I am a huge fan of the WordPress platform. Its super easy to use, immensely customisable and, when set up correctly, has great SEO structure that Google and other search engines love.
But out of the box it can do with a few setup tweaks and I’m going to take you through my top 3 must dos.
1. First update to the latest version of WordPress before you do anything. If you are not updated you will see a yellow bar at the top of the and a “Please update now” link. Before you do this though, back up all your files and download your databases just in case.
2. Permalinks setup – The permalink structure is essentially telling WordPress how to display your URLs. As a default WordPress urls look a bit messy, and the slugs look something like /post=10 which doesn’t tell you much about the page or post.
In older versions of WordPress, webmasters were required to change the permalink structure manually but now there is a setting you can simply select. To do this visit the ‘Settings’ and then the Permalinks tab.
When in the Permalinks section just select the ‘Post Name’ option in the ‘Common Settings’ section. Done. Now to the next step…
3. Download theAll in One SEO plugin. I like this plugin because its straightforward, easy to setup and works! There are so may other options out there and I’m sure many work just as well, but I’m familiar with this plugin and it gives me the options that I need.
However like many things in this industry, you can’t just install it and assume you have great SEO. There are a few little tweaks I like to do from the default setup that will come in handy once you start adding lots of content.
There are the standard things you need to set up such as Home Title, Home Description and Home Keywords. From there you have a few Title formats to select. Try to end the title with something relatively short and broad. You don’t want to make this too long because you will run into the problem of having really long title tags that look silly so try to remember this when you select your title structures.
When doing these title extensions, if your not sure what to put here, think of these as secondary or 2nd Tier keywords that will be associated with all posts and pages. For example if you are a plumber servicing the Inner West you may put ‘Inner West Emergency Plumber’. I change mine a fair bit as I am still trying to work out the best Title. At the time of writing, mine look like this:
Before Panda came around I would have left it there but with all the duplicate content and thin content penalties we now need to make a few more tweaks.
Scroll down until you see the following options:
My suggestions.. check everything! What we are doing here is stopping the indexing of tags and categories. Note that using noindex isn’t like a ‘nofollow’ where crawlers will not crawl through to those pages. With noindex, the search engine crawlers will still visit the page but will not include it in their index. This means any links within those category and tag pages will still be crawled and ‘link juice’ past, but the pages themselves will not be indexed.
You may be wondering why I would suggest stopping the search engines indexing your pages. You may be even considering ignoring this suggestion but I urge you to think again as your category pages are unlikely to bring in the traffic compared to other unique and relevant content in your site. The big problem with tags and categories is that they display roughly the same content located in other pages on your site. A tag could be attributed to tens if not hundreds of articles and generally the same tags will be used to similar themed articles. This goes for category pages, albeit to a lesser extent. This means pages and pages of roughly the same content that Google simply doesn’t like anymore. Putting these sections as ‘noindex’ does not mean users won’t be able to browse the tags and categories in your site but rather stops the likelihood of Panda based content penalties.
Oh and don’t forget to ‘Enable’ the plugin once you have set it up.
Following these 3 steps means that your WordPress site will be set up in a way that is search engine optimised and at the same time eradicated WordPress’s Panda happy default setup.