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One of the things I get asked most often by people looking to set up their first WordPress site, is how to do it. WordPress has one of the easiest set-up processes you can ask for, but it does take a fair bit of computer knowledge to get through it the first time. You have to interact with a database, edit a configuration file, use an FTP client to upload the software, and then run through its quick online install process, before modifying WordPress to suit your needs.
In this short guide, I am going to walk you through my install process, as I go through the starting steps, to which plugins I use to help my workflow and keep comment spam to a minimum.
I am going to assume a few things in this article, like that you have already downloaded WordPress from WordPress.org, and that you know a little bit on setting up a database and FTP’ing files. If you don’t know how to deal with adding a database to your host, you should check out their Frequently Asked Questions, as I know Dreamhost was a bit odd to me, due to the way they handle databases and their control panel. If you have problems FTP’ing files up onto your account, you will want to contact your web host, or check their Frequently Asked Questions, as they usually have some great tips, tricks and tutorials on how to upload files quickly and easily.
Setting up the Database
All of my web hosting accounts allow me to use cPanel, an easy to use interface that allows you to quickly get to the important control areas of your website. It allows me to easily add a database as well as a user for the database so that WordPress can run properly. The steps you need to take in cPanel is to click on mySQL Databases link, or icon, depending on your host, and then adding a new database, adding a new user, and making sure you add the user to the database, giving the user full permission to add and remove records and whatnot.
WordPress stores all its information, and your blog posts in the database, and so it has to be able to connect to the database with full permissions.
Editing the Config File
To tell WordPress which database to use, you have to edit a file that comes with WordPress. They give you what is a wp-config-sample.php. You have to rename this to wp-config.php and change a few lines. They have commented the code really nicely, so understanding what to change is relatively easy. You can use pretty much any text editor to change the file, but I use Crimson Editor.
define('DB_NAME', 'dbname'); // The name of the database
define('DB_USER', 'dbusername'); // Your MySQL username
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'dbpassword'); // ...and password
define('DB_HOST', 'localhost'); // 99% chance you won't need to change this value
// You can have multiple installations in one database if you give each a unique prefix
$table_prefix = 'wp_'; // Only numbers, letters, and underscores please!
The things in bold are the ones you can change. For the first three items, you will input the information you used when creating your database. The last item, asks you what you want the tables in the database to be prefixed with. This allows you to install more than one WordPress blog in one database, as you can change the prefix to different things. I always change mine to better identify which blog the tables refer to, though you can keep it as its default.
Next you have to get your blog onto your web host. You need to upload the files to where you want to install WordPress. Most people put it in one of two places, either in the root directory, so it is the first thing people see when they come to your site or in a sub-directory, a folder like “blog”.
For uploading my files, I either use Explorer or WS_FTP LE. I input my details and connect. I then drag and drop all the files and folders and upload them to my hosting account.
Once all the files are uploaded you only need to browse to where you put WordPress and go to /wp-admin/install.php. So if you installed it in your root directory, you would go to www.somedomain.com/wp-admin/install.php and it would bring you to WordPress’ install page.
You then click on First Step, and it will bring you to a page asking you what you want your blog title to be as well as your current e-mail address. Once you click submit, it will bring you to the last page in the install process where it shows you your temporary password. You will want to write this down so you can log into your WordPress blog. I also recommend changing it as soon as you are logged in, via the Users tab.
Anti-Spam Plugin Akismet
For WordPress 2.0.x and above, Akismet is one of the plugins that comes with the software by default. A plugin is an additional tool or feature that not every user needs, but can expand WordPress far beyond its original intensions. Akismet is a plugin that is one that I think should just be integrated into WordPress’ core, as it is to combat comment spam, and honestly, who doesn’t want to combat comment spam?
To activate it, you only need to go to the plugins page, click enable, and it will say that it can’t enable all the way without an API key. This key is easy to get though. If you sign up for an account at WordPress.com you can get an Akismet API key. Another route you can take is to purchase one from Akismet.com.
Changes I Make
I don’t like the visual rich editor, and so I uncheck that box once WordPress is installed. I also make sure to give a proper tagline to my blog under Options -> General, as none of the blogs I launch, are “just another WordPress blog”. I also check over all of the other options to make sure everything looks right, and then I mess with my Permalinks. I don’t recommend playing with the permalinks unless you have some idea of what you are doing, or atleast know someone that does. While WordPress makes it extremely easy to use, you can still run into problems that while easy to fix, could be very annoying until you find the resource to fix them.
There are many other plugins, themes and whatnot that I won’t talk about here, as that is getting a little advanced for this post, but most of them are as easy to use as Akismet. You just upload them to the correct place, enable them, and change a few small details here or there to make them work correctly on your blog. Once you have installed WordPress more than once, you will find your own workflow being created that allows you to install, add plugins, and customize WordPress for your needs in a timely manner.
For those of you out there that already have a workflow for installing WordPress, I’d love to hear about it, so if you have a blog, post about your install process and link to this post. It should add your post to the trackbacks here. I would be very interested to see how other’s do it, as I have heard some very interesting ways to install, update, and modify WordPress.
Happy Friday once again! How did this week treat you? I hope you’ve all been busy with work, and that you’re looking for to the weekend for some R&R.
Here are the highlights from this week’s Job Board, in case you want/need to apply for another gig or two.
Are you and Android chick/dude? Do you have a strong interest in mobile games on your Android device? You might want to give this gig a go.
Putting motor vehicles aside, there is a such a
thing as good traffic and there’s nothing quite like waking up in the morning only to realize that there’s a spike in traffic to your blog from dozens of different sources you never even expected or even knew existed. As exciting as this sounds, achieving this can be quite difficult at times to achieve and eludes the average blogger, especially the newbies.
So, I’ve decided to share some easy traffic generating techniques that are guaranteed to lift you higher up the blogging ladder and bring you that feeling of fulfillment in seeing your blog’s popularity increase. Read More
It’s the first day of a new month, and it’s a Friday. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel really good!
Here are the highlights from this week’s Job Board, and here’s to an awesome month and weekend ahead!
This one’s for our friends based in London in the UK. SEOoptimise Limited is looking for bloggers who are well-versed in financial topics. Go for this very interesting opportunity!
Regularly backing up your database and files is one of the most important things to do when running a website. One never knows what could happen and the words have become infamous:
I was sure I had a backup.
Most database plugins for WordPress offer the option to weekly backup your database and even email it to you but if you have a popular site, you might want to prefer a more frequent backup routine. Imagine how many posts and comments Gawker would lose if they only kept weekly backups and suffered problems the 6th day after their last backup.
Another problem with all database plugins is that they will not backup your files. With server storage space being really cheap nowadays, you can easily have several backup procedures in place, even if you host many pictures on your blog.
Personally I have three different, totally automated backup routines, using cron jobs:
- Daily backup
- Weekly backup
- Monthly backup
The reason why I also use weekly and monthly backups is because if you have a corrupted database, probably your daily backups will be corrupted and unusable. This can happen on sites you do not use on a daily basis.
Daily backups are overwritten every 7 days, weekly and monthly backups are stored with attached timestamp.
Because most web hosting companies offer cPanel in their package, this tutorial is based on cPanel but the syntax is the same for Plesk and other backends.
What Are Cron Jobs
Cron is driven by a crontab, a configuration file that specifies shell commands to run periodically on a given schedule.
Backing up your database.
In your cPanel (
http://yoururl/cpanel) under the header Advanced Tools, you will find a link Cron Jobs. Click this link or click the icon on the right if your cPanel is setup with icons.
On the next page choose Advanced (Unix Style). There is no real difference between both options, the needed attention level is the same and in both simple and advanced you have to fill in the correct command.
Most Americans believe bloggers should not be allowed to publish sensitive personal information about individuals, according to a new survey.
Web hosting company Hostway this week released the results of its poll of 2,500 respondents on blogging. Eighty percent of respondents did not believe that bloggers should be allowed to publish home addresses and other personal information about private citizens.
A further 72 percent favored censorship of personal information about celebrities, and 68 percent information about elected or appointed government officials such as judges or mayors.
However, more than one-third of respondents had never heard of blogs before participating in the survey, and only around 30 percent of participants had actually visited a blog themselves.
Next November, the 8th and 9th to be exact, there is going to be a tradeshow/conference in Las Vegas, Nevada USA called the Blog World & New Media Expo.
Here is some details from their site:
The first and only tradeshow, conference, and media event dedicated to promoting the dynamic industry of blogging and new media. If you are currently blogging, vlogging, podcasting, producing some other form of new media content, thinking about joining the exciting industry of new media or just want to know what this whole blogging phenomena is all about then you need to be at BlogWorld.
The show floor will feature an abundance of products and services designed to help bloggers and new media entrepreneurs improve the look and functionality of their blogs, increase their readership, and monetize their blog. Bloggers will find suppliers like Broadband ISP’s, Web hosting companies, blog publishing software, podcasting services, RSS syndication services, new media advertising networks, news readers, aggregators, computer hardware and software, widgets, badges and plug-ins, Wi-Fi services, affiliate program partners, and much much more!
I am not sure what people are going, or who in the industry is going to be there, but I am hoping to go, as it gives me tons of time to plan my way down there, and save up. If the people in the industry back it, I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t be a really fun gathering.
Hope to see you all there, and if anyone has more details that what is currently plastered on the site, I’d love to know more.
Since I’ve been creating sites for a good portion of my life, I just thought I’d go over a few of the most important aspects of building a successful website. Note that these are in no particular order of importance, just what came to mind first. This will be a 2 part series. Hope you find it useful. All of the information I am writing is from personal experience.
1. Domain name – A domain name is important for several reasons. For my example……. we’ll say I want to start a website on the topic CSS. CSSVault.com is the domain name chosen for this example. This was, in my humble opinion, a very nice choice. First, the domain begins with the acronym CSS, which is exactly what this website happens to be about. Not only do visitors find this easy to remember, but many search engines love it when the phrase you are trying to target for is part of your domain name. It helps your ranking and is easy to remember.
Bottom Line – Keep it short and informative
2. CSS/XHTML – I feel this is becoming more and more of an important factor for search engines. I believe that the search engines recognize, and appreciate that your website is complying with the latest in webpage standards(unlike Microsoft’s current browser). There is far less data for them to crawl when the CSS information is in a separate file. They don’t have to look at the same styling information over and over again throughout your site. Then there’s the matter of the HTML being coded tableless which also saves greatly on the bandwidth of both the search engine crawler, and your own web hosting plan. There are advantages on both your side and the side of the search engine. It never hurts to keep the search engines happy.
Bottom Line – Tableless is better
3. Design – Design really has little effect on your search engine rankings, but it is key in gaining repeat visitors and building a sense of community within the website itself. I myself prefer nice simple designs that let the content dictate the website. While I appreciate nice snazzy flashy graphically huge designs sometimes, if the focus is meant to be on the content, then that’s exactly what the visitors should be looking at most of the time. This of course varies from person to person. Anyway, keep your readers happy with something pleasant.
Bottom Line – Keep it simple and to the point
4. SE Friendly URLs – By search engine friendly URLs, I mean avoid urls that look like:
Instead, your URLs should look something like:
You’ll notice that the directory was completely removed and the file was put in the main directory. This helps because the SE’s then view the file as more important because it is not in some obsolete directory. The next thing to notice is that a dash is used…..not an underline. This is because SE’s interpret the dash as a space. This is helpful when you are including multiple words in your file name. The SE’s can add extra weight to the correct words when they can pick apart the right words from your URL.
How can this all of this be achieved you ask? This can be done by using mod_rewrite. Here is a good simple article explaining how to get everything working. This is pretty much a widely used technique now. It used to give quite a big advantage in the search engine rankings, but now it has become pretty much standard practice for webmasters. It has almost become a necessary technique to stay competitive in the rankings now. It’s important to at least keep up with the standards, if not staying ahead of the curve.
Bottom Line – Remove query strings and sometimes directories
5. Title – Your webpage title is more important than you know. I have often found that people will find the page a lot easier with the right title. If you use a nice keyword targeted title along with SE friendly URLs, you’ll be surprised how much this helps in the long run. Keep in mind that while you want keywords in your title, you do not want to overload your title with keywords. I myself usually try to focus on a few main keywords relating to the main subject of the site. To find good keywords, I highly recommend the Overture keyword suggestion tool. This tool has been invaluable to me in finding the right keywords to target.
I usually try to focus on 3 or 4 main keywords that people would type into the search engines. Do not overload your title with too many keywords, it only dilutes the value of the other keywords in the title tag. I usually try to keep a page’s title less than 10 words. A technique I like to employ on sites I create is having the main page’s title target the most important keywords. The home page is going to be the main entry point for most people, so it needs to be targeted the best. Example:
Site Title – Keyword 1, Keyword 2, Keyword 3
On the subpages, I like to basically use the format:
Site Title – Page Subject
Bottom Line – Informative titles are key