One of the keys to WordPress success 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 configure WordPress calmly; if not, you will not have the results you expect.
A clear example is that WordPress continues to come, to this day, with a configuration of the comments or permanent links that many do not think is recommended at all.
On the other hand, what WordPress includes “out of the box” lacks essential things that practically everyone needs. For example: WordPress (the hosting version) does not include contact forms.
Fortunately, these deficiencies 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.
In this post we will focus on the really important settings, overlooking the less relevant ones a little more. Along with that, I will also tell you how to supply essential things that WordPress lacks in itself with plugins.
Configure WordPress “native” settings
Let’s start with the “native” WordPress settings. These are the settings found in a newly installed WordPress site, that is, the settings that WordPress brings from the factory.
Here it is important to understand that as more functionalities are 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 the site name and Meta description in WordPress
The first block of adjustments 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 are using, if you have enabled these texts to be visible on the cover and / or 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 search result is the domain (the main page of the site), these texts will be shown as a search result. For the rest of the pages they will be the title and meta-description that you have put on 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 in reality it is very simple: generally, the root directory of the public part of your hosting (usually 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 in your hosting), but in a specific folder.
In this case, the WordPress address should reflect this folder. In other words, if you install WordPress in a folder called “blog” on your server, for example, the configuration would look like this:
- WordPress address: http://mydomain.com/blog
- Site address: http://mydomain.com
In any case, if you want to install WordPress in its own folder (which is quite clean and recommended), always speak to your hosting support.
It is easy to screw up this and leave it poorly configured and, on the other hand, normally (if the hosting is good) they can offer you solutions that do not require any special WordPress configuration on your part.
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. This is the email address that will be used for notification emails for administrators sent by WordPress:
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.
Eye, do not get confused with this because you can create a giant security hole. WordPress allows registration even as an administrator, so you would be giving complete control over the site to a stranger.
My recommendation is, in principle, never enable this option (as configured in the image). If you need to incorporate collaborators on time, you can create your users as administrator. This way you keep security in good 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, by default, does not give you enough functionality for what these types of sites need.
How to change the 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 dropdown 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 entries”, etc.) change.
On the other hand, the time zone is more important than one might initially think : depending on whether you choose a UTC time zone or a local zone (a city), daylight saving / winter time will be taken into account or not .
This is very important because it affects things like, for example, the scheduling of the publication of your content or statistical tools.
My general recommendation is that, with justified exceptions, always use a local area (city) to adjust the time according to the time of year. If your specific city is not available in the list, choose any of those that belong 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 next block, although somewhat long, is very simple:
Here you can configure different date and time formats, as you have already seen on a thousand other sites. 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 week start day (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 the week should be extended.
WordPress writing settings
You find the writing settings in the Settings / Writing menu and they form a block that will surely be somewhat more cryptic:
But don’t worry, because I really recommend ignoring the Post by email and Update services sections.
The first refers to sending a post via email whose content will be published on the blog. Apart from multiple limitations (you can’t lay out practically anything, etc.), I don’t see many scenarios where this is really useful.
The second refers to update services, which are sites that broadcast your new content. Although this sounds promising at first, in my practical experience the results that 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 and / or relegating them, if at all, to a plugin.
We are therefore left with only the category configuration that is assigned by default to new posts and the default input format, which in practice will practically always be the standard format that is configured by default.
WordPress reading settings
Unlike the previous setting block, the reading settings are much more useful and relevant. You have them in the Settings / General menu (see image):
Set up WordPress homepage
Among the various configurations of these settings, the configuration of the home page stands out above all.
WordPress, by default, uses a special page as a cover that is a list of the last published posts. This is very typical in blogs and makes them easily recognizable, you will have seen it a thousand times. You can see these settings above in the image (setting “Your cover shows”).
However, this does not adapt at all to websites other than blogs (the website of a company, for example) and even for blogs it is not recommended.
In both cases, theirs 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 all come together in that a page of this type is much better suited to the people who visit it (which are usually people who visit your website for the first time) than a list of arbitrary contents, which is the list of posts because It allows you to introduce them to your site, to understand what it is about, what topics are on your site and even offer something attractive (a free download, for example).
Of course, creating a page like this takes some work. To make a page in condition you will need a page builder (Divi Builder or Elementor), although with version 5.0 of WordPress its native option of Gutenberg has also appeared.
The idea is that with this type of tool you can create much more appropriate designs for this type of page than with the classic WordPress editor that works very well for “normal” content, but is very limited for this type of content.
My recommendation: in the short term do not complicate yourself and pull forward with the default option (option “Your last entries”). But sooner rather than later you should think about changing to a landing page format with the option of “A static page”.
If you decide on this option, you simply have to configure this last option, create two pages and select them from the corresponding dropdowns:
- Cover: This will be the page that you have designed as a landing page and that will be seen as the main page.
- Entries page: This page has no content and is actually practically only used to use the URL of the entry page which is typically the page you find as “blog” in the menus.
Ticket page settings
On the other hand, we can also configure the entries page 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 post list on the posts 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 WordPress includes from the factory.
To this we must add the option of this configuration block that allows you to decide if you want feed readers (such as 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 adjustment, within the reading adjustments is the visibility in search engines:
This refers to applying the Meta tag “noindex” to the pages of the site, which has the consequence that the 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 search engines.
Also be very careful 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 on Google, he has discovered that it had been for that reason.
How to properly configure comments in WordPress
Let’s go now to a block of settings: the comments.
Basic setting of comments
First of all, you will find the options of the default settings of the inputs.
Here I recommend that you apply the settings 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 from links from other blogs to your content.
Unless you have a great interest in having this information, in my opinion it is quite 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 from 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 you configure it yourself.
The texts are quite clear as to what each of the adjustments does and the main considerations in this configuration are:
- Do not force to register to comment because almost nobody would comment on your site.
- The cookie box is important for legal reasons.
- I recommend you paginate the comments. In this example they have been paginated in blocks of 50, which is a lot, but this is already your personal taste.
- The default order of comments has been reversed (from oldest to newest) so that the most recent comments appear first. It seems to me that it makes more sense to enter a post with 100 comments, published a while ago, and find yourself 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 taste. Here WordPress has been configured to warn of new comments, but it is true that on a large site this can be annoying when many notices are already generated every day.
Setting comment moderation
The following set of tweaks I have grouped together as they are all tweaks around comment moderation.
This section is also very self-explanatory and therefore easy to understand.
I highlight again the most important questions:
- I strongly recommend that you force comments to always be moderated(option to manually approve comments). If not, over time, they become a spam strainer.
- I do not use the comment moderation and comment blacklist sections personally because they have not been effective for me. My recommendation here is to use plugins to combat spam like Anti-Spam. It is more effective and will steal 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 customization and aesthetic improvement to the comments section is to use a custom default avatar.
Normally, the vast majority of commenters do not have an avatar and it makes the comments section very ugly because the default WordPress avatars are really “crappy”.
WordPress, in principle, does not allow you to use your own avatar image (another detail that is already playing that they incorporate from the factory), but fortunately you can supplement this with plugins. In our case we use WP User Avatar which is going quite well.
Image and file settings in the media library
We go now with 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 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.
WordPress’ “factory” strategy for this is to create multiple, different-sized copies of each image uploaded to the library: a thumbnail, medium, and large size.
For each of these variants you can specify (according to your needs and web design) 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 generated, 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 is 2000 pixels wide, but the actual size you are viewing on the page does not exceed 600 pixels, the version closest to this width should be used.
Thus we 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 important “buts”:
- A considerable additional consumption of disk space is added for each image uploaded. 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 (mobiles 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 where it should really be attacked is not attacked: that the uploaded images are optimized from the beginning, that is, that before uploading they already have the right dimensions and are optimized to the maximum level of file size.
In short, this is another of the WordPress things 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 to you are two things:
- Leave the sizes at zero to avoid unnecessary resized copies (except for the medium size that WordPress endorses you through the nose).
- Proactively optimize images.
You can do the latter in two ways:
- Manually, before uploading the images, adjusting their dimensions in sites like Image Resize(which, in addition, optimize the file size).
- Or in an automated way with plugins like Smush Image Compression and Optimization.
Having seen this, it remains only to comment on the file upload setting. Here I recommend simply leaving 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 setting that is very important: 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:
Here the specific page is a simple numerical parameter. Seeing this as a URL in the browser, apart from being ugly, is very user-friendly.
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 add to the recommendation) is the so-called “entry name” (it is marked in the image above).
After this, the configuration of the category and tag pages would remain.
These are the pages with the listings of the entries that belong to a certain category or certain label.
By default, they use a URL pattern like this with the English words for category and tag:
In the example above we would be seeing a list of the “WordPress” category with all the entries that have been assigned to this category.
Here what I recommend is simply to use the configuration in the image above so that these URLs have words in Spanish and not that strange and ugly mix of English and Spanish that is seen in the example of the previous URL.
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.
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 all its effects, the page must be published.
This will cause (in the topics prepared for it) the link to this page to be automatically included in the places provided (usually in the footer).
Useful additional settings in the wp-config.php file
A post on WordPress configuration would be lame if it did not talk, at least also a little, about the wp-config file. WordPress php.
This file is located in the root directory of the WordPress installation and adds a lot of more settings than we have already seen.
These are already somewhat technical settings, 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 site address and WordPress
The two settings that you can overwrite from wp-config.php are these:
define( 'WP_SITEURL', 'http://mydomain.com/blog' ); define( 'WP_HOME', 'http://mydomain.com' );
And, as you probably already figured out, 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 be left without access to your WordPress site.
However, having the wildcard of being able to edit them also in the wp-config.php file, you can easily correct this situation by editing them here. Once corrected in the visual part, you can remove them from wp-config if you want, or leave them, that to your liking.
Additional technical configurations
Along with the two previous parameters there are countless other parameters, so many that they deserve a post just for them. Also, they are in many cases quite advanced settings.
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 function. So when you install WordPress for the first time, you have to do some database setup.
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 database define ('DB_USER', 'username-bd'); // Database user name define ('DB_PASSWORD', 'password-bd'); // The password of the previous user define ('DB_HOST', 'localhost'); // Domain of the database host
In case of doubts with the parameters of the database, remember that, in these things, the support of your hosting should give you a hand if you need it.
Modify default WordPress settings
There are a number of automatic WordPress functions whose parameterization can be interesting to change.
The interval (in seconds) at which WordPress automatically saves the content you are editing:
define(‘AUTOSAVE_INTERVAL’, 120); // 120 seconds
The maximum number of post and page reviews (versions of content you’ve been editing) that you want to save:
define(‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 10); // 10 reviews maximum
Days of margin 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 allow doing this).
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 debug traces.
If you are a “normal” user, ignore this part of the post because it won’t do you much good.
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 in the following file of your WordPress installation:
You can even enable these traces to be seen directly in the user interface with the following line, if at any given time it is more comfortable for you:
define( 'WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY', false );
5 more functionalities for a perfect WordPress configuration
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: on 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’re not really done yet if we want to go over a WordPress setup for a real site.
So I’m going to finish this post by reviewing in a very brief 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 configuration detail of each plugin, because some deserve a whole post for themselves; In addition, they are all very well-known and you have a wide range of tutorials to learn the necessary details.
Add forms to WordPress
We start with the forms. Virtually all websites need forms, be it a simple contact form, forms to register on your mailing list or more advanced things such as order forms or even to make payments.
I recommend two plugins for this: for forms integrated in the page, WP Forms, and for forms like “popup” (popup window), Popup Maker.
Add a caching 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 repeating with each user and only being executed once when between one visit and another 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 recommended hostings: Ionos, SiteGround and BlueHost.
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 Cache.
Yoast SEO for WordPress
Although WordPress is “SEO friendly” it lacks many details that are important to make 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 it works with it in practice:
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 again and 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 attack against such frequent attacks.
For this I recommend the WP Limit Login Attempts plugin which is a simple and light 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 hacking 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.
We on this blog 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 periodically created backups there:
And with this, finally …, we are done
If you follow point by point everything we have touched on in this post, you will have a really complete first configuration of your WordPress site. It is some work, but I assure you it is worth it.
And with this, finally …, we are done
If you follow point by point everything we have touched on in this post, you will have a really complete first configuration of your WordPress site. It is some work, but I assure you it is worth it.