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Optimizing for WordPress: SEO Tips

Doing SEO for WordPress websites isn’t as straightforward as it perhaps could be. Whereas other content management systems (CMS) will offer you many of the basic features from a standard install, a WordPress set up tends to need a little help.

In days gone by you probably needed a handful of plugins to add the required functionality to a site. Perhaps you wanted one for sitemaps, maybe another was added to authorize analytics, webmaster tools or other such accounts. Maybe another tackled title tags & other Meta data. Finally you might have added one in the last few years to give yourself an easy way to add authorship mark up.

What a headache! These days you’ll probably just be looking at one plugin to offer you all this and more. Let’s have a little look at the top two contenders, before moving on to SEO advice for WordPress in general.

All in One SEO Pack

Recently left reeling from a hack (remember to keep your WordPress system and plugins up to date guys!) All in One SEO Pack is nonetheless a highly recommendable plugin for your WordPress SEO needs.

On the basics these two plugins are pretty evenly matched. So let’s look at areas where they outshine the competition.

For one, they claim to be the only plugin to provide SEO integration for WP e-commerce sites. I can’t currently dismiss this, so if you’re running WordPress as an e-commerce website you should take a serious look at this plugin (e.g., they offer a version specifically for WooCommerce).

All in One SEO Pack General screen


WordPress SEO by Yoast

The WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin handles Facebook open graph – this is excellent for adding extended mark-up to describe your pages and posts. Google+ sharing is apparently on its way too. Great news! I’m sure it won’t be long before Yoast offers you full functionality on this type of mark-up that can produce those click through rate boosting rich snippets on the search engine results pages.

The stand out feature however has to be the integration of Lindex Page Analysis. There are many different aspects to providing a page or a post with great SEO. You need to remember to set your title correctly, give it a compelling meta description, set any tags for rich snippets, add alt tags to your images – the list goes on and on. The difficulty here is not necessarily giving your page the best on-page optimization you can, but simply remembering to do all of it! This nifty little feature can give you a little nudge in the right direction if you forget anything. Perfect!

WordPress SEO by Yoast Page Analysis


The Basics of Good WordPress SEO

Install your WordPress SEO plugin of choice and then work through the basic options. I’d recommend starting with integrating your analytics package. For most people this will be Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools too. Sign up, add the codes and you’re ready for pretty much everything else!

Next up, have the SEO plug in generate a sitemap for you. Once you’ve done this submit it to Google Webmaster Tools and any other package you’re using that might benefit from this.

After that it’s time to sort out your main Meta data. Go to your chosen WordPress SEO plugin and select some sensible defaults. Let’s say a page title will generally be laid out as ‘Page Name | Site Name’. Perhaps for posts you want something a little different, as otherwise the title is likely to be too long. How about simply ‘Post Name’? Usually your SEO plug in will let you override these if you need to – use with care!

I really think you should still add authorship mark up. Yes, those ‘CTR boosting’ photos are largely gone. However, a piece of information caught my eye recently, suggesting that the original CTR effect of the photos may have been exaggerated somewhat. There’s a mention of this recently in a Search Engine Land article.  I’m also positive that another blogger tracked this oft-repeated 150% figure down to a single blog post and examined its veracity – if anybody else saw this please let me know in the comments!

Sort out your permalinks. There’s sometimes argument over including the category names or dates within the URL structure. Personally, I feel that shorter is better and will always opt for just the post title in the URL. Whatever you decide at least change it so that you don’t get something generic and nondescript like www.yoursite.com/?p=5. Nobody wants that!

Tags & categories are always a bone of contention with me. If I’m sorting through site errors in my favourite SEO tool it’s these pages that are generating the lion’s share of my duplication errors. However, done right I think they can have a positive effect on your SEO efforts that outstrips such warnings. Keep them focused and relevant. Try to actually create sensible groupings, rather than ending up with incredibly specific categories/tags that will essentially just refer to one post each. Your users may thank you too!

I hope you found this guide useful. What’s your favourite SEO plug in for WordPress? What are your go-to SEO steps that you always look at first with a new WordPress SEO project? I’d love to hear from you.




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