WordPress and SEO, steps you need to take.

WordPress is quickly becoming the must have tool for just about any web site these days, so much so that for a web developer and Internet marketing professional such as myself, it is an essential tool that can change a web sites’ traffic pattern completely.

First off, this post is mainly focusing on a NEW install of WordPress 2.. the most recent version of the software.. but the ideas and methods could be applied to earlier versions and other like software applications.

WordPress out of the box enables the user to have a complete weblog, or ‘blog’ in less than 3 minutes with no editing or tech know-how. For this story, I would like to point out there is really no difference in a blog, weblog, or web site to me. A blog is really just a web site, set up to display the most current postings in order and by category.

I have made several company and corporate web sites from WordPress and other blog software, with a little more coding done to WordPress, these sites look like regular corporate websites and function as such. No difference can be found to the end user, and the client gets a full featured web site with many editing features.

With this out of the way, WordPress doesn’t come SEO friendly from the get go, and many users that do get a WordPress install going full steam fail to realize that they need to do some work upfront to get the best SEO benefits possible. As of this writing for WordPress 2, I highly suggest downloading the following plugins:

1. Ultimate Tag Warrior 3.

2. Google Sitemaps.

3. Related Posts.

4. WordPress SEO plugin from Marketingop.us

Each of these plugins need to be downloaded, uploaded to your server in the plugins folder, and activated in WordPress. Depending on your template, you will have to edit the files in your themes folder as well to make these plugins work. Instructions on how to install and use these plugins can be found at their respected sites.

With or without the plugins, you will need to set up the foundation for your blog. Starting in the admin, your navigation bar should have an ‘Options’ link. Clicking on this link will bring up a second ’sub menu’ of links. We will want to go to the ‘General’ link.

This section relates to information about the name, description, and other general info about the site you are setting up. Make sure your ‘Title’ and ‘Tagline’ has relevant, keyword rich entries.

Along the ’sub menu’ should be a link to ‘Writing’, clicking on this link will bring up the writing options in WordPress. I always make sure I check that WordPress should correct invalid XHTML and update the ping services to include these entries:

http://rpc.pingomatic.com

http://ping.weblogs.se/

http://blogmatcher.com/u.php

http://coreblog.org/ping/

http://www.blogpeople.net/servlet/weblogUpdates

http://bulkfeeds.net/rpc

http://trackback.bakeinu.jp/bakeping.php

http://ping.myblog.jp

http://ping.bitacoras.com

http://ping.bloggers.jp/rpc/

http://ping.blogmura.jp/rpc/

http://xmlrpc.blogg.de

http://1470.net/api/ping

http://bblog.com/ping.php

http://blog.goo.ne.jp/XMLRPC

Following the ’sub menu’ still, click on the ‘Reading’ link and set WordPress to gzip content if asked, this will help speed up the delivery of your pages. Also set the character encoding to UTF-8, unless you have to use another character set for your language.

In your ’sub menu’ should be a ‘Discussion’ link. Inside this link I make sure I check that WordPress should:

1. ‘Attempt to notify any Weblogs linked to from the article (slows down posting.) ‘

2. ‘Allow link notifications from other Weblogs (pingbacks and trackbacks.) ‘

3. ‘Hold a comment in the queue if it contains more than links. (A common characteristic of comment spam is a large number of hyperlinks.)’. I only use 1 because I don’t want a bunch of spam comments on my blog and the search engines pick this up before I have a chance to remove it myself

‘Permalinks’ is the last link in the ’sub menu’ we will be looking at. Do not use the default option. Instead pick the date and name based, or better yet, make a custom link using just the postname only. Why? If you don’t you will miss on all the opportunities to get keywords into your URLs, and you really don’t need the date in the URL either, but I still use it sometimes.

It may be a good idea to set up an optional category base folder as well, one more way to get keywords into your URL structure.

Make sure you leave your .htaccess file writable by the server so that the permalink changes can take effect.

On your main menu should be a link labeled ‘Users’, make sure every user has their ‘About yourself’ info filled in with relevant phrases and keywords.

Disable all your blogroll links in the ‘Links’ section. The ones by default most likely have no importance to what you will make your site about, you can leave them, but I ‘Toggle’ them off or remove them.

Find the ‘Manage’ link in your main menu and make sure every category you make contains keywords you are focusing on.. also fill in each category description with related keywords and phrases.

Once this is done, you will most likely spend the rest of your days writing ‘posts’ or ‘pages’ in WordPress. This is important to remember because you need to make sure to include keywords and phrases in all posts or pages for the:

1. Title.

2. Content or Discussion of the post/page.

3. Excerpt on posts.

4. Post slug.

5. Pick the correct category related to the topic or make a new one.

Make sure you download the plugins I mentioned above and use them the way shown on the owners site. Including tags on posts and your sidebar are great ways to get keywords and phrases directly on your related site materials. Also make room for a related post entry, so surfers can find related content and search engines can as well. The sitemaps plugin will handle pinging Google will all your links to your site when you update or write new content, and the SEO plugin will take care of all the HTML meta information you need so that your site is SEO friendly.


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