You can begin using WordPress as soon as you install it. However, a few quick modifications to your WordPress settings can boost your SEO and help your niche blog become more successful. When I establish a new niche blog, I always change these settings before I begin writing my first post.
How do I access WordPress settings?
WordPress settings are easily accessed via the left sidebar. Start by selecting “Settings.” Although there are some settings you don’t need to touch (like Writing and Media), there are some critical changes you need to make.
Establish your site identity in General Settings.
The General Settings are very basic and include things like the site title, tagline, langauge and time zone. You will make a few quick adjustments to this page.
Change your Site Title to the name of your website (i.e., Low Income Relief or Skilled Blogging).
Choose a short, succinct tagline that explains what your reader can expect from your blog. The tagline should be just a few words long and include a relevant keyword that you would like your website to rank well for. For example, the tagline for Low Income Relief is “Save Money & Get Free Stuff!” and the tagline for Get Help Map is “Resources for Low Income Americans.”
You should also select your site language, timezone, preferred date format and time format.
Check the Reading Settings to make sure search engines are not discouraged.
The most critical change you’ll make in the settings can be found on this page. Hidden at the very bottom, right above the save button, is a little checkbox that says “discourage search engines from indexing this site.”
Make sure that box is NOT checked! This box is often checked by default and can ruin your SEO for obvious reasons.
Moderate how people interact with your site in the Discussion Settings.
The discussion settings dictate how readers and other bloggers interact with your website. These settings can have a tremendous impact on how your website functions once it becomes popular.
Generally, I leave the following boxes checked (and everything else unchecked):
- Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article.
- Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and rackbacks) on new articles.
- Allow people to post comments on new articles.
- Comment author must fill out name and email.
- Email me whenever anyone posts a comment.
- Before a comment appears, comment author must have a previously approved comment.
For ease of reading, I also recommend that you “enable threaded (nested) comments” at least three layers deep. I usually set mine for five.
On this page, you will also have to make a decision about avatars. Avatars are the pictures that show up next to comments on your website.
WordPress pulls these images from an external site called Gravatar, which tracks avatars by email account. In my personal experience, not many users have Gravatars set up and disabling the avatars altogether can speed up your website.
If you don’t want to disable them, though, you can compromise by enabling Avatars and choosing a “blank” default avatar. Since I like to have my photo by my author box, that’s the way I do it.
Maximize your SEO with your Permalink Structure.
Permalinks dictate that URL structure that links to your individual posts and pages. You can use certain tags to modify their structure.
A proper permalink setup can boost your website’s SEO dramatically. It’s a great opportunity to incorporate keywords into your URL.
However, you won’t get very far with the post number permalinks. The two URLs below could point to the same post. It’s just a matter of permalink settings. If you’re a search engine or a reader, which one sounds most appealing and relevant to you?
Remembering that search engine spiders are essentially just bots looking for keywords, the post name permalink setting is much more SEO-friendly.
Some other self-professed “experts” will insist that you should include the category name in the permalinks also. This offers a negligible SEO benefit and makes the URL much longer than it needs to be. Generally, I recommend sticking with the post name permalink structure.
Congratulations! Your WordPress settings are now optimized. Ready for the next step? Let’s move on to adding your essential plugins.