So you’ve set up your shiny new WordPress blog and it looks fantastic! there’s just one problem… No-one can see it. You’re searches on Google come up empty. Why is this? You haven’t told Google how to find it, silly! And that’s where a SEO optimisation comes in. Optimising your site for Search Engines is the process of making the site both visible and as attractive as possible so that it not only appears on google but appears at the top of the search rankings. Here’s how you go about it.
1. Make Your Blog Visible to Search Engine
Once you have completed setup of your new wordpress site navigate: Settings > Reading and uncheck the box next to Discourage search engines from indexing this site. This makes the site visible to the search crawler robots used by Google and other search engines.
2. Alter Permalink Structure
Navigate Settings > Permalinks and change the link structure to one that includes the Post Title in the link. In this way you will include your title keywords in the posts URL as well as it’s meta-data.
3. Install Google XML Sitemaps
A sitemap tells google where it can find all the pages that make up your site. Google XML Sitemaps is a WordPress plugin that generates a Sitemap submits it to google for you and automatically updates it every time you update the site.
4. Install An SEO Plugin
There are a number of good SEO plugins available for WordPress. What these plugins do, when properly configured, is attach additional metadata to your posts and pages which make them more visible and more attractive to search engines. I favour All In One SEO because of the broad range of options it offers from keyword optimisation to Google Analytics integration but you can use whichever plugin you are most familiar with.
5. Set a Nofollow Flag On Untrusted Links
The rel=”nofollow” attribute on a link tells search engines that the linked page may be unreliable. It also prevents the link from improving the PageRank of the linked page.
You can get easy-to-use control over the NoFollow attribute of links on your site by installing a plugin called Ultimate NoFollow. If you’ve followed my previous How-To on securing your comments section against spam then you have already done this. This plugin will let you set any untrusted links or links unrelated to the subject of your blog to NoFollow. Google has some useful guidelines to best practice here.
6. NoIndex Duplicate Pages
As your blog gets older and larger you will increasingly find you have mutiple pages and posts with duplicate names. This is an artifact of the tags and categories system which WordPress uses to organise content and is undesirable from an SEO perspective as it causes search engines to record large ammounts of irrelevant data from your site making finding your relevant content more difficult.
To prevent this you can set all the pages on your blog, other than those hosting relevant content, to NoIndex causing search engines to ignore those pages. The easiest way to do this is to use one of the functions of All In One SEO which, if you are following my advice, you installed in step 4.
7. Install a Caching Plugin
One component of how attractive your site is to search engines is how fast your pages load. You can improve this by adding a caching plugin to your site which will pre-load regularly used pieces of content like site banners and background graphics. The plugin I use is called W3 Total Cache because it offers plenty of user control over precisely which types of data will be cached and it also has some handy minification functions to shrink the ammount of data stored on the server.
8. Add Social Media Sharing to Your Site
Posts that receive Shares and Follows on social media like Facebook and Twitter rank higher in searches so you want to do everything you can to encourage your readers to share your posts. Installing a sharing widget can do a lot to promote this kind of desired behavior. There are a number of good sharing Plugins available so you can tak eyour pick. The one I use is AddToAny Share Buttons because it has a huge range of pre-defined Share buttons for different social media sites that can be added to your site with a single click and it allows easy injection of custom CSS to alter exactly how and where the buttons display on your pae to match your overal theme.
So thats it, 8 steps to improving your sites SEO. beyond this it’s up to you to make sure your tags are well chosen, your title is keyword rich and your posts are long and full of interesting and relevant content. If you can do all of that then your blog should soon begin to climb towards that covetted spot at the top of the google search rankings.