WordPress Search Engine Optimisation – A Guide

As with any website, search engine optimisation (SEO) of a WordPress site relies mainly on the content. Good quality, useful and informative content will trump even the best search engine optimisation techniques in my opinion. That being said, the hints in this article will help ensure that the effort put into your site content and marketing is not diluted by a poor website design.

I will begin with how to optimise the underlying design of the website. The first wordpress plugin to install is in my opinion the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. This will help manage the HTML Page Titles, HTML Meta Titles, HTML Meta Descriptions and HTML Meta Keywords for each of the pages on posts on the site. It also tracks your Google, Bing and Alexa account ID’s which are also a must for any serious search engine optimisation.

As an aside, if you have not already done so you should create an account with Google Analytics to view your visitor stat. I would also recommend creating an account with both Google Webmaster tools and Bing Webmaster Tools to see how they view and rank your website.

Once you have installed the pulgin and activated it you may have to make a few alterations to your WordPress template files so that it can work all of it’s magic. The alterations are not too troublesome and are all in the header.php file. This can be edited through the admin section within WordPress by navigating to Appearance->Editor.  On the right hand sidebar you should see a link to edit the Header file.

The changes are as follows:

The HTML page title should be:

<title><?php wp_title(); ?></title>

I also included the following code to handle the site verification for my Alexa, Google and Bing accounts by way of the page meta tags:

<?php  $wpseo_options = get_option('wpseo');
if ($wpseo_options) {
  if (isset($wpseo_options['googleverify']) && $wpseo_options['googleverify'] != '') {
    echo "\n\t\t".'<meta name="google-site-verification" content="'.$wpseo_options['googleverify'].'" />';
  if (isset($wpseo_options['msverify']) && $wpseo_options['msverify'] != '') {
    echo "\n\t\t".'<meta name="msvalidate.01" content="'.$wpseo_options['msverify'].'" />';
  if (isset($wpseo_options['alexaverify']) && $wpseo_options['alexaverify'] != '') {
    echo "\n\t\t".'<meta name="alexaVerifyID" content="'.$wpseo_options['alexaverify'].'" />';

In order to set up the basic plugin configuration you should navigate to SEO->Dashboard in your WordPress admin section. Next tick the Use meta keywords tag? checkbox and enter your the respective user ID’s in the Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools and Alexa Verification ID boxes.

Next navigate to SEO->XML Sitemaps and tick the Check this box to enable XML sitemap functionality., Ping Yahoo!. and Ping checkboxes. This will not only ensure that your site has a suitable XML sitemap but also that the Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask search engines are notified when you publish new pages (Google and Bing are notified by default when the XML sitemaps are enabled).

Now you have configured the basic functionality of the SEO plugin you are ready for the next step, setting up your Social Bookmarking Links. So that visitors can share your content on their favorite social platform such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ etc I have used the WordPress Slick Social Share Buttons plugin.

Once you have installed and activated the plugin navigate to Social Buttons->Social Buttons in the admin section. Here you can configure which bookmarking sites you want to display, how they will look and also to add your Twitter and Facebook account information. An added feature of this plugin is that it also allows you to view statistics on how many people are sharing each page/post. This will give you an idea of what your visitors think of your content and whether they deem it to be worthy of recommending to the world.

To finish on the Social side of the search engine optimisation side add The Social Links plugin. Now you can add a widget to your site with links to all of your profiles on the major Social Network sites.

So there we have it, you have set up a the basis of your website search engine optimisation. However we haven’t finished just yet, this is just the start. In my next article I will show you how to take search engine optimisation a step further with a look at how to fine tune your site, speed up page load limes and optimise the site for mobile visitors. After all page load times are becoming all the more important in the holy grail that is SEO.

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2 Comment(s)

  1. Palma Utz

    April 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    I like this website very much so much great information.

  2. Hal Eglin

    April 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Merely a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw outstanding design and style .

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