March 14th, 2007 - by Golgotha

WordPress has become a leading content management system. Notice that I didn’t say blogging software. I love WordPress so much that I don’t think I will create another website without it, blog or not. And while WordPress is great right out of the box, there are some things you can do to make it even better.

This article will share some plugins, some code adjustments and some tweaks that will make your website more user-friendly, easier on your web server, and possibly increase your traffic.

It should be said that this list is not all encompassing; it doesn’t list every plugin that I use

Rather, it’s a list of some of the more popular amendments to WordPress that should be done immediately following an install.

So if you’re ready to pimp out your site, let’s begin.

1 Fight Spam With Akismet
Always start by activating the Akismet plugin. Akismet will greatly reduce or even completely eliminate the comment and trackback spam you get on your site

Bless you Akismet.

2 Change Your Title Tags
Open header php and change the title tag code. By Default it reads:

  1. <title><?php bloginfo('name'); ?> <?php if ( is_single() ) { ?> &raquo; Blog Archive <?php } ?> <?php wp_title(); ?></title>

Typically your blog’s name will not help your SEO efforts so using it in one of the most important SEO elements, the title, is not good

Let’s change it to the below:

  1. <title><?php /* If this is the frontpage */ if ( is_home() ) { ?>
  2. Website Promotion, Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization Articles
  3. <?php } else if (is_category()) { echo single_cat_title(); } else { the_title(); }?></title>

This allows you to set your home page’s title

After all, the home page is very important

It also checks to see if you are at a category page and if so, it displays the category title

This too is good for SEO because you will likely have keyword rich categories like ‘CSS’ or ‘Internet Marketing’

The default WordPress theme would show the last post title for a category; that’s no good

3 Insert META Tags
While you have header php open you will notice that WordPress by default has no meta tags. While meta tags are not overly important these days – why not include them anyway? I add the following code:

  1. <?php /* If this is the frontpage */ if ( is_home() ) { ?>
  2. <meta name="description" content="Search-This</p>com | search engine optimization (SEO) articles, website promotion, internet marketing" />
  3. <meta name="keywords" content="Search Engine Optimization,Internet Marketing,Website Promotion,SEO,SEO Articles,Web Site Promotion,Search Engine Marketing" />
  4. <?php } else { ?>
  5. <meta name="description" content="<?php the_title(); ?>" />
  6. <meta name="keywords" content="<?php the_title(); ?>" />
  7. <?php } ?>

This code checks to see if we are at the home page and if so gives it our defined meta tags. If we are at a page other than the home page we just use the title to fill in the meta tags.

I know there are plugins for meta tags out there, but this is good enough.

4. Outsource Your RSS Feeds
Some people estimate that half their bandwidth goes to RSS feeds. That’s staggering! Why not let FeedBurner take the hit for you?

Try the FeedBurner Feed Replacement plugin. This plugin will detect all ways to access your feed and redirect them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber.

5. Create A Contact Form
I like the Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form plugin. Their site will walk you through the install; it’s pretty easy.

Another recommendation for a contact form is

  1. <?php
  2. /*
  3. Template Name: page-archive
  4. */
  5. ?>

Now that you have created your own template, go download an archive plugin like Smart Archives for WordPress and install and activate it.

Next, in page-archive

php locate the line <div class="entry"> and add this code after it:

smartArchives('block','category ID');
smartArchives('list','category ID');

Now save page-archive.php and go create a WordPress Page (not a Post, but a Page). Give it a Title like Archives and in the Page Template section on the right choose page-archive

php, like the picture below.

Finally, just include a link to your new archive page and you’re done!

7. Up Your Feeds
In your WordPress administration panel select Options and then the Reading tab. By default, WordPress has your Syndication Feeds set at 10 – change this to 20 – so it should now read, ‘Show the most recent: 20 posts’.

I would only do this if you followed step 4 above. If FeedBurner is taking care of your feeds you may as well give it more feeds.

8. Modify the .htaccess File
Add the following code to your .htaccess file. It should be located in the root of your domain.

  1. # trim index</p>html
  2. RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^[A-Z]{3,9}\ /(([^/]+/)*)index\</p>html\ HTTP/
  3. RewriteRule index\</p>html$ http://www</p>search-this</p>com/%1 [R=301,L]
  4. #
  5. # trim index</p>php
  6. RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^[A-Z]{3,9}\ /(([^/]+/)*)index\</p>php\ HTTP/
  7. RewriteRule index\</p>html$ http://www</p>search-this</p>com/%1 [R=301,L]
  8. #
  9. # redirect from non www to www
  10. RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^search-this\</p>com
  11. RewriteRule ^/?(</p>*)$ http://www</p>search-this</p>com/$1 [R=301,L]

This will trim index.php and or index.html from any links to your site and leave it with just This is good for SEO, because it keeps all links to your site the same.

Along those same lines, we also ensure that www is always added to our url. We will never have, it will always be

Obviously adding the www to your url is your call; just make sure all links to your site are one way or the other. You don’t want both or you will be splitting up your PageRank.

9. Make Your Blog Printer Friendly
Create a CSS file dedicated just for printing. In other words, strip away everything but the post content.

You can simply copy your CSS file and rename it style-print.css then remove all parts except the content. Then simply add the link below with the media=”print” part. Now when people print it will use this CSS file.

<link rel="stylesheet" href="http://style-print

css" type="text/css" media="print" />

10. Install iG:Syntax Hiliter Plugin
Have you noticed that all the code in this post is formatted nicely? Thank the iG:Syntax Hiliter Plugin for that. If you don’t want to spend all your time formatting code for each programming language then get this plugin.

11. Join Technorati
Once your blog is live you’ll want to claim it on

60 Responses to “WordPress – From Install to Pimped Out”

1 Scot Hacker

I disagree with step #8. Of course you say “it’s your call,” but still, the example is on how to *add* www to the domain name, rather than how to *remove* it. Having “www” in a domain name is cruft left over from the mid-90s. Of course any site should respond on requests that include www because there are still people out there who, out of habit, still type “www” in front of domain names. But I wouldn’t think anyone would still want to promote the use of www in this day and age!

Would be great if you could provide the reverse example, so that a WP install responds on www but transforms the URL to the version without automatically.

Down with cruft!

[…] WordPress – From Install to Pimped Out WordPress has become a leading content management system. Notice that … And while WordPress is great right out of the box, there are some things you can … […]

3 Jay

great info pretty basic but useful for newbies.

4 » Blog Archive » Wordpress Power

[…] Change Your Title Tags Open header.php and change the title tag code. By Default it reads: PLAIN TEXT […]

[…] WordPress From Install To Pimped Out Suggestions on what to do with WordPress from installation to finish. […]

6 bryan

Wow! I have been in love with wordpress since I first installed it, but now armed with this knowledge I have the ability to really make things happen! Thanks again! Does anyone know of any great places to get 3 column themes? I use one now, but I am always looking for more.

7 Kwaku

Hey Golgotha,

Nice info here. could be more specific with certain things. As in how to exactly do things, eg., where the header.php file can be found. I’m a newbie to wordpress and php. still trying to figure so many things out.


8 Technology Blogged

Brilliant article. I like the way you’ve done this step by step, I’m no beginner but have learnt some new stuff here.

Thank you very much :)


Jakk from Technology Blogged

9 Smykker Online

WordPress is such a great tool, and tutorials like this makes it better :)

10 Lai Highnote

Once I originally commented at I clicked the – “notify me”- checkbox and now every time a new remark is put in at WordPress – From Install to Pimped Out page, I get a couple of e-mail utilizing the related remark. Possibly there is any way it’s possible to eliminate myself out of that services? Thank you!

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