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Minimalist Checklist for Setting Up Self-Hosted WordPress Website

May 14th, 2017 · No Comments

I launched a new site a week ago. I’m familiar with WordPress and have installed, configured and launched multiple WordPress websites over the years. But, I still spent several hours to get everything right this time around.

To save you some time and pains, here is a checklist for setting up a self-hosted WordPress blog or website. These are the bare minimum steps required to set up a fully functional WordPress blog that is SEO friendly and is capable of capturing email addresses.

  1. Download latest version of WordPress files from WordPress.ORG download page

  2. Use a FTP client to upload the WordPress files to your web server. In my case, I have been a happy customer of Pair.com for a long time. It’s not the cheapest but it’s one of the oldest and most reliable web hosting companies. (If you are looking for a new webhosting account, you can use my discount code at pair.com to get 20% off (discount code: pairref-J9ZGRJ4q).

  3. I use the Famous 5 Minute Installation instruction to install WordPress on my web host.

  4. Log into your new WordPress site as Admin. The first thing you should do is to change your Permalink to a SEO friendly format. I used “/%postname%/” but there are other options.  You want to do this before you start creating any new posts or pages. Otherwise, you’ll have to redirect your URLs later if you decide to change your Permalink format.

  5. Get a new Gmail account. You’ll use this Gmail account to access a number of Google tools.

  6. Use your newly created Gmail account to access Google Search Console. Enter the URL of your new WordPress website and click “Add a Property”. Follow the instruction to verify your ownership of the new site.

  7. Use your newly created Gmail account to access Google Analytics.

  8. To install Google Analytics pixel tracking on your website, install Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights.

  9. To generate a XML Sitemap for Google Search Console, install Google XML Sitemaps plugin.

  10. Because I made the mistake not to change the Permalink setting before I made my first post, I had to create 301 redirect for several posts and pages. I installed Redirection plugin. I also tried Simple 301 Redirect but it didn’t work correctly for my blog.

  11. I used Google’s PageSpeed tool, Pingdom Website Speed Test and GTmetrix. None of the tests is perfect and I take their results with a grain of salts. For example, I entered amazon.com into PageSpeed search box. Amazon scored “64/100 poor” for mobile and “57/100 poor“ for desktop.

  12. My PageSpeed was low. There are a lot of technical details going into improving the performance. Fortunately, I found the W3 Total Cache which improved my site performance significantly.

  13. To capture email addresses, I installed MailChimp for WordPress plugin.

  14. I tried several free themes and ended up using the Basic Theme. At some point I probably will switch to a premium theme.

 

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