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WordPress Site Optimization for Google

WordPress Site Optimization for Google

You have now built your first WordPress site, however, for some reason the search engines are just not finding you and your Alexa ranking is very high! You post high quality content, make it easy for users to share via their social networks, and people are subscribing to your RSS feed, indicating that they’re like what they’re reading. Yet, you have tried everything to drive traffic to your website, and search engines are still ignoring your site, maybe it is time to evaluate how search engine friendly your website is.

Let’s go over the steps you should take to optimize your WordPress installation for search engines. The basic WordPress installation has good SEO features , but, these steps will help you maximize your search engine results and help insure your site is the best it can be with your content.

  • Optimize Your Titles

By default, WordPress usually puts the title of your blog before the actual post title. Since most search engines only display the first 50-64 characters of your <title> tag, you want the actual blog post title to come first.

For example:

Tips for Making WordPress Friendly to Search Engines - YourWebSiteName.com

is better than:

YourWebSiteName.com - Tips for Making WordPress Friendly to Search Engines

Always make sure that the title of your post comes before anything else. Two main reasons are:

  • Search engines will like you more if the title of the post comes first. This helps them put more importance to the keywords in the title.
  • A descriptive and optimized title is one of the most important aspects of your on page SEO. The title lets the search engine and users know exactly what this page is about before they visit it.

Use the All In One SEO plugin to keep the proper title formats over an entire blog without having to edit any template files.

  • Use Good Meta Descriptions

Most bloggers who use WordPress never do much on the SEO side for meta descriptions because they believe that the auto generated descriptions that comes standard with WordPress is good enough; but that’s not really the case if you’re interested in effective keyword indexing on search engines.

I recommend WordPress SEO by Yoast because of the way it scans your post and grades it on the effective use of your SEO.

Here is the what it looks like once you filled in the Snippet Preview, Focus Keyword, SEO Title, and the Meta Description.

  • Use URLs Permalinks

Permalinks are enhancements to your existing URLs that can improve search engine optimization by presenting your post, page, and archive URLs in this format:

http://wbweeksjr.com/articles/Firebug Debug Tool

Instead of

http://wbweeksjr.com/?p=123

By changing the default web addresses/URLs that WordPress generates to something more readable is much more effective to search engine optimization because the URLs are taken into consideration by Google when indexing and prioritizing search results.

These URLs are gives the users a clue as to what the web page will be about.

Making your permalinks friendlier and readable requires little more than a short trip to your WordPress administration panel. Once there, go to Settings > Permalinks and edit the settings as shown in this image below:I prefer to use Post Name, however, you could use a Custom Structure.

If you prefer to include the category in your title then write the URLs like this:

/%category%/%postname%

This would result in a format that looks like:

http://example.com/the-category/the-post-title

if you want it even shorter you can exclude the category and just use the following value for the Custom Structure setting:

/%postname%/

If you have a new WordPress site, then these tips are easy to setup. However, if your site has been up for a while, than make sure you are using the redirection plugin so that your visitors will not get the 404 page after you rewrite your URLs using the new format.

  • Use Breadcrumbs

Using breadcrumbs on a WordPress site is often overlooked but can be a huge benefit for your readers and for SEO. Links with good key words that relate to the post topic and links to internal web pages is one of the ways search engines determine the relevance of a web page to search terms.

When using breadcrumbs, you make it easier for the readers to navigate and help the search engines to discover the structure of your website. Go to the Plug-ins setting, search for the Breadcrumbs Plugin written by Joost De Valk. It only takes few minutes to set up.

  • Generate an XML Sitemap

An XML Sitemap is a listing of all the pages and posts on your website. This helps the search engine crawlers get a machine-readable structure of your websites. Having a properly structured sitemap has great benefits in the search engines.

Thanks to the massive amount of plugins, generating a sitemap with WordPress is super easy. I recommend using the XML Sitemaps.

This plugin generates a special XML sitemap that assists search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to more accurately indexing your posts and pages. The plugin supports various WordPress generated pages as well as custom URLs. In addition, it sends a notification to all major search engines every time you create a new post..

  • Describe Your Images

Another often-neglected item in WordPress SEO is using keyword-accurate alt and title attributes with images in a post or page. Adding a short description of your image using proper keywords can boost your search engine hits through image searches like the one from Google Images. In using WordPress, adding alt and title attribute values to images is straight forward.

While saving your image, be sure to give a short and simple name with a dash between each keyword.

For example:

If you have a picture of a Florida Sunset tree, name it appropriately, such as florida-sunset.jpg instead of something vague and non-descriptive like postimage03.jpg or screenshot20.jpg.

Once you place your image in a WordPress post or page, it will automatically use the title given as the proper alt description.

If it does not fill it in automatically, you can type a description in the title input field. By implementing these image attributes, it will also make it easier for people who use a screen reader to browse your site.

Note: Name them properly, and assign meaningful title and alt attributes to them.

  • Link to Related Posts

Another popular method for helping search engines find content that is relevant to a given web page is adding a “related posts” section that links to other posts that have a connected subject.

In doing so, you also have the primary benefit of showing your readers other posts that they may want to read as well.

Many WordPress plugins will automatically generate a list of related posts for each of your posts. There are way to many too mention, but you can find a list in the WordPress plugins section at WordPress.org just by searching “related posts”.

I have used the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin and it works very well because it gives you a templating system that allows control over how the related posts are displayed.

  • Use Quality Keywords in Post Headings

Search engines give more weight to keyword items depending on what type of heading that is being used. To get the most juice out of your titles, make sure the post title is an <h1>.

The name of your blog should only be an <h1> on your front page. On single, post, and category pages, it should be no more than an <h3>, some even choose to use other HTML elements such as a <p> element to keep the markup semantic. The title of your site does not need to carry as much weight as the topic you are writing about.

To make sure your site name is only an <h1> on the home page, you can use the code below and modify it to work with your theme in the header.php file. This code checks to see if you are on the home page or other pages and decides what heading tag to use. Most people use this link for the logo of the site linking back to the index.

<div id="logo">
<?php if(is_home()) : ?>
<h1>
  <a href="<?php echo get_option('home'); ?>"><?php bloginfo('name'); ?></a>
</h1>
<?php else : ?>
<a href="<?php echo get_option('home'); ?>"><?php bloginfo('name'); ?></a>
<?php endif; ?>
</div>

When fixing your headings on posts or pages find the code that looks like this:

<h1><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h1>

Headings are very easy to edit and are found in the single.php and page.php and various archive pages of your WordPress theme.

  • Avoid Duplicate Content

With WordPress showing the same posts on multiple pages like the index, tag pages, archives, author pages, and category pages, it is very easy to have duplicate content. Use a robots.txt file to completely avoid this problem.

If you want to create your own robots.txt file, you can use the following:

User-agent: *
        Allow: /

Disallow: /wp-content/
        Disallow: /trackback/
        Disallow: /wp-admin/
        Disallow: /archives/
        Disallow: /*?
        Disallow: /*.js$
        Disallow: /*.inc$
        Disallow: /*.css$
        Disallow: */trackback/
        Disallow: /c/
        Disallow: /author/
        Disallow: /tag/

User-agent: Mediapartners-Google
        Allow: /

User-agent: Adsbot-Google
        Allow: /

User-agent: Googlebot-Image
        Allow: /

User-agent: Googlebot-Mobile
        Allow: /

#User-agent: ia_archiver-web.archive.org
        #Disallow: /

Sitemap: http://yoursite.com/robots.txt

If you use this, be sure to change the Disallow: /c/ to whatever category structure you are using like /category/, for example.

You should disable indexing of all .js, css, and .inc files that shouldn’t be search-engine crawlable.

A much easier way if you are not code-savvy is to use the Robots Meta plugin. This modifies the default one made by WordPress from the original install.

Summary

These are just a few easy ways to create WordPress sites that search engines can crawl more easily. I know this seems like a lot of work, but it will be worth your time. Remember, that all the above tips will affect Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com although each has their on style guides.

 

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