WordPress is simply the best option for creating a website that generates revenue online, but you have to know the tips and tricks to really save time and maximize your SEO efforts. Once you have your WP blog created, there are a variety of different settings and changes you should make to rank the best you can in the search engines.
Make Your Life Easier! Most folks have no idea of what most of the settings can be changed to so that your life is easier, and newbies will have a much better experience when they are putting up their first few sites when they know the basics.
In the first part of this series, we discussed the hottest WordPress plugins for SEO, so now it is time to get into more settings and configuration tips to make sure your website is optimized for higher rankings in the search engines.
How To Configure Your WordPress Settings For Optimal SEO Benefit
The first thing I like to do after I set up a WordPress installation is to go into the Settings-General Tab, and insert the blog name. It is important to have your primary keyword in your blog title, but be sure not to make it an exact match or it could hurt you. I leave the Tagline blank here, or it could wind up hurting your rankings – by making your titles and descriptions too long. Recovering from Google Penguin is no fun, so avoid it.
I also like to change the Settings-Writing Tab. Here, I change the size of the post box to 30. This is the box that you will be writing your posts in, and will make it a whole lot easier to read your post while you are entering it. Otherwise, you will constantly be scrolling up and down to see different sections of the post in that tiny box they start you off with. This is a real time saver, and reduces frustration.
In the Settings-Reading Tab, you can change the homepage to a static page, instead of just having your blog posts automatically showing up on it. This works really well if you want your homepage to be a landing page, or where you want to rank for specific keywords – and don’t want the content constantly changing like with a blog.
If the content on your homepage constantly changes, it makes it difficult for Google to understand what your page should be ranking for. You can also do the same thing with WP Sticky post. It is a free WP plugin, and will put one of your blog posts at the top of the page, with the excerpts of your other posts below it.
I also like to change the Blog pages show at most setting to 15 or 20. This controls how many blog post excerpts are below the post sticked to the top of the homepage, Having more excerpts, and content, on your homepage will help it to rank better for more of your keywords. This setting also controls how many posts show up in your sidebar under Recent Posts – if you have that widget enabled in your Appearance – Widgets Tab.
Be sure to click on the “For each article in a feed, show” setting – and set this to Summary. There are a lot of content scrapers out on the web now, and many of them scrape your content and post it all over the web. The bulk of the content scrapers do this off of RSS feeds, so sending out only excerpts of your posts in your feed will keep your entire pages from being scraped.
If this happens, Google will probably think that your site has duplicate content, and will not rank you well for the keywords you are targeting on the pages that were scraped. Some people keep Google alerts set up to email them if anyone copies and posts their content, and it can help you to keep track of who is stealing content from you.
On the Settings-Discussion Tab, under “other content settings”, be sure to uncheck the box for Users must be registered and logged in to comment. This will prevent people from adding their comments on your blog, since no one wants to register. They only want to put in their email and comment, not go through an entire process – just to talk about your content.
Under the Settings-Privacy Tab, be sure to make your blog viewable to the search engines. Usually, they will find it anyway, but I have heard of folks never even getting their sites indexed months into the process (never mind getting ranked) because of this setting.
Under the Settings-Permalink Tab, you want to click on Custom Structure, and enter /%postname%/. If you are using categories (which I recommend), then enter /%category%/%postname%/. This tells WordPress to change your URL for your pages to the title of the page. Since the title of each page and the URL are the most important places to have your keyword on the page, this just makes sense. Do not make your page names the exact match of the keyword you are targeting though, or you will never get it ranked.
Optimizing Your XML SiteMap for SEO
This tip can be a real biggie in my opinion, and you never hear anyone talking about this. As we discussed in Part 1, Google XML Sitemaps makes your site easier for search engine crawlers to find and crawl – thus, making it more SEO friendly. After you install the Google XML Sitemaps (be careful to use the plugin with the “S” on the end – there is another one called “Google XML Sitemap”) plugin, you need to set up the priorities for how often Google will update your content in their databases.
I always hear people wondering why their descriptions in the search results aren’t changed when they change them – and this is why.If you just leave the settings for this plugin as the default, it might not figure out that you changed content on your blog for weeks or months. This is important if you find out that you have other keywords you want to rank for, and you make changes to the meta title, description or keywords after you put up the post.
Just change the “Post Priority” setting to “Do not use automatic priority calculation“. Then scroll down to the “Change Frequencies” setting, and just change them all to “Daily”. This will ensure that any changes you make to your blog are sent to Google the day that you make the changes, and not weeks or months later.
Other Important HTML SEO Tweaks
NoFollow Tag. It is really important to set all of your sales/advertising/affiliate links on your website to no-follow. Google looks at these types of links as “buying links” and penalizes the pages that have advertising links set to do-follow. This is highly suggested, and prevents Google from crawling the link. All you have to do is add the “nofollow tag” to the link in HTML. An example of this would be:
<a href="http://thisIsJustAnExampleLink.com" rel="nofollow">Your anchor text here.</a>
Target Tag. By adding another tag to ANY links on your site, you can have the link automatically open up in another tab within the viewer’s browser. It is important to use the target tag, so the viewer doesn’t leave your site. Just add target=”_blank” to the HTML in the href portion of the link like this:
<a title="Web Spider Solution" href="http://www.webspidersolution.com/" target="_blank">Web Spider Solution</a>
You can also make sure that the same thing happens when you are adding a link in the visual HTML editor, just make sure you select “Open in a new window” when you create links this way.