WordPress is without a doubt the most popular blogging platform on the web. It’s easy to use, relatively secure, very extensible and best of all free. Unfortunately, it’s not optimized for search engines terribly well out of the box. The URLs that it generates don’t have any keywords in them. There’s no way to customize titles and meta-data on a page-by-page basis by default. Duplicate content in archives and category listings are all set to be indexable. By default, it doesn’t generate a Google site map, and the list goes on.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to your WordPress installation to make it much friendlier to search-engines, resulting in more traffic to your website.
Here’s the list of search-engine optimization techniques that I frequently use on WordPress websites:
(1) Create a site map and submit it to Google’s Webmaster Tools
A sitemap is nothing more than a list of pages that are on your website and how frequently they are updated. This will help Google and other search engines know which pages they should index and which ones likely haven’t been updated and they don’t need to check. It’s difficult to measure how much of a benefit creating a site map actually has for your site because Google doesn’t publish their algorithms, but it definitely helps.
To create an automatically generating site map in WordPress, download and install the Google (XML) Sitemaps Generator for WordPress. After installing the plug-in and getting your site map built, make sure to add your website to Google’s Webmaster Tools and submit the sitemap to there.
(2) Create Better Permalink URLs
By default, WordPress will use URLs such as http://www.example.org/?p=23. Typically, URLS that have keywords related to what the users are searching for have a better chance of ranking high than those that don’t. By changing your WordPress settings, you can create keyword rich URLs such as “http://www.adventuresindevelopment.com/2009/05/26/how-to-generate-random-passwords-in-c/.
To do this, go to the “Settings” tab under your WordPress back-end then go to “Permalinks.” I typically recommend the “Day and Name” setting
(3) Get the “All In One” SEO Plugin
A key aspect of doing search engine optimization well on any site is making sure that the right pages are indexed and that “clickable” page titles are selected. By default, WordPress will generate page titles such as “AdventuresInDevelopment.com – The Name of the Article Here”, but most web-browsers are concerned about the article it self and not your specific website, so it’s generally agreed that having the title of the article should come before having the title of your website. That’s why we use titles like “Article Name | Adventures In Development.”
You also want to avoid having duplicated content on your website. Generally, that’s something that you want to avoid. If the amount of duplicate content that you have is excessive, Google could punish your rankings as a result. For this reason, it’s a good idea to add “noindex” meta-tags to your category pages, tag pages, and monthly archives. This way, only your homepage, your individual posts, and your about pages are indexed.
There’s a plug-in called “All in One SEO” that accomplishes these two tasks for WordPress. “All In One SEO” can be downloaded from the WordPress plug-ins section. You can also use it to set custom meta-data for your homepages if you’d like, which certainly won’t hurt.
(4) Get the Word Press “Related Sites” plug-in
To rank well in search engines, you need to get people to link back to your website, and unless you are promoting a very authoritative website, that is not an easy task. Some people try to generate free links by participating in blog-carnivals and others even go as far as purchasing links from other websites. Related Sites is a way for you to generate free in-bound links from websites in your niche without the risk of any sort of Google penalties. Basically, it looks at the keywords in your post and provides links to related posts on other participants websites that use similar keywords. It does the same thing on their articles and generates additional links back to your website.
Here’s what the “Related Sites” module looks like on an article on one of our other sites (Interest Rate Hikes And What You Can Do About Them @ American Consumer News)
Here are some other WordPress SEO articles you might be interested in:
- SEO for WordPress – The Complete Guide – Jim Westergren
- Search Engine Optimization for WordPress – WordPress Codex
- WordPress SEO – Yoast