SEO Best Practices for WordPress

June 25, 2013
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Elena Sevastopoulos
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So you’re starting a blog and can’t wait for the world to find it and you.  After several weeks and maybe 20 or so followers that include your close friends and your parents, you realize gaining traction is harder than you expected, despite your awesome food photography or killer knowledge of affiliate marketing.  However, if you integrate SEO best practices from the beginning you are much more likely to gain a following of not just your friends and your mom, but of search engine users.

Ironically, if you look at even the SEO efforts of SEO blogs in particular, many are not optimized at a basic level.  That’s good for you because it means it’s easy to get an edge up.

If you’re setting up a WordPress blog here’s your checklist.

  • Pick keywords that describe your blog and have traffic volume even before you pick a URL using Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Not only will you integrate keywords with search traffic volume into your on-page SEO efforts, you should use them to inform your domain purchase.
  • Give your website a 503 status with a plugin like WP Maintenance Mode after you install WordPress on your new domain name and before you post your first post.  Implementing this will not only keep your site private until you’re ready to take it live, but also prevent search engines from indexing it right away.
  • Install a few SEO plugins to make optimizing your site easier.  I like All in One SEO Pack and WP Social SEO Booster.
  • Use WP Social SEO Booster to connect a Google Plus profile to each author/user.  Make sure to add the blog as a website you are a contributor to in your Google Plus account to complete the connection.  Besides benefits like increasing your Author Rank, linking to your Google Plus Profile will place your profile photo as a thumbnail to the left of your page in search engine results.

google authorship serp

  • Use All in One SEO Pack to give the home page as well as each post and page unique title tags and meta descriptions implementing keywords with search traffic volume (use Google Adwords Keyword Tool for research).  Even if you’re an SEO novice and don’t know much about keywords, just be descriptive and keep your title tags under 70 characters and your meta descriptions under 160 characters.  FYI, title tags and meta descriptions appear in search engine results as shown in the example above.  “The Shiksa Blog | Exploring the Fascinating History of Food” is the title tag and “Cooking is much more fun when you know the history behind the dish. Join Tori Avey, The Shiksa in the Kitchen, as she explores the history of food!” is the meta description.
  • Add content. Google will have nothing to search and your visitors won’t have anything to read unless you add content to your blog and do so regularly.  Google knows when content isn’t fresh so create a regular blogging schedule to keep yourself on track.  Also, pick unique topics to give you an edge up on your competition.
  • Link to external websites and internally to your own content. Google looks at how sites are linked to each other to figure out which ones are best so linking can increase your search engine rankings.

Now go flex your expertise on your blog with your first post, whether it be about wine, knitting or online marketing and get ready to go live.  The next blog post in this series will be about setting up Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools on your blog and choosing which KPIs to check regularly.

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