WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems in the world. It runs on millions of blogs around the world and every day a growing number of people discover its hidden delights. One of the major reasons for WordPress’ success is that it has remained free and open source. This has spawned thousands of add-ons, called widgets and plug-ins, and loads of templates that enable you to customise your website at the touch of a button. It enables literally anyone to have their own professional looking website up and running in just a few minutes. One of the other major reasons for its success, however, is that it can be made very search engine friendly with a whole range of search engine optimization features at your fingertips. Google already loves blogs, and WordPress blogs in particular, so if you follow these simple bits of customisation advice then your WordPress driven website really can fly to the top of the search engine rankings. In this, the first of 2 articles I go over the basics of search engine optimization that are already built into WordPress and in part 2 I address some of the more advanced add-on features that WordPress has to offer.
1. Plan Your Layout. This is not really particular to WordPress but it’s really important to get a good structured layout on your web site that the search engines can spider. Make good use of the categories/posts structure and set up sub-categories where necessary. Your readers will also prefer this structured approach, particularly if you have a large number of posts.
2. Permalinks. These are very important for good search engine optimization. WordPress operates a dynamic URL structure which is very search engine unfriendly. The default permalink structure is something like www.yourblog.com/ p=2 which doesn’t do anything for your optimization. You really should have the main keywords you are targeting in your URL, and that’s where permalinks can help. Just go into the settings/permalinks tab and make sure that you check ‘custom structure’. Personally I always set this value to /%postname%/ which sets the URL to reflect name of your post. If you have written a post title that is keyword rich, then your URL will be generated with your keywords in it.
3. Ping. Whenever you make a post you need to let the search engines know about it so that they spider the site and index the new content. This is achieved by pinging them, and luckily it’s something that WordPress has built in. However, you really need to add more ping sites to the default list, as it is just a single site.
4. WordPress 2.8 Privacy. Here’s a final gotcha for you. Starting with Version 2.8, someone at WordPress though it would be a good idea to block your website from the search engines by default. Always remember to go into the privacy settings tab and check the option to enable the search engines to spider your site. Failure to do this will render your site invisible to the search engine spiders no matter what other optimization efforts you undertake.
WordPress makes it ridiculously simple to set up and run your website but you do need to take care and get the search engine optimization basics right from the start.
…to be continued in part 2