WordPress definitely became the most popular blogging platform not only thanks to its simplicity but also flexibility (incl. flexibility re SEO recommendations). According to WordPress statistics page, only on the wordpress.com (the free wordpress hosting platform), users produce about 500,000 new posts and 400,000 new comments every day! There are also 475 posts generated every single minute! Even Microsoft replaced Windows Live Space with WordPress.com! So having this in mind and having some experience with establishing commercial blogs, I am still very much surprised how often the basics are missing. So what do you actually have to do when creating a brand new, next super-duper blog = search engine optimised (WP) blog?
Assuming you’re past installing wordpress on your server, here are the essential steps you should take. And believe me, it’s much easier to make these amendments on a “freshly” created blog rather a website with 50 blog posts published already!:
1. Add noindex, nofollow
As you are planning to do many changes to optimize your WordPress blog it’s useful to temporarily block Google from visiting it until it’s ready. To do this add just before header ending tag . Better still, (and this is what I strongly recommend) use it within Robots.txt. I will not write how to do it step by step as it has been nicely discussed on this site: http://www.robotstxt.org/meta.html
2. Create a super searchable title and description.
In order to do that, at least go to Google Keywords tool and find out what people actually search that’s relevant to the subject of your blog and use those keywords for your main Blog Title and blog description.
3. Front page
Decides what you actually want to appear on your homepage. Do you want your home page be a static welcome page or a list of your latest posts from the blog? I would personally vote for the option 2 as Google prefers pages that shows fresh content. If you go for the second solution, you do not have to do anything as this is a default option, but if you want to change it, just go to the reading section in your WordPress settings and choose what does your front page should display.
No one likes those ugly URLs with ? and numbers which look something like that: http://yourblog.com/?p=123 , In order to get read of them and have nicely search engine-optimised links (that are actually both Google and user friendly), go to your blog dashboard, then to settings and click on Permalinks. Then choose the Custom Option and add this: /%category%/%postname%/ (as per image below).
This way the names of your posts and categories will be used in URLs. Job done! I also very often recommend to get rid off this ugly “category based”, but you can read more about it in my previous Remove ‘Category Base’ From Permalinks post.
5. SEO plugins packages.
There are many of them: Headspace 2- pretty useful, it plays with your title tag and Meta Title tag (if you dont know the difference you can learn more about on this page: http://www.webmarketingnow.com/tips/meta-title.html) Then there is also the famous All in One SEO and latest WordPress SEO plugin by Joast from Yoast.com. Unfortunately, some of those free plugins automatically add links somewhere within your page to the plugin author page (for examples: when you check your generated sitemap with a help of those plugins you can actually see a link to author plugin page). I generally feel that it is slightly not fair and I would prefer the ability to choose where I would actually like the “thank you” link to appear on my own blog. So that maybe could be a note to the authors…
6. Generate Sitemaps
(Do it only if you didn’t installed WP SEO plugin as this option is included within it). There is a really good plugin that not only generate XML sitemaps but also ping changes on your blog to Google and other search engines. its called Google XML Sitemap (although it work with also with Bing, Ask.com etc.).
7. Create Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools for the blog.
There is also a wordpress plugin for that, but, come on, you can do it on your own!:
8. Remember point 1?
You blocked Google from visiting your blog. You blocked the blog! What were you thinking?:) OK, it WAS important at that point:) Now though, you have to delete both Noidex, nofollow so your WP blog can be visible to search engines.
9. Delete the Hello World post!
so you are ready to say “Hello World” with your own words:) viola! Job done!
Remember, the more plugins you have the slower your blog might be, so if there are things that you can do yourself without installing a plugin, just do it (like for example Google Analytics- you do not need a plugin for that!)
Generally, I usually suggest is to test plugins as you learn a lot from that exercise (again be careful as some of them are not compatible with others, so always check it!). However if you test one and decide not to use it, deactivate and delete it to keep your file structure clean and neat! Anyway, I am going to write about it in more details in my next article in a few days time!