Improve Search Engine Ranking

Out of the box, WordPress is a pretty well optimized system, and does a far better job at allowing every single page to be indexed than every other CMS I have used. But there’s a few things you should do to make it a lot easier still to work with. Learn how you can Improve Search Engine Ranking for your blog by following our search engine optimization techniques below..

The first thing to change is your permalink structure. Permalinks are the URL’s of your post. By default, post URLs usually look like http://www.bloggingformoneyhq.com/177/. If you look in the address bar for this post, you can see it says http://www.bloggingformoneyhq.com/wordpress-seo-basics. Which one do you think looks more informative? Along with telling a person what your page is about before clicking on it, the words in the URL will also be highlighted in search engine results if your post is relevant to the search query.

To change your permalinks, you’ll need to go to Settings > Permalinks. Change the “custom” setting into /%postname%/.

Improve Search Engine Ranking

If you want to include the category as well, change it to /%category%/%postname%/.

2. WWW vs non-WWW

While you’re on that screen, you should also configure the Root domain. Alot of sites can be accessed with ‘www’ at the start of their URL and without (e.g. http://bloggingformoneyhq.com vs http://www.bloggingformoneyhq.com). Decide whether you want ‘www’ at the start of your URL or not and set it – don’t enable both.

You should also edit your .htaccess file which can be found in the same folder that you installed WordPress on your server. Here is how the code in mine looks:

# Begin 301
RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.bloggingformoneyhq\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.bloggingformoneyhq.com/$1 [L,R=301]

# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>

# END WordPress

This is all you need to redirect your site from the non-www version to the www version. Remember to change bloggingformoneyhq.com to whatever your domain name is.

If you want to redirect from the www to the non-www, swap lines 3 and 4 with this:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^bloggingformoneyhq\.com [NC]
RewriteRule (.*) http://bloggingformoneyhq.com/$1 [R=301,L]

3. URL stop words
One more thing to do with your permalinks to increase your WordPress SEO is to install the SEO Slugs plugin. This will automatically remove stop words from your slugs once you save a post, so you won’t get those ugly long URL’s when you do a sentence style post title.

4. Optimize your Titles

By default, the title for your blog posts is “Blog Name > Post Title”. Search engines put more weight on the early words. As your homepage is most likely already ranking for your site name, putting your site name at the start of your title would be a waste. If you put your keywords near the start of the page title, you are more likely to rank well. Also, people scanning result pages see the early words first. If your keywords are at the start of your listing, your page is more likely to get clicked on.

I prefer to use the All in One SEO Pack plugin to change my title tags. Once you have installed the pluin, log into your WordPress admin and go to Settings > All in One SEO Pack. From there, enter the following:

  • Home Title: <Enter phrase you’re trying to rank for and/or a brand name>
  • Post Title: %post_title%
  • Page Title: %page_title% | %blog_title%

Improve Search Engine Ranking

The post and homepage titles are the most important, however, you should also tweak the rest to your preferred preferences.

5. Optimize your Descriptions

When you perform a search in Google, you’ll see snippets of content under page links. To control these snippets, you can customise your meta description tag for the page. Inyour blog, give each category a meaningful description, and use the HeadSpace plugin to add that description to the meta description, by adding %%category_description%% in the Description field. Next, write a description for each post or page that you actually want to rank with. You want to entice people to click, so make sure the description states what’s in the page they’re clicking  and that it gets their attention.

You can also add keywords to your tag to tell search engines what your site is about. To do this, enable ‘dynamic’ keywords with the All in One SEO pack.

Automated descriptions

Auto generating descriptions does not work very well. Most plugins pick the first sentence, which might be an introductory sentence which has hardly anything to do with the subject, or another sentence with a keyword in it, which might be completely wrong to pick as description. The only well written description is a hand written one, and if you’re thinking of auto generating the meta description, you might as well not do anything and let the search engine control the snippet. If you don’t use the meta description, the search engine will find the keyword searched for in your document, and automatically pick a string around that, which gives you a bolded word or two in the results page.

6. Optimize the More text

Using HeadSpace, you can optimize the more text in your blog. Let’s say you use a more tag on the frontpage, you can replace the default “Read more” link with something meaningful for every post.

7. Image Optimization

By writing good alt tags for images and thinking of how you name the files, you can get yourself a bit of extra traffic from the different image search engines. Next to that, you’re helping out your lesser able readers who check out your site in a screen reader, to make sense of what is otherwise hidden to them.

You should of course be writing good titles and alt tags for each and every image, however, if you don’t have the time for that, there is a plugin that can help you. The plugin is called SEO Friendly Images, and it can automatically add the title of the post and or the image name to the image’s alt and title tag:

Improve Search Engine Ranking

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