If I have to say a content management system (CMS), the most used and popular, that will be WordPress. It was released in 2003 and it is used by millions of websites. WordPress is free and easy to use without much pre-requisite of coding knowledge. If you add something to the core software, you can make it more powerful to enhance visibility on Google and other search engines.
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), WordPress is a pre-optimized publishing platform. To make it more powerful and usable, I am giving here helpful WordPress SEO tips for you. Check if each one of them was already applied to your site. If not, I recommend you do it to improve search engine result page rankings (SERP Rankings).
1. Use robots.txt
If we don’t obstruct anything, Google spiders crawl throughout your site. But, you need to block some specific files from indexing for security reasons. For example, if you don’t want Google bots index the directories wp-admin and wp-includes, create a text file named as robots.txt, type the following in the file:
Save it and upload to the root of your WordPress installation via FileZilla, a free FTP software.
2. Delete Unused Items
From your Dashboard, check if ‘Hello World’ post and ‘Sample Page’ page are still there? If found, delete them. You need also delete ‘Uncategorized’ category if not used.
If unnecessary, why not remove them? If you don’t remove them, Google will find them as unrelated and thin content.
3. Clean URL
Use clean URL and make it a sense to people. For example, if you publish a post called “Historical Monuments in India”, the default URL will be something like www.example.com/?p=145. Do you think this URL makes a sense? Really not. Change your Permalink structure. From the Dashboard, click on Settings and from the menu, click Permalinks. On the Permalinks page, check Custom Structure and type /%postname%/ in the space provided.
Why is this important? Now, from the above example, your URL will look something like www.example.com/historical-monuments-in-india. You have got a clean URL. Does it make a sense? Yes. When people see it, they know what about your page. It is also SEO friendly URL.
4. Properly Complete Basic Settings
Under Settings menu, click on General. Find Site Title and fill in your site name. Find Tagline and write the description about your site.
Why are they important? Site name and tagline are the headlines of your whole site. On other words, they are the theme words of your site. In SEO perspective, they are important, because all content that come later for your site should be within the scope of the site name and tagline.
Next, from Settings go to Reading. According to your requirements, choose a static page or latest posts to display as frontpage of your site. For each article in a feed, I like to choose the Excerpt. Finally, make sure “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is unchecked. That will make search engines index your site.
5. Update Your New Content Automatically
Once you publish your latest post, you can ping it to various places automatically. This will update your post immediately to those places. In General setting, ensure they are in the list:
6. Create Great Titles
Post titles are very important to grab the notice of people. Write clear and enticing title. You can include your keyword in the title, but don’t force it. Incorporate it naturally along with other related words.
Why do you need a great title? Title is the first line a reader sees. If he doesn’t like it, he’ll miss your whole article. On the other hand, if you have a perfect title, you can write an article smoothly.
7. Write Unique Content
Content is king; unique great content rank well on Google. In the current trends of SEO, high quality content is a must before anything else. It should be unique, interesting and useful to visitors. Your content should fulfill the requirements of them. Write on topic and naturally. Don’t repeat any phrase unnecessarily. If you have installed a plugin WordPress SEO by Yoast, you can see the suggestions under Page Analysis. You can improve your content by using this most recommended plugin. Don’t forget to write a nicely crafted Meta description of the post before publishing it.
Why is content so important? People are always looking for good information. If you don’t have good and fresh content, nobody will like to visit your site. Google Panda filters out low quality content from visible rankings. So, write content superior to your competitors. Your content will rank high on Google and other search engines.
8. Modify WordPress Slug
Slug is the part of URL created by WordPress pointing to your post. You can modify it while editing the post. Most WordPress users leave it unchanged. But, you can easily modify it in the way you like by removing unnecessary words from the URL.
Microdata is an HTML markup to help search engines interpret and categorize the content of a page. It lets search engines know the context of the page. You can use a plugin called Schema Creator to create and display your custom microdata information. Or you can use itemprop WP plugin to automatically add microdata to all posts and pages.
10. Optimize Your Images
Images give great experiences to visitors. Use large images but not large file size. Image file name, ALT and title text should have explanatory words to define the image. You can set it as Featured Image. To save your time, you can use SEO Friendly Images plugin. It generates the ALT and title tag automatically.
Why are images important? A page with only text blocks is hard to read. If your page uses relevant images, readers understand better. Images also add the quality of your page. So, search engines love pages including images.
11. Use Categorization and Tagging Properly
You should properly categorize within your site. For example, if you sell mobile phones on your site, you can categorize as Nokia mobiles, Sony Ericsson mobiles, Motorola mobiles, LG mobiles, Spice mobiles etc. Add all Nokia review articles in the Nokia mobiles category, add all Motorola review articles in the Motorola mobiles category and do the same for other categories. And, use tags to categorize within a page’s content, such as lady’s phones, men’s phones etc.
But don’t use tags like keywords. Each tag creates a page inside WordPress. So, use tags when they are relevant, not in spammy way.
12. Avoid Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is not a good thing even if it happens in your own site. If your site has duplicate content issues, Google will ignore your site or pages. Place unique, original content that give values to your visitors and search engines.
13. Have a Proper Internal Link Structure
Meaningfully connect your relevant pages. It helps visitors find your pages easily. Use an easy navigation system to find all of the pages of your site. But don’t link to the same page too many times.
Why do you need internal linking? It makes not only visitors browse your site easily, but search engines also find your pages. If search engines can’t find a page, they won’t index and show it on their result pages (SERPs). It increases your SEO power. In WordPress, a related posts plugin can automate the work of linking pages together. Use a plugin like Yet Another Related Posts Plugin or nRelate.
14. Update Your Site Regularly
Post new content regularly at least once a week. Add how-to information and other useful content for your visitors. If you don’t have fresh content, the returning rate of visitors will decrease. Even if you don’t have new content, update your old pages.
Why do you need fresh content for your site? Like human visitors, search engines return to index your site if you update your site regularly. If you put new quality content on regular basis, it will improve search engine rankings.
15. Make Your Site Faster
If people can’t wait for your site’s loading time, they’ll stop visiting your site. So, you lose your customers. If a person can’t wait a product’s page loading at Amazon site, they’ll lose a precious buyer. If possible, make your site lightening fast.
Why is speed important? Speed gives a good user experience. Site speed is also a ranking factor for Google. Use a caching plugin W3 Total Cache to improve your site’s performance.
16. Author Highlight in Search Results
Have you ever come across Google result snippets with a photo? You can do it by adding a link tag from your Google+ Profile. First, Sign in your Google+ account and get the Google+ profile link. Then, add the link tag in all your favorite pages of your site. Confused how to do it? Read the article Author Highlighting in Google Search Results to Increase Brand Awareness.
Why to do that? From researches, it is said that author highlighting for Google results increases clickthrough rate. It is a way of promoting your brand.
17. Join Social Media Sites
Join social media sites like Google+, Facebook, Twitter etc. and share your posts and products with others. Place sharing buttons on the visible areas of your web pages. There are also lots of WordPress plugins to easily add such buttons on your site. Use them.
Why do you need social sites? You’ll get traffic from them. Interacting about your services or products on social media sites adds value in the eyes of Google. So, those activities will improve your SERP rankings.
18. Use Google Analytic Data
You’ll be interesting to learn visitors’ behaviors on your website. Set up Google Analytic account and analyze the data. You’ll know where those traffic come from, pages they visited most, pages where they left your site, bounce rate and lots of other data. Use a plugin Joost’s Google Analytics for WordPress. This plugin connects your profile to WordPress.
Why is Google Analytics important? SEO efforts without the understanding of how visitors react won’t be effective. Find your weakness and mistakes from the Analytic data. You should correct and improve them to strengthen your SEO campaigns.
The aforesaid SEO guidelines will help your WordPress site or blog greatly improve search rankings on Google and other search engines. For more tips, read the Yoast’s WordPress SEO Tutorials. Another recommended article you should read is Common WordPress SEO Mistakes You Can’t Ignore.
Some WordPress SEO books and DVD you can read are below:
3. WordPress for Beginners & WordPress SEO
4. Beginner’s Guide to Improving Your WordPress Website
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– By NIGCWORLD Jobs