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Continuing on from part 1 and part 2, in part 3 I will share the steps I have taken to optimize my blog’s search engine  friendliness and optimization.

It is a well known fact that WordPress is SEO friendly out of the box, however there are some tweaks which makes it further optimized.

Keep in mind that a big part of the optimization is not technical, but it is the actual content you write. Subjects you write about, titles you choose, excerpts you give, and tags you assign. These have huge weight and impact your SEO significantly.

In this post I will tackle the technical tweaks, actual writing habits are up to you. But in general just make sure to pay attention to your titles, excerpts (short description), choice of keywords and the structure of your content.

There is lots of posts and tutorials online by the way on both, I have read many of them and chose what works for me best. Here we go.

Manual Bits

Post Titles

Most important thing is that your post titles should be nothing but headings, specifically H1 tags. Most of the new themes do that already, however mine being an old one and mostly hand built by yours truly, this had to be done.

I edited my post page template (commonly post.php in my case single.php) and made sure to wrap the post title generator into h1 tags, result:

<h1><a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to <?php the_title(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h1>

Permalinks Structure

Permalinks are the URLs / page address / slugs that you see in the browser address bar. By default WordPress uses question marks and numbers, but at the same time it gives you ability to customize those URLs. This is something I have done long ago, however thought I would include here as well.

I personally find the best way to for a post address is blogname.com/category_name/post_title.html. For one it makes sense in terms of where the post is, for two it is humanly understandable, and for three search engines like this format.

Achieving this is pretty easy, from WordPress settings, navigate to “Permalink Settings”, there you will find some templates which you can use or you can enter a custom structure.

A note, in order for this work your web server should support rewrites. Make sure to check your hosting package and confirm with your hosting service provider that this is supported before you proceed.

Mine is custom, to achieve it I use these tags:

/%category%/%postname%.html

Blogroll / Links

I have removed the blogroll from my sidebar. Again if it’s there, it creates links to my friends’ blogs on every page on my blog. Search engines might see that as duplication and I would be doing my pals more damage than good. I will re-add those links later on as a static widget which only shows on the homepage.

Social Media Leveraging

I started tweeting about every new post I add to my blog. I also use the WordPress App on Linkedin to list my latest blog entries on my Linkedin profile. It is good to shout whenever you post a new entry so people are alerted.

You could of course find a couple of plug-ins which could do that for you automatically for twitter, facebook and what have you, however I like to do it manually, it is more human :)

Plug-in Bits

Domain Structure

Another good practice is to choose one domain structure, either including the WWW or excluding it. Hence blogname.com or www.blogname.com. In my case I decided to optimize including the WWW, and I downloaded a cool plug-in which helps me do it easily: Redirection Plug-in.

I actually downloaded this plug in for complete different purpose which I will cover on part 4, however you can use it to achieve this.

The “redirection” will appear under tools, browse to that, then options, and set URL monitoring to “modified” and tick the box beside it.

Then under modules, edit “apache”, set the home folder of your blog (will be suggested too) and choose your WWW preference, in my case i chose to force it.

Breadcrumbs

I’ve always been fund of breadcrumbs, they work like navigation and they let you know exactly which part of the site you’re at. There is a great plug-in which I am using: breadcrumbs for WordPress.

It worked for me out of the box, amazing. I just needed to add it to my theme templates (post, archive, category, page) where I want it to show on the page, I’ve also set styling for it to be small by adding small tag to existing paragraph tags:

<div>
<?php if ( function_exists('yoast_breadcrumb') ) {
 yoast_breadcrumb('<p><small>','</small></p>');
} ?>

All in one SEO

I’ve always had this plug-in, you can find it here, it is among the most popular. I will just share my settings here so you can see them:

all in one SEO plugin screenshot

The point is to ensure that:

  1. Your blog has proper title, descritpion, and keywords.
  2. Page titles show post title /or/ blog title /or/ archive title before blog name, search engines put weight on that as well, the further the post name goes on the post title the higher chance it might get lost.
  3. Tags are being used as keywords
  4. Category archives, date archives, tag archives, and author archives are not being indexed. That creates duplicates which might harm your blog

One more important factor is the speed your blog loads, which I tackled as well but will cover in part 4 under caching.

That is about it really, everything I’ve done to optimize my blog’s SEO. I will monitor and report the impact on my blog traffic coming from search engines in a month or so.

As mentioned before you will find lots of online resources to help you optimize your blog like I did mine, I hope this entry can be added to that list too. There is one particular post though which has lots of the steps I shared here plus many more which you ought to check out WordPress SEO.

It is fairly straightforward don’t you think?




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4 Comments to “Taking my Blog to the Next Level (Part 3): Search Engine Optimization”

  1. Mazen Abou Hatab Says:

    Added new blog post about optimizing WordPress SEO. Read it here: http://tiny.cc/hv7PR #wordpress

  2. search engine 4send Says:

    Thank you very much

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