Setting Up Your Default Settings In WordPress For Your Blog

by Robb Sutton

When you first install WordPress, the first impulse is to start drafting up your content, start looking for a theme or searching the database for cool plugins to enhance your blog.

Before we get into those aspects of setting up a WordPress based blog, we want to jump in and get the default settings in WordPress set up correctly. By getting these settings right the first time, we are able to save ourselves a lot of administration headaches in the future. Let’s run through each and what you need to do.

Look for the switches icon directly below the tools.

General Settings

Blog Title – Enter your blog title (this will be overridden by a SEO plugin later, but it is good to go ahead and fill in your blog’s name). Should be close to your domain name.

Blog Tagline – While it is not vastly important that you have nailed down a tagline for your blog at this point in time, it is time to start thinking about a line that will describe your blog in a few short words in a catchy, original manner. In many cases, your tagline can be as important as your title.

WordPress Address (url) – If you followed the steps in this tutorial, the WordPress url should be the same as your blog url. (I like to leave off the www like you see on this blog. Just looks cleaner in my opinion)

Blog Address (url) – The url that you want your blog to show up on. This is where you choose to include the www or not. Make sure the WordPress and Blog Address match for the purposes of the How To Start A Blog Series

Membership – If you are just creating a blog, do not check this box at this point in time. Readers will be able to contact and interact without the need to actually register with your WordPress install.

New User Default Role – Leave as subscriber. You basically negated this setting by not checking the box above.

The rest of the settings you can set up to your preference.

Writing Settings

Size Of The Post Box – This controls how big you want your post box to be by default when you go to draft an article or page. I like to keep it at 20 lines.

Formatting – Personal preference. I have the emoticons automatically converted.

Default Post Category – This setting controls which category is chosen for your posts by default. You change this within your Add New Post screen and you can leave it alone at this time as you have not setup all of your categories yet.

Default Link Category – Leave this alone at this time as you have not setup any links.

Remote Publishing – You can enable remote publishing, but…at this time…this is not a feature you will be using.

Post Via Email – Leave alone at this time.

Update Services – This feature updates certain services (that you specify) when you have published a new article. It it basically a “hey! look over here! I have something new!” Copy and paste the following list of services into that box and save.

Reading Settings

Front Page Displays – At this time, select latest posts. This is the most common way you will find most WordPress blogs, but…in the future…you might want to setup a landing page as your home page for your blog. This is where you will change the setting to show your newly created landing page.

Blog Pages Show At Most – This setting in WordPress controls how many blog posts will show on any pages. This includes your homepage and category pages. You will need to adjust this to your theme and content as you start to get new articles written on your blog. Most themes use this setting in WordPress to control the homepage features, so remember this is here for future adjustment.

Syndication Feeds Show The Most Recent – This setting in WordPress controls how many of your new post show up in your RSS feeds as unread when a new subscriber subscribes to your blog. Just keep this one at 10.

For Each Article In A Feed Show – This is the setting that controls how your articles show up in your rss feed. There is a lot of debate on the pros and cons of showing excerpts or full articles, but I believe that showing full articles is essential to growing a strong subscriber base. I leave “Full Text” checked at all times.

Encoding For Pages And Feeds – Leave on UTF-8

Discussion Settings

Default Article Settings – I check all 3. I want people to comment and I want others to know when I link them up. It is just good blog practice.

Other Comment Settings – You can set this up to your preference, but I check the following items and leave the others alone.

Comment author must fill out name and e-mail (basically…no anonymous comments)

Enable threaded (nested) comments 5 levels deep (Any deeper and the content space gets too narrow) – This setting allows for more conversation on your blog enabling readers to easily reply to each other in the comments section.

Email Me Whenever – I check both of these boxes to get updates on what is going on with my blogs. I pick up my email via my iPhone so I can moderate any spam that might accidentally make it through the filters right away. It also allows me to respond to great comments quickly. You might now want your email inbox filled up with the updates…so you can leave these blank if you want. It is also good to setup an alternate email just for updates like these to keep your other inboxes free of clutter.

Before A Comment Appears – Personal preference here as well, but if you are having issues with spam and trolls trying to derail your conversations…it might be a good idea to leave them checked for awhile so that you have to approve a comment before it will appear on your blog.

Comment Moderation – I hold comments that have links (set to 1) until I have approved that comment. Cuts down on spam getting through.

Avatars – I enable avatars so you will see the icon next to the commentors name.

Media Settings

Images Sizes – Leave these on their default settings for now.

Privacy Settings

You actually set this up during your WordPress installation when you decided to let other sites and search engines see your blog. The first box should be checked already.

Permalink Settings

Permalinks control your blogs posts url.

By default WordPress uses web URLs which have question marks and lots of numbers in them, however WordPress offers you the ability to create a custom URL structure for your permalinks and archives. This can improve the aesthetics, usability, and forward-compatibility of your links.

There is some debate among bloggers about which permalink setup is best for blogging. Out of everything I have read and through personal experience, I have found that has worked the best for me in search engines and through blog maintenance as you change categories and other settings over time that can affect your link structure. You can also refer to this post on about SEO and why he chose the same setting for his blogs.

Check “Custom Structure” and copy and paste this into the blank provided – /%postname%/

Note: If you have already been blogging under a different structure, hold off on changing to this structure until we go over the plugins part of How To Start A Blog. There is a plugin that we will install that will automatically redirect to the new url for you, and you do not want to change this setting until you have this in place as Google and other links will not be able to find your articles through the existing links without it.

Miscellaneous Settings

I leave everything as default and make sure the “Organize my uploads into month- and year-based folders” box is checked so I can find my media uploads easily if needed.

Now you are all set up with WordPress. 99% of these settings are now set for good and you can forget about them and focus on other aspects of your blogging. Next, we will look into WordPress plugins and get those setup on your blog.


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Rob Mangiafico September 23, 2009 - 9:45 am

Nice list of “Update Services” to include in WordPress. There were many there I had not considered. Thanks.

Rob – LexiConn

Robb Sutton September 23, 2009 - 8:00 pm

Sure thing! I was hoping that list would help.

KNau September 23, 2009 - 11:29 am

Excellent post! While there’s lots of general advice about WordPress out there I really like to see individual tips / tricks that people use. Thanks.

Robb Sutton September 23, 2009 - 8:01 pm

Thanks Knau. Hopefully I can help other bloggers by preventing the same mistakes I made in the beginning.

Mike September 23, 2009 - 8:05 pm

I had a pretty solid ping list, but yours blew mine away, so I had to change it up. Thanks.

Rank High Solutions September 24, 2009 - 11:27 am

Great Post Robb,

I personally like the custom permalink structure format /%category%/%postname%/

I like it because if you do keyword research during the pre-planning phase, then you wouldn’t need to edit any categories later on. Having the category included also allows for SEO url’s.

Also, great ping list. I just had only one google ping url and didnt even think of the rest.

Again, great job.

Found By Design July 30, 2010 - 12:53 pm

I love the /%postname%/ permalink structure as well, but if someone is not posting their published date on the page, I wish they would use the month/date permalink structure. Nothing worse than looking for great resources, only to discover you are finding outdated material.

So people, if you choose to use the /%postname%/ permalink structure, please provide a date somewhere on the page for your posts. Otherwise, use the month/date structure so we know how old your expertise is! lol

Mars January 10, 2011 - 1:37 pm

Thanks will do this for my site


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