WordPress is without a doubt one of the most popular open source platforms available for blogging. The popularity of WordPress stems from its simplicity of use combined with the customisations available to improve SEO rankings.
Some of you already using WordPress may not even understand the scope of what can be achieved with it. There are customisations, modules, plugins and themes that can significantly improve your rankings in the search engines.
Please note-this information only applies to WordPress sites hosted on your own domain.
Permalinks are the links (URLs) automatically generated by WordPress each time you create a post. These are permanent links to your content from another site or from within your site. Permalinks are what display in the search engine results pages (SERPS) when somebody conducts a search.
Wordpress Permalinks by default take this format:
PATHINFO permalinks are also available and these can display date, category and/or post titles but also add /index.php to every link. For example:
By using PATHINFO permalinks you help search engines know what your site is about and you also improve the click-through-rate on your SEO rankings as users can see what the page is about through the URL.
Setting Up Permalinks
You can set these up in your WordPress administration by clicking on permalinks and choosing ‘custom’. You decide what is displayed in your link. If you want to display the category name and then the post name you would add this to the custom structure box:
This would generate a permalink using the category name and the post title, which of course you should name according to your keyword research, and which keyword or keyword phrases you are targeting. This helps both users and search engines understand what your web page is about.
The beauty of WordPress is this process is very easy on the administration user end.
Keywords and Permalinks
This is worth discussing as keywords and permalinks can work very well together in most cases. Certainly your links should relay what the content is about in an easy to understand way for both humans and search engines. Having your main keywords for a page appear in the link, the page title, and the content will help you immensely with search engine rankings.
Target your keywords to those ones that are being typed into the search engines regularly. This ensures that you get the most amount of people visiting your site through the search engines. To research what people are looking online you can use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
If your site is about ladies shoes and your post is about the popularity of ladies red shoes and you already know ‘ladies red shoes’ is typed in 300 times a day then you should include ‘ladies red shoes’ in your blog title and permalink.
If your site domain name is www.ladiesshoes.com, and your blog is located in the ‘articles’ folder the permalink would be:
If you then you write a post about the popularity of red shoes. You’d make the title according to the keywords ‘ladies red shoes’ resulting in the permalink:
Try and do this where possible. It isn’t always easy, but a little thought behind how those links will look can make all the difference.
Content is extremly important for SEO, and the same rule applies with a WordPress blog. Keep the content fresh and useful. Regularly updated informative content attracts the search engines and encourages other sites to link to you.
Furthermore, good content not only brings users back to your site and builds links, but search engines are ‘intelligent’ enough to recognise good content from that which is deliberately keyword overloaded, or manipulated to try and fool them. Make yourself and your site an authority on your topic and you won’t get dropped by the search engines.
Wordpress makes adding content simple. Not only can you add it to your site quickly, you can have subcategories within the categories and you can add posts into multiple categories, making it easy for your readers to quickly find what they are looking for. Avoid posting the same article in multiple categories as it can duplicate content issues that the search engines do not like.
There are many WordPress plugins available to help improve your SEO rankings. Here are some of the most useful:
WordPress SEO Plugins
- Evermore – a plugin that automatically displays snippets of your posts to your first page with a read more link. Advanced users can control the amount shown. This ensures that your WordPress blog does not have the same content on many pages, with the full article only available on a single page on your blog.
- Google Analytics – an invaluable tool in tracking your site’s performance. This plugin allows the code to be easily installed into your WordPress site so you can see how visitors use your site, what keywords attracted them there, and which sites are referring to you.
- Tweetmeme Button – this plugin makes it easy for your readers to share your articles on Twitter to increase traffic and build more links.
- Canonical URLs – one of the problems with WordPress is the generating of duplicate content with separate URLs if search engines find your site through tagged content. This plugin makes sure that search engines assign ownership of particular content to a particular page, removing duplicate content issues.
- Sitemap Generator – This WordPress sitemap generator gives a page with all your content listed which is a straightforward system for search engines to get to all the content on your site easily.
- All in one SEO pack – This package has several of the best SEO plugins ready to access.
- Redirection Plugin – use this plugin to generally tidy up site links, 301 redirections, and track 404 errors. Search engines like to find the content they are looking for and not an error page or similar. Be sure your WordPress site has all its loose ends taken care of and redirect those links to another page.
WordPress Themes and SEO
How important is your theme for SEO purposes? Certainly a clean, easy to navigate, well linked site will give better results, not only for the spiders but for people using your site. A crowded, unprofessional, and poor quality site will not get you return visitors or backlinks.This alone makes for a very important SEO technique. Other sites linking to you will give you an excellent standing in rankings.
With WordPress being so popular there are many developers working on themes they offer for free. There is even software that will help you design a theme. You might also choose to get a custom theme made to suit your needs.
Free wordpress themes can be great. The search for one that suits you best can be time consuming, and the fact that anyone else can use that same theme is sometimes seen as a negative. To get started or to test out theming ideas before you spend money, free wordpress themes are perfect.
Theme generators give you some flexibility, but may not always give the result you need when it comes to installing third party plugins and modules. Plus sometimes the code isn’t as clean as it could be. We see what the code generates; search engines ‘see’ the actual code behind it all. The easier it is to get through the code to the content the better.
Customised themes can range in price. The good thing is you get exactly what you want, set up the way you want it. Well, in theory anyway. How good your experience is often comes down to the expertise and work ethic of the coder. So do your homework.
Here are the some things to look for:
- Professional look
- Good basic colours
- Easy navigation
- Light background/dark writing is best for reading
- Fast loading
Often the most simple design themes are the best. Look at Google and Yahoo.
For those of you who do not have WordPress but would like to try it you can download WordPress here.
Wordpress SEO tactics are the same for any site in many ways. But WordPress has many third party developed modules, plugins, and customization you can use to implement the best practices more easily. This makes it convenient for you, and much more effective.
Do you have any WordPress SEO tips? Please share them below…