Optimize Your WordPress Site for SEO With These Simple Tips

As the dominant content management system on the net, WordPress sites are ideal for disseminating Search Engine Optimization content. What started out as a basic blogging platform has evolved into the premiere CMS, with an estimated fifth to a third of all sites online using various versions of WordPress, far larger market share than any other CMS. Because of its prevalence and its open-source nature, it offers a number of options for optimizing its content. Take advantage with these tips to increase the effectiveness of your WordPress SEO.


Concerning Plugins

WordPress is designed to work with add-ons, and with over 40,000 free and paid plugins available, you can customize your site for a variety of specific purposes. Be careful about which plugins you install, however. While most will have passed an initial coder review, some can open you to security risks, or may not be kept up-to-date with the most recent installations of WordPress. Look for plugins rated highly by the community, and don’t bloat your system with unnecessary additions that will go unused. That being said, it is well worth investing in a few plugins developed for WordPress SEO to facilitate the techniques outlined below.


Sitemaps and Robots.txt Files

Important tools in optimization, sitemaps and robots exclusion protocols are used to direct a search engine’s web crawlers around a site. An XML sitemap provides information about when different URLs on a site have been updated and how important they are, while the robots.txt file tells web crawlers to exclude particular sites from their indexing. Both types of files can be created and edited via WordPress SEO plugins, without relying on external tools. Once you’ve made and uploaded a sitemap, submit a link to the webmaster tools of the desired search engines to promote the indexing of the site.


Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

Most pages intended to come up in search engine results should have title tags and a meta description included in the page’s header to display in the results listings, encouraging clicks and emphasizing the keywords. With a plugin, you can edit the headers of pages on your site individually, or bulk edit multiple pages at once. If a page shows extra text after the inputted keywords, make sure no universal titles tags are enabled on your site. Plugins can also be used to test how the description will most likely display in search engine results, allowing you to tweak it to focus on the desired keywords.


Tracking Codes

Tracking codes allow you to monitor and examine traffic on your site, automatically sending the gathered data to a chosen analytics service so you can evaluate the success of your WordPress SEO. The code can be inserted into any page’s header manually or by using a plugin. If you can’t edit the header.php file, verify that you have admin rights on the website.


Search Engine Visibility

If your site doesn’t seem to be found by search engines after a reasonable period of time, it may be due to a backend option in WordPress that adds NoFollow and NoIndex codes to all pages of the site, acting similarly to robots.txt files to dissuade crawlers from indexing. While owners of private blogs may prefer this obscurity, it defeats the purpose of SEO. To turn off this feature, look for “Search Engine Visibility” in the settings of your site, and make sure that “discourage search engines from indexing” is unchecked.

When setting up a site to serve SEO content, there are numerous tweaks that will improve its performance in search engine indexing and how your pages display in search results. With sitemaps, header meta, tracking codes and the right plugins to simplify your WordPress SEO, you can get the most out of your site.

Scott Cain

As Chief Marketing Officer, Scott oversees all digital marketing strategy and implementation.

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