how to SEO the crap out of wordpress

I’m not an SEO expert. Nobody is. Nobody can guarantee 100% that they can get a site in to google search results or get it to no.1 . Only the guys that run and work for google’s search team know how google works – the rest of us just guess and fill in blanks. That said, it’s obvious google love wordpress. About 35% of traffic to this blog comes from google.

google traffic

Blogs by nature are updated frequently with unique, high quality, interesting content. This content is like a diamond in the rough to google’s robots who work 24/7 and come across spam, spam and more spam…. maybe the odd unreadable site or ugly site thrown in too.

So the google robots are pals with wordpress blogs. You’re not going to have a google robot pin you to the ground and tazer you for no reason. If you use some of these dodgy instant website creator packages, you’ll be pulled over by a google bot – like a 17 year old boy racer in a supped up opel corsa.

I’m now going to walk you through SEO’ing wordpress – the kind of SEO’ing that will have google robots falling to their knees in delight when they visit your site.

1. Pretty Permalinks

  • smemon.com/blk?12hjg
  • smemon.com/look-at-my-seo

Which url above do you prefer? Which makes more sense? That’s right, you’re not stupid and neither is google. Google knows the second url is better, so it’ll reward it accordingly.

A default installation of wordpress won’t have pretty permalinks enabled. Go to settings > permalinks > custom permalinks and enter this;

/%postname%/

And we’re done. You now have pretty permalinks.

2. Sitemaps

We all love roads with no signposts, or better yet roads with signposts that point in the wrong direction. Don’t be that road with no signposts – don’t assume google know their way around your site or that users do.

Roadsign
Creative Commons License photo credit: Yoshi 2000

Create a sitemap. Use Google XML Sitemaps plugin.

One click – bang – your signposts are created.

3. All in one SEO

Swiss Army Knife
Creative Commons License photo credit: xjara69

The swiss army knife of wordpress SEO. No wordpress blog should be without it. Just download it, install it and take the time to read about how it works – it’s worth it ;-)

4. Tags & Categories

tags-n-categories

One word. Noun. Has walls and a roof.

What am i talking about? A house.

That’s what tags do. Similar story with categories. They let readers and robots know what an article is about in a few short words. Use them, but don’t abuse them.

One word. 5 characters. Noun. Has walls and a roof. First letter H. Second Letter O….

Don’t insult people’s intelligence or google’s intelligence by adding your entire article in to your tags section. Google will kick your ass for doing that and your readers won’t thank you either.

5. Headings

This is a paragraph, but all these little green headings with a bar underneath them are headings. With wordpress, you have 6 headings. H1 to H6.

Dancing header
Creative Commons License photo credit: zawtowers

Your blog heading should be a H1, Post titles should be H2 etc… in other words, there is a rank and order to them. You don’t put a H1 in the middle of a sentence for example.

6. Pages or posts?

When should you use pages over posts? Well, let’s think about it…. if this blog was composed of 1400 pages, i’d quickly run out of space at the top of the site. So in general, everything should be a post, unless you’re expecting this post to be very successful and it merits it’s very own page and VIP link on your homepage for eternity.

Bumpers Book
Creative Commons License photo credit: Henna Lion

Typically, ‘about me’, ‘contact us’, ‘home’, ‘gallery’ etc… will be pages. You must assume all of your readers are coming to your blog for the first time and that they don’t know you. So obviously those pages are important and it’s important they’re not buried in your archives somewhere where nobody can find them.

Another thing to keep in mind with pages is that (in general) they don’t have comments or pingbacks on them. So google can focus purely on your content, not on the content in your comments section left by readers. But that’s not to say pages are ‘better’ than posts. Just don’t over do it….

7. Fix Broken Links

If you use google webmaster tools, it’ll tell you if you have any broken links. If it finds any, fix them.

crawl errors

You can also use the ‘Broken Link Checker‘ plugin which makes it a breeze to find and fix broken links.

8. SEO friendly images

  • image_001.jpg
  • my-birthday-party-1.jpg

Florida - Tampa - Smart Car
Creative Commons License photo credit: Fabio – Miami

What is more useful to me AS A HUMAN? The second one of course. I can have a guess that the image in question is something to do with a birthday party. Google is smarter than me and it’s smarter than you too, so feed it information like you would a human (a human that that takes everything literally and has no sense of humour).

If you manually upload images and don’t bother naming them or adding descriptions, do it from now on. You can also give this plugin a go if you’re lazy; SEO Friendly Images.

9. Google Webmaster Tools

So you wanna get some google love? You’re gonna find it easier if you actually use their products and have your site using them.

webmaster tools

Webmaster tools allows you to submit a sitemap, target a specific audience and define a www or non www url.

Don’t play hard to get – google robots are much too busy to give a toss about a shy site – you must go to them and you must give them as much info as possible about your site.

10. Google Analytics

How do you know how hot your SEO is if you have no statistics tracking visitors to your site?!

Analytics_visualize_s
Creative Commons License photo credit: TZA

It’s free, it’s idiot proof, it’s made by google – they’re just a few reasons why you should use google analytics as your tracking tool. Find out how much traffic is coming from google, what they’re searching for to get to your blog, what country they’re coming from etc…

  • http://barryoshaughnessy.com Barry

    Good to see the good posts are back. Fair play!

  • smemon

    i’m not one to ignore feedback :-) even if that post did take a few hours to put together!

  • http://www.iliveontheweb.com enda

    great post sean, i see ur comment above and fair play for taking the time to come up with this after the one negative comment you got last week! posts may be light on lucky this week from me as im finding it hard to get internet access!

  • http://blogshubhinetwork.com seo jaipur

    I hit a link in google and read
    a blog on this site about the economic
    strain we are taking in SA. I tried to
    find it once I registered, unfortunately
    to no avail. Perhaps somebody could be
    so kind as to show me the way? Anyway,
    I’m here and waiting!
    ————–
    Rockstarbabu
    —————-

  • http://www.fireflyweb.ie Alan | Firefly Web Galway

    Good post. Google really does love WP, and it's a pity the other main content management systems don't quite perform as well in SEO and performance, especially when it comes to very large sites with large amount of users, it's a great and simple option for many small sites.

 

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