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Friday, September 17, 2010

Improve WordPress SEO Optimization

Search Engines love blogs and they really love WordPress blogs. That’s because it was designed to catch their attention through good SEO. I want you to understand what WordPress does so well that helps it rank highly in search engines and then I am going to show you how to improve on this to really help boost your blogs SERPs rankings.

I am assuming you have basic knowledge of SEO and its techniques, if you don’t, I suggest you check out Stomping The Search Engines 2 by the folks over at StomperNet for an excllent SEO education. It will teach you everything you need to know, to create and implement a good SEO strategy for your blog and help you increase traffic as a result. Best of all you can get it for $1, Click Here to Get Your Copy.

WordPress Comes With Many SEO Friendly Features Right Out the Box
  1. The overall layout of the code is generally very SEO friendly, because it allows the spiders to crawl the content of a page before crawling the side bar. This allows the most important part of the page to be crawled first, thus given it more weight. Since your target keywords are in the content, it is more likely that your page will rank better for those keywords.
  2.  When a new post is created, WordPress automatically sets the link to the post as the title of the post. Because the two most important on page SEO Factors are page title and link anchor text, it by default will boost your post’s search engine rankings, as long as you include your target keywords in the title.
  3. WordPress comes with SEO friendly URLs called permalinks, which can be turned on in the WordPress settings. These permalinks can be customized to include your main keywords which helps to raise your rankings by having the keyword in the URL.
  4. Tag pages allow you to group content by relevant tags, which gives your site more internal linking power through the creation of new pages and also allows you to create relevant pages around targeted keywords. Hopefully driving in more traffic and long tail keyword traffic.
So What Can Be Done To Improve This Already Good Search Engine Optimization Strategy
There are some very easy modifications you can make that will really help your blogs SEO friendliness.

Make sure your Home link does not just say “Home”
Studies have shown that Google puts the highest amount of importance to the first link it finds on a page. For most WordPress themes, that is the “Home” link. Basic SEO theory tells us that the anchor text of your internal links is very important. So if you want your blog to rank for say “Gardening” you would want the home link for your site to say “Gardening” or at the very least include the keyword in the anchor text to your home page.

Some themes have this feature built in already by using the header text as the home link, but in more advance themes that use a logo in place of the header, this functionality is lost or becomes less effective. Many theme designers try and alleviate the problem is through the use of the image Alt=” ” tag. This allows you to add a description to the image, it is unclear if this help with SEO or not, but it is a good idea to have it in place just in case.

Another way to solve this problem is by placing a row of your most important links above the header so that the search engines will spider those first before moving do the page, and you can include a “Home” link with what ever anchor text you want.

Make Sure The Pages You Don’t Want Indexed, Don’t get Indexed

Do you have an “About Us” or “Contact Us” page that you really don’t need stealing PR from your other content pages. The best way to do this is by using the rel=”nofollow” tag for those links to the pages.
Due to the dynamic nature of WordPress this can be a little tricky, because you may not want all of your pages to not be indexed, adding the “nofollow” tag to the dynamic URL in the code just won’t do.
You can use the META Robots (no-index, no-archive, ect) tag however to accomplish the same goal.
Fortunately, there is a plugin that allows you to customize the META setting for individual pages, categories, and even posts, it’s called HeadSpace2. It is a bit more advanced then the All In One SEO plug in that everyone recommends and takes a little bit to get use to, but it’s worth the effort, because you get much more control over your sites SEO structure.

Make Sure You Include Your Target Keywords in the Category and Tag Pages Navigation Links

This can be a bit tricky because you want your sites navigation to be human friendly first and spider friendly as well.  The best way to do this is to not go overboard with keyword stuffing, make sure your make navigation easy to understand by humans first and use your keywords only where it makes sense to do so.
If you use the HeadSpace2 plug in you can set the category description and the title of the category pages. So you can have a category called “Men’s Fitness” and set the title of the page to optimize for the longer tail phrase “Ways for a Man to Improve Fitness” for example.
This allows you to keep your navigation short and simple and keep your category pages titles descriptive and help your target the long tail as well.

Make Sure Your Ads are “NoFollow”
Ads are a common place where people forget to make the links “nofollow”. If you have a theme with ad space built in, check the code and make sure the links all have the rel=”nofollow” tag. Other wise you will lose a lot of “link juice” over your entire site.
If you use an external plug in do the same thing, and make sure all external links are nofollow.
These simple modifications will help to improve your sites internal link structure, preserve its Page Rank by keeping the followed external links to only the pages that you deem worthy, and keep the PR spread across only the most important pages of your blog.
If you implement these WordPress SEO Strategies, you will greatly increase your blogs chances of being ranked  highly in the search engines for your target keywords and you should see an increase in traffic as a result.




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