What You Should Know About WordPress SEO

Jul 25, 2012
WordPress XML
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When it comes to publishing tools, WordPress is most likely on top of the food chain. Its simplicity and ease-of-use is especially favored by publishers and its wide community support by developers makes it particularly attractive for plug-in development. WordPress is also an excellent medium to improve your website’s search engine rankings. The countless number of SEO plugins that have been developed for WordPress are a good start for most people. SEO for WordPress is however slightly different from other platforms. What should you know about WordPress SEO?

Permalink Structure

When you open a web page from a website running on WordPress, you will notice that the URL is just a number with some symbols. This is usually not very descriptive and WordPress uses it to make it easy to organize your posts and pages. For SEO purposes however, this is not good news. Fortunately, you can change your permalink structure to make it more descriptive of your posts right inside your WordPress dashboard. Navigate to the “Common Settings” section and change the settings from “Default” to “Custom Structure”. Your posts will not only reflect well on search engines, but it will be easy for people to easily link to them.

Optimize Titles

Search engines like Google take your titles as important ranking factors and thus have a direct impact on your SEO. Its not only search engines that put more weight on your page title, but people scanning results pages will also click on what they consider more relevant, based on the titles they see. Most titles on WordPress blogs and sites follow the syntax: Blog Title > Blog Archive > Blog Title To get people clicking on your posts however, you need to have your titles use the syntax below: Blog Title > Blog Archive > Blog Title

Image Optimization

One of the best tools for image optimization in WordPress is the Smush.it plug-in. This tool removes unnecessary bytes form image files without changing their look or visual quality. The plug-in strips an image’s meta data from JPEGs, optimizes JPEG compression, converts certain GIFs to indexed PNGs and strips the unused colors from indexed images. Adding relevant file names and title and alternate text (ALT) definitions to describe the image makes it easy for both search engines and visually-impaired visitors or those accessing your site from a mobile device that strips the images, visually appealing.

XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap is necessary to help search engines like Google and Bing better index your blog. A sitemap helps crawlers see your entire site structure making it possible to have new content indexed faster every time you push a new post on your site. Plugins like Google XML Sitemaps can help generate a Sitemap and notify the major search engines.

Add Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are links usually added above the title post and they allow users to easily navigate your site and allow search engines to determine your site structure more easily. Ensure that breadcrumbs link back to your homepage and categories. You can use a WordPress SEO plug-in like the Yoast plug-in to accomplish this.

Others Ways you can Optimize

There are other things you can do to further improve your search engine rankings. These include cleaning up your code, preventing indexing of irrelevant pages on your site, pagination and linking to related posts on your site. There is a lot you can do when it comes to WordPress SEO, but remember that creating great and compelling content should always take priority.

  • http://www.paulund.co.uk/ Paul

    Speed is a big factor in SEO if you want to increase speed in WordPress I would recommend a custom theme. Also make sure you have a good hosting company it can make a big difference to SEO too.

    • jeff_DD

      Great point Paul. Page load times have become such an important factor in ranking that it is definitely something that needs to be considered.

  • http://rockiger.com/ Rockiger

    XML-Sitemap is useless. Google Indexes what it wants to index. Without XML-Sitemap, you even have the advantage to know how crawlable your site is.

    • jeff_DD

      True, Google will find what it finds but they still recommend submitting a sitemap to their webmaster tools and are quoted as saying:

      “Sitemaps are a way to tell Google about pages on your site we might not otherwise discover. In its simplest terms, a XML Sitemap—usually called Sitemap, with a capital S—is a list of the pages on your website. Creating and submitting a Sitemap helps make sure that Google knows about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by Google’s normal crawling process.”

      • http://rockiger.com/ Rockiger

        That is right, Google recommends it.

        Experienced SEOs don’t recommend it. Make the decision yourself.

        • http://www.yourdigitalspace.com/ Swamykant

          Should I submit XML Sitemap or not ?

          • http://twitter.com/SEODave Dave Colgate

            Hi Swamykant, yes you should. Use Google Webmaster Tools to submit one and also make sure that the URLs within the sitemap file don’t clash with the URLs in the robots.txt. Providing Google with a sitemap.xml influences your control over what does and doesn’t get crawled. Not submitting a sitemap doesn’t mean that things won’t get indexed, it just gives Google a ‘map’ rather than them crawling in the dark. Imagine trying to tell someone how to drive somewhere they don’t know without giving them good directions. They’ll probably get to it eventually from road signs, but it makes it easier by giving them directions.

  • http://saarvi.com/ SD

    true…I also believe that xml-sitemap is of no use….

  • http://twitter.com/SEODave Dave Colgate

    Not heard of the image optimisation plugin – nice. Would be good if you could edit the article and provide some links to the plugins/tools mentioned too?

  • http://twitter.com/SEODave Dave Colgate

    Case in point Nathan! nice example!

    • http://www.yourdigitalspace.com/ Swamykant

      You are right.. It is takes few minutes for my blog posts to get seen by GOOGLE.