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Bloggers and webmasters are constantly wondering why Google is such a bully to some websites and why they are so positive toward others. What are the keys to building a successful presence on the search engine results pages? What are the most important SEO tips for WordPress users to get their sites discovered by Google’s search bot and how can we get in on that action?
In the paragraphs below, I’ll answer these questions and provide you with some incredibly practical and easy to implement search engine optimization tips to help get your site out of the shadows and into the mainstream. So without further ado, I’m proud to present…
10 Powerful SEO Tips for WordPress Users
Optimize Your URL Structure
You should change your website urls so that they do not display like this: http://www.sitesketch101.com/?page_id=1 but instead let’s make them look like this: http://www.sitesketch101.com/about. We call these pretty permalinks and they provide much more information about your page to search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
Here’s how we do that. Under the setting panel click on permalinks. Select custom structure and input the following code (just put in what comes after the equals sign into the fields):
Custom Structure = /%postname%/
Category Base = category
Tag Base = tag
Optimize Images In Your Posts
When you can illustrate your topics and articles with attention grabbing artwork or photography people are more likely to view your content. I personally use Flickr’s Creative Commons Search to find excellent photography.
As you work to do that, be sure to use image titles and alt text that adequately describe both the image and the content of the article.
Deliver a Google Sitemap
Google likes it when you provide them with an easy-to-read overview of all the pages on your site. The easiest and most effective way to deliver this much needed SEO tool is to simply install the WordPress plugin called Google XML Sitemaps. This plugin will do all the hard work for you and automatically update every time you add new posts to your site.
Customize Each Post’s Slug
When you are writing your article, the ’slug’ field that is located just below the title of the article will determine the website address of the article.
So if I enter ‘5-crucial-tips-for-wordpress-users‘ for the slug then the website address of this article will behttp://www.sitesketh101.com/5-crucial-tips-for-wordpress-users. Search engines that see that your website urls have the same keywords as your meta description, title, keywords and your content will be seen as being even more consistent.
Interlink Keywords Between Articles
Internal links are a powerful way to let Google know what your articles are about and they’re a terrific way to increase page views across your site as they invite your readers to click through to read other articles.
Do you inter-link your articles? You should. Linking within an article to other articles is a great way to build Page Rank throughout your site and it’s a great way to get readers to find your other articles on similar subjects.
Allow me to introduce to you one of the most powerful tools that you can use to massively improve your internal linking structure.
SEO Smart Links is a WordPress plugin that allows you to define and associate certain keywords to certain pages and posts on your site. In other words, with one simple line of text you can make it so that every time a certain word or phrase is used on your website that it will automatically become a link to a post that you define.
Provide Valid HTML/XHTML Code
There are, in fact, several reasons that you should take the time to validate your website to the standards of the World Wide Web Consortium.
- Validation creates consistency across multiple internet browsers.
- Validation supports better search engine listings.
- Validation is a sign of professionalism.
There’s really no wrong reason to get your site’s code to be W3C validated.
If you know anything about the basics of html then getting started won’t be difficult. Simply click through to the W3C Validator, type in the name of your website, and then follow the instructions that it provides you for resolving each issue.
The truth is that Matt Cutts has made it clear that the team at Google has written into their algorithm every possible coding mistake that they can come up with so that if they encounter them they don’t get factored in. However, that being said, even the best police canines chasing a fugitive can lose their sent if they jump in a river and swim for a while. If you’re code is so far off the beaten path that Google’s Autobots are unable to properly interpret it then no matter how much they try, they’re simply going to misinterpret the intent of your page.
The truth is, I don’t worry about validation as much as I used to. I check my validation periodically to see if anything that would change the structural syntax of my page exists and if not, I don’t fret too much. For example, if I have an ampersand instead of the html escaped ampersand and the validator kicks that back, I don’t worry about it. But if they notice that I forgot to close a div that was opened, I do fix that.
Cache Your Blog’s Content
WordPress is a php based system that generates pages on the fly. In other words, your home page doesn’t actually exist. It is created fresh every time someone tries to load it. WordPress looks at a database full of variables which include the articles, the post titles, the sidebar widgets and everything else and compiles them into a page and then delivers it based on the settings and options that you’ve chosen in the control panel.
WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache are WordPress plugins that allow that generated page to be stored as a real static page so that the next person to view it doesn’t have to wait for it to be created. All they have to do is download it and display it in their browser. This drastically reduces the time it takes a viewer to see your pages and increases the possibility of keeping more readers.
It saves those pages without recreating them for as long as you specify or until they are changed by being updated in the control panel or by having a comment added. This means that your content will always be fresh and lightning fast.
Install a WordPress SEO Plugin
This is perhaps the most important of these SEO tips for WordPress. In your plugin manager click on “Add New.” Do a search for “Yoast SEO” and install that plugin.
Activate the plugin and then go back to your article manager. If you create or edit an article you will now see several fields at the very bottom of the page that include title, keywords, and description. On each article, you will want to fill out the last two at least. Yoast is amazing because it provides step-by-step instructions for easy optimization of every article (including scores and specific feedback), of your archive pages, of your author pages, and much more.
Recycle Old Posts and Revive Old Permalinks
The art of recycling an old post simply means that you take an article that was previously published, let’s say five or six months ago, and add new life and excitement to it and republishing it.
It builds Page Rank: I’m very fortunate to receive back-links on the articles here at Site Sketch 101. In fact, I have several articles on the site with a 2, 3 and even 4 Page Rank. Bringing a six month old PR3 page back to the front of everyone’s attention is a great way to snowball the success that article has already achieved.
PR4 Article on Site Sketch 101: 15 Incredible WordPress Plugins You Need.
If you want to keep growing the page rank of your article then be sure to leave the permalink alone. This allows you to bring in a fresh wave of links to a page that already has links.
Link to Related Posts
My final piece of advice in our list of SEO tips for WordPress is to install WordPress Related Posts Plugin and begin linking to 4 or 5 similar articles at the bottom of each article. This is both a terrific way to guide your readers to more of your articles on similar topics and it’s a terrific way to guide search engines. As an additional note, you should understand that this related posts plugin uses the post tags to determine relevant posts so the more focused your tags are the relevant your footer links will be.