Increase search engine traffic to your WordPress blog with one night’s work!
Imagine having the search engine traffic to your blog increased by tens of percentages, or perhaps even doubling it, by just a few hours work. With putting just a bit of SEO effort into your WordPress you can increase your search engine traffic, just by getting the basics right. I’ll walk you through them one by one.
There are quite a few plugins that you can just easily drop into your WordPress, enable, and have everything you need to be able to create good titles for blog posts, and write meta descriptions for them, both requisites for good WordPress SEO. I prefer Headspace2 to do this myself. Just download it, drop it in, and activate it. After that, go in to the Headspace options, select the modules submenu, and drag the “more text” module from disabled to simple. This will allow you to change the more text on all your posts into something more appropriate, without becoming dull.
Now promise yourself to write a good title and more text for each post you write starting now.
Although each has his own taste, your WordPress permalink should look permanent for SEO purposes. There’s no real reason anymore to have example.com/?p=2 when you could have example.com/awesome-post/ or example.com/awesomeness/awesome-post/. Now after writing each post, think carefully of the slug you choose for it.
I always like to add breadcrumbs to my single posts and pages, these should link back to the homepage, and the category the post is in. If the post is in multiple categories it should pick one. For that to work, adapt single.php and page.php in your theme, and use one of the available breadcrumb plugins.
Although most themes for WordPress get this right, make sure your post title is an <h1>, and nothing else. Your blog’s name should only be an <h1> on your frontpage, and on single, post, and category pages, it should be no more than an <h3>. These should be your easy fixes, later on you could read my article on Semantic HTML and SEO if you want to improve it further.
As of version 2.3, WordPress comes with not 1, not 2, but 3 (!!) archives built in by default. It has a category structure, a tag structure and a date based archive. That creates an awful amount of dupe content, so you should get rid of two of the three. Basically, date archives are only useful for newspapers, so I’d get rid of that. After that, it’s just a matter of personal taste. I like categories and am not really the tagging kinda guy, so I picked categories, but tags are fine too, as both allow for perfect WordPress SEO.
Go into your theme and remove all references to other taxonomies. Wipe out the date based archive, and remove the tagging or the categories from single.php, archive.php, index.php and search.php.
Even when you’ve picked one structure, you’re still left with some pages which have no real use for the search engine. Your frontpage only contains 10 posts, usually, and when you have more, they go to /page/2/, /page/3/ etc. There’s no real reason for those pages to be indexed, so I suggest getting my robots meta plugin, and adding a noindex,follow robots meta tag to them. This will prevent search engines from showing these pages, while allowing them to follow the links to your posts. Do the same to your login and registration pages, and your search result pages with the same plugin.
Even when you’re running a one author blog, WordPress will automatically create an “author” archive, which is a listing of all posts made by each author. They have some use on multi author blogs, but on one author blogs you should disable them, using the robots meta plugin as well.
An important way of getting both your visitors and the search engines to find more related content on your blog is using a related posts plugin. I use two plugins, related posts, and popularity contest, to show the most popular posts in the current category, and show posts that are related to the content of your post. Adding them in is quite easy, as they both consist of just a few lines of code to add to your template.
All of this perfect WordPress SEO won’t do your blog traffic any good if you don’t have any links pointing at your blog, so the first thing you should do? Start writing linkable content. Once you do, and you have the above covered, you should be getting a steady stream of visitors from the search engines after a while, provided there aren’t any other big problems with your site.
Want more of this? Sign up for my WordPress Plugin & SEO mailing list!
Now go off and start fixing your blog!