First Things First: WordPress Pre-Launch Checklist

So you’ve graduated to the big leagues, registered your own domain name and installed a fresh copy of WordPress. Now what? First things first: before you get to blogging, make sure you follow a few simple steps.

Change the default WordPress theme.

The default Kubrick theme is cool, but long overdue for a makeover. Check out Smashing Magazine’s list of 83 beautiful WordPress themes including 10 more here.

Update your permalinks.

Create user/search-engine friendly URL’s for your permalinks and archives. This can improve the aesthetics, usability, and forward-compatibility of your links.

Ditch the WYSIWYG editor.

Sorry, but what you see is not always what you get. Ditch the WYSIWYG editor altogether by visiting your profile and personal options. Uncheck “Use the visual editor when writing” and apply the changes.

Change the Date and Time options.

More than likely, UTC time is not your time. Adjust your timezone offset (-7 for Pacific Time) and specify which day of the week the calendar should start on. Date and time adjustments can be located under “General Options”.

Activate Askimet or related SPAM plugin.

Protect your blog. Activate the bundled Askimet plugin using your Wordress API key. Don’t have one yet? Signup for a account and they will email you an API key.

Update your Ping list.

The default WordPress ping service does not ping all the site update services you need to syndicate your blog and get it spidered. Daily Blog Tips also recommends the following list of blog pinging services.

Check your page titles.

Repeat after me. Post title before blog title… post title before blog title. Better yet, just get the SEO Title Tag plugin by Netconcepts and be done with it.

Check your META tags.

Although META tags won’t make or break your blog, the Head Meta Description plugin by Kaf Oseo provides an automatic meta description tag for your blog. With any luck, this may help you avoid supplemental hell.

Bust out a sitemap.

Create a XML-Sitemap compliant sitemap of your WordPress blog so that search engines can more intelligently crawl your site.

Fix your feeds.

Prop your syndication feed links on a pedestal by placing them above the fold and make sure the “Full text” option is selected under “Reading Options”. Also, be sure to redirect them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber.