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Friday, 19 November 2010

A SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION GUIDE
According to recent statistics, Wordpress accounts for 0.8% of the web which makes Wordpress the best choice for any enthusiast blogger. Hundreds and thousands of blogs are created every day which use Wordpress as the blogging CMS (Content Management System), but not all of them are optimized for good search engine rankings. In this guide, I will instruct you how to quickly set up your Wordpress installation for the best SEO results and make your website more search engine friendly. You might know some of these techniques already, but the following steps will play the role of a checklist for you.

Follow the steps carefully and try not to miss out on any of them in order to acquire the best results for your blog.

   Step I – Blog Title & Taglines

I  am  assuming  that  you  know  how  to  install  Wordpress  for  yourself.  If  not,  please  refer  to http://codex.wordpress.org/Installing_WordPress. After the installation is completed, go to the wp-admin and under the Options -> General tab, fill out your Blog title and the tagline. Make sure that your Blog title is meaningful and your tagline is search engine friendly. The tagline should  basically  summarize  what  you  do  on  your  blog  and  ensure  that  you  target  the  right keywords for your website. Fill in the rest of the information and we are done with this step.

 Step II Update Services

Under the Options, go to the next tab called Writing and scroll down to the Update Services text box. Here you can input a list of update services separating them with line breaks (pressing the  enter  key).  These  are  basically  websites  which  maintain  a  list  of  all  the  current  weblog updates  in  different  areas.  When  you  make  a  post,  Wordpress  will  ping  these  websites  to inform them that you have updated your blog.

Doing this will make your blog more social and also get you additional traffic through these update services. People who browse websites like Technorati and Sphere can easily find the posts that you made recently.  Given below is a list of such ping services which I got from the official Wordpress website. Just copy and paste them in the update services box.

There is a factor here which has to be taken into consideration. Whenever you make a new post now, Wordpress will try to ping all these websites one by one and that process will waste a lot of time before you can make another post or do anything in Wordpress. In order to avoid this, you should use a plugin for Wordpress called No Ping Wait. This plugin actually puts the process of pinging in the backlog and allows you to continue working seamlessly by removing any kind of delays. Download this plugin, install and activate it on your Wordpress blog.



 Step III – Modifying the Title Tags of your Wordpress Theme

The title tags in your pages matter a lot for SEO purpose but Wordpress themes are usually not optimized for them. To make your theme more search engine friendly, go to Presentation -> Theme Editor in the admin area of Wordpress. Now open the header.php file for editing and replace whatever is between <title> & </title> tag with the following code:-

<?php if (is_home () ) { bloginfo('name'); } elseif ( is_category() ) { single_cat_title(); echo " - "; bloginfo('name'); } elseif (is_single() || is_page() ) { single_post_title(); } elseif (is_search() ) { bloginfo('name'); echo " search results: "; echo wp_specialchars($s); } else { wp_title('',true); } ?>

 Step IV – Meta Tags


Wordpress does not insert any Meta tags in your blog on its own. Meta tags are very important if you want the search engines to fall in love with your blog. You can use the All in one SEO Pack
plugin for all your Meta tags including the titles too. You will get all the help for installing this plugin on the author’s plugin homepage. There are other plugins as well which can be used to insert Meta tags into the blog. Just search for them on Google.

 Step V Permalinks & Mod_rewrite

Search engines will always index your pages faster if your URLs are text-based instead of being long strings of code. Having your keywords in the URL is beneficial as it tells the spiders about your  page  content.  For  example,  the  URL  http://mysite.com/?var1=3434&var2=3434  is  not search engine friendly, but if the same URL was written like http://mysite.com/my-page.html, it would be easier for the search engines to index the URL.

This kind of link conversion is done using a server-side feature called Mod_rewrite which uses an .htaccess file that is placed in your website root folder.  Wordpress already has this inbuilt functionality to generate pretty URLs, so all you have to do is enable the option. Go to Options
-> Permalinks in the Wordpress admin, and you will see the following common options.



Click on the fourth option (Custom) to enable it, and type %postname%.html in the text box. This will make your URLs include the titles of your posts/pages and format them accordingly. If you have a post with the title “Hello World”, this will convert the URL to yourdomain.com/hello-world.html for that particular post.

Note: You should have Linux based hosting for the Mod_rewrite function to work properly. If not, you can choose the second option which is date and name based.


 Step VI – Optimization of Keywords

When making new posts or pages in Wordpress, make sure that you are targeting your search keywords  properly.  Try  to  include  those  keywords  in  the  titles  for  which  you  want  to  be searched  and  indexed.  If  your  content  is  unique  and  you  have  chosen  the  right  keywords, search engines will quickly pick up your articles and index them.

Overture’s Keyword Suggestion Tool is a good way to look for popular keywords related to your niche  and  then  optimize  accordingly.  Use  variations  for  your  keywords  and  include  them  in different phrases.

Search engines rank your pages by keywords in the following order:-

·         Prominence and accuracy of the keywords
·         Frequency of the keywords
·         Concentration of the keywords
·         Closeness within the keywords
·          Placement of the keywords in the content

So, be sure that you have a balanced article before publishing it to your audience and please do not spam your keywords because everyone hates it, including the search engines.

 Step VII – Google Sitemap

Google Sitemap is a file which contains URLs and some supplementary information for all the public  pages  or  documents  of  your  website.  There  is  no  proof  that  a  Google  Sitemap  will directly affect your ranking in any way. However, it can help Google to crawl your blog better which may result in a more complete index of your page.

You may use a plugin which will automatically generate XML sitemaps for your blog. Download here -> Google Sitemaps Generator for Wordpress

Once you have installed the plugin, you can go to the options menu and generate a sitemap for your  blog.  You  can  also  set  the  frequency  of  the  updates  so  that  the  sitemap  is  generated accordingly.

 Step VIII Social Bookmarking Plugins

You should download and install a social bookmarking plugin which will enable your visitors to bookmark and submit your posts to various bookmarking sites like Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, etc. The most popular plugin for social bookmarking nowadays is AddThis. It has support for adding the bookmarking widget at the end of every post in your blog and I would definitely recommend that.

That  concludes  the  “Wordpress  SEO  for  Beginners”.  I  hope  that  people  starting  out  with
Wordpress will benefit from this guide.

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