Now days high quality content and SEO go hand in hand, so it should be no surprise that a tool that makes it easy to publish content can be an SEO monster. You may be asking yourself, “Why would I want that?” If you are asking yourself that you probably also wonder why you would want to live long and prosper (2 points for a Star Trek reference). The advantages of SEO should be fairly obvious, more targeted traffic with out the high cost of traditional and online advertising.
WordPress makes it very easy to publish content. In fact once you have it installed the hardest part is to actually make yourself write, find or commission the content. The actual publishing of the content is a second thought. How could this get any better do you ask? How about if we can make our posts super optimized with just a few tweaks and plug-ins?
1. Search Optimized Title
The title of your posts and pages is a large factor in how well your content ranks. All of the search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing all heavily weigh the title of your page and the keywords in it when deciding how relevant it is to search terms. This means that if you include keywords and phases in your page title you will get significantly more search traffic. Now by default WordPress does a great job of including the title of your page in the document title, however we can improve upon it a little bit.
The closer the keywords and phrases are towards the start of the title the better you will rank. WordPress put’s it at the end of the title tag after the name of the blog, what we want to do instead is put it at the front. Luckily this is easy with the All In One SEO Plugin. Simply download and install and you can configure how the title is automatically generated.
2. Search Optimized Internal Linking
Links are critically important to SEO, in fact they can have one of the highest influences on how your sites rank. The search engines both take a look at how many links are pointing to your sites and pages as well as the words that used as the text for the links (ie: the anchor text). While links from other sites are the most effective types of links you can also improve your sites ranking by optimizing how you treat your internal links.
An easy way to do this is to ensure that each post has the title linking to the permalink for the page, this reinforces the keywords that are in your title with the post. This is an easy item to control through your theme template or simply by selecting a theme that uses the title as a link. If you can have the title also be a heading this will be even better.
Here is an example of the mark up / templating you can use to optimize your page titles:
<h1><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h1>
3. Care with Duplicate Content
Many of the search engines are extremely sensitive when it comes to having several pages that have the same content. This is because at one point people wrote scripts that would scour the internet and steal your content, posting it on their own sites as a way to try and gain search traffic for advertising or affiliate links.
WordPress out of the box is not great when it comes to duplicate content. Many of the tag and archive pages can end up duplicating your articles under several different URLs. To combat this we recommend two options:
Display article excerpts on archive, category and tag pages rather than entire articles
On the pages where you are displaying archives or tagged pages, instead of showing the entire article use the wp_excerpt(); tag to display a teaser of the article with a link to learn more. This will prevent search engines from picking up the same post or article on several different URLs.
Exclude archive pages with your robots.txt
If you would prefer to have your archive, category and tag pages display full articles you can always exclude all of them except one by using your robots.txt file. The robots.txt file can tell web crawlers like the ones that are powered by search engines not to index parts of a given site. This is simply done by putting a text file named robots.txt in your root directory and including code similar the following:
4. Search Optimized Sitemaps
As you publish more and more content search engines can start to have difficulty finding all of your content and ensuring that it is all indexed. There are two ways we can ensure that search engines have as much information as possible as to what content is published on our wordpress sites and where they are published.
Keep an up to date XML sitemap
Search engines now look for a sitemap.xml file that contains the structure of your website with in the root directory. Additionally many search engines will also let you register and specify where you sitemap.xml sits on your server (Google Webmaster Tools for example gives you this capability). The XML sitemap plugin will automatically generate and update your sitemap.xml every time you create a new post so you can be sure that the search engines know about every post that you have.
Keep an up to date HTML sitemap
The other way that search engines find new pages and articles on your site is simply by navigating the links on your pages. By having one page that lists all of the posts on your site, the search engine can easily access every post from one central easy to find place.
Rather than update a page every time you create a new post or page, we suggest using the sitemap generator plug-in for WordPress. Much like the XML sitemap generator, this plug-in will generate and update your HTML sitemap automatically every time you add a page or post.
5. Search Optimized Promotion
Once your have created a blog and some posts you need to actually promote them to get users and the search engines to take notice. Simply posting content and hoping that people will stumble upon them might be a little optimistic. Instead we want to be proactive about getting our content noticed and there are some great ways to do this.
Improving your Ping Pang
When you create a new post wordpress sends a notification to different services to look up and acknowledge the new content. We can improve this however by expanding the list of services that WordPress pings. Simply go to settings > Writing and paste the following list into your “Update Services” box
Almost every search engine looks at links as a vote that your site and content is worth reading (and thus should appear higher in search engines). Promoting your content to social media is an excellent way to get high quality links and traffic to your posts. Additionally many search engines are now monitoring and tracking real time discussions and linking such as Twitter updates. It is likely that if they are not using this in their algorithm now they will in the future.
To promote users sharing your content make it easy. The ShareThis plugin makes it easy for users to add your content to any number of their social networks or simply e-mail it to a friend. The added links using the plugin will give you will make your entire blog an SEO beast. seo seo seo seo seo