How to Customize WordPress for Best Performance

Once you have WordPress installed on your blog, the first thing you should do before adding posts, is to customize and tweak it for to get the best performance out of it.

Featured Content on BlogHer.comhis post will not tell you how to install WordPress. WordPress is installed through your host and they usually have instructions on how to do it. Installing WordPress usually only takes about 5 minutes and each web host will have a slightly different way to install it so you should check with your web host for those WordPress installation instructions.

Once you have WordPress installed there are somethings I think you should do to set it up properly, tweaks if you will. Yes, you could use WordPress AS-IS, the way it is installed but tweaking it will help you get the most out of it and also give you some SEO benefits.

Login into your WordPress blog: To log in you will go to (replacing nameofyourblog with the actual name of your blog) and type in the user name and password you setup when you installed WordPress on your web host.

Update WordPress: click on Updates from the Dashboard section on the left. If you don’t see it click on Dashboard and then you will see it. Update WordPress unless it says you have the latest version. Your web host may not have the latest version. Since you don’t have any posts installed you don’t have to worry about backing anything up so just click the Update button.

update word press

General WordPress Settings Tweaks:

Click on Settings and then General from the left menu bar.

Blog Name: This is where you will give your blog a name. It should most likely be the name you came up with but can also be a variation of it as this is what the search engines will pull from.

Tagline: The Tagline is a sentence that explains what your blog is about. It is what I use as the “15 second elevator pitch” that explains to someone in 15 seconds what your blog is about. It is also used by search engines.

URL: You should also fill in the WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL). Unless your blog is on a separate directory then leave it the way it is setup. Most of the time your blog will be the only thing installed on your account so you don’t need to change this.

Email Address: Fill in the email address you want to use for this blog. It can be different than the email address you use to setup your user account if you like or just use the same one.

Membership/Users: You can click in the checkbox to allow anyone to register and then assign then the type of user they will be once they register or leave that set to default. You do not want to allow the public to register as anything other than a Subscriber or they will be able to create posts on your blog and if you make them an Admin they will have the ability to change your settings or delete your blog.

Time/Date: then change the time. If you can’t figure out what the time should be, pick the closest major city that is in your time zone from the drop-down list. You can change the time and date format or leave it at the default setting, which is what I do.

Click on this screenshot to see it larger in a new window

wordpress customization

WordPress Writing Settings

Click on Settings and then Writing from the left menu bar.

There isn’t much to change here. The only thing I change is the size of the post box. By default it is set to 20 lines. I like mine to be 30 to 40 lines. The size of the posting area can be left the way it is but if you are writing long posts and will have to scroll up and down a lot, adding more space, or lines, will give you more of a viewable area to work with.

This changes the size of your posting box and has nothing to do with the actual post the public sees. It is just for your own benefit.

change posting area size wordpress

WordPress Discussion Settings

Click on Settings and then Discussion from the left menu bar.

Default Article Settings: I always remove the checkmark next to “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article.” The reason I do this is that it can possibly slow your blog down. It is a service that tries to notify a blog that is linking to your article. It doesn’t stop that blog from linking to your post, it just stops your blog from letting the other blog know.

I still leave the checkmark next to “allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) “ because you want other blogs to be able to link to you.

wordpress discussion settings

Some of the other features are self explanatory and you can decide for yourself whether to leave them on or off. I leave on “allow people to post comments on new articles” and “comment author must fill out name and e-mail.” If at some point you don’t want anyone posting comments on a particular post you can always turn off the comment feature on that one post at the bottom. By requiring them to fill out their name and email you cut down on spam comments.

E-Mail me whenever: If you want to keep track of the comments that come in, leave the checkmark next to “Anyone posts a comment”  As your blog grows and gets more comments this could be annoying because each comment that comes into your blog will generate a email to you.

If you don’t want comments to go live without first seeing them then leave “A comment is held for moderation.” This means the person can comment but it won’t be live on your blog until you approve it.

You have two ways to see if a comment is waiting to be moderated: check your comment section or have the blog send you an email. If you want the email to be sent to you then you need to leave the checkmark next to “Anyone posts a comment” in the “E-Mail me whenever section.”

Avatars: towards the bottom of the Discussion page is a section concerning Avatars. These are the little thumbnail images that show up next to someone’s comment on your blog. You can turn them off or turn them on and use one of the standard images.

Gravatars; If you are using the Gravatar setup you should go to, setup an account and create an image for the email address you use for your user account on your blog. When you respond to a comment your image will show up next to the comment like this. You can change the image that shows there anytime but logging into your account. Gravatar is used by many blogs and each time you comment on another blog that uses it that same image will show up.

create gravatar thumbnail

WordPress Permalink Structure Tweak:

The Permalink structure is the single most important tweak you can make to WordPress. By default it will be set to ?P123 which is awful and this is why.

When you create a post and title it for example, My Favorite Summer Recipes, WordPress will make that look something like – www.yourblogname/?P123

This will never help you to get search engine traffic.

Change the permalink structure to Post Name and if that isn’t an option (you may have an older version of WordPress if you don’t see it) then type /%postname%/ in the Custom Structure text box.

Custom WordPress Permalnk Structure

Now the URL to your post (example only) would be www.yourblogname/my-favorite-summer-recipes

Much better and much more likely to get search engine traffic because now the URL to your post contains keywords from the title!

These are just some of the WordPress tweaks you can do to help your WordPress blog get off on the right start. Even if you have been blogging for a while, go through the list and see if you have WordPress customized. It will help you get more search engine traffic and be better for your WordPress blog in the long run.

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  1. This is a very cleanly written, easy to follow tutorial that should help anyone new to WordPress get up & running in no time. Very nice, bookmarked for future sharing!

  2. Great post on how to begin optimizing your blog for yourself, your readers, and the search engines!

  3. THE SINGLE BEST ADVICE! there are no words to express my gratitude for your guidance on WordPress, thank you.

  4. Just ran into this and it is very helpful thank you! I just bought a domain and still trying to figure out the technicalities.

    One thing that I can’t seem to do is change the permalink settings-I followed your tutorial and changed it to “Custom Structure” but when I clicked save changes, it changed it back to “day and name” on it’s own-can that be used to also specify posts?

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