Assuming you have already installed a WordPress, below some steps I annotated recently when setting up a new blog. During the blog setup DO NOT install caching plugins.
- Serious study of the site content structure. Pages, categories and posts. I use XMind.
- Permalink set to %POSTNAME% or %CATEGORY%/%POSTNAME% without trailing slash (I don’t like it). The category prefix make sense if you really plan to put a post in a single category.
- Favicon (a file named favicon.ico uploaded on the blog root). Even if themes reference a favicon in the page head, many systems search the favicon.ico file directly. If this file is missing, WordPress intercepts the request and serves a blank favicon.
- Limit the feed to only contain the post excerpt otherwise is like giving away the full blog content to leakers.
- Header and Footer plugin
- Google Analytics. Traking code added to the blog using the Header and footer plugin
- XML sitemap
- Google Webmaster. Site verification is now available directly with Google Analytics or put on the blog root the verification file they give. Sitemap submission.
- Bing Webmaster. Sitemap submission.
- All in one seo pack plugin (even if I started to look to other seo plugin as well)
- Social sharing button. Many choices here. You can use plugins like Digg Digg or add the button code directly on the top and on the bottom of posts and pages with Header and Footer.
- .htaccess fixes (see below)
.htaccess can be used to improve the blog performances if you run Apache with some modules. The piece of configuration below will trigger the browsers cache to reduce the bandwidth and make the page load quicker.
Most of the time just to fix the project name and reserve it!
- Facebook page.
- Twitter account.
- Pinterest account.
- Google+ page.
About pages a blog must have there are a lot of resources on the net. For example this. For me a page is something not time related, so even page which contains services (like calculators) are added to a blog as WordPress pages.
If those page has a chance to generate high traffic and discussion do not allow to comment on them because they will be too much heavy. Create a post or a second page where to collect the discussions.