It’s great to have a WordPress website but in order to make it really work for you, you have to get found and that’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in.
In developing your website with WordPress you have already made great strides in getting noticed because WordPress is built from the ground up to be found. Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo love WordPress sites.
So what can you do to enhance your visibility?
First thing to do is make sure you have a good theme. There are thousands of themes available free of charge and some are very good but some are not. Even the really good ones are sometimes badly supported or not optimized for the search engines. My recommendation is to go for a tried and trusted premium theme. They cost from $40 to $100 but its money well spent if the design works, can be customized, is well supported and is designed with SEO in mind. Remember, your website is your shop window to the world and you only get once chance at a first impression.
Of the free themes that are customizable and have good SEO, I would recommend taking a look at the ‘Pixel’ theme or ‘Painter’. There are many popular premium themes like ‘Thesis’ which are well supported with forums where users can discuss development, plugins and customization. My favorite themes are those from StudioPress as they cover all of the prerequisites for support, customization and Search Engine Optimization as well as having an excellent support forum.
Every time you update WordPress or add a new blog post, it sends out a signal (Ping) to the search engines. By default WordPress should be set to Ping but it’s worth checking that Pinging is switched on. You’ll find a sub-menu (within the Settings menu) called ‘Discussions’ in your WordPress Dashboard. You should ensure that the ‘Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks.) ’ option is checked. If you do not wish to have specific articles or posts ‘pinged’ then you can override this option on individual posts.
Just about the most important aspect of searching is what’s displayed in the web page or post URL (URL = address of the page or post). You want it to be descriptive and reflect what people are searching for.
By default WordPress displays categories, pages and posts in a database oriented way. For example, you might have created a page called ‘Healthy Recipes’ but when you see the URL in your web browser it will show something like:
The same goes for posts and categories. You might blog about a particular nutritionist and title your post ‘meet Mavis Stewart’ only for the URL to show:
http://www. myhealthydomain.com /?p=2406
This does not help the search engines to find these pages and posts so we need to change the settings in Permlinks.
From the Settings menu in your WordPress dashboard, goto Permalinks.
You’ll see a list of Common Settings.
The default is something like:
There are various options but I like ‘Month and name’ which looks something like:
You’ll see under Custom Structure that you can create your own parameters but for SEO the month and name option is perfect.
You’ll see that instead of the page ID there is something that is far more descriptive… and that is the ‘slug’.
Pages, posts and categories automatically have slugs created for them but you can override those slugs with your own more descriptive variety. So we’ll look at ‘slugs’ (I hope you’re not squeamish).
Let’s go edit the Healthy Recipes page.
You can change Permlinks / Slugs either by editing the Page or Post or using the Quick Edit function. We’ll choose Edit.
You’ll notice at the top of the page, just under the page title, it shows something like:
– Using default Permalink settings:
Permalink: http://www.myhealthydomain.com/?page_id=662[Change Permalinks]
– Using Month and name Permalink settings:
By changing the Permalinks to ‘Month and name’, the URL already looks more friendly to the search engines. You can glean a lot more from ‘healthy-recipes’ than you can from page_id=662… but of course you can be even more descriptive.
Click on [Edit]
This opens up the ‘slug’ for editing. Instead of ‘healthy-recipes’, let’s change it to ‘healthy organic vegetarian recipes’. Then click OK. You’ll notice that WordPress automatically replaces the spaces between the words with a hyphen.
Let’s do the same with the example post.
By changing the Permalink settings, the URL for ‘Meet Mavis Stewart’ will have changed from:
‘http://www. myhealthydomain.com /?p=2406 to:
http://www. myhealthydomain.com /meet-mavis-stewart
Edit the Permlink to something like ‘nutrition-for-health-and-wellness-mavis-stewart-bio’
Remember, what you’re looking to achieve is to emulate what your potential visitors will be search for. The Search Engines know that people don’t search for ‘meet mavis stewart’ but might be looking for nutrition for health and wellness. It’s your job to be creative with the page and post slugs.
Once you have the right Theme and your Permalinks and Slugs are in order, then it’s time to start Blogging. Search Engines love blogs and are constantly crawling the web for new content. Blog posts get found fast.
As you will have read in earlier articles, Pages are for static information like About Us, Mission Statement, Contact Us etc., whereas Posts are for dynamic information… articles, travel-logs, knowledge bases and more… information that is always changing, growing and evolving. Posts are organized in Categories. See article on Posts and Categories to learn how to best organize them.
Once you have written your blog post or article, re-read it. If you’re using dynamic content within the post, ensure that the links are active. For example, you may be embedding a video from YouTube into your post. If that video is not yours, check regularly to ensure it’s still active otherwise broken links will start to creep into your site. Bad news for SEO.
Use Keywords in your Post titles and within the articles themselves but remember to use phrases too. Many visitors will search for a product or service by description and location, so when you blog, ensure that you include all the keywords and phrases that make your post attractive to the search engines.
You might write an article about local Farmer’s Markets. Include descriptive phrases and keywords so that people looking for say a (Farmer’s Market in Springfield, Ohio specializing in organic produce or preservative free / hormone free milk), will find your article. Title your posts well and constantly check that all pages and posts are working.
When you’re actually editing or writing a blog/post always use the ‘Excerpt’ feature below the post itself. This is a way to describe or summarize your post. Don’t just take a paragraph from the post itself as search engines don’t like seeing the same content repeated. Write something unique for them to find.
Link to other sites and get other sites linking to you. If you are discussing a specific topic (like farmer’s markets), put a link to external farmer’s market resources or a Wikipedia article.
You can further optimize blog posts using SEO plugins. I recommend ‘all in one SEO pack’ which can be downloaded from the WordPress.org resource site. Goto to their Extend menu, then plugins and search for SEO. This plugin allow you to optimize every post as though it were a unique website.
WordPress features a Blogroll or Links menu. This will be discussed in a future article but it allows you to create a menu to link with other sites. You should use this and get other site to link to you in return.
There is a lot more you can do to enhance your visibility which will be dealt with in a future (advanced) article but if you carry out these fairly simple processes, you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
© 2010 – Phoenix Cloud Solution