So you’ve installed WordPress, uploaded some SEO plugins and added keyword-rich content. What’s the next SEO step? Tweaking WordPress, making it work more efficiently and getting ahead of your competitors all at once. Check out our little-known tips…
1. Stop Google seeing months and days as keywords for your site
This is a surprisingly common problem, although many people aren’t aware they even have it. Sign up/log into Google’s Webmaster Tools and check out the top keywords list. If you’re seeing months of the year in that list, then it’s time to get rid of them. Even if you aren’t following a specific keyword strategy, it’s a good idea to minimise the date keywords that show up because, as a general rule, they are of no real value.
2. Tips for getting rid of date keywords:
- Check your theme to see if each comment’s date is a link; if so, change it to just text.
- Removing any bolding and H title tags from date terms (both within your entries and your comments).
- Avoid using months and other date-related terms in your post titles, categories and tags.
- Review your blog archive presentation. If you’re displaying a large list of links in months on every page of your site, think about an alternative solution for showing archives – perhaps just as a simple link ‘Archives’ through to your links that just appears on the homepage.
- Try displaying your dates entirely in numerical form – but be aware that this may confuse international visitors.
3. Optimise your page titles
Again, duplicate content can be an issue here, particularly if you use the Post Title, Site Name structure which is so common with WordPress installations. All in One SEO Pack gives you the option to name your page titles accordingly, but you should also ensure that you use a variety of different keywords for best results.
It’s worth checking in Webmaster Tools, as if Google sees your site as having problematic page titles then it will be clearly flagged. You can also:
- Manually write page titles to make sure they’re unique
- Limit the length of titles, choosing the most important keywords
- Avoid the temptation to keyword-stuff – remember that a page title is one of the main factors in a searcher deciding your page is relevant to them and use phrases that make sense rather than just lists of words
- Support page titles with relevant content on the page, and include all the keywords you used in your title
4. Optimise your tags
Tags can be useful for both visitors and SEO as long as you use them carefully and consistently.
- Make sure you have tags for all the keywords and phrases you want to target.
- Try to restrict the number of tags you have – particularly if you display a tag cloud on your website – to narrow your focus.
- Review your tags on a regular basis, and remove any which are unused or unsuccessful.
- Check that you don’t unintentionally have any topic tags repeated due to plurals (e.g. ‘blog’ and ‘blogs’).
5. Increase the speed of your WordPress website
Since April 2010, Google has also started taking into account the speed of your website for search rankings. Improve your website’s speed by:
- Using WP Super Cache to reduce the server’s workload.
- Keeping your database optimised with Yoast’s Optimize DB plugin.
- Reviewing your theme’s code, condensing where possible.
- Make sure any images you use are optimised for the web.
- Deleting anything you stop using, including images, themes and plugins. (Be careful though – make regular backups and think twice before deleting a well-ranked page).
- Going through your site thoroughly and removing the old lines of code, images and other bits and pieces that deleted themes and plugins may have left behind.
You can track how fast your pages perform using Webmaster Tools and Firefox’s Page Speed Plugin.
6. Avoid duplicate content being indexed
Once you factor in tags, categories and archives for a single post, that’s already several pages with duplicate content. To prevent this, you can use the nofollow attribute on internal links to categories, tags and your archives. Find out more with WP Hacks’s article: Is your WordPress blog wasting Google’s time?
Guest author Jonathan Brealey is a director and co-founder of Heart Internet web hosting (heartinternet.co.uk), one of the UK’s leading hosting companies. You can also share your hosting tips and guestblog here.