Here’s my list of 5 things you must do when setting up a WordPress site, and why.
Akismet – say goodbye to comment spam
This plugin comes bundled with WordPress, and is essential if you have comments enabled on your site. You can see how it works here:
While you can get Akismet on its own, I recommend grabbing the bundle with a backup service called VaultPress which is described below.
VaultPress – backups for your site
As my old boss used to say, the day you don’t do backups is the day you lose your data. Even if your hosting company has backups, that’s still a single location where backups are located. If your hosting account is compromised or those backups are corrupted, you’ll have nothing.
Thankfully VaultPress is a secure, low cost way to make sure your site is backed up. And you can get the bundle with Akismet so you’ll have the spam protection you need, too.
Quality WordPress Managed Hosting
Yes, you can get hosting for $3/month or even less. But you get what you pay for. Especially if the site is for a business, the last thing you or your client want is to lose potential customers because the site is down or slow.
The added benefit of using a managed WordPress hosting provider like WPEngine is that they’re fully optimized for hosting a WordPress website. They backup your files regularly, they scan your plugins and themes for known security risks, and they actively keep WordPress core up to date for you.
With the announcement from Google that the lack of mobile support is taken into account for search rankings, it’s as important as ever to have a mobile-friendly site. Not to mention all those mobile visitors being able to easily read your content.
Having a responsive site (ie. a design that scales down automatically to a mobile device browser size) can work, but can lead to poor mobile performance. Even though the images look small, they are often scaled-down versions of large images, requiring mobile users to download the large image anyway.
Solutions like WPtouch allow you to generate a mobile version of the site, using one of their excellent themes, and will get your site mobile-friendly in a matter of minutes. There is a premium version available with more features if you need them.
It’s not just one plugin, it’s a whole host of modules in one. While there are many modules worth using, one notable feature is Jetpack’s ‘brute force protection feature’. Once JetPack is installed via Plugins > Add New, connect an existing WordPress.com account or create a new one to Jetpack by clicking the large button at the top that appears. Jetpack automatically starts blocking brute force attacks it detects.
Most managed WordPress hosting will also detect and mitigate attacks wherever possible, but an extra layer of protection is nice. That said, you need to have strong passwords otherwise you’ll probably have issues regardless.
While there’s lots of other things you can add to your site – like Google Analytics or other 3rd party services – having backups, mobile readiness, spam protection, quality hosting and some active security protection will get you a long way.