Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips for WordPress

Posted on Jan 16 2006 by in WordPress 

1. Write keyword rich post titles – it almost goes without saying, but the post title is the most important part of the blog post for many reasons. From your reader’s perspective, a descriptive and compelling title helps them decide if your post is worth reading or not. From an SEO perspective, think about the keywords or phrases people might type into a search box to find your post 2 months from now, and use those words or phrases in your post title. For maximum benefit, try to avoid titles that are cute, clever or cryptic.

2. Make your post titles live links – many of the WP themes already do this, but if yours doesn’t, you can add the necessary code pretty easily. In your Main Index Template and Page Template, find the code for the post tiltle. It’ll probably look like this:

<h2><?php the_title(); ?></h2>

To link your post titles, you’ll want to replace that code with the following (be sure to leave out the “#” symbols):

<h2><a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to <?php the_title(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h2>

3. Optimize your permalinks – the default WP 2.0 installation displays permalinks this way: http://www.savvysolo.com/?p-123. A more search-engine friendly permalink includes the post title in the link, like this: http://www.savvysolo.com/2006/01/16/keyword-rich-post-title/. This is a simple change to make. In your WP admin panel, click on the “Options” tab, then the “Permalinks” sub-tab, and choose the option just below the “Default” permalink option. See the WordPress Codex for more on permailinks.

4. Optimize your page titles – According to most SEO experts, the page title tag is one of the most important tags on your page. In most WP themes, you’ll find the page title tag in the Header Template, and the default version ususally looks like this:

<title><?php bloginfo('name'); ?><?php wp_title(); ?></title>

The best tweak I’ve seen to optimize this tag comes from Stephen Spencer, who suggests using the following code for page title tag (omit the “#”):

<title><?php if (is_home()) { print "whatever title I want to have on my blog home page."; } else { wp_title(' '); print " : "; bloginfo('name'); } ?></title>

This tweak does a couple different things. First, it allows you to use a more descriptive, keyword-rich title for your blog’s main page. And second, for the individual post pages, it will use the title of your post as the page title, which is another reason to follow the advice I mentioned in #1 above.

5. Use the related posts plugin – Alex Malov’s Related Entries plugin is a neat little addition to any WP blog. Not only does it enhance your blog’s usability, but it also helps create a dense link structure throughout your site, which makes it easier for the search engine spiders to find and index older blog posts.

6. Use the Google sitemap plugin – According to Google:

“Google Sitemaps is an easy way for you to submit all your URLs to the Google index and get detailed reports about the visibility of your pages on Google.”

WordPress user Arne Brachold has made the sitemap creation and submission process fairly simple with his Google Sitemap plugin, which was recently updated for WP 2.0. This plugin will create a sitemap for you and submit it to Google.

Additionally, Elliot Kosmicki offers a script that will convert your Google sitemap into a Yahoo compliant sitemap that you can submit to Yahoo.

7. Add meta keyword tags and Technorati tags to your posts automatically – although it’s questionable whether or not meta keywords are still valuable when it comes to SEO, ultimately, they can’t hurt. As far as Technorati tags, they have little impact on SEO, but they can help increase your traffic directly from Technorati, so it’s a good idea to use them.Rick Boakes created the Autometa plugin that will add both tags to your posts automatically.

Another simple and effective Technorati tag generator I’ve used is Broobles’ Simple Tags plugin.

8. Validate your code – Use the W3C Markup Validation Service to ensure the code behind your pages is clean and valid. If you find your pages have errors in the code, hire or make friends with a savvy web developer to help you clean it up. See Google’s Information for Webmasters for more info on creating a technically valid site.

If you have further SEO tips for WordPress blogs, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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