Top 5 List – Optimize WordPress for Search Engines

1. Craft “Pretty” Permalinks

One way to improve your search engine ranking is to use what are called “pretty permalinks.” Permalinks are the direct and permanent links to your blog entries. It’s what websites use to link to your content. If you use a permalink structure that includes important data like your title, it can be used in the indexing of your posts. These key words’ role in search engine indexing is debatable, but the general consensus is that they help in some way.

2. Robots.txt File

A simple text file that stops Google (and other search engines that recognize the file and its commands) from crawling the site, selected pages in the site, or selected file types in the site.

There are two important considerations when using /robots.txt:

  • robots can ignore your /robots.txt. Especially malware robots that scan the web for security vulnerabilities, and email address harvesters used by spammers will pay no attention.
  • the /robots.txt file is a publicly available file. Anyone can see what sections of your server you don’t want robots to use.

3. Semantics – Proper Use in Headings

Despite the nature of the Web and the vast change in its role from a structural medium to a visual media, it is still important that Web content be designed with proper structure. With better support for Cascading Style Sheets in recent versions of Web browsers, developers can change the appearance of structural elements to meet their design and visual preferences.

There’s six heading tags, ranging from <h1> (the largest) to <h6> (the smallest). These little tags can be a very important part of your blog’s SEO because they define the individual importance of different titles on a page to a search engine, which can be useful when they come to indexing the page.

Your titles should follow a logical hierarchy, with a single <h1>, top-level heading being used for the page’s overall title (your site’s name on your homepage, the post title on a single page etc.), with sub-headings following the 2-6 hierarchy. That means the headings used in blog posts should be <h2>, and sub-headings of those <h3>, etc.

4. SEO-friendly Slugs

URL slugs are the exact address of a specific website. It is the location where webpages are accessed when typing their URL in the address bar. Optimizing URL slugs is not a very hard thing to do. But if you ask me, it is one of the most important things you can do in your on site optimization process.

URLs hold a specific weight in your search engine rankings and are also a key to your article’s keyword presence. Just as the title tag is important in on-site optimization, so are slugs – especially because people also look at the slugs in the search result snippet.

5. Make Sharing Easy

This is a bit of a bonus really, because it’s not anything you can technically do to optimize your blogs. It turns out, especially with Google, that social media links can affect search ranking. With Google, a fairly big percentage of each search result can be dedicated to referencing a Google+ share or +1, which can encourage some users to opt for one link over another.

By including social sharing buttons like Google’s +1 button or Twitter’s Tweet button, users can be encouraged to share your article on sites, potentially creating a large number of backlinks.

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