When setting up your self-hosted WordPress site, there are certain plugins and WordPress settings which I consider essential if you want your site to be successful. These suggestions are mainly targeted toward business sites and niche blogs, but can be beneficial to some personal blogs as well.
Install & activate the Google XML Sitemap Generator Plugin. This very cool free plugin will automatically generate sitemap files for your WordPress site as needed, and it has many configurable options.
Install a Contact Form plugin and then create a contact page on your site. You’ll also need to have an email account for use with the contact form so that you can receive the contact messages and respond if needed. A contact form gives your visitors a good way to reach you if needed and also helps to build confidence in your business.
If you allow comments on your site, then you should activate the Askimet Anti-Spam plugin which is supplied with WordPress. This plugin does a pretty good job of screening out Spammy comments to your posts and pages. To activate the plugin, you’ll need to get a free API Key from WordPress.org.
From the WP dashboard, go into Settings, and then Privacy. Check to make sure that the “I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Sphere, Technorati) and archivers” option is selected.
Change your site’s Permalink structure so as to help your posts and pages get much better visibility in the search engines. Here’s how:
a.) From the wordpress dashboard, go into Settings and then choose Permalinks.
b.) Next, choose the “Custom Structure” option.
c.) Enter the following into the text box at the right: /%postname%.html
d.) Now save the settings.
What this does is it changes the internal linking structure between pages and posts on your site so that they include the title of your post or page in the link. This can massively increase search engine ranking and visibility, especially if you use your targeted keywords in the post or page title.