WordPress is the world’s most popular blogging platform that is also used as a content management system for websites of all kinds. WordPress users include some of the world’s top brands from Dow Jones to UPS.
We find that many of our clients might not use WordPress for their main site but they do use it for microsites or blogging purposes. If you have a WordPress site or have just set one up for the first time we have created this short checklist to help ensure the site is well optimised for the search engines.
1. Install a WordPress SEO Plugin
A plugin gives you a simple and convenient way to optimise your website’s content. One of the best WordPress SEO plugins available is provided by Yoast. The Yoast WordPress SEO plugin is a complete SEO system that includes snippet previews, page analysis functionality, image titles, meta descriptions, XML sitemaps and much more.
The plugin is free, but there are premium versions available that include useful extras such as a plugin for optimising videos. Yoast WordPress SEO plugin.
2. Setup Google Authorship
This allows Google to place your details including a profile thumbnail image next to your blog post on the search engines results page (SERP). This Google Authorship Markup has a number of benefits. They include:
– Claiming your content in this way will greatly improve your search engine rankings
– This will give you stand out and greater visibility on the search engines results page (SERP)
– Adding your profile picture next to the blog or post will significantly add to your credibility
– This will help readers to discover your other content on your website and blog
In order to set this up you need to have a Google+ account. You can find more details here
In addition, you should add your Google+ URL in the contact information section of your user profile within the WordPress backend.
3. Link between posts
You want other sites to link to your pages, but what about your own site? There will be pages and posts in your own site that have content that relates to each other. It makes sense to link these pages, which will bring two clear benefits:
– It will encourage readers on your site to go on a journey and visit other pages
– It will add link juice to your site and therefore assist in search engine rankings
4. Place keywords in your page name
It’s important to Google that your targeted keywords are used in the page name of your webpage. Make sure you check the ‘Permalinks’ settings in your WordPress backend to ensure that ‘post name’ is selected rather than ‘default’ which just displays a random number. You should also note that only the first four words in a permalink are used by Google.
5. Set up an XML sitemap
Rather than HTML sitemaps, Extensible Markup Language (XML) is the preferred means of data digestion for the search engines. An XML site map is your means of telling Google what pages you would like them to crawl and list. Without a sitemap they will eventually get round to crawling your site, but there is a chance that an important page may be missed.
The good news is that if you have downloaded the Yoast SEO plugin, XML sitemaps can be quickly generated and submitted to the search engines for you. You can also submit your sitemap manually using Google Webmaster Tools.
6. Remove WordPress Defaults
WordPress has some defaults that you should quickly remove. These include the sample post ‘Hello World’ and the blog category ‘Uncategorised’. If you don’t remove these defaults the chances are one of your users will come across them and that won’t look good. You will never have an uncategorised blog, so it makes sense to remove it and choose a relevant keyword as the default category for blogs.
Google will post your pages and blogs based on the time zone your WordPress site is set to. To ensure it is accurate, make sure the time zone is set to your local time in the settings area of the WordPress backend.
There are of course many more areas to consider for good SEO. These are just a few examples to help get you started and on the right road to successful search engine marketing. Good luck!