Commonly overlooked WordPress settings

Peeping into the backrooms of your WordPress website (Image W Guy Finley via Flickr)

While auditing some WordPress websites for workshop participants last week, I was staggered to find some important settings completely overlooked.

This is not the fault of the website owners, but rather the people they had paid to put their WordPress websites together.

If you have had the Baker Marketing team build your website, you can ignore today’s article but if you’ve had your WordPress site put together by someone else, please take a few minutes to check the following settings.

The Settings tab

These items are all found in your Settings tab, which you get to by logging in to your WordPress site and viewing the ‘backend’ or administration area.

When you hover your mouse over the tab called Settings, you should see a number of options emerge to the right (if you don’t, try clicking Settings and the sub-items should unfold below Settings); we’ll look through just three of them today.

Settings > General – the Tagline

By clicking on General under the Settings tab, you see a list of settings for your website, beginning with Title.

Usually, the title has been set correctly (typically the name of your business) but the field underneath it called Tagline is the first culprit for us to check.

By default, WordPress inserts the words ‘Just another WordPress blog’ into the Tagline field.

If your website developers were novices, sloppy or incompetent, they overlook updating that field, which is a pity because the words entered here are of great assistance to Google in understanding what your website is about.

WordPress suggests you fill this space with ‘a few words [to] explain what this site is about’.

Typically, we enter a positioning statement that sums up your Unique Selling Point or main problem that you solve, in words that closely align with the words your potential clients will be using in Google to search for someone like you.

Alternatively, we sometimes use that area for your main email address and phone number (to make contacting you easy) or an address (if that is a key piece of information that your business relies on communicating).

So, go ahead and enter some text that is relevant, scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes, and you are done.

Settings > General – the Timezone

Another important setting on the same page is your timezone.

Too often I find developers leave the timezone set at its default setting of GMT.

This can be a pain in the neck when it comes to scheduling posts and can play havoc with other features you might add to your site like calendars or coming events listings.

To update it to your timezone, simply click on the timezone listed then scroll up to find your zone.

Note: You don’t need to use GMT plus or minus a number of hours, if you scroll to the top of the list, you will see named timezones like Adelaide and Darwin grouped under country/regional settings.

Select your timezone, scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes, and you are done.

Settings > Reading

The last of the most commonly overlooked settings is the one that tells search engines like Google whether you want them to index your website or not.

You might think this is a silly setting, but many developers use this during the development phase to stop Google indexing your site while it is incomplete.

However, some developers forget to go back and turn OFF the blocking until you realise, months down the track, that your site is not being indexed by search engines.

It is easy to fix, simply go to the Reading tab and UNTICK the box called Discourage search engines from indexing this site, then click Save Changes, and you are done.

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