The WordPress Search Engine Optimization Process

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The following article is a summary of my notes and my take on WordPress Search Engine Optimization after watching the WordPress SEO Video by Joost de Valk from yoast.com. I cannot say enough about this guy. I would highly recommend to anyone interested in optimizing WordPress websites to digest everything he has to say.

Shore up your theme coding

To start with we need to make sure that the theme or template itself is coded correctly. For example only one <h1> tag per page (this should be page or post titles) with the logo no greater than an <h3> except on home page. Use CSS over Tables for design layout whenever possible. Basically code the website correctly if this is from scratch or if the website is a pre-built theme then double check their code.

Following this is a list of plugins and steps for making sure that on-site seo is completely optimal. Most of this is just plugin installation and basic website set up. So all of this should take no more than a few hours to set up. There is a lot more “off-site” automation we can do as well but this will just be all of the on-site stuff.

Permalink Structure

Adjustment of Permalink structure to include keywords. Example:

Old non-seo-friendly URL
http:// www.mysite. com /?p=123

New seo-friendly URL:
http:// www.mysite. com /mysite-features

Go to permalinks and use %postname% for a custom structure.

Title & Description Optimization

The use of the plugin HeadSpace to optimize titles and all meta information. This also allows us to specify the “read more” anchor text to something more seo friendly. The “read more” links appear all over WordPress sites.

Old read more example:
“To properly use widgets on your site your going to want to start with..read more >>

Improved read more example:
“To properly use widgets on your site your going to want to start with..learn more about widgets

Image Optimization

Set up plugin to automatically add post/page titles to the alt text for images if non are present.

Use the SEO Friendly Images plugin to accomplish this.

Breadcrumb Navigation

If there is no breadcrumb navigation present then use the Yoast Breadcrumb Plugin.

Duplicate Content

Because of the structure of WordPress taxonomy and category structure you can have 3 or 4 different URL’s with the exact same content which puts sites at risk of duplicate content penalties.

Meta Robots Plugin: This allows you to set “no-follow” attributes so that these views are available to users but will not be indexed by search engines.

Pagination

The default pagination for WordPress uses a “next/previous” methodology. This is fine for users but not for SEO. Here is a fix for this that will increase access to all of the pages

Related Posts

Here is a plugin that will display related posts.

It allows you to give “weight” to different variables to display “X” number of related posts at the bottom of a page/post. This is good for readers as well as for search engines.

SEO Slugs

Install this seo slug plugin.

What this does is remove common words like ‘a’ and ‘the’ etc from the URL.

Before:
/what-you-can-do-immediately-for-higher-rankings

After:
/immediately-higher-rankings

301 redirects

Install this 301 redirect plugin.

This will automatically create 301 entries anytime a permalink is changed. This will ensure zero 404 errors.

XML sitemaps

Install this XML sitemap plugin:

This will auto generate and update an XML sitemap anytime a page/post is created or modified and ping ALL of the major search engines.

Front end sitemap

Install a sitemap plugin that will automatically stay updated and make sure that there is a link to it somewhere in the template (probably footer link is best).

There are a bunch of these. I am not sure yet which one is best. Here is one that I have tried though:

Really Simple SiteMap

While there is much more that can be done, this covers the basics to optimize our WordPress sites. If you would like some help with Professional Search Engine Optimization you can contact me now to get started.