Supercharged SEO: A Guide to HeadSpace 2
I recently wrote a review on HeadSpace 2 SEO plugin for WordPress. Unlike most plugins , this one requires some diligent attention when setting it up for the first time. Today I’m going to walk you through the basics of how to correctly configure HeadSpace 2 on your WordPress blog.
The purpose of this guide is to provide you with a walk through on the initial configuration of HeadSpace 2 for maximum SEO benefit. Be aware that any of the methods used in this guide are not required and you are free to follow your own preferred methods.
Also note that this post is rather long because I needed to ensure that no stone was left unturned. This was unavoidable. If you are intending to cross over to the HeadSpace 2 SEO plugin then stick it out till the end. I promise that you won’t be sorry you did.
Why Should I Do This?
If you recall from my original HeadSpace review I was queried on the validity of my testing and my results. Well results is where it’s all at. What I want to do is help you to see something like this when you log into Google Webmaster Tools. In fact I want you to see something even better than this.
To explain what your seeing here. This is the first 11 results in my Webmaster tools. I’m not going to give away my keywords but the image should allow you to see that I am targeting both short and long tail phrases. Those first 4 keywords are for some extremely competitive keywords and the posts that those keywords were associated with just would not rank using my previous SEO plugin.
HeadSpace has given me enough leverage over WordPress to make the appropriate changes to my on page SEO that they now rank right up there with the best sites. All but 1 of the keywords I am targeting here are first page results. That’s what you should be aiming for too.
So now that I’ve covered that, let’s get started.
Download and Install
Obviously the first thing to do is to download and install the plugin. If you’re not familiar with installing plugins, here’s the options available to you. Either use the auto install feature provided by WordPress or download the plugin directly from http://urbangiraffe.com/plugins/headspace2 and upload it to your plugins directory. Installing plugins is outside the scope of this guide so if you need guidance on that, you should review the WordPress documentation.
Prepare to Activate HeadSpace 2
Before proceeding any further you must ensure that your site is ready to activate the plugin.
Deactivate any existing SEO plugin that you might have installed. If you want to use this data in HeadSpace do not delete the plugin, simply deactivate it. The use of more than 1 SEO plugin can have serious drawbacks such as multiple sets of every META tag and it is unknown what the actual effect on your site will be.
For HeadSpace to be able to perform it’s magic on your site and optimize you title META tag you must make a change to your theme’s header.php file. Open header.php in your theme directory with your favorite editor and in the <head> section look for the line wp_title();. Change that to wp_title(”);.
Finally, and this is open to debate, change your permalink structure to a custom structure using only /%postname%/. The reason you want this structure is that using any other variation of permalink structure may lead to duplicate content issues, depending on your site structure.
If you were using any other permalink structure than the default you will need to install your choice of plugin to redirect any of your indexed pages to the new location. My preference is Redirection which is also developed by the good folk at UrbanGiraffe.com. If you decide to use redirection, install it, activate it, and under Manage > Redirection > Options, ensure that both URL Monitoring select boxes are set to “Modified posts”. You will now have perfectly optimized permalinks without having to do anything else, or worry about duplicate content issues or 404 errors that could lead to search engine penalties.
For anyone who is not aware, duplicate content is frowned upon by Google. It won’t get you blacklisted, but it won’t get you listed either. Whenever Google finds duplicate content on a site, that content is placed into a supplemental index. The only time you’ll ever see results in Google for duplicate content is if you clicked on the link at the bottom of the page titled ‘include omitted results’.
You are now ready to activate the plugin so go ahead and do that now.
Import Your Existing Data
If you’ve been using any other SEO plugin such as All in One SEO Pack, now is the time to grab that data and bring it all into HeadSpace.
You’ll find the HeadSpace configuration dashboard under Settings > HeadSpace. Once you have the dashboard open click on Import. Here you have the option of importing the data, leaving the original data in place in your database, or if your confident that you are not going to use your old SEO plugin you can save space in your database by importing, then deleting the data.
It’s a good idea to back up your data before you proceed beyond this step. The developers have provided this cute warning.
As with anything else that modifies your database you should backup your data before running an import. No responsibility is accepted for any kittens that may be killed in the process
Next click Options and make sure that the first check box is marked. This ensures that the global configuration settings will be used any time you might forget to optimize a post.
If you use any other plugins that you want to allow to manipulate the excerpts you can enable that as well. You more than likely won’t need to use this so clear the check box if in doubt.
Next you will click on Page Settings. This is the place that most people get a little overwhelmed with the plugin but as you’ll see it’s really quite easy.
The settings for each of the sections on this page are global default settings. What you set here will be used for every area of your blog that corresponds to the settings module. I’ll be covering some ways to get the most out of this area of HeadSpace in a future post where I’ll discuss some advanced uses of the dynamic data replacement.
For now go through each of the modules and adjust to your preference. You will need to set this up for each of the modules so that the values are suitable to your preferred SEO strategy.
Just remember that you can make changes to any of these settings on the fly by adding the changes to the appropriate section when you write a new post. (You’ll see that in a moment).
You can also see here examples of the dynamic data that can be used in place of static data. I use a combination of both static and dynamic data for optimum SEO as well as to eliminate any possibility of duplicate content. I’ll be covering all of that in the next post on the advanced usage of HeadSpace 2.
Page modules are used for that ‘on the fly’ editing I was talking about earlier. These components will be shown on your Post edit page when you either write a new post, or edit an old post.
‘Simple’ modules will appear on each page directly. ‘Advanced’ modules will be shown when you click on the Advanced link. To add or remove a module simple click and hold the module and drag it to the area you want it to be. If a module is in the ‘Disabled’ section it will not be shown. To activate it drag it into either of the 2 available areas. In this example I was moving Custom data into the basic modules.
Now when you write a new post or edit an old one you will see the modules in the HeadSpace settings area.
You can either fill in the data here as you write your new post, or allow the defaults that you setup in ‘Page Settings’ to be used instead. Once again I’ll mention that I’ll cover this in more detail in a future post.
The final piece of this puzzle is site modules. This area is used to do a couple of great things. Firstly this is the area that allows you to remove other plugins and allow HeadSpace to manage it all. It’s also the area that you’ll use to integrate HeadSpace into your analytics and tracking, as well as web master tools.
Explore and set this up to your own preferences. This screen shot is taken from my live installation so as you can see it’s easy enough to enable and configure each component. Not all of these components will need configuration.
If a component does require configuration just click on the square box on the right (next to the ‘?’). If you need any help understanding what each component does just click on the help icon ‘?’.
You now have a complete understanding of how to install, configure and implement HeadSpace2 SEO plugin. Take some time to explore each of the options and adjust to your preference. Go and setup your webmaster and analytics tracking and let HeadSpace take care of all the drudgery of your on page SEO strategy. You now have more time to focus your efforts on writing quality post and taking care of all your off page SEO tasks.
Now go build those back links.