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Optimizing WordPress for Search Engines

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This isn’t a SEO blog, and I am by no means a SEO expert (whatever that means), but in this tutorial I’ll go over a few tips for optimizing your WordPress site for search engines. I’ll go over some well known SEO plugins for WordPress as well as basic page optimization. After reading this tutorial you’ll learn:

  • What SEO (search engine optimization) is
  • How to rewrite your URL’s for SEO-friendliness
  • How to generate a sitemap and submit it to Google and other search engines
  • How to use the All-in-one SEO Pack plugin to generate meta info
  • How to get your site to the top of the SERPs for your targeted keywords GUARANTEED

If you want to learn how to do all of the above (especially the last one) read on.

What is SEO?

SEO or search engine optimization is a very general term to describe optimizing websites for search engines. Can’t make it any simpler than that.

Rewriting your URL’s

Setting up descriptive URL’s can help your WordPress SEO. Lucky for you, WordPress makes it very easy to do. Even luckier for you, I wrote about it in this previous tutorial. You’d probably want to use a permalink structure with the %postname% somewhere in there.

Generate a sitemap and submitting it to search engines

Submitting your sitemap is by no means a guarantee you’ll get ranked for target keywords, or even indexed for that matter. All it does is basically let the search engine know you’re active, and it’ll crawl when it feels like it. There is a great WordPress plugin called Google XML Sitemaps that will generate a Google sitemaps compliant sitemap and automatically submit it whenever you update your blog. You can download it at the WordPress.org Plugin Directory. Hopefully you know how to install a plugin by now. Here’s what the options page looks like in your admin panel:

Google Sitemap Generator

Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of options available. Using the default options should be just fine. It is also a great idea to signup for a Google Webmasters account, verify your site, and submit your sitemap through that interface. It will also provide diagnostic information on the sitemap, letting you know if there are any errors – along with lots of other valuable data on your Google status.

The All-in-One SEO Plugin

If you’ve ever asked about WordPress SEO before, you’ve likely been told about All in One SEO Pack and how everyone remotely interested in SEO should use it. It is by far the top downloaded WordPress plugin with over 200,000 downloads. Pretty much all it does is let you override your title tag and rewrite your page titles. It will also let you input meta keywords and descriptions on specific posts and pages. I use it myself on Theme Lab and will give you a screenshot of the actual configuration I’m using now.

All in One SEO Configuration on Theme Lab

You might be wondering why I’m giving away all my top secret SEO information by posting the above screenshot. The truth is, you could have just looked at my page titles and viewed the source of my homepage to see my meta description and keywords. So yeah, it’s not that top secret after all. In addition to global settings, you can also override your title tag for specific posts and pages, as well as add meta descriptions and additional meta keywords, like so:

All in One SEO Single Post

How to get your site to the top of the SERPs – GUARANTEED!

Finally, the good stuff. This is what you’ve all been waiting for. Sorry to spoil the excitement, but there is NO guaranteed way to get your site ranking at the top in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Want to know what the best “SEO” tip is?

Create unique and interesting content

Unfortunately, this involves doing real work, as bad as that may sound. If you produce quality content regularly however, you’ll see positive results, naturally. All the optimization in the world really won’t help your rankings that much if you produce lousy content. You should still practice some of the tips outlined above, just don’t expect any magical results from just from changing up your titles and submitting a sitemap to Google. Design your websites for people, not search engine bots. Be an authoritative source of information in your niche. Content is king.

If you liked this tutorial/guide, feel free to comment and share (links below). Subscribe to the feed for all the latest Theme Lab updates.

  • http://www.untechy.com unTECHy

    Dang…I hate doing real work. Sheesh!

    LOL! Great post. I’ve subscribed to your feed as it looks like I’m going to enjoy your posts.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.wpthemereview.com/ Sarah Lewis

    This is a nice overview. I’ve also heard good things about wpSEO—haven’t tried it yet but one of my commentators was raving about the impact it had on his blog, so anecdotally, anyway… :)

  • Leland

    @unTECHy: Glad you liked it! :D

    @Sarah: Never heard of that one, I’ll be sure to check it out. By the way, awesome site you have there (wpthemereview.com).

    Thanks for commenting!

  • Roshan

    Great article! i had tried All In One SEO in my blog earlier (well, it is dead now). it really does wonders.

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  • http://miguelcangueiro.com Miguel Cangueiro

    I’ve already installed the plugin to create a sitemap but it gives me an error and I’m unable to create my sitemap.

    Regards

  • Leland

    @Miguel: What’s the plugin you’re using? And the error?

  • Josh

    These are some really good starting tips on WordPress. I was reading Johnchow and he linked out to a more advanced wordpress SEO article: SEO WordPress

  • http://bushuang.thinkweird.info bushuang

    Do I need to use All-in-One SEO to optimize each individual post? Or setting the general options for this plugin is enough?

  • Leland

    @bushuang: You don’t need to unless you want custom meta keywords, descriptions, and title tags for each post.

  • http://fracturedstudios.com/seo Dennis

    It’s all about the content.

  • http://www.cnypics.com Bill

    Just found your site. You’ve got some great tutorials. I especially like this one.

    thx