WordPress Tweaks To Improve SEO

using wordpressI’m a big fan of WordPress, it’s easy and convenient and there are so many options and customizations.  The only downside is that many people don’t realize how important the customizations and plugins are.  You see, as an “out of the box” tool, it’s not perfect.  There are some issues that definitely need to be addressed.

Let’s start with Sitemaps. Most (not all!) WordPress themes don’t come with an XML Sitemap included by default.  You typically need a plugin installed.  For those of you that don’t know, an XML Sitemap is a way to feed Google a list of pages on your site so they can crawl and index them.  It is Google’s preferred method of getting data from you about your site pages.  You can give Google some great data, like how often you update the pages and some meta data about media.  If your site is new and you don’t have many links yet, it’s a great way to ensure that Google crawls and indexes your site.  Just be sure you get it set up and submitted in Google Webmaster Tools.

Here are two popular plugins that get the job done for you: Google XML Sitemaps and WordPress SEO by Yoast

When you install the plugin, you will set a few options and then the plugin runs automatically and updates as you add or remove pages. you create a sitemap for your WordPress website?

The next issue I see is people not properly using Categories and Tags. Categories and tags offer opportunities for increased engagement and traffic and they can also work against you if you don’t have them set up right.

category-tagsThink of categories as your table of contents and tags are your index.

Smart categorization and tagging of your posts will make it easier for visitors to find what they want and it will also boost your on-page SEO. Google can better understand the topic or theme of your page by analyzing your tags and categories.

WordPress gives you the ability to create as many categories and tags as you want, so be sure you take the time to properly get this set up.  If you start with a bunch of posts that aren’t tagged and are uncategorized, you are going to have to go back and redo them!

Another big issue is canonicalization.  Try saying that one 3 times fast!  If you aren’t familiar with canonicalization, here is the definition as provided by Matt Cutts of Google:

Canonicalization is the process of picking the best URL when there are several choices, and it usually refers to home pages. For example, most people would consider these the same urls:

  • www.example.com
  • example.com/
  • www.example.com/index.html
  • example.com/home.asp

But technically all of these URLs are different. A web server could return completely different content for all them. When Google “canonicalizes” a URL, we try to pick the one that seems like the best representative from that set.

So how do you fix this in WordPress?

  • Tell WordPress how to present your site (i.e. http://www.yoursite.com/ or http://yoursite.com/).
  • Tell Google (using Webmaster Tools) which URL type you want them to use.
  • Use a plugin (such as the aforementioned WordPress SEO by Yoast) to ensure that canonical URLs are defined on each page of your site.

WordPress doesn’t automatically set you up properly for Google+ Authorship.  You have to take care of that.  But don’t fret, there is a plugin you can use!  Check it out now.

Blogs lend themselves naturally to content sharing , so of course adding social media plugins is a great idea.  You can add Like/Share/Follow/+1 buttons.  You can also add widgets that pull in your Twitter feed and Facebook badges and all kinds of things.  Make sure you do your Blog up right with social options.

There is literally no end to the amazing plugins you can find to enhance your WordPress Blog, so get out there and do some exploring.  But at a minimum, take care of the items mentioned above!


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6 Responses

  1. We create all our sites in WordPress. We almost exclusively use Catalyst Theme. In our testing Catalyst (although it’s future is looks dim) performs best from an SEO standpoint. I do like the new Weebly object oriented control panel, but I just don’t see Weebly sites at the top of the SERPS.

  2. hello Jennifer,
    Really a good post by you. I installed seo plugin by Yoast (no doubt that it helps a lot in on page seo optimization) but still i was not getting traffic. My friends suggested me to Shift my blog to Blogger and i have noticed a great change in SERP and traffic. Posts are getting indexed quickly and more traffic than before. Still i want more please tell me how can i achieve it ?

  3. What about using WordPress for a stand along site with no blog set up? How can I better my organic reach without having the use of categories, tags and posts?

  4. Hi Jennifer,

    Certainly some useful points for WordPress SEO prospective. SEO by Yoast plugin is really awesome as it almost cover all technical SEO issues with ease. WordPress is a popular CMS because it’s SEO friendly and have a number of plugins that makes it usage easy.

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