4 Key WordPress SEO Tips – Setup Optimization
WordPress Optimizaiton begins with Functionality Setup
Some people may just rely on the native WordPress functionality. Personally, I want to always squeeze every ounce of optimization out of my blog and the blogs of my clients as possible. Here’s my boiled down list of the top SEO tips for WordPress administrative functionality to help you unleash it’s power on the web.
I love WordPress. After 14 years in this industry, I’ve come to expect that even today, most “solutions” out there are going to be missing some critical feature or functionality. At least what I consider critical from a management perspective or a marketing perspective or a user experience perspective.
With WordPress however, there’s both several things that you can to with the core program, as well as a vast community of individuals and companies that offer plug-ins – for free, that take what is already a superb solution and help bring it to that next level.
Because I am responsible for implementing the SEO and Internet marketing strategy for a large number of clients from the sole proprietor / consultant level up to and including the occasional enterprise corporation, I have the luxury of experimenting and testing on a regular basis. With WordPress, a lot of that revolves around plug-ins – those mini-apps that extend or enhance what you can do when managing or promoting your blog. As a result, I’ve gone through dozens of these. And I also do what I can to find the optimal configuration of the program settings for the same reason.
Not Just Another List
Since there are any number of other blog posts already out there that list lots of great plug-ins (try the Mashable list, the Digitallabz list or the Sitepoint list for example), I won’t bother to list all of the plug-ins that I find of value here. Both because what I find valuable in my own work or for any one of my particular clients may not apply to you, and because I don’t want to generate any kind of duplicate content issue.
Instead, what I want to do is share what I consider the four most important admin setup tips for maximizing your efforts at WordPress Search Engine Optimization. These tips are so important that regardless of the blog I’m implementing or one of my team members is managing, they’re my “Must have” functions and plug-ins. So if you do nothing else to set the SEO stage for your blog, you’d be wise to at the very least do these.
Of course, before I go further, I would be remiss if I didn’t inform you that you can get much more information about optimizing yoru blog AFTER you’ve set it up with the below recommendations. – So once you’ve read this article, and configured your WordPress blog, read my article entitled 8 steps to optimize your blog for SEO.
WordPress SEO Tip #1 – Perma Links
Obvious to many, unknown to others, the concept of “Perma-Links” is based on the notion that even though search engines nowadays can read obscure code infused web addresses (URLs), the more sophisticated engines do look in the unique URL for a given page to see if there are any keywords that help identify the focus of that page. WordPress natively allows for Perma links, yet in a bizarre example of “computers are so annoying”, it does not come already set up with Perma-Link URLs as a default setting. You actually have to go into the admin area of WordPress and activate them. (found under “Settings/Permalinks”). There are several options – personally I recommend the “Day and Name” version. This places a date and the post name in the URL for that article.
When you’re done, instead of seeing a URL like this:
You’ll see it like this:
So right away the search engine sees the keywords”reputation management” “reputation management facts” and so forth…
WordPress SEO Tip #2 – Keyword Seeded Titles
Once you have Perma-Links set up in the admin area, you can begin writing articles. The first thing you need to consider is how to come up with a title that is short enough to not annoy your prospective readers yet long enough to get the most important keyword phrase or phrases into it. So in the above example, my article is on reputation management. A quick check of the best phrases to use showed me that in addition to reputation management, enough people search for reputation management facts. Sure there are a plethora of other possibilities – like tips, services, provider, company, etc. But for this article, I was happy enough with choosing the title I did for the market I am trying to reach that I decided the name of the article would be what it is.
When you do name your article properly for SEO, and if you have Permalinks activated, what happens when you publish the article is that Google sees the URL and the article title are an identical match. This is huge when it comes to the fundamentals of SEO, because both carry enough weight and the combination gives you maximized value.
WordPress SEO Tip #3 -The Right SEO Plugin
There are a whole bunch of SEO related plugins you can get for WordPress. Personally I’ve tried several. The one I find the most valuable and easiest to use once you get to work with it for a while, is Headspace2 by John Godley. This one plugin allows you to manage the Title, Keywords, Description, and Tags for each individual page and article on your WordPress blog, as well as a host of other things.
When you use this plugin you will be able to skip the Title customization if you are really skilled at writing article titles, or think you can get the maximum SEO value out of them. Or, if you think a title is too short to cover all your phrases, you can use HeadSpace2 to override the default system. (remember though – never try to get more than three or maybe four phrases optimized on any page though).
By the time you’re done with all these features, you’ll be in cross-matching optimization heaven. Your page title, meta keywords, meta description, URL, and Article Title will all be ideally related. And that counts a lot.
WordPress SEO Tip #4 – Sitemaps
A very important plugin that will save you a lot of time and hassle is the Google XML SItemaps plugin. With this nifty free plugin, every time you generate a new blog article it will automatically re-write your blogs sitemap.xml file. This file has become a de-facto standard when it comes to SEO best practices. Essentially for those of you not familiar with these, it’s not like the old school Site Map – your visitors don’t see it. Instead, it’s a behind-the-scenes file that, when submitted to the search engines, can vastly improve the speed and accuracy with which the search engines index your site’s pages. With the Google XML Sitemaps plugin, this work is automated for you from beginning to end.
THE NEXT STEP – Optimizing Content
Now that you’ve got the most important admin related tasks out of the way, read my article entitled 8 steps to optimize your blog for SEO. There you’ll learn all about search engine optimization through content seeding and links.