Almost every hosting companies out there offer pre-installed WordPress services. This means your hosting plan comes with pre-installed WordPress on the domain you choose. No matter whether you install WordPress manually or use pre-installed setup, there are many default stuffs come with the installation. You have to clean up them immediately before making your site visible to all. Here is a complete checklist for launching new WordPress site consist of what you need to do after installing WordPress. Also checkout the complete SEO checklist for optimizing your WordPress site.
Checklist for Launching New WordPress Site
Remember, your new WordPress installation will look different on different hosting companies. For example, you will get plugins like SG Optimizer with SiteGround while there are plugins like OptinMonster and WPForms in HostGator. We recommend you to follow all the items in this checklist so that you will not miss anything before launching your site for public.
1. Set Search Engine Indexing
The first action item after WordPress installation is to prevent search engines like Google stop accessing your site. Delay in doing this action will lead Google crawl your site and start showing the junk content in search results. Take an example of installing WordPress through Softaculous script installation on HostGator hosting. Even other other services like SiteGround will add a dummy post with their resource material. If you don’t hide your site from Google, this page will be crawled and indexed before you realize it.
Login to your WordPress admin panel. Navigate to “Settings > Reading” menu and enable the checkbox “Discourage search engines from indexing this site“.
This will inform search engines like Google and Bing not to index the pages on your site. Once you are ready to launch your site, ensure to disable this checkbox and submit your XML Sitemap to Google.
2. Delete Junk Content
Based on the way you install WordPress, there will be lot of junk content that you need to cleanup. Below are the three basic things come with almost all WordPress installation:
- Delete the “Sample Page” before start creating your own pages.
- Delete the default “Hello World” post and create your own post.
- Check and delete default comment from “Mr.WordPress”.
You should delete these sample post, page and comment manually by navigating to “Posts > All Posts”, “Pages > All Pages” and “Comments” section in the dashboard respectively.
3. Set Default Post Category
WordPress by design needs at least one single category for classifying your posts. In order to ensure this, WordPress installation will automatically have a category called “uncategorized” and add post which don’t have any category attached to it. Once you setup all your categories, ensure to change default post category name from “uncategorized” to whatever you want. You can do this under “Settings > Writing” and change the “Default Post Category” to your own category from the dropdown.
4. Set Media Folder and Upload Structure
If you want to store all your uploaded files in a different directory other than the default “/wp-content/uploads” folder then create a new media folder and set the permissions to 755. Set the upload structure into month and year based folders, so that the uploaded files will be stored in an organized manner.
5. Set Permalink Structure
WordPress offers multiple structures for setting the URLs of your site’s posts, pages and other post types. You should change the permalink structure to custom setting like “/%postname%/” under “Settings > Permalinks“. Keeping the post title (or post name) as your permalink will help you and the readers to easily remember the URL of your posts.
6. Use Secure Usernames and Passwords
If someone helped to install WordPress then change your password immediately after login to your admin panel. Since changing the admin username is not possible, you may need to create a new admin user name and then delete the old one by logging with the new one. Also, use secured usernames and passwords for your admin panel and never share the credentials with anyone.
7. Set Front Page
You WordPress site can have a static home page or a blogroll page showing latest blog posts. Ensure to choose either static front page or latest blog posts as a front page under “Settings > Readings” menu. If you create a static front page then ensure to select only one “Home” page in the navigation menu. You can also setup how many number of posts should be shown on the blog index pages.
8. Change Tagline
Ensure to change the site title and the default tagline as per your need under “Site Identity” section of the “Customizer“. Also, don’t forget to upload the favicon to be used on your site.
9. Create and Submit XML Sitemap
WordPress comes with a default XML Sitemap. However, we recommend you to install any SEO plugins like Yoast SEO. After installing the plugin, generate XML Sitemap for submitting in Google Search Console and other webmaster tools account. Remember, you should submit the Sitemap after enabling search indexing as explained in point 1 above.
10. Delete Unnecessary Plugins
Most installations come with a plugin called “Hello Dolly”. Check the installed plugins under “Plugins > Installed Plugins” menu and delete unnecessary plugins that you do not need. If you have JetPack, ensure to deactivate unused modules of Jetpack plugin.
11. Setup Redirection
Though this step is not required for launching your site, you can setup the site so that it is ready for publishing content. You can use plugins like Redirection to redirect modified post URLs to original URLs and avoid “404 page not found” errors. Another important setup is to redirect attachments to parent post URL so that users will view your content instead of ending up viewing your images. You can do this with any SEO plugins like Yoast or Rank Math.
We would strongly recommend you to list down the required plugins and start using them on your site right from the beginning. Though you can manage SEO within WordPress, it is benefit to use SEO plugins like Yoast SEO from the start to manage the complete structure of your site.
12. Enable Coming Soon Mode
If you need long time for launching, it’s a good idea to setup a maintenance or coming soon mode. Most commercial themes have the option to enable coming soon or maintenance mode page till the time your site is ready. If your theme does not have the option, install one of the maintenance mode plugins and ensure to provide necessary information like subscription form till the time your content is ready.
As you can see, there are many actions you need to prepare before launching your new WordPress site. Do not get hurry in making your site live and go through these steps patiently without missing. Once you are ready, enable search indexing and disable coming soon mode. In this way, you are in complete control before submitting your site with Google.