Optimizing WordPress blogs for the search engines

How to configure WordPress for maximum search engine visibility.
Source : http://www.pandia.com/sew/249-wordpress.html

WordPress is getting more popular by the day. It enables people to set up a blog, and even a complete website within minutes.

I get asked for specific SEO tips for WordPress very often. Basically all the ‘usual’ SEO stuff is also applicable for WordPress.

But besides that, there are a few special tips for WordPress I’d like to share with you.

1. Use Permalinks

Be sure to use Permalinks on your blog.

By default WordPress uses web URLs which have question marks and lots of numbers in them. These links may be hard to spider for search engines, and your posts may not be indexed as fast and as thoroughly as you want to.

However, WordPress offers you the ability to create a custom URL structure for your permalinks and archives.

You can find this option in your Admin panel. Choose ‘Options’ in the menu and there ‘Permalinks’.

This brings us immediately to Tip 2:

2. Place your titles up front in your URLs

In the Permalinks section you can choose the ‘Date and name based’ option.

This will place the year, month, day and post title in your URL.
For SEO purposes it’s better to have your post title up front. So instead you should go for the ‘Custom’ option and put in something like:


This will give you a URL like this:


3. Tags

Tags are a great SEO addition to your blog. They enable search engines to crawl your website more easily and create specific pages for your tags/keywords.
You can install the Ultimate Tag Warrior plug-in on your WordPress blog.

4. Page Titles

Make sure you add good titles to your pages. We discussed putting the post title up front in your URL. You should do the same thing for your titles.

You can do this by changing the < title > tag in your header.php (located in wp-content/themes/your theme/).

You can use the following code in order to get your post title in front, followed by your blog name:

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


5. Choose your post titles carefully

Your post titles should be as clear as possible, and directly relevant to your post. Don’t stuff your titles with keywords targeting your whole blog.

Choose your keywords carefully per post, and include those words in your post title.

6. Autolinks

Cross link to your own posts and pages. Do this by linking your keywords to the relevant postings.

To simplify this, you can install the SH-Autolink plug-in.

7. Related Posts

Put in links to related posts . This helps search engines crawl your site and may even make your visitors stay a little longer.

8. Ping Services

Every time you post or edit a post or page, your WordPress blog can notify relevant sites that you have updated your blog.

Be sure to use this feature!

You can set up this feature in Options >> Writing. You can find a list of sites to ping on the WordPress site.

9. Google Sitemaps

Google has a tool for webmasters called Google Sitemaps. This will help Google index your website, and let’s you tell Google which pages are the most important.

If you make use of this feature, you will be able to identify the searches that brought up your site in results.

10. Categories

Categories help you organize your content. If you have permalinks turned on, you can make the category names appear in your URLs.
This is also why it is very important to name your categories carefully. Try using relevant and search engine friendly keywords.
WordPress enables you to make use of subcategories, sub-subcategories etc. etc. In this way you can focus on more narrow keyword phrases.

Consider the following example:

You have a website about selling cameras. You could organize your articles/posts like this:

cameras >> digital cameras >> SLR >> Nikon

If a user would be searching for “digital SLR camera Nikon” the deepest nested category would have a good optimized URL for this search. The URL could be something like this:


On WordPress and meta tags

For a long time people believed that the HTML meta-tag was the key to search engine heaven. Stuff the meta-tags with relevant (or even irrelevant keywords) and you rankings will soar!

The search engines caught on to this, of course, and now including tags like the following will have close to no effect in the search engines:

CONTENT=”old and used books paperbacks periodicals magazines newspapers papers postcards post card poster old prints”>
CONTENT=” Alfred’s Reading Emporium in Boulder, Colorado offers you a large
collection of used books, paperbacks, magazines, periodicals, newspapers, prints, posters and postcards.”>

It is this that has led WordPress to abandon the meta-tags altogether.

This was unfortunate for three reasons:

1. Google may use the DESCRIPTION tag for site listing descriptions on search engine result pages. And you really want to have an as relevant and clickable web page description as possible!

2. The KEYWORDS meta-tag may have a very small effect on rankings, everything else being equal. Moreover, one never knows whether a search engine may start using this tag again, meaning that you will have to add tags to a large number of old articles if that happens.

3. The KEYWORDS meta-tag can be used to include misspellings and the like.

One of the suggestions given by the WordPress team, generic meta-tags, is not a good one. The search engines do not like to see the same meta-tags on every web page.

Alternatively, you may make use of special plug-ins to generate content specific meta-tags.

Pandia is using one such plug-in to generate the KEYWORDS and DESCRIPTIONS. The xfish plug-in works well for our purpose, although it has the annoying habit of merging all the keywords and site descriptions in one meta tag on the home page (they get far too long!).

With xfish you can insert the keywords and descriptions in the advanced editing mode.

The problem with plug-ins, however, is that you never know if they will survive the next WordPress upgrade, which is why we would like to see this as a permanent feature of WordPress.

Other tips:

1. To be included in the Google News search engine, each of your posts must have a URL with a unique three digit number. See for instance the URL of this post.

2. The search engines become more and more sceptical to long hyphenated domain names and URLs, as this is a technique often used by spammers. If you use the title to generate file names, it might be wise to use the “post slug” to reduce the number of words in the URL. It is better to have one or two targeted keywords in the URL than a ridicilously long URL that visitors may find hard to read.

3. Google will now spider URLs with question marks as long as they do not include session IDs (WordPress does not). However, it is more sensible to include keywords in the URLs, as this may give web pages a slight boost in search engine rankings.

4. Consider the number of subfolders carefully. Even if a URL like the one given by Chris ) is purely fictional (i.e. generated by WordPress and not refering to any real folder), the search engines will read it as a file situated four levels down in the web site hierarchy. There are signs that indicate that the search engines give a boost to pages higher up in the folder hierarchy. One way of solving this problem is using hyphens instead of slashes.

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