In yesterday’s article I gave you 4 steps to setting up a small business website and recommended that you use WordPress as the content management system for your new site. Once you have your domain and hosting setup and have installed WordPress there are a few things that every site owner should do to make sure you get off on the right foot. To make sure you don’t miss anything use our free checklist that goes along with this article.
Before we get started, check out our guide on how to get a website up and running in less than an hour. It's surprisingly easy to get a Wordpress site set up on a custom domain. Click here to give it a shot.
1. Prevent Your Account from Being Hacked
Login to your wordpress dashboard and select users. The first thing you want to do is make sure that you do not see a user there which is listed as “admin”. Often times this will be the default user. If you leave this admin user, and a hacker tries to access your account, then they already have half the puzzle (your username) and just need to figure out the password. So, make it more difficult on them by setting up another user as an administrator on the account, and then deleting the user with the username “admin”.
Next you want to install and activate the “limit login attempts plugin”. One of the main ways that hackers will try to access your site is by trying to login in over and over again until they discover the right combination. The limit login attempts plugin combats against this by locking the user out for 20 minutes after 4 incorrect login attempts and then for 24 hours after 4 20 minute lockouts. These are the default settings which you can change to be more or less strenuous in the settings tab of your wordpress dashboard.
2. Set Your Site Backup to Run Automatically
Although you probably don’t have much or any content at this stage, its best to go ahead and setup your site backups to run automatically so you don’t forget, and know you are covered if anything ever happens to your site in the future.
We use Vaultpress for this which is a service by Automattic, the team behind the wordpress platform. In addition to daily site backups, this service gives you the ability to restore your site with the click of a mouse if you ever have a problem. Vaultrpess is $5 a month however, which may not be an expense that those who are just getting set up, or who are not going to have a content heavy website want to spend. For those looking for a free option, I recommend the wordpress backup plugin.
3. Prevent Comment and Trackback Spam on Your Site
If you allow comments on your site then you are literally going to get hundreds if not thousands of spam comments a month. Luckily the folks that brought us WordPress and Vaultpress also brought us the Akismet plugin which blocks spam in a similar manner to an email spam filter. The Akismet plugin comes installed by default on all wordpress sites, but you have to activate it in the plugins page of your wordpress dashboard and register for an API key. For a personal site they ask for $36 a year, however if you cannot afford to pay you can get it for free as well.
4. Install the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast
The YOAST SEO plugin makes SEO easy even for those who know absolutely nothing about the topic. Once you have installed the YOAST SEO plugin, you will have an extra set of fields to fill out at the bottom of each post. There you can set a keyword that you would like to try and rank that page or post for in the search engines. Once you have selected the keyword, the YOAST SEO plugin grades your page on several factors, and shows you exactly what you should change in order to give that page the best opportunity possible to rank for that search term. It also includes an XML sitemap generator which will need in the next step, and best of all all this comes free of charge!
5. Verify Your Site with Google Webmaster and Submit Your Sitemap
Google is by far the largest search engine and they give you a great suite of tools that allow you to see how their search engine views your site, how your site is showing up in the search engines, what terms are sending traffic and more. In addition to these dashboards they also allow you to submit your xml sitemap (which you can generate from the settings page of the YOAST SEO Plugin). This makes sure that google knows about all the content on your site, and shows you if there are any errors that need to be fixed in order to rank better in the search engines. Visit Google Webmaster and then click “submit site” and follow the instructions to verify your site. If you host your site with GoDaddy Google will verfiy directly from Google Webmaster. If not follow the instructions listed for your host.
6. Verify Your Site with Bing and YAHOO and Submit Your Sitemap
While YAHOO and Bing are distant second and third search engines to google in terms of number of searches they are still important. Currently YAHOO uses Bing search results, so by verifying your site with Bing you are also verifying for YAHOO as well. Verifying with Bing is a bit more difficult than with Google. The easiest way in my opinion is to add a Cname as they suggest at the bottom of the page when you submit your site to Bing through Bing Webmaster. Here are the directions on how to do that with GoDaddy.
7. Add Google Analytics to Your Site
Google Analytics gives you the ability to track everything that happens on your website from how your visitors got to your site, to what they do once they are there. It is so powerful that almost everyone uses it from small business owners all the way up to the largest ad agencies in the word. Best of all its free. Once you have signed up for an account install the free Google Analytics Plugin from YOAST and then visit the settings section to start using it.
8. Change the Permalinks Setting in WordPress
By default wordpress links show up like this www.yourwebsite.com/p=123 with the bolded part being your permalink. This is not search engine friendly. Instead you want to goto, settings then general in your WordPress dashboard and select “post name” for your permalink structure. This will change it to www.yourwebsite.com/the-title-of-your-post which will help your site rank in the search engines.
Now that you have your website all setup and have gone through these initial steps, its time to start getting traffic for your small business website. We’ll start talking about how to do that in our next article. If you want to learn more about WordPress, I highly recommend the free videos over at WPBeginner.com.
If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you and respond to all comments personally.
Don't forget to check out our free guide on how to get a website up and running in less than an hour.