Welcome to my series of quick tips for WordPress bloggers! Please note that nothing I post here will be for experienced users. Instead, the series is just quick little tips that I’ve come across since moving to WordPress. If you happen to have a random question about WordPress, feel free to send me an email and I’ll do my best to hunt down an answer!
This week’s quick tip…settings!
When you first start blogging with WordPress, it’s natural to want to spend most of your time customizing the look of your website and theme so that it suits you. But it’s incredibly worthwhile to also spend a few minutes running through your WordPress Settings. Checking out each and every one of the tabs in the Settings section and going through your options is an important first step to customizing your site since it lets you choose everything from the way your RSS feed is published to the way your readers leave comments. Let’s take a look at the tabs one by one and go through the things you should consider:
General Settings: This tab is where you enter your website’s name, tagline and URL. It is also where you enter the email address you will need to receive notifications from WordPress and where you can set your membership settings. For most bloggers, this won’t apply but if you’re setting up a forum, the Membership option is essential. You also set your time zone and favourite date format in General Settings.
Writing: These settings can usually be left in their default mode. WordPress automatically files posts with no category as Uncategorized and also converts emoticons to actual graphics. If you want to post via email or using a remote blogging client, you can set that up as well but most bloggers will likely be fine staying with the default settings.
Reading: This is a section that most bloggers will want to customize a bit. Reading is where you can choose between having your latest posts as your home page or having a single static page display as the home page instead. Reading is also where you decide how many blog posts will show on your home page and how many feed items will show in your RSS feed. To ensure your home page loads quickly, you will likely want to limit your home page posts to no more than ten. I currently show eight posts on my home page and ten posts in a Feedreader. Finally, and most importantly for those trying to increase page views, Reading is where you can choose between displaying your full text or a summary for each article in your RSS feed. Make sure to switch this setting to Summary if you want people to visit your site instead of just reading your feed!
Discussion: The WordPress default comment settings are fairly effective for minimizing spam comments, but Discussion is still a worthwhile section to read through. Whether you want to cut comments off after a certain number of days, limit the amount of links a comment can contain, require readers to be registered to comment, allow or deny trackbacks, manually approve comments as readers leave them or any of the other things that some blog owners like to do when interacting with their audience, you can do it here. Remember, comments power your discussion on a blog, so make sure that your comments are set up in a way that lets you engage with your audience in the most effective way for you.
Media: This is where you can set your favourite sizes for pictures and videos on your website. If you happen to know the pixel width of your posts, entering it into the Large section will save you lots of time resizing pictures you want to span the post!
Privacy: This is a very short section that simply lets you decide whether or not you want your site to be indexed by search engines. If you are trying to grow your readership, you absolutely want your site indexed.
Permalinks: This is the final section of the basic WordPress settings (if you have others, they are connected to Plugins you’ve installed) and one that is fairly self-explanatory. It simply allows you to choose what type of URL your posts will have. If you moved from Blogger, either you or the person that migrated your site would likely have set up a Custom Structure that closely matches Blogger’s URLs. Otherwise, simply choose for yourself whether you would like your posts identified by the Post Name, the Day and Name, the Month and Name or some other structure.
Going through your Settings options will take a bit of time, but when you are done, your website should be running in a way that you like a lot more. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with some of your options in WordPress and once you’ve seen what kind of choices you have available in your Settings, changing them in the future is so much easier! Take a look and see what kinds of setting are perfect for your WordPress blog!