WordPress is a great blogging platform and is very easy to utilize. Often times people forget that worpress’s standard installation is very easy to search engine optimize. It has natively built in features that can help a site owner in getting their site crawled.
Natively, WP comes with a ton of great features for SEO. One of these features is the ability to use
.htaccess, or a hidden configuration file, to create hard links, also referred to as permalinks. On top of the natively built-in features of WP, there are a ton of great third party plugins available that are incredibly useful with WP search engine optimization.
Check The Code, Content and Other Site Owners
Blog owners often spend a ton of time customizing their site. While this can be great for making unique sites, it can also hurt some of the standard seo features built into WP. Once you’ve got a site all set up, it’s a good idea to go back to the basics and check a few things. First, make sure all of the code validates and compiles perfectly. Compilation errors can hinder a search engine spider from successful crawling all parts of a site. Second, make sure you have unique content, and lots of it. It is extremely difficult to optimize a site that is completely media saturated. Content is king. Ensuring that there is fresh textual content on a site is paramount.
A site owner should take full advantage of WP’s built in blogrolls, pingbacks and track backs. These features help you link your site to other sites, as well as have them link back to you. Blogrolls are essentially a list of blogs you, as a site owner, are a fan of. The WP engine will track all of the updates from these sites and sum them up in list form on your site. Pingbacks are essentially a pat on the back system. Pingbacks allow site owners to reference each other’s posts in side of their posts. If pingbacks are enabled, the site owner being reference gets an alert.
Navigational Links & Robots.txt
Next, a site owner will want to consider the structure of their site. A good set of navigational links is hugely important. Search engines will crawl your site by moving form page to page. Bad links can keep the spiders from discovering new content and effectively lowering your page rank. WP comes with a default robots.txt file for search engine spiders, also crawler. Often times as a site gets customized, the area in which content is most often posted is not the default for WP. As a site owner you must pay close attention to your robots.txt file. For example, a typical WP robots.txt file contains:
User-agent: * Disallow: /cgi-bin Disallow: /wp-admin Disallow: /wp-includes Disallow: /wp-content/plugins Disallow: /wp-content/cache Disallow: /wp-content/themes Disallow: /trackback Disallow: /feed Disallow: /comments Disallow: /category/*/* Disallow: */trackback Disallow: */feed Disallow: */comments Disallow: /*?* Disallow: /*? Allow: /wp-content/uploads
Updating this file can become a cumbersome task, however, there is a great plugin called KB Robots.txt, which can take some of the guesswork out of it. This plugin will allow a site owner to create and edit their robots.txt file from within the WP administration section.
Don’t Forget The Meta Tags
WP stores all of the meta information in the head section of the header.php file. These tags are not installed by default, so it is important to take the time to update them. To put the Meta tags back into your WP installation, open up your WP theme in a code editor. Look for the following line of code near the top of the page:
<title><?php bloginfo('name'); ?><?php wp_title(); ?></title />
Just beneath this line of code you can manually add all of your meta information. This information typically contains a language, author, content description and any copyright information. This Meta information is not dynamic. This means whatever you put here won’t change throughout the entire site.
<META CONTENT="document" NAME="resource-type"> <META CONTENT="Short tutorial on the use of meta tags" NAME="description"> <META CONTENT="meta, tags, html, tutorial" NAME="keywords"> <META CONTENT="global" NAME="distribution"> <META CONTENT="MSHTML 6.00.2723.2500" NAME="GENERATOR">
If the site is a fixed content site, this may not be an issue, but if you’re looking for more dynamic Meta tag information, a plugin is your only choice. The most popular plugin for Meta managing is the “customize meta widget”. This plugin allows you to dynamically assign Meta tags to each page in your site. This is extremely useful in optimizing your site if you have multiple types of content throughout it. The plugin is easy to use and simply replaces WP’s default Meta menu with a built in variation that doesn’t require a link to wordpress.org.
Google Site Maps
XML site maps can be very useful when trying to optimize your WP site for Google. These maps are very difficult to make and maintain the larger a site gets. Luckily, there’s a great plugin for this to. The plugin is called “Google (XML) Sitemaps Generator”. This tool will automatically update and generate a site map for all the types of WP pages. It is very easy to use, and doesn’t require any coding skills.
Optimize Your Theme
After all the basics have been covered, it is important to take a look at the theme and design of the WP page. There are a couple of plugins that can help with this. The first is the breadcrumb plugin. Breadcrumbs are the small links that appear above a post title. They usually look something like this: “Home > Articles > Post Tile.” These links help navigation on your site, and allows the search engines to navigate more freely. This plugin will help with breadcrumb links for posts that fall into multiple categories. It will force a category to be chosen for the breadcrumb links.
One of the easiest solutions to theme optimization is just to choose and download one of the many already optimized templates for the engine. This can save tons of time and effort.
Optimize Your Server
The WP engine is natively very fast and efficient. While there aren’t any direct settings to make to optimize your WP site server, it is important to ensure your server is fast and reliable. Speed and reliability can truly make a different in page ranks and search engine optimization. Look for a host, or server, with good up time ratios and snappy servers.
Overall, WP is a great tool for a small business owner. Right out of the box it is very SEO friendly and can be easily optimized with just a few small steps. Taking the time to check your Meta Tags, site maps, theme layout, server reliability and robots.txt can make a tremendous difference in the viability of your site. There are a ton of great plugins out there to help with this and this should not be considered a definitive list, so read the reviews and try them out.
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