One of WordPress’ strengths is the ability to configure the platform for SEO relatively easily with some minor setting adjustments and the help from a few plug-ins. With a development background, I tend to keep my list of installed plug-ins to a minimum, but there is a SEO plug-in in particular that I recommend: WordPress SEO by Yoast. It has some really great inherit SEO features that are built-in to the plug-in without any need for customization.
In this article I will showcase how to improve your WordPress built website with SEO best practices.
Create an XML Sitemap
Creating and uploading an XML Sitemap to your Blog will help search engines know what pages you want them to index. Although this isn’t a ranking factor, it can help sites that may have crawling issues. If you are interested in a standalone plug-in, the Google XML Sitemaps plug-in will suffice. If you are using WordPress SEO, enable the setting under SEO > XML Sitemaps.
Noindex “Thin” Content
While tagging may be a good way to categorize content, they are often times used carelessly and are “thin” on content. Typically, tags do not offer the user any value in search and they can even create duplicate content in some cases. To verify if you should noindex your tags, look at Google Analytics Landing Page traffic for “/tags”. It is most likely very small. You can also compare the impressions of tag pages versus the rest of the site in Google Webmaster Tools.
Add Social Buttons
Writing good quality content typically leads to a user wanting to share your content. Social buttons help make your content more easily shared. The more your content is shared, the more links you will acquire which leads to higher rankings. Here are a few plug-in choices to get you started with implementing social buttons: Digg Digg, ShareThis, AddThis Share Buttons.
Configure Title Tags
Configuring <title> tags is one of the more important on-page ranking factors in SEO. WordPress typically uses the title of the post as the <title> tag. However, if you want more control you should customize it. A good <title> tag should be compelling for a user to click. It often times should also contain important keywords towards the beginning of the tag. WordPress SEO allows you to create custom <title> tags on each post.
Enable Friendly URLs
SEO friendly URLs is a ranking factor in Google and can easily be enabled in the WordPress admin panel. This can be done by navigating to Settings > Permalinks and changing the common setting to “Post name”. Blog post URLs can also be edited on an individual post level for more control. In general, you should aim to have your URLs descriptive yet concise, while accurately describing what the page subject is.
Add a Cache Plug-in
Enable a cache plug-in. Caching will help increase the speed of your website which is a ranking factor. User’s like to have pages load fast, and so do search engines. The two most popular plug-ins are W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache.
The six minute video below walks you through the SEO best practices from my article. The step-by-step process makes it easy for you to visualize how to make your site more SEO friendly.