WordPress Setup and Optimization Checklist

Sanctuary Media Group has an excellent WordPress Setup and
Optimization Checklist
.
However, some of the recommendations and links in it are slightly outdated. Below are my recommended updates, even though I am aware that within a few months these will be out of date too. I only mention those sections of the guide, where I have something to say. The rest I still recommend to follow as is.

Google Analytics

One of the tools they recommend for Google Analytics is “Ultimate Google Analytics.” That tool however hasn’t been worked since February 2008, which means that it is not officially compatible with WordPress versions later than 2.3.2. Considering that current version is 3.2.1 that’s not sufficient.

Fortunately the other recommended tool still works, even though the naming may have changed. The guide calls it “Yoast Google Analytics“, but it is easier to find it as “Google Analytics for WordPress.”

Webmaster Tools

The rcommended tool, Webmaster Tools Verification, works  great and is even better than advertised. The guide says it works with Google’s Webmaster Tools and Bing’s Webmaster Center, but now it works with Yahoo’s Site Explorer in addition to those.

Redirection

Redirection (at Urban Giraffe) is another useful tool, that works as advertised. I just wanted to add its URL at WordPress.com’s plugin directory as I find that those URLs come handier at a WP site setup, than the developer’s URL. At the same time I absolutely recognize though that the plugin developers deserve the credit, support and links too.

HTML Sitemap

The guide links to “Sitemap Generator Plugin for WordPress” by Dagon Design. However that works only with WordPress 2.8 or lower. I didn’t even find it in the official plugin directory, although I suspect that this plugin might have been it, before it became unavailable. Instead of that I use the HTML Page Sitemap by The WordPress Plugins Podcast. I found it pretty versatile and enjoyed playing with its options of what to include in the sitemap and how to sort the links there.

Akismet – Spam protection

The guide links to this page to get your API key, which is necessary for Akismet to work. (Akismet is a spam protection tool, that recognizes spams based on link and text analysis of the comments posted.) However the linked page on WordPress.com says “To obtain an API key, you simply need to register for a WordPress.com account at http://wordpress.com/signup.” If you follow this last link you will get to a page, where you have the option of setting up a blog at whatever.wordpress.com for free or for a yearly fee of $17-24 on your own domain. Strictly speaking to get your Akismet API key, you don’t need that. You could just go to Akismet’s site and get your API key right there for free: akismet.com/wordpress/ .

 Captcha

The guide’s recommended captcha tool, WP-reCAPTCHA, is currently not compatible with later versions of WordPress than 2.9.2. (Captcha is another anti-spam tool that makes it impossible or harder for bots to post spam comments.) Instead I recommend using SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam. You can finetune where to include and exclude the captcha and it works great with Akismet and most other plugins too.

Robots

The guide points to KB Robots.txt as a tool enabling you to edit your robots.txt file (which determines what search engines see and index.) That hasn’t been updated for 4 years and not compatible with WordPress after 2.5. Use PC Robots.txt instead.

Widgets

Don’t get disheartened that the article the guide links to  about widget enabling is four years old. Instead, if you are using WP 3 or higher scroll to the bottom and follow the instructions under the “Updated Code for WP3” heading.

SEO plugins

Minor detail, that can send you searching: the URLs of the plugins have hyphens now and not underscores, like in the guide. So the correct URLs are:

The guide also mentions Automatic SEO Links, at another incorrect URL. That’s another tool that hasn’t seen any updates for two and a half years. Unfortunately I don’t have a better recommendation for the features that provided.

Facebook and Sharebar

The “Facebook Comments for WordPress” and “FT-FacePress-II” plugins, mentioned in the guide, work with various version of WordPress 3+, but not guaranteed with the current one. Same applies to Sharebar. However I have hopes that all of these are still under development. They may even work with your WordPress installation, you can give them a try.

Social sharing

The guide recommends “Share This.” That is a fine tool, although in the past I’ve been using its competitor “AddThis” that I still recommend. Considering that the vast majority of searching is happening on Facebook, Twitter and now Google+, nowadays I am tempted to use the “Facebook, Twitter & Google+ Social Widgets” plugin, despite that it lacks the detailed reporting feature that the other two has. I also used a few times the “Sexy Bookmarks” plugin, a visually more pleasing tool.

There is plenty more you can and should do for a professional WordPress blog or site, but this post was intended only as an addendum, or errata if you wish, to the guide provided by Sanctuary Media Group.

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