What follows is a brief checklist of important steps to consider when starting a new WordPress website or reinvigorating your existing website.
If you are starting a brand new website then these are the most important factors to consider on this list:
1. Reliable Hosting: Get fast and secure hosting, get it asap! The biggest speed, security and reliability improvements come from better hosting.
2. Reliable Theme: Get a premium supported and documented Theme to ensure your theme is kept up to date with the latest WordPress changes. Here are just two of many good examples of reliable theme shops:
– Organic Themes
– Elegant Themes
If you already have a WordPress website, and you’ve configured the basics like title, tagline, favicon, admin email, and timezone, then you should consider the following critical steps after you have backed up your site:
3. Make sure you have a unique admin username (don’t use “Admin”) and a strong password. If you are using a poor Admin username, you can change it with this plugin:
– Admin Renamer Extended
4. Configure your Permalink structure to “postname” which is more “Google Friendly”.
– Here’s a good tutorial on how to do change your Permalinks
5. Get connected to a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Many Hosting companies offer a CDN as an upgrade.
– Here’s why a CDN is important
6. Get SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate. Simple SSL works just fine for most sites.
– Here’s a short description of how and why SSL is important
7. Add these plugins for enhanced performance evaluation and improvements:
– Akismet anti-spam Plugin (improves SEO by limiting spammy links)
– WordPress SEO by Yoast (generates Sitemaps and more)
– Bad Link Checker (improves SEO by eliminating bad links)
8. Remove unused plugins, themes, duplicate content, ‘lorem epsum’ or dummy content from your theme/website. The cleaner your install the better. Be sure to keep one default theme like 2012, and keep it updated. WordPress will automatically revert to your secondary or alternate theme in case something goes wrong with your activated theme.
9. Integrate security, updates and backups (via your hosting company or plugins). You don’t need all of these options. You just need to consider how you are going to backup and secure your website. Some hosting companies or managed services offer automatic backups, updates and security.
– Secure Managed Hosting (i.e. Spaceably, WPengine, Flywheel)
– Sucuri (security services)
– iThemes BackUpBuddy (backup plugin)
– iThemes Security (security plugin)
– WordFence (security plugin)
10. Check for Broken Links using the Broken Link Checker plugin and repair/remove broken links. The plugin description provides information on what to do.
11. Check your site’s Mobile Friendliness. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it doesn’t exist. It’s that important!
– Google Dev Tool
12. Test your SSL using WhyNoPadLock
13. Test your site’s performance using GTMetrix
14. Test your site’s “Speed Insights” using Google’s Speed Dev Tool
15. Integrate Google Analytics code
– How to set up your analytics account
– Your theme may have an ePanel feature that has a special way to add the analytics code to your site
– or add a plugin, here’s how via WPmudev
– Here’s a simple How-To tutorial on installing Analytics Code
16. Google Search Console: Setup your Google Search Console and use it!
17. Google Sitemaps: Submit your sitemaps to Google and check back to find details about how your website is indexed.
It might seem like a lot of work, but it’s important if you want to reduce your threat exposure, have a strong foundation to work with, and to have confidence that your site is able to achieve its full potential. After you’ve completed as many of these steps as possible, you’ll notice lots of improvements in performance and Google will take notice as well. This is just the beginning of course. There’s always tweaking to do; images to optimize, etc.