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How to install and set up WordPress

Everything you need to know to get started with the world's most popular CMS

Person working on a WordPress post
(Image: © Pixabay)

Despite the abundance of brand new website builders and content management systems, WordPress remains the most popular choice for webmasters. Loved for its extensive range of plugins and blog capabilities, this software is currently powering over 40% of existing websites. 

So, how do you get started with WordPress? The first step is to install the platform on your web hosting account. 

This guide will show you how to install WordPress using three methods:

  • Utilizing a built-in one-click installer with three different web hosts – Hostinger, Bluehost, and HostGator
  • Using cPanel and an apps installer
  • With FTP (file transfer protocol)

We’ll also walk you through installing WordPress themes and plugins in order to get your website up and running. 

How to install WordPress with Hostinger

First, we’ll show how to install WordPress with Hostinger. They offer speedy, beginner-friendly hosting services at a fair price, starting from $0.99/month. All plans come with a WordPress auto-installer, so you can jump right into building a website.

To install WordPress using Hostinger, follow these steps:

  • Purchase a web hosting plan and a domain name. After completing the order, log in to your Hosting Account dashboard.

Auto Installer

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  • Scroll down to the Website section and select the Auto Installer button.

WordPress Auto Installer

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  • Next, select WordPress. Alternatively, pick WooCommerce + WordPress to create an eCommerce site. 
  • A pop-up form will appear for you to fill in with the email address, username, and password to sign in to your WordPress account.  

Install WordPress

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  • After filling in the required fields, click the Install button.

WordPress Installed

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  • If the WordPress installation is successful, the page should look like the image above.  
  • To access the WordPress admin area, click the three-dot button and select Manage

Dashboard

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  • Alternatively, return to the Hosting Account panel and click the Dashboard button.

Edit Website

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  • On the next page, select Edit Website to open the admin panel.  

WordPress Dashboard

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By now, the WordPress dashboard should show up on the screen. Depending on the hosting plan, you may see some pre-installed plugins, such as LiteSpeed Cache to boost performance. 

WordPress Log In

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To open the dashboard without signing into your hosting account, insert the website’s domain name and add /wp-admin/ at the end of the URL. Then, enter the login information.

How to install WordPress with Bluehost

Bluehost is a US-based company with robust WordPress site hosting plans. It has a marketplace full of custom themes and plugins for its clients, making it easy to find any extension you might need. The subscriptions start from $3.95/month.

Here’s how to install WordPress with Bluehost:

  • After purchasing a plan and domain name, log in to the Bluerock control panel. 

My Sites

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  • Select the My Sites tab from the left sidebar menu. There, click the Add Site button.  

WordPress or Bluehost Website Builder

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  • A window will appear asking you to choose between WordPress or the Bluehost Website Builder. The latter will allow access to both WordPress and Bluehost’s WYSIWYG editor. For this example, we will pick the first route.  

Create a New WordPress Site

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  • Fill in your site name and tagline. Toggle the Advanced button to insert the administrator email address, username, and password. Click Next

Choose a Domain

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  • Choose the domain to connect the site with and select some plugins to install. Then, wait a couple of minutes for the WordPress installation to finish.  

WordPress Installation Successful

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  • Click Login to WordPress to sign in to the dashboard. Alternatively, return to the My Sites tab from Bluerock and view the site you’ve created.  

How to install WordPress with HostGator

HostGator is one of the most budget-friendly web hosts on the market. The most affordable plan costs $2.75/month and includes a free domain name, unmetered bandwidth, unlimited disk space, and Google Ads credits for launching an online business.

Follow these steps on how to install WordPress with HostGator: 

  • After finalizing the order for a web hosting plan, log in to the Customer Portal

Create Website

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  • Click the Create Website button to be redirected to the one-click WordPress installer.

Get Started

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  • Click Get Started to start installing WordPress and have HostGator create an account for your admin panel.  

WordPress Credentials

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  • HostGator will give the login information for you to access the dashboard. Copy the username and password, then press the Go to WordPress button to sign in to the dashboard. Paste the credentials into the appropriate fields.  

At the moment, your WordPress site is using a temporary domain from HostGator. If you’ve purchased a custom domain name, you have to point it to the site yourself. Here’s what you need to do: 

Set Up Domain

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  • Return to the Customer Portal and click Set Up Domain in the My Websites section. 

Show Me How

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  • A pop-up will appear, asking to connect the domain to your site. Press Show Me How. If you’ve purchased the domain on HostGator, clicking on the button will automatically connect it to the site.  

DNS

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  • Those who buy the domain on another provider will have to replace their current nameservers with the one provided by HostGator, shown at the bottom of the page. Copy this information, log in to your domain registrant account, and paste it into the DNS settings.  
  • Return to this page and press Verify Connection. Wait between 24 and 72 hours for the DNS propagation to complete.  

How to install WordPress using cPanel

Some hosting providers don’t offer an automatic WordPress installer like the ones we’ve mentioned. However, there’s still an easy way to install WordPress if the host offers cPanel. 

cPanel is a widely-used control panel for web hosting management. Depending on the hosting service, it usually has a built-in app installation script that you can use to install WordPress and other CMSs. Some popular examples are Softaculous, Fantastico, or QuickInstall.

If your cPanel is version 92 or up, use WP Toolkit instead. This is a new in-app feature from cPanel, allowing any user to install, configure, and manage a WordPress website

The steps are more or less the same with all app installers, though we’ll use Softaculous as an example.

cPanel

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  • Open cPanel from the hosting account interface. Alternatively, type in your domain name on the web browser and add /cpanel at the end. 

Apps Installer

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  • Scroll down to locate the apps installer icon.

WordPress Installer

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  • Next, hover over the WordPress icon and click Install

Software Setup

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  • Fill in the required information for the site settings and admin account. It’s also possible to configure the automatic upgrade and backup settings. Once done, press the Install button down below.  

WordPress Installed

(Image credit: Softaculous)
  • Wait for a few minutes to complete the installation. Then, click on the link provided to access the WordPress dashboard. 

How to install WordPress manually using FTP

Locate your FTP account information

The first step to installing WordPress manually is to find your FTP account information.

FTP Accounts

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It’s usually available in your hosting management dashboard on a page typically called FTP Accounts or FTP Manager.

FTP Account Info

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Click on the page to see the account credentials. If you don’t know the password, consider changing it. Keep this tab open. 

Site Manager

(Image credit: FileZilla)

Now, open your FTP client and connect it to your web server. Those using FileZilla can go to File -> Site Manager… on the top menu. 

FTP Settings

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On the window, click New Site. Fill in the FTP account information in the appropriate fields. For the Protocol, select FTP - File Transfer Protocol. Choose to Use explicit FTP over TLS if available for the Encryption. Set the Logon type to Normal

Finally, press the Connect button.

FTP Setup and Running

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After establishing the connection, the application should look like the picture above. The Local Site panel shows your computer files, while the Remote Site displays the ones inside the WordPress site. 

Upload

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Upload the WordPress files

With the connection established, you can start installing WordPress by transferring the package files to the web server. 

On the Remote Site panel, select the public_html folder. This is the root directory of all the website files. 

Then, on the Local Site section, find the extracted WordPress files on your computer. Select all and right-click to Upload them to the public_html directory. Then simply wait for the transfer to complete before moving on to the next step.

Create a new database

Let’s create a database to store all of your WordPress site content. 

Databases

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To do this, log in to your hosting account’s control panel and locate a button that allows access to the MySQL Database. In Hostinger, this setting is available under the Databases section. 

The page should have a section where you can create a new MySQL database and user. Fill in the required fields:

MySQL Databases

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  • Database name
  • Database username
  • Database password

MySQL Database Wizard

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Those using cPanel can create a database by using the MySQL Database Wizard. The required fields are the same as in the previous example. 

Configure the wp-config.php file

wp-config.php holds information about the website’s database. You need to configure this file so that WordPress can communicate with the newly-created database and retrieve data from it. 

File Manager

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The wp-config.php file is usually accessible from the File Manager on the web host’s control panel, which is where you can organize and edit the website files. 

wp-config.php

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From there, open the public_html web directory. Then locate the wp-config-sample.php file. Rename this to wp-config.php, then open it.

wp-config.php example

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Scroll down until you find the information highlighted above.  

Replace the database_name_here, username_here, and password_here with the database information you created in the previous step. Once done, press Save.

Run the WordPress installation script

The WordPress installation can now begin. Type in the website’s domain on the web browser to access the setup page.

Languages

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First, select a language to use the software and press Continue

WordPress Sign-in Page

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Next, insert the required information about the website and the administrator login credentials. Then click the Install WordPress button.

The WordPress sign-in page will appear. Use the login credentials you created, and the admin panel will show up on the screen. If everything went well, you’ll have just installed WordPress manually.

How to configure permalinks on WordPress

With the CMS installed, let’s discuss the next steps in setting up the WordPress site, beginning with permalinks. 

Short for permanent links, these are the URLs for the pages and posts on a website. For instance, https://www.techradar.com/news/best-seo-tool is the permalink for our list of best SEO tools article. 

Configuring permalinks from the start is essential because changing them when your website already gains traction can: 

  • Cause broken links, which creates a poor user experience.
  • Negatively impact traffic from referral websites.
  • Hurt the site’s search engine rankings.

By default, WordPress uses the ID-based URL structure http://example.com/?p123, with the slug after the domain extension being the page’s unique identification number. The issue with this is it isn’t SEO-friendly, as it doesn’t tell search engines or visitors about the page’s content.

Permalink Settings

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To change the URL structure on WordPress, go to the Settings -> Permalinks tab on the dashboard. 

Choose one of the structures provided. The best practice is to use the Post name as it’s short yet descriptive, though it may not be suitable for a news publication. Some also create a custom structure using the category and post name variables to show the user their location on a website. 

After picking a URL structure, scroll down to Save Changes

Which WordPress installation method is best for you?

We’ve learned how to install WordPress in three different ways – using an auto-installer, an FTP client, and cPanel. Which installation method is best will depend on your situation and needs. 

To help you decide, we’ve ranked the methods from easiest to hardest in the following summary:

  • One-click installer via hosting provider - It’s the most effortless way to install WordPress, only requiring a few clicks and a form to fill in. 
  • cPanel with an apps installer - Use this method if the hosting provider uses cPanel, but doesn’t offer a built-in one-click WordPress installer. The process is just as fast and easy as the previous one. 
  • Install WordPress manually using FTP - This option is best if the previous methods aren’t available or if you don’t want to get any pre-installed plugins. The process is longer and much more involved, so it’s important to pay attention to the instructions. 

Next steps

Now that you know how to install WordPress, all that’s left to do is turn your website into reality. Choose a reputable hosting company, initiate the software installation, configure the permalinks, and pick some themes and plugins to customize the site.

Make sure to follow our WordPress site tips to set yourself up for success, such as installing an SSL certificate and submitting your website to Google Search Console. These two, in particular, can boost your likelihood of ranking high on search engine results pages.