Five Easy Tips to Optimize Your WordPress Website

I highly recommend that all small businesses use WordPress for their Website. Even if you have no plans to blog, a WordPress website gives you control of your content so you can keep it fresh and relevant to your target audience. The following are a few tips that will help you get visibility in the search engines.

Make your permalinks pretty

Five easy tips to optimize your WordPress website

Five easy tips to optimize your WordPress website

This is an easy setting but one I’ve seen overlooked on many, many WordPress sites. The default setting is http://yourdomain.com/?p=123. How useful is that? If you leave your permalinks set this way, you lose all the value of those keywords that you used in the title of your post or page. Instead, select the custom option and set the format to /%postname%/ or /%category%/%postname%/. Add the category if you have been strategic with naming your categories using your main keywords. Otherwise, use just the post name and make sure you use keywords in their titles.

Set privacy to allow search engines to index the site

By default, WordPress installs with the privacy setting set to disallow search engine indexing. If you look at the source code of your page, you will see <meta name=’robots’ content=’noindex,nofollow’ />. This is a good thing while you are developing the site, but when you go live, make sure you go to “Settings/Privacy” in your WordPress dashboard and set your blog visibility to “I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Bing, Technorati) and archivers“. Otherwise, your site won’t get indexed. Also, make sure your robots.txt file isn’t set to block the search engine bots.

Verify your site in Google, Yahoo and Bing

The search engines give you a way to verify site ownership so you can gather useful information. On Google, you use Webmaster Tools. On Yahoo, you use Yahoo Site Explorer. On Bing, you use the Bing Webmaster Center. All three verify your site using a verification metatag in your header file. Once your site is verified you can point all three towards your XML sitemap to help with the indexing. Install the Google (XML) Sitemap plugin and activate it. This plugin generates a sitemap that supports all the major search engines. Once you have set this up, all three of these search engines will provide a wealth of information on your site, such as keywords used to find your site, incoming links to pages, broken links and other information useful to figuring out how you are doing and making your Website more accessible to the search engine bots. This data in combination with Google Analytics should give you enough information to optimize your site.

Add SEO to your Pages

Using WordPress for your website platform also gives you control of your major SEO components: title and description through the All-in-One SEO Pack. You can also set up your keyword metatag specifically for each page for completeness, but most search engines do not use it in its page ranking algorithm so it’s really up to you if you put a few choice keywords on each page. My recommendation is focus on the title, description, content and the anchor text for your links, using the appropriate keywords for each page on your site. Remember that search engines consider each page independently and will index the page based on the content it finds only on that page.

Not sure where to find your best keyword? Try the Google AdWords External Keywood tool or the Google Search-based Keyword Tool. Once you get your big list, select the top 10 keywords for your business and start using them in all of your marketing materials.

Add Relevant Tags your Posts

WordPress enables you to tag your post with focused keyword phrases so that the search engines can index them more effectively. Don’t confuse Tags with categories. Categories are your file cabinet draw where you file a document under one particular topic. Tags allow you to describe your post in more specific terms that help people find your information. By properly tagging your posts with relevant keywords, you help people find and cross reference your post with others. Stick to just a few tags, however, as too many tags will dilute their effect.

Some final tips:

  • If you had a website and converted it to WordPress, install the Redirection plugin and map all your old URLs to the new ones in WordPress. Not doing this will mean you lose any page rank that you may have from the old site.
  • When you insert images, be sure to write good alt tags for images and think about the names of the files before you upload them to help search engines index your images (note that the search engines now have a specific image search feature).

If you use WordPress, review your site now to be sure you are following these tips and helping your website become more popular. And let me know what SEO techniques you use to help you be found on the web.

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34 Responses to Five Easy Tips to Optimize Your WordPress Website

  1. Sikar Live March 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    i m fan of ur site thnks for giving this info …m using these tips on my site http://www.sikarlive.com

  2. qammar January 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    Hi , excellent tips, beside this consider optimization of code, compression of images and othe contenct to increase the download
    speed of your website.

    Thank you,

    • Debra Murphy January 25, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      Thanks for more tips. Using WordPress doesn’t require us to optimize the code directly, however I’d recommend watching which plugins you use and how they perform.

      Yes, images! If I could get some of my clients from not uploading 2MB images direct from a camera, that would be awesome. Luckily WordPress does provide resized options which most use!

      Cheers

  3. Quin Sajorda September 9, 2011 at 4:19 am #

    I miss some of your tips in my website. Now I know how it will be done. Thank you

  4. Ben V March 8, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Just wanted to thank you for these awesome SEO wordpress tips – really good stuff. Going to implement on some of my clients sites, thanks Debra!

  5. Warde Graham Glasgow IFA February 26, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    Sound advice. The All-in-one SEO plugin is indeed a nice simple way to optimise your SEO on your site and, hopefully, provide for increased business via the web. Also, re alt-tags in images, that is something that is missed out a lot!- even where some people do websites professionally.

    Best wishes, IFA in Glasgow and East Kilbride

    • Debra February 26, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

      Hi Warde, the All-in-one SEO plugin is awesome. There’s also another version of it called FV All in One SEO Pack. It is a simplified, more secure version of the original. You can find information on it here: http://foliovision.com/seo-tools/wordpress/plugins/fv-all-in-one-seo-pack.

      Yes, alt tags for images are important. They provide SEO value as well as accessibility for those who may be using a screen reader. Alt tags are what is read to help those who have visual impairments to know what the image is about.

  6. Stephen February 15, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    It is actually easy to optimize your word press website but one thing that you should consider is choosing the right permalinks and adding relevant tags to your post. Thank you.

    • Debra February 18, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

      Stephen – yes WordPress does make SEO a bit more simple, but you do need to remember all the details. Permalinks and tags are very important. Thanks for pointing them out.

  7. Ben January 13, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

    Hi Debra,

    How high of an importance would you give to the actual domain name of website? Does the extension make a difference in rankings, does Google rank a .com higher than a .info with the same content/age/links? Just curious to know what you think.

    Cheers,
    Ben

    • Debra January 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

      Hi Ben,

      The domain name of your site will have an effect on your rankings but not because of the .com vs .net vs .info etc. One of the reasons I love working with new startup businesses is because we have a clean slate and we can choose a business name and its associated domain name based on results of your keyword analysis. When I started my company, I made the mistake of naming the company with out the keyword “marketing” in the name. I re-branded 3 years ago to Masterful Marketing and acquired the domain, which has made a huge difference in how my site is viewed by the search engines.

      Of course there is other work to do to compliment the domain name, but having a good one certainly helps.

      Thanks for the great question!

  8. kirsty January 6, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    It is actually easy to optimize you wordpress website but one thing that you should consider is choosing the right permalinks and adding relevant tags to your post. And allowing search engine to index your site.

    • Debra January 6, 2011 at 10:07 am #

      Thanks Kirsty – yes, permalinks are important as are the tags on each post. Tags help the search engines figure out what the information is about for better indexing.

  9. Adam January 5, 2011 at 6:03 am #

    Thanks Debra, some great tips here, I already use All in One SEO Pack and it’s great!

  10. Joel Walters October 2, 2010 at 3:29 am #

    Any one that follows your advice here will definitely be on the fast track to great rankings and more traffic. I am using the all-in-one-SEO pack, and it really is awesome! It should be compulsory on every blog.

    Cheers, Joel.

  11. Glasgow Gal September 13, 2010 at 4:17 pm #

    Great article and you really are helping people to slash the learning curve when it comes to marketing their website online…leaving them time to do what they do best, serve their customers.

    • Debra September 13, 2010 at 6:07 pm #

      Thanks! Glad you found it helpful. Cheers.

  12. norman July 27, 2010 at 3:50 am #

    Just read the post and decided i had to say something :Although i see that some people think that this is basic stuff,i do not agree.Most people who use the internet are not webmasters and Google,Yahoo and now the new Bing all look at things slightly differently.These are not techies who tweek everthing they can find, they just want a few visitors to their sites, as they get more familiar they will improve the SEO.Could you drive you car first time behind the wheel,give them a chance.Great info use it people,it works.

    • Debra July 27, 2010 at 7:31 am #

      Hi Norman,

      Those of us who are around this stuff all the time take for granted what we know. I constantly battle with whether my information is too basic so not to insult the reader while knowing there are people who need the basics and want to help them as well. The clients I work with regularly reinforce the fact that everyone doesn’t spend 8 hours a day on a computer doing Internet marketing. Thanks for the support.

  13. Freeware Download July 24, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    wordpress tutorial is good, especially permalinks

  14. SEO Boca Raton July 13, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    Great wordpress seo tips, keep them coming.

  15. Michael Doiron June 9, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    thanks for this.

  16. Broadway June 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    Great tips, wordpress is the best blogging software out great tools, thanks for the info.

  17. Pauline June 9, 2010 at 7:19 am #

    Debra thank you for visiting my blog. Eight years must mean you have had a successful business. I am encouraged by your success to keep going. Thanks for the encouragement.

  18. Pauline June 8, 2010 at 4:58 pm #

    You have so much information here that I will need to go back to that I will have to bookmark this page. I havent verified my site in Yahoo or Bing and I need to claim it in Technorati. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Debra June 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

      Hi Pauline – glad you got some value from this post! I went to your site and see you are starting to build a business – good for you! Yesterday was my 8 year anniversary of leaving corporate America and starting my business – and I am so glad I did. Follow your dreams to freedom and a glorious lifestyle (I see the beautiful Lake Illawarra you live near). Enjoy it fully.

      Cheers!

  19. Jennifer R May 31, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    Your article is most basic but thanks for your useful contribution to the community :)
    .-= Jennifer R´s last blog ..Optimize the CommentLuv wordpress plugin =-.

    • Debra June 1, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

      Thanks Jennifer. As much as I like to think people know this stuff, it amazes me how many people don’t do these basic SEO activities. Hopefully this gets them going.

  20. SEO Sheffield http://www.seoclock.co.uk April 2, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    I’d recommend Simple Tags plugin for the post tags. Gives suggestions based on Yahoo past search results, very easy to use.
    .-= SEO Sheffield http://www.seoclock.co.uk´s last blog ..Google PageRank Update April 2010 =-.

    • Debra April 2, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

      Thanks for the tip – I’ll try it out. I have many clients who forget to tag their posts so this may be a good solutions.

  21. Laura Briere February 12, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    Great tips Deb – accurate and informative as always!
    .-= Laura Briere´s last blog ..RFPs (Requests for Proposals) – Are They Worth Your Time? =-.

    • Debra February 13, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

      Thanks Laura – for a little bit of work, you can really position your website favorably in the search engines. Unfortunately most people miss these simple steps.

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