to be displayed in the blog page. The default is 10, but you can alter it as you wish.
Under discussions settings, you can change the settings related comments appearing in your site. The majority of comments will be spam, therefore, it is not recommended that you turn on auto approval of comments.
Never turn on pingbacks and trackbacks. It is another way of spamming WordPress sites. Go through all the settings and change according to the way you like. All of them are self-explanatory.
This is where you can define a thumbnail, medium and large image sizes. When you are uploading images to the site, in that uploading window, it asks whether you want to resize the image to pre-defined sizes (which are found here) or keep them in the original size. So, you can define your own T, M and L sizes here, if needed.
When an image is uploaded to the site, the URL of that image comes in the following format:
That is the WordPress default format. Under Media settings, you have the option to use something else by unchecking the “Organize my uploads into month- and year-based folders”. But I do not see any issues in sticking to the default format.
This is another key setting that has to be adjusted before moving forward. The permalink structure plays a critical role in search engine optimization (SEO). Therefore, you should adhere to a SEO-friendly structure and that has to be done at the beginning of the site.
If you are going to change the structure once it has grown to a certain level (Let’s say you have 100 articles indexed already) then any change to the permalink structure will adversely affect your current rankings. Therefore, the decision has to be made when you first start the site and stick to it as long as the site is active. It is just not possible to do a safe-switch in the middle but it is always good to stick to one structure.
The default URL structure (plain) and numeric ones are not SEO friendly. The best one is to use the post name as the permalink. Or else you can go for a custom structure which will include both post category and post name. It will look like this, “%category%/%postname%/”. If you are building a news site, then it is good to utilize a structure which includes a time parameter. You can find a list of structure tags that can be used here.
Wrapping it Up
Read our in-detailed article about WordPress permalinks to understand why the are extremely important in terms of SEO as well as for your visitors.
The purpose of this tutorial is to give you an idea about the basic settings of WordPress. Most probably, you are building your first site. Therefore, it is not really necessary to tweak most of these settings. But you have to have a basic idea about the settings panel and what are the essential things you have to change, such as permalink structure whenever you start a new WordPress site.