One of the keys to the success of WordPress is that it is to install it and start using it in 5 minutes. But this can be misleading: if you want to do things right, before using it you must calmly configure WordPress; if not, you will not have the results you expect.
A clear example is that WordPress continues to come, today, with a configuration of comments or permanent links that many of us do not find recommended at all .
On the other hand, what WordPress includes “out of the box” lacks essential things within what practically everyone needs. For example: WordPress (the version for hosting ) does not include contact forms.
Luckily, these shortcomings are easily filled with plugins (most of them free) and, in general, it is very easy to leave your installation well configured so that your WordPress works as you need it.
What will you find here?
- Configuring the “native” WordPress settings
- General WordPress settings
- WordPress writing settings
- WordPress read settings
- How to configure well the comments in WordPress
- Image and file settings in the media library
- Change the structure of permalinks in WordPress
- Privacy settings in WordPress
- Useful additional settings in the wp-config.php file
- Overwrite the site and WordPress address
- Additional technical settings
- 5 more features for a perfect WordPress setup
- Add forms to WordPress
- Add a cache system to WordPress
- Yoast SEO for WordPress
- Basic WordPress protection against brute force attacks
- Automatic backups of your WordPress site
In this post we will focus on the really important settings, skipping the less relevant ones a bit more. Along with that, I will also tell you how to supply essential things with plugins that WordPress itself lacks.
Configuring the “native” WordPress settings
Let’s start with the “native” WordPress settings . These are the settings found on a newly installed WordPress site, that is, the settings that WordPress comes from the factory.
Here it is important to understand that, as more functionality is added to WordPress via plugins, the range of settings grows because these plugins often add their own settings to the standard WordPress settings.
So do not be surprised if you see that your settings menu is “growing” over time beyond the settings that you will see below and that are those of a newly installed WordPress site .
General WordPress settings
You will find these native WordPress settings in the Settings / General menu :
Change site name and meta description in WordPress
The first block of settings that we are going to focus on are the title and meta-description of the site.
This determines two things:
- On the one hand, depending on the specific WordPress template you use, if you have enabled these texts to be visible on the cover and / or on the rest of the pages, they will be seen as the title and subtitle of the cover .
- On the other hand, at a more technical level, the HTML tags , that is, the <title> tag (both texts combined, separated by a hyphen) and the <meta name = “description”> tag (only the short description) of the main page of the blog.
Remember that the <title> tag of a web page is reflected as the text of the entries in the search results and also in the browser tab .
Therefore, if the result of a search is the domain (the main page of the site) these texts will be seen as a search result. For the rest of the pages, it will be the title and meta-description that you have given to each of the pages.
Site address and WordPress address (URLs). What differences are there and how to change them.
The other two settings, the WordPress address and the site address are often quite confusing.
But it is actually very simple: generally, the root directory of the public part of your hosting (normally, the “public_html” folder ) matches the WordPress installation directory .
In this case, both fields must contain the URL of your main domain (as seen above in the image).
But sometimes, for different reasons, you want WordPress not to be installed in public_html (or the equivalent directory on your hosting), but in a specific folder .
In this case, the WordPress address should reflect this folder. That is, if you install WordPress in a folder called “blog” on your server, for example
In any case, if you want to install WordPress in its own folder (which is quite clean and recommended), always talk to your hosting support .
It is easy to screw this up and leave it misconfigured and, on the other hand, usually (if the hosting is good) they can offer you solutions that do not require any special WordPress configuration on your part.
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How to change the WordPress administrator email and add new members (authors)
Following the previous block, we find a block dedicated to WordPress users.
First, there is the email address for administrators. It is the email address that will be used for the notification emails for administrators that WordPress sends:
After this you can also configure the option to give or not the possibility that readers who wish to register as WordPress users, along with the user profile that would be assigned to them.
Be careful, do not get lost with this because you can create a giant security hole . WordPress allows registration even as an administrator , so that you would be giving absolute control over the site to a stranger.MULTIPLY THE NUMBER OF CLICKS ON YOUR CONTENT
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My recommendation is that, in principle, never enable this option (as configured in the image). If you need to occasionally incorporate collaborators, you can create their users as an administrator. This way you keep security in condition.
The other typical scenario would be to create a membership site, in which case I recommend exploring specialized products (plugins) since you will need them, since WordPress, out of the box, does not give you enough functionality for what these types of sites need.
How to change WordPress language to Spanish (or another language) and adjust the time zone
The next block I want to talk to you about are the language and time zone settings :
WordPress is completely internationalized; It can work with almost all the languages of the world, it is as simple as choosing the language you want to use in the language drop-down of the site and that’s it.
The change will affect both the administration part of WordPress and the part that the public sees, that is, all the standard texts of the user interface ( “comments” , “recent posts” , etc.) change.
On the other hand, the time zone is more important than one might think at first: depending on whether you choose a UTC time zone or a local zone (a city), summer / winter time will be taken into account or not .
This is very important because it affects things like, for example, the schedule of the publication of your content or statistics tools.
My general recommendation is that, except for justified exceptions, always use a local area (city) so that the schedule is adjusted according to the time of year. If your specific city is not available in the list, choose any one that belongs to the same time zone.
If you do not follow this guideline, you can introduce errors such as a content being published, for example, an hour earlier than you wanted.
The date and time formats in WordPress
The following block, although somewhat long, is very simple:
Here you can configure different date and time formats , as you have already seen in a thousand other places. WordPress uses the date and time in places like the post date of a post, the date of a comment, etc.
The other data, the day of the beginning of the week (by default, Monday), simply determines which day will be shown in the first column in WordPress calendars and in other applications (plugins) for which it may be relevant from when to when you understand that should be extended the week.
WordPress writing settings
The writing settings can be found in the Settings / Writing menu and they form a block that will surely be a bit more cryptic for you:
But don’t worry, because I really recommend you ignore the sections on Publish by email and Update Services .
The first refers to sending via email a post whose content will be published on the blog. Aside from multiple limitations (you can’t layout practically anything, etc.), I don’t see many scenarios where this is really useful.
The second refers to update services, which are sites that disseminate your new content. Although this sounds promising at first, in my practical experience the results this has given me have been practically nil .
In fact, I find two things so useless to 99.9% of users that, in my opinion, the WordPress team should seriously consider deleting them and / or relegating them, if anything, to a plugin .
We are left, therefore, only with the configuration of the category that is assigned by default to new posts and the default input format that, in practice, will practically always be the standard format that is configured by default.
WordPress read settings
Unlike the previous settings block, the read settings are much more useful and relevant . You have them in the Settings / General menu
Set up the WordPress home page
Among the various configurations of these settings, the configuration of the home page stands out above all .
WordPress, by default, uses as a cover a special page that is a list of the last published entries (posts) . This is very typical in blogs and makes them easily recognizable, you will have seen it a thousand times. You can see this configuration above in the image (“Your cover shows” setting).
However, this is not at all suitable for websites other than blogs (a company website, for example) and even for blogs it is not recommended .
In both cases his thing is to use a “ landing page ” ( “landing page” in Spanish) like the one you can see in the following example
There are many reasons, but they all come together in the fact that a page of this type adapts much better to the people who visit it (which are usually people who visit your website for the first time) than a list of arbitrary content that is the list of posts because It allows them to present your site to them , to understand what it is about, what topics are covered on your site and even offer them something attractive (a free download, for example).
We usually do the impossible to get visits with SEO , with online ads and creating content every week. But we don’t care enough about converting them to subscribers, customers, etc. The result? Stay at 40%, 30% or less of our true potential.
Of course, creating a page like this takes some work. To make a page in conditions you will need a page builder like Divi Builder or Elementor , although with version 5.0 of WordPress its native Gutenberg option has also appeared .
The idea is that with this type of tool you can create designs much more appropriate for this type of page than with the classic WordPress editor, which works very well for “normal” content , but is very limited for this type of content.My recommendation : do not complicate yourself in the short term and go ahead with the default option ( “Your last entries” option ). But sooner rather than later you should think about switching to a landing page format with the “One static page” option .
If you decide on this option, you simply have to configure this last option, create two pages and select them in the corresponding drop-down boxes:
- Cover : this will be the page that you have designed as a landing page and that will be seen as the main page.
- Post Page : This page has no content and is actually practically only used to use the post page URL which is typically the page you find as a “blog” in the menus.
Post page setup
On the other hand, the entry page can also be configured a little more:
The settings you can see here are quite intuitive:
The maximum number of posts to display on the site refers to the size of the list of posts on the post page.
That is, on the entry page of this same blog, Citizen 2.0, for example, limiting the number of entries to six entries, would have the following result, only the last six posts would be displayed:
As for the equivalent option for the feed, it would be the same applied to the RSS feed that includes WordPress out of the box.
To this must be added the option of this configuration block that allows you to decide if you want the feed readers (like Feedly, for example) to see only a summary of the first paragraphs of the content or if you allow the entire content to be seen .
Visibility in search engines
The last setting, within the reading settings, is search engine visibility
This refers to applying the meta tag “noindex” to the pages of the site, which has the consequence that search engines do not index the site, that is, they will not consider it in their search results.
It is a very useful option, for example, for sites that are still under construction and that you want to be accessible by selected people to whom you pass the URLs, but without the contents of your site being found from the search engines.
Be very careful also with this option because it has not happened once or twice that the owner of the site has left this option on and, after many months of frustration of not appearing in Google, he has discovered that it had been for that reason.
How to configure well the comments in WordPress
Let’s now go to a block of settings with a lot of chicha: the comments .
Basic comment setting
First, you will find the options for the default settings of the inputs .
Here I recommend that you apply the configuration that you can see in the image below that enables comments on your site, but deactivates pingbacks and trackbacks , which are notices in the form of comments of links from other blogs to your content.
Unless you have a great interest in having this information, in my opinion it is a rather useless functionality because it is very incomplete. You will only receive information from blogs that have this functionality activated and you will never receive information on links from other types of websites that are not blogs
The next group of settings, other comment settings , is also configured in the image as I recommend that you configure it.
The texts are quite clear as to what each of the settings does and the main considerations in this configuration are:
- Do not force registration to comment because that way almost no one would comment on your site.
- The cookies box is important for legal reasons.
- I recommend you paginate the comments. In this example they have been paged in blocks of 50, which is a lot, but this is your personal taste.
- The default order of comments (oldest to newest) has been reversed so that the most recent come first. It seems to me that it makes more sense than entering a post with 100 comments, published a while ago, and finding you as the first one from five years ago.
And in the last group you can see the notices that you can configure. This is already a decision according to personal tastes. Here WordPress has been configured to notify of new comments, but it is true that on a large site this can become annoying when many notices are already generated every day.
Comment moderation settings
The next set of tweaks I have grouped together to be all tweaks around comment moderation .
This section is also very self-explanatory and therefore easily understood.
I highlight, again, the most important issues:
- I highly recommend forcing comments to always be moderated (option to manually approve comments). If not, over time, they become a spam sink .
- I personally don’t use the comment moderation and comment blacklist sections because they haven’t been effective for me . My recommendation here is to use anti-spam plugins like Anti-Spam . It is more efficient and will take less time.
Avatars are the commenter’s photo or icons.
Here I also recommend the configuration that you can see below and that in this case is also self-explanatory
An interesting detail to give a little touch of personalization and aesthetic improvement to the comments section is to use a personalized default avatar .
Normally, the vast majority of commenters don’t have an avatar and it makes the comment section very ugly because WordPress default avatars are really “crappy” .
WordPress, in principle, does not allow you to use your own avatar image (another detail that is already being incorporated from the factory), but fortunately you can supply this with plugins. In our case we use WP User Avatar which works quite well.
Image and file settings in the media library
We now go to a very important part: the configuration of images and files .
I’m going to start with images, because optimizing images is critical on any website .
The resolutions that are used today are very high , completely disproportionate for normal web use.
The problem is that these high resolutions also translate into disproportionate file sizes (several megabytes in many cases) that, if used as is on a website, would slow it down enormously .
The strategy “factory” WordPress for this is to create multiple copies in different sizes for each image that is uploaded to the library: A miniature size , medium size and large size .
For each of these variants you can specify (according to your needs and design of your website) the sizes that you consider appropriate; below in the image you can see the default sizes.
If you put 0 as the size, the corresponding copy will not be generated. However, there is a strange caveat: for some strange reason, an average size with a width of 768 pixels will always be output, even if you specify “0” for the average size.
The idea is that then, depending on the actual size of the page displayed in pixels , the smallest possible version is used (and, therefore, with the smallest file size).
For example: if the original image has a width of 2000 pixels, but the actual size at which it is being viewed on the page does not exceed 600 pixels, the version closest to this width should be used.
This would save a considerable amount of kilobytes of file size, which would result in bandwidth savings and a faster page load . If we are working with many images on one page, these optimization effects would multiply
In theory this would be fine if it weren’t for three major “buts” :
- Considerable additional disk space consumption is added for each uploaded image. In hosting plans with a fair disk space it can be a problem.
- The effectiveness of this optimization strategy today is not very high, since the resolutions of the devices have been increasing (mobile phones with high resolutions, “retina” screens , etc.) and, therefore, the small versions of the images (the ones that really save) are used less and less in practice.
- The problem is not attacked where it should really be attacked: that the uploaded images are optimized from the beginning , that is, that before uploading them they already have the right dimensions and are optimized to the maximum at the file size level.
In short, this is another of the things in WordPress where an update is already playing because, in my opinion, as it comes from the factory, it does not respond well to current needs in terms of how to work optimally with images on the web .
What I recommend are two things:
- Leave the sizes at zero to avoid unnecessary resized copies (except for the medium size that WordPress endorses you under your nose).
- Proactively optimize images .
You can do the latter in two ways:
- Manually , before uploading the images, adjusting their dimensions on sites like Image Resize (which also optimize the file size).
- Or in an automated way with plugins like Smush Image Compression and Optimization .
Given this, it remains only to comment on the file upload setting . Here I recommend you simply leave it as it is by default, using folders based on month and year.
Change the structure of permalinks in WordPress
The following setting is another very important setting : permalinks, sometimes also called “pretty links” because they are much more aesthetic and have much better usability than WordPress default links
That is, the default WordPress links follow the following pattern:https://mydomain.com/?=4563
Here the concrete page is a simple numeric parameter. Seeing this as a URL in the browser, apart from being ugly, very little user orientation.
Much better something like this
Don’t you think?
Well, this is basically the permanent links.
From here you have a certain variety of formats for these permanent links, among which the most recommended (and I join the recommendation) is the so-called “entry name” (it is marked in the image above).
Once this is done, the configuration of the category and tag pages will remain .
These are the pages with the listings of the posts that belong to a certain category or certain tag.
By default, they use a URL pattern like this with the category and tag words
In the example above we would be seeing a list of the category “WordPress” with all the entries that have been assigned to this category.
Here what I recommend is to simply use the configuration in the image above so that these URLs have words in Spanish and not that weird and ugly mix of English and Spanish that you see in the URL example above.
Privacy settings in WordPress
The last screen, the privacy settings, which you can find in the Settings / Privacy menu , are again very important , but also very simple.
In December 2018, the new Data Protection Law was approved. Do you think it doesn’t affect you? Whether you have a business or a simple blog, it affects you a lot.
WordPress includes a default draft of these terms, but you have to customize it for your site . In this sense, it is also important to know that, for this configuration to have its full effect, the page has to be published .
This will make (in the topics prepared for it) the link to this page automatically included in the places provided (usually in the footer).
Useful additional settings in the wp-config.php file
A post about configuring WordPress would be lame if it didn’t talk, at least also a little, about the wp-config. WordPress php .
This file is located in the root directory of the WordPress installation and adds a lot of configurations to the ones we have already seen.
These are already somewhat technical configurations, which is why they are not exposed to “normal” users in the settings screens that we have seen before, although there are also two settings that we have seen that can also be configured here and taken as preferred.
Overwrite the site and WordPress address
The two settings you can override from wp-config.php are these:define ( ‘WP_SITEURL’ , ‘https://mydomain.com/blog’ ) ; define ( ‘WP_HOME’ , ‘https://mydomain.com’ ) ;
And, as you’ve probably guessed by now, they override the general WordPress address settings (WP_SITEURL) and site address (WP_HOME).
These two settings are very important, because if you configure them wrong in the visual settings, you can lose access to your WordPress site.
However, having the wildcard to be able to edit them also in the wp-config.php file you can easily correct this situation by editing them here. Once they are visually corrected, you can remove them from wp-config if you want, or leave them to your liking.
Additional technical settings
Along with the two previous parameters there are countless other parameters, so many that they deserve a post just for them. In addition, they are in many cases quite advanced configurations.
Therefore, here I will just review some of the parameters that I consider the most interesting for your day to day. I already warn you that this part of the post becomes somewhat technical …
Host domain and database connection
WordPress needs a database to work. Therefore, when you install WordPress for the first time, you have to do some database configuration.
The problem comes when, for whatever reason, the connection data to the database changes .
In this case you have to reconfigure the connection to the database. There are four parameters that can change:define ( ‘DB_NAME’ , ‘db-name’ ) ; // The name of the databasedefine ( ‘DB_USER’ , ‘db-username’ ) ; // Database user namedefine ( ‘DB_PASSWORD’ , ‘db-password’ ) ; // The password of the previous userdefine ( ‘DB_HOST’ , ‘localhost’ ) ; // Database host domain
In case of doubts with the database parameters, remember that, in these things, the support of your hosting should give you a hand if you need it.
Modify WordPress default settings
There are a number of automatic WordPress functions whose parameterization can be interesting to change.
The interval (in seconds) with which WordPress automatically saves the content you are editing:define ( ‘AUTOSAVE_INTERVAL’ , 120 ) ; // 120 seconds
The maximum number of post and page revisions (versions of content that you have edited) that you want to be saved:define ( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’ , 10 ) ; // 10 revisions maximum
Margin days until an item is removed from the Trash.define ( ‘EMPTY_TRASH_DAYS’ , 15 ) ; // Delete after 15 days
PHP memory limit. For sites with a lot of load it is necessary to have more memory, although in the case of using a hosting, this will also be conditioned by the hosting policies (it has to be allowed to do this).define ( ‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’ , ‘128M’ ) ;
Enable debug traces
The last block of settings is the most technical. It only makes sense if you have some knowledge of PHP programming. This is the configuration of the debugging traces .
If you are a “normal” user , ignore this part of the post because it will not help you much.
To activate the debugging information in WordPress you must configure the following lines in wp-config:define ( ‘WP_DEBUG’ , true ) ; define ( ‘WP_DEBUG_LOG’ , true ) ;
In this way, the debugging information will be dumped into the following file of your WordPress installation:/wp-content/debug.log
You can even enable these traces to be viewed directly in the user interface with the following line, if at any given time it is more convenient for you:define ( ‘WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY’ , false ) ;
5 more features for a perfect WordPress setup
With the above we have seen everything important within what must be configured in a newly installed WordPress site.
But there is one very important thing to keep in mind: in a WordPress site you are going to need more things than what comes from the factory .
For example: WordPress does not include forms natively.
Luckily, these things are easy to add with plugins, but this implies that we are not really done yet if we want to go through a WordPress setup for a real site.
So I’m going to finish this post by reviewing in a very summarized way the plugins that you need to add to WordPress to have a site completely configured for real needs.
I’m not going to go into the detail of the configuration of each plugin, because some of them deserve a whole post for themselves; In addition, all of them are well known and you have a wide range of tutorials to learn the necessary details.
Add forms to WordPress
We start with the forms. Practically all websites need forms, be it a simple contact form, forms to sign up for your mailing list or more advanced things like order forms or even to make payments.
I recommend two plugins for this: for forms integrated into the page, WP Forms , and for forms type “popup” (pop-up window), Popup Maker .
Here’s a tutorial for WP Forms
And here’s another one for Popup Maker
Add a cache system to WordPress
WordPress, as it comes from the factory, is very heavy for the server because it is a dynamic system where pages are created by reading their content from the database and building the HTML of the page “on the fly” with each access of each user .
Otherwise, it would be impossible to create a system like WordPress.
Caches are a mechanism that prevents this heavy process from being repeated with each user and only runs once when between visits the page has not changed.
To do this, a cache saves the generated HTML page and reuses that HTML for subsequent users. So until the content of the page changes (when adding a new comment or editing the page) and it is necessary to generate a new “photo” in HTML.
The result is a drastic increase in site speed and a large reduction in server load.
It is best to use a server cache like the one offered by the hostings we recommend: Webempresa , SiteGround and Raiola Networks .
But if your hosting does not have this option, the alternative (worse, but still a great improvement) is a cache plugin .
In my personal experience, among all the ones I have used, the one that in general terms (performance, stability, etc.) has given me the best results is still the classic WP Super Caché .
Yoast SEO for WordPress
Although WordPress is “SEO friendly” it lacks many details that are important to do a really effective SEO.
Luckily, there is the Yoast SEO plugin that has become the de facto standard for this in WordPress. In this post we explain the detailed configuration of this plugin and how to work with it in practice:How to configure the WordPress Yoast SEO plugin – Tutorial
Yoast SEO is the reference in SEO plugins for WordPress. Here you will learn to configure everything important from scratch.
I also put here the configuration video that accompanies this post
Basic WordPress protection against brute force attacks
As soon as you have some visibility, apart from spam, the attacks will come .
There are many types of attacks, but the most typical are brute force attacks that try to log in over and over again as an administrator on your website.
This will again be an issue where good hosting will protect you a lot. But in any case, it is a good measure to protect yourself, at least, with a plugin against brute force attacks against such frequent attacks.
If you need hosting for your website or your blog, act!
- Ionos by 1and1 : with an 88% discount here
- Hostinger : 83% off here
- SiteGround : 70% off here
- Webempresa : with a 25% discount here
- Raiola Networks : with a 20% discount here
Notice: these offers are valid now , they may expire in a few days.
For this I recommend the WP Limit Login Attempts plugin, which is a simple and lightweight plugin that will not load your website too much. With this plugin and a responsible username and password policy, attackers will have a much harder time to hack you.
Automatic backups of your WordPress site
Although any good hosting offers you a backup service, all security is low and they themselves usually recommend having, in addition, your own automated backup mechanism.
In this blog we use UpdraftPlus which, among other things, has the great advantage of allowing integration with various cloud storage services such as Google Drive or One Drive to automatically leave the backups created periodically there
And with this, finally …, we are done
If you follow everything we have touched on point by point in this post, you will have a really complete first configuration of your WordPress site. It’s true work, but I assure you it’s worth it.