21 Useful Worpress SEO Tips to Promote WordPress Blog and Blog Marketing

WordPress SEO: WordPress comes with several built in search optimization tools, including the ability to use .htaccess to create apparently static URLs called permalinks, blogrolling, and pinging. There are also a number of third party plugins and hacks which can be used for search engine optimization (SEO).

WordPress, straight out of the box, comes ready to embrace search engines. Its features and functions guide a search engine through the posts, pages, and categories to help the search engine crawl your site and gather the information it needs to include your site within its database.

We would like to introduce WordPress Expert John Lamansky, who we managed to extract from the lab just long enough for him to compose this brilliant WordPress Top 20 SEO Guide.

Got a WordPress blog that you’re eager to supercharge for optimal search engine performance? Read on! We’ll cover pinging, sitemaps, canonicalization, link juice, header tags, slugs, tags, timestamping, social media, permalinks, and a whole lot more!

WordPress SEO Tip #20 — Don’t Block the Search Engines!
First and foremost: make sure you’re not inadvertently telling the search engines to go away! Believe it or not, some WordPress installations block the search engine bots by default.

From your admin panel, go to Options > Privacy and make sure it’s set to “I would like my blog to be visible to everyone.”

WordPress SEO Bonus Tip #1 – Are Comments Enabled?
Some WordPress users restrict comments to registered users, or disable them entirely. While this may be appropriate in some situations, in most cases comments are a very beneficial factor, and a defining mark, of a blog.

Comments engage your readers, help you get more “fresh content” SEO brownie points, and give search engines another reason to come back frequently.

Here’s how to fully enable comments:

Login to the WordPress administration center
Click “Options” on the menu bar
Is “Users must be registered and logged in to comment” checked? If so, consider unchecking it.
Click “Discussion” on the submenu bar
Make sure the following are checked: “Allow people to post comments on the article” and “Allow link notifications from other Weblogs (pingbacks and trackbacks.)”
WordPress SEO Tip #19 — Does Your Blog Have a topic?
Some of us would prefer to have a blog where we talk about anything that comes to mind: cars, movies, photosynthesis, dust mites, you name it.

In and of itself, such a blogging style isn’t wrong; however, you can leave search engines clueless as to what your blog’s about and thus for what search queries your blog should appear. And some of your readers might get annoyed in the process as well.

WordPress SEO Tip #18 — Ensure URL Canonicalization
If your blog posts are accessible from more than one URL, you could end up with:

Search engines confused as to which URL to display in the SERPs.
PageRank split between multiple pages.
Duplicate content penalties.
Starting with version 2.3, WordPress takes care of this and makes sure your content is accessible from only one place. So if you use an older version, either upgrade to the latest version of WordPress, or install the Permalink Redirect plugin.

WordPress SEO Tip #17 — Check for Valid XHTML
Most code errors are minor, but the more serious ones can cause content misinterpretation by search engines, lower rankings, and rendering errors.

WordPress itself produces valid code, but errors can crop up from two other common sources:

Poorly written plugins or themes
User-created coding errors (in the blog posts themselves, or through theme customizations)
First check your site for errors. If an error is found, look at the surrounding content to determine the source of the error.

If a plugin is the culprit, fix it if you’re good at that sort of thing (the beauty of open source!), or send a quick email to the plugin developer and let him or her know.

WordPress SEO Tip #16 – Don’t Leech Link Juice!
One characteristic of WordPress blogs is the sidebar, which is typically present on every single page. Do you really need to be passing link juice from every single one of your pages to every single one of those links? If the answer is no, consider adding rel=”nofollow” to the less important ones.

WordPress SEO Tip #15 — Use Images in Your Posts
Not only do they increase visitor attention and retention, they give you an opportunity to use keyword-rich “alt” attributes, “title” attributes, and filenames. Plus it’ll give your blog visibility in image search engines.

WordPress SEO Tip #14 — Does Your Theme Use Header Tags Correctly?
The blog title, or your main keyword should be in an <h1> tag.
If your subtitle is keyword-rich, you can put it in an <h2>; otherwise I recommend putting it in a non-header tag like <div>.
The post titles should go in <h2> tags.
Sidebar section titles should be <h3> tag or non-header.
Unfortunately, some themes (including the WordPress Default Theme) put the sidebar section titles in <h2> tags. Although this makes sense from a strict structural point of view, it also gives irrelevant sidebar headers (”Categories,” “Archives,” “Meta,” etc.) equal weight with your SEO-important post titles.

To sum it up: Use a theme that utilizes header-tags properly, or try fixing the theme you have.

WordPress SEO Tip #13 — Use Pinging
A ping is a “this site has new content” notification that invites bots to visit your blog.

WordPress pings one website called Ping-o-matic by default, which in turn pings others. You can also add additional services by going to Options > Writing in the admin panel. (For example, the pinging URL for Google Blog Search is blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC)

Another Bonus Tip: Once a post is published, WordPress issues pings whenever the post is edited. Try to cut down on after-publishing edits to avoid being considered a ping spammer.

WordPress SEO Tip #12 — Install the Google XML Sitemaps Generator Plugin
XML Sitemaps are search-engine-friendly directories of your blog’s posts and other pages intended to help search engines spider your site. Though pioneered by Google, they’re supported by Yahoo, MSN, and Ask.com as well.

The Google XML Sitemaps Generator for WordPress makes creation of these sitemaps easy and automatic. It also lets the engines know when you post new content.

WordPress SEO Tip #11 — Avoid Sponsored Themes
There was a debate in the WordPress community not too long ago on the topic of sponsered themes. These themes include paid links (usually in the footer) than can suck PageRank and possibly result in a Google paid links penalty.

Stick with WordPress theme directories that don’t include sponsored themes, like the WordPress Theme Viewer.

Bonus Tip #2 — Write Right Post Titles
SEO isn’t everything: once you’re high in the SERPs, you need action words to prompt clickthroughs.

Put keywords in your title if at all possible, but not if it’ll compromise the click-trigger action title.

WordPress SEO Tip #10 — Use Traditional SEO Techniques
A WordPress blog is a website too, so the traditional SEO techniques still apply:

Use important keywords in the title and throughout the post, but don’t overdo it.
Bold your keywords when it makes sense.
Develop links to your blog.
WordPress SEO Tip #9 — Use the Power of the Slug
Ever wondered what the “Post Slug” on the “Write” page was? It’s the text that goes in the URL when you have “Pretty Permalinks” enabled (see tip #2).

By default the slug is a “sanitized” version of the post title. However, if your title is overly long or keyword-sparse, you can change the slug through the Post Slug box.

Yet Another Bonus Tip: The SEO Slugs plugin can take out common words like “you,” “is,” etc. out of the slug for you automatically.

WordPress SEO Tip #8 — Use Timestamping to Stagger Fresh Content
Search engines and visitors love fresh blog content on a steady, regular basis. But for a lot of us, creativity comes irregularly: 10 post ideas one week, none the next.

Enter timestamping. When writing a post, click the plus sign next to “Post Timestamp.” Set a date and time, and the post will publish by itself whenever you specify.

Search engines will keep coming back, and visitors won’t be inundated with a ton of new posts all at once.

Hint: If you’ve timestamped a post, don’t click the Publish button, since that’ll publish your post immediately regardless of your timestamp. Instead, select “Published” under “Post Status” and click the Save button.

WordPress SEO Tip #7 — Use Tags for Free Keyword Boosts
WordPress 2.3 and above include a tags feature that lets you assign keywords to your blog posts. Once you start using them, then since each tag gets its own webpage, you’ll be generating a ton of your own themed, keyword-oriented internal backlink pages.

WordPress SEO Tip #6 — Integrate Social Media
   

Adding social media links/buttons like the ones above makes it easy for visitors to promote your quality content (hint, hint). Social media is a great way to build links naturally as well as drive targeted site traffic.

Share This is a very popular “social media all-in-one” plugin.
If you’re a FeedBurner user, you can use FeedFlare to add action links, including social media ones, to the bottom of your posts.
Lots of social media sites provide code you can use to generate buttons like those above. Grab your own code from:

Digg
Sphinn
StumbleUpon
Mixx
Scoop
WordPress SEO Tip #5 — Implement Deep-Linking
Here are several great ways to implement deep-linking on your WordPress blog:

Within your posts, link to other posts on your blog and use important keywords in the anchor text.
Install the Similar Posts plugin, which inserts a list of related posts you’ve written to the bottom of each of your blog posts. This process will create aged deep links and increase visitor retention.
Display your most popular posts in your sidebar using the Popularity Contest plugin. Gives your most popular posts tons of internal links, and helps your visitors find your best content.
WordPress SEO Tip #4 — Make Scrapers Work to Your Advantage
Most of us would probably be upset if someone used scraping (automated content stealing) to publish our laboriously-written posts as his or her own.

But with a little work, you can make the scrapers work for you, not against you.

Here’s how to do it, courtesy of EarnersBlog.com:

If you use WordPress it’s very easy to take full advantage of these sites linking to you, all you need to do is create links back to your content within your feed.

What you’ll need for this:

Cave Monkey’s Full Text Feed Plugin
Solo Technologies Add Related Posts to your Feed Plugin
These plugins simply show your entire post in your feed & also add some related posts in your feed only (which will also increase the amount of people in your feed reading more than 1 post).
Now, everytime anyone scrapes your blog via your RSS feed & republishes it they’ll be deep linking to 5 or more of your existing posts. Bingo.

WordPress SEO Tip #3 — Install the All-in-One SEO Plugin
Like the name implies, this plugin covers a lot of the bases.

Puts the blog name after the post title, giving your keyword-rich titles more prominence.
Allows you to override title and meta tags on your homepage as well as your individual posts.
Lets you add “noindex” to your category and/or tag pages to avoid duplicate content.
And more.
A must-have for serious WordPress SEO.

WordPress SEO Tip #2 — Use “Pretty Permalinks”
Sure, you may already use Pretty Permalinks, but are you using the best possible permalink structure?

For those of who don’t use Pretty Permalinks, it’s a must-do for WordPress SEO. Permalinks, in essence, are the URLs of your WordPress blog posts. “Pretty Permalinks” put slugs (which should contain keywords — see tip #9) in your URLs instead of the default numbers.

To enable or change them, first login, then go to Options > Permalinks.

The two options you do not want are “Default” and “Numeric.” Here are my suggestions for picking a “pretty” permalink structure:

Date and Name Based: The problem with this is that your posts are several extra directories deep, which can decrease relevence in some search engines. However, such a permalink structure can nevertheless be desireable if your blog is news-oriented or date-sensitive.
Post Name Only: If your blog covers one topic that has no subtopics (which, though possible, is unlikely), select “Custom” and type /%postname%/
Category Based: If your blog covers multiple topics, implement category-based URLs. (You have to look into the Codex to find information on category-based URLs, so many WordPress users probably don’t realize that this option exists!) To implement it, select “Custom” and type /%category%/%postname%/
WordPress SEO Tip #1 — WordPress Secret: Use Category-Based Permalinks for SEO Siloing
Here’s the big finale. Problem is, this tip is so important (and lengthy) that it really merits its own post.

Here’s a teaser: it entails implementing the powerful siloing technique on your WordPress blog through a combination of plugins, settings, and strategies.

Conclusion
Okay, so it was actually more like 23+ tips instead of 20. I certainly hope you gleaned a useful strategy or two in your quest for WordPress search engine optimization. If you enjoyed this post, please social it, email it, link it, or leave a comment!

Stay tuned for the “mega-tip” later this week!

John Lamansky is an up-and-coming web developer who has building websites for 7 years and has been working with WordPress for almost 3 of its 5 years of existence. He is experienced with XHTML, CSS, PHP, WordPress, and much more, and looks forward to providing WordPress tips, services, and resources to the blogging community.

OK, next, I’d like to introduce some useful resuoces about wordpress SEO:

WordPress, straight out of the box, comes ready to embrace search engines. Its features and functions guide a search engine through the posts, pages, and categories to help the search engine crawl your site and gather the information it needs to include your site within its database.

WordPress comes with several built in search optimization tools, including the ability to use .htaccess to create apparently static URLs called permalinks, blogrolling, and pinging. There are also a number of third party plugins and hacks which can be used for search engine optimization (SEO).

However, once you start using various WordPress Themes and customizing WordPress to meet your own needs, you may break some of those useful search engine friendly features. To maintain your WordPress site’s optimal friendliness towards search engine spiders and crawlers, here are a few tips:

Good, Clean Code
Make sure your site’s code validates. Errors in your code may prevent a search engine from moving through the site successfully.
Content Talks
Search engines can’t “see” a site. They can only “read” a site. Pretty does not talk to a search engine. What “talks” to a search engine are the words, the content, the material in your site that explains, shares, informs, educates, and babbles. Make sure you have quality word content for a search engine to examine and compare with all the parts and pieces to give you a good “score”.
Write Your Content with Searchers in Mind
How do you find information on the Internet? If you are writing something that you want to be “found” on the Internet, think about the words and phrases someone would use to find your information. Use them more than once as you write, but not in every sentence. learn how search engines scan your content, evaluate it, and categorize it so you can help yourself get in good favor with search engines.
Content First
A search engine enters your site and, for the most part, ignores the styles and CSS. It just plows through the site gathering content and information. Most WordPress Themes are designed with the content as close to the top of the unstyled page as possible, keeping sidebars and footers towards the bottom. Few search engines scan more than the first third of the page before moving on. Make sure your Theme puts the content near the top.
Keywords, Links, and Titles Meet Content
Search engines do not evaluate your site on how pretty it is, but they do evaluate the words and put them through a sifter, giving credit to certain words and combinations of words. Words found within your meta tag keywords listings and within your document are compared to words found within your links and titles. The more that match, the better your “score.”
Content in Links and Images
Your site may not have much text, mostly photographs and links, but you have places in which to add textual content. Search engines look for alt and title in link and image tags. While these have a bigger purpose of making your site more accessible, having good descriptions and words in these attributes helps provide more content for search engines to digest.
Link Popularity
It is not how good your site is, it is how good the sites are that link to you. This still holds weight with search engine favoritism. It’s about who links to you. Blogrolls, pingbacks, and trackbacks are all built into WordPress. These help you link to other people, which gives them credit, but it also helps them link to you, connecting the “links.” The number of incoming links your site has that have been recognized by Google can be checked by typing link:www.yoursite.com into Google (other search engines have similar functions). Other ways to generate incomming links to your site include:
Add your site’s url to your signature on forum posts on other sites.
Submit your site to directories (see below).
Note: Leaving comments on blogs will not help with this, since all modern blogging tools use the rel=”nofollow” attribute. Don’t be a comment spammer.
Good Navigation Links
A search engine crawls through your site, moving from page to page. Good navigational links to the categories, archives, and various pages on your site will invite a search engine to move gracefully from one page to another, following the connecting links and visiting most of your site.
Search Engine Site Submissions
There are many resources that will “help” you submit your site to search engines. Some are free, some for a fee. Or you can manually submit your site to search engines yourself. Whatever method you choose to use, once your site has been checked for errors and is ready to go, search engines will welcome your WordPress site.

Here are some tips for successful site submissions:

Make sure you have content for search engines to scan. In general, have more than 10 posts on your site to give the search engines something to examine and evaluate.
Do not submit your site to the same search engine more than once a month or longer, depending upon their criteria, not your anxiousness to be listed.
Have ready to type, or copy and paste, a description of your site that is less than 200 words long, the title of the site, and the categories your site may belong to in a search engine directory.
Have a list of your website’s various “addresses/URLs” ready. You can submit your root directory as well as specific categories and feeds to search engines, expanding your search engine coverage.
Keep a list of the various search engines and directories you submit to so you do not accidentally resubmit too soon, and you can keep track of how they include you among their pages and results.
Directory Sites

It is also useful for traffic generation and search optimization purposes to submit your site to directories. Both comprehensive directory sites and those specific to the subject or localisation of your site can be used.

DMOZ.org this is the most important directory – it’s content is licensed in an open fashion allowing it to be syndicated through out the web — its content is also used directly in some fashion by almost all of the major search engines.

Search Engine Optimization Resources
While WordPress comes ready for search engines, the following are more resources and information you may want to know about preparing and maintaining your site for search engines’ robots and crawlers.

Meta Tags
Meta Tags contain information that describes your site’s purpose, description, and keywords used within your site. The meta tags are stored within the head of your header.php template file. By default, they are not included in WordPress, but you can manually include them and the article on Meta Tags in WordPress takes you through the process of adding meta tags to your WordPress site.

The WordPress custom fields option can also be used to include keywords and descriptions for posts and Pages. There are also several WordPress Plugins that can also help you to add meta tags and keyword descriptions to your site found within the Official WordPress Plugin Directory.

Robots.txt Optimization
Search Engines read a yourserver.com/robots.txt file to get information on what they should and shouldn’t be looking for, and where.

Specifying where search engines should look for content in high-quality directories or files you can increase the ranking of your site, and is recommended by Google and all the search engines.

An example WordPress robots.txt file:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin
Disallow: /wp-admin
Disallow: /wp-includes
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins
Disallow: /wp-content/cache
Disallow: /wp-content/themes
Disallow: /trackback
Disallow: /feed
Disallow: /comments
Disallow: /category/*/*
Disallow: */trackback
Disallow: */feed
Disallow: */comments
Disallow: /*?*
Disallow: /*?
Allow: /wp-content/uploads

# Google Image
User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Disallow:
Allow: /*

# Google AdSense
User-agent: Mediapartners-Google*
Disallow:
Allow: /*

# Internet Archiver Wayback Machine
User-agent: ia_archiver
Disallow: /

# digg mirror
User-agent: duggmirror
Disallow: /

Sitemap: askapache.com/sitemap.xml
See also:
KB Robots.txt plugin for WordPress
How Google Crawls My Site
How do I use a robots.txt file to control access to my site?
Using robots.txt for SEO
Removing duplicate search engine content using robots.txt
The Web Robots Pages
wikipedia – Robots.txt
Feed Submissions
WordPress comes built-in with various feeds, allowing your site to be viewed by various feed readers. Many search engines are now accepting feed submissions, and there are many site which specialize in directories of feeds and feed services.

To submit your site’s feeds, you need to know the link to the various feeds your site provides. The article WordPress Feeds lists the various links of the feeds that come built into WordPress.

For information on customizing these links, see the article on Customizing Feeds.

Pingomatic
MyPagerank
Feed Shark
Robin Good’s RSSTop55 – Best Blog Directory And RSS Submission Sites
Ari Paparo’s Big List of Blog Search Engines and Feed Services
Wordpress compressed all inclusive ping list
Technorati Tags
Technorati is a “real-time search engine that keeps track of what is going on in the blogosphere — the world of weblogs.” According to the site, “Technorati tracks the number of links, and the perceived relevance of blogs, as well as the real-time nature of blogging. Because Technorati automatically receives notification from weblogs as soon as they are updated, it can track the thousands of updates per hour that occur in the blogosphere, and monitor the communities (who’s linking to whom) underlying these conversations.”

Technorati tags are used to categorize the different topics and information used by blogs. Technorati uses WordPress categories as tags automatically. You can add more tags by adding a rel=”tag” to any link on your site. For example:

There are also several WordPress plugins for maximizing Technorati tags on the Plugins – Technorati list.

Note: In WordPress v1.5.x, Technorati will automatically recognize your category names as tags. For more info, see: WordPress Categories, Technorati Tags and Search Engine Optimisation

Note: For optimal Technorati listing, you should include the Atom feed in the header of your theme. For this you may use the following code, which you can add somewhere between the <head> and </head> tags:

<link rel=”alternate” type=”application/atom+xml”
title=”Atom 0.3″ href=”<?php bloginfo(‘atom_url’); ?>” />
Without adding the Atom feed to your header, your posts in Technorati will most likely be displayed wrongly. Which can result in the post content on Technorati duplicating the post title and listing other (meta) information, which is displayed between the post title and the real post content on your weblog.

Permalinks
Permalinks are enhancements to your existing URLs which can improve search engine optimization by presenting your post, page, and archive URLs as something like example.com/2003/05/23/my-cheese-sandwich/ rather than example.com/index.php?p=425. See Using Permalinks for more information.

As search engines use links and the title as part of their information gathering, links to posts and articles within your site gain importance with Permalinks.

See also:

Boost Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) using Permalinks
Permalinks Migration PluginWith this plugin, you can safely change your permalink structure without breaking the old links to your website.
As an added bonus, enable the Permalink Redirect plugin. This plugin “replies a 301 permanent redirect, if request URI is different from entry’s (or archive’s) permalink. It is used to ensure that there is only one URL associated with each blog entry.”

Sitemaps
A sitemap or “site map” is a single page listing of all the posts on your website. It is intended for your visitors to get a good overview on what your site is about and to find a blog post quickly but it also has great benefits in the search engines as a good link is always pointing to all your blog posts. By having a link to your sitemap on all your sites pages both visitors and search engines will easily get to it and find all your posts.

Here is a tutorial with three different examples of sitemaps with demos and how to set them up:

Tutorial: Automatic Sitemap for WordPress
Google Sitemaps
As of June 2005, Google is now accepting sitemaps of your site as part of their website submissions. Google needs to have this sitemap formatted in a special way using XML. You can find more information about Google’s Sitemap Submissions from Google, and the discussion on the WordPress Forum about WordPress and Google Site maps.

Some utilities have been created to help the WordPress user to create a Google site map of their site for submission to Google. For more information on these and Google sitemaps:

Inside Google Sitemaps (Official Google Blog)
Google Sitemap Generator Plugin for WordPress
Make your sitemap human readable
Simple Sitemap Generator
Google Sitemaps – UltimateTagWarrior Tag Plugin Addon
Link Relationships
There is some debate over whether listing the link relations actually effect search engine ranking however it is simple to implement.

W3
Linkrel Plugin
Link rel Plugin
Theme Code
More Resources and Tutorials
There is a lot to learn about search engine optimization and site submission. Here are just a few sites to help you learn more about how this works.

WordPress SEO Got a WordPress blog that you’re eager to supercharge for optimal search engine performance? Read on! We’ll cover pinging, sitemaps, canonicalization, link juice, header tags, slugs, tags, timestamping, social media, permalinks, and a whole lot more!

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