Optimizing Your WordPress Blog
After enhancing overall look of your blog with a great theme, it is time to apply couple adjustments to optimize your website for search engines and make it more user friendly.
Changing default WordPress settings
Step 1 – Change Permalink Structure
When you go to “Settings > Permalinks”, you’ll notice that the default permalink is http://site.com/?p=123. This structure isn’t a good idea for SEO, but it also doesn’t tell your visitors anything about the link they’re visiting.
We’re going to change this to a custom structure using only the post title (http://YourBlog.com/title-of-article) which will provide some keywords for search engines as well as giving your readers something to go on. To change your permalink structure choose Custom Structure and paste /%postname% in the box.
Step 2 – Set up Discussion Settings
Go to “Settings > Discussion” and slightly modify default settings:
Check “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article” – This will notify any other WordPress blogs that you link to in an article with a pingback. I recommend you have this checked since pingbacks can send some pretty decent traffic to your blog.
Uncheck “Email me whenever – Anyone posts a comment” and “A comment is held for moderation” – I am always trying to limit my email communications only to most important items and I suggest you too, unless you want to be distracted every five minutes (On a high traffic blog you can receive dozens of comments on a daily basis – which means your email inbox will be clogged with hundreds of emails)
Step 3 – Update Your Ping List
Each time you post new content on your website you want it to be indexed by Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) as soon as possible, so you can appear in search results and get traffic. WordPress allow you to automatically notify search engines, blog search engines and other services that you have published new content.
To update your ping list go to Settings > Writing and scroll down to Update Services. Add services from the list below:
Install and activate following plugins. Plugins extend and expand the functionality of WordPress. There are thousands of plugins to choose from that can do pretty much anything you can imagine. The plugins we are going to focus on are essential for SEO, traffic building and reporting. To install a plugin go to “Plugins > Add New”, then search by name of the plugin or desired functionality.
Plugin # 1 – Akismet
Akismet is one of the best spam filters available for WordPress and is one of two plugins that comes pre-installed on your blog, so all you will need to do is activate it. Once activated, it will ask you for your WordPress API Key. If you already have one for another site, you can use it here, individual keys can be used on multiple sites.
If you do not have a key, sign up for one at WordPress API Keys or simply by registering an account at WordPress.com. Once you have this go to “Plugins > Akismet Configuration”, enter your key and click “Update Options.”
Plugin 2 – All in one SEO Pack
All in one SEO Pack gives you options to optimize your WordPress blog for search engines that the basic WordPress install is missing. For the basic settings go to “Settings > All In One SEO” and fill in the Title, Description and Keywords for your blog; you can also edit these details from your WordPress Admin by clicking “Settings > General”. Title and description of your blog should tell your visitors and search engines what your blog is about. So if your blog is about dog training don’t just put “Dog Training Blog” as your title and description, use some creativity and put your main keywords along with benefits and tell why people should bother to visit your website.
title: How to train a dog at home, dog training tips and techniques.
description: Discover how to train a dog the right way yourself at home. Learn about clicker dog training, dog whispering, puppy house training and more dog training tips.
Most search engines use a maximum of 60 chars for the title and maximum of 160 chars for the description so try to stay within those limits.
Plugin 3 – Google Analytics for WordPress
You want to know as much as possible about people who visit your site: where they come from, what pages they visit, do they read any of your articles, do they click links, why they leave etc…
This information helps you improve weak areas of your site and make it more intuitive and user friendly, and at the end of the day it will help you to make more money.
The Google Analytics for WordPress plugin automatically tracks and segments all outbound links from within posts, comment author links, links within comments, blogroll links and downloads. It also allows you to track AdSense clicks, add extra search engines, and track image search queries.
Plugin 4 – Google XML Sitemaps
Google XML Sitemaps will create a Search Engine compliant XML sitemap of your WordPress blog (basically list of pages in your website available for indexing) that you can submit to any search engine. While there are some settings you can change for this plugin, you will be fine using default settings for now.
Plugin 5 – WP DB Backup
Always back up your data! This holds true for your WordPress databases as well. Imagine suddenly losing all your hard work and not having a back up. It sucks big time! With majority of hosting companies it will cost you $20 and up to have daily backups of your website. But I will show you how you can have completely automated backup system that will backup your data everyday, store it securely on other server and you never had to look near it.
Here is what you need to do:
- Sign up for Gmail account (get an email – firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Install WP DB Backup plugin.
- Go to “Tools > Backup” scroll down to “Scheduled Backup” options and set backup schedule to “Once Daily” and put your new Gmail address in the “Email backup to” field.
That’s it, you’re done. Now you’ll have your blog SQL tables automatically emailed to you everyday and if something happens you can restore from the most recent backup.
Plugin 6 – Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) gives you a list of posts and/or pages related to the current entry, introducing the reader to other relevant content on your site. Also it helps SEO (Search Engine Optimization) because it improves internal linking structure – therefore helps your search engine rankings, for maximum impact use keywords you’re trying to rank for within titles of your posts.
Plugin 7 – Redirection
Redirection is a WordPress plugin to manage 301 redirections, keep track of 404 errors, and generally tidy up any loose ends your site may have. This is particularly useful if you are migrating pages or changing urls of your posts. If it doesn’t make sense to you right now don’t worry it will come handy later on.