5 WordPress Search Engine Essentials

One of the things we want to do here at Epiblogger is focus on ideas and tips for bloggers to make blogging easier and more fun. I come to blogging from a very different perspective than Rhett. I consider myself a webmaster, not a blogger, I enjoy sitting and coding websites from scratch and there are things about WordPress that frustrate me. Don’t get me wrong, WordPress is a very good platform to create a blog with, but it is far from perfect on first install. There are a number of things that the default WordPress install overlooks that bloggers should pay attention too to help increase their blogs profile in the search engines.

  1. All in One SEO Pack – This plugin should be built into WordPress. WordPress on its own does not create very nice page titles, creates a lot of duplicate content and does not generate keywords and description meta tags for each post. All in One SEO Pack takes some of the hardest work to tweak a WordPress blog and does it for you in seconds.
  2. Robots.txt – Spending a little time looking at your robots.txt file can also improve how your blog does in the search engines. Much like using the All in One SEO Pack you can direct the search engines to now index the duplicate content that exists on one your WordPress blog. At the bare minimum you will probably want to include the following on your robots.txt file.
    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /cgi-bin
    Disallow: /wp-admin
    Disallow: /wp-includes
    Disallow: /wp-content/plugins
    Disallow: /wp-content/cache
    Disallow: /wp-content/themes

    There are more folders you might want to disallow access to and we will look at those more in depth in a future post.
  3. Permalink Structure – The only reason you should use the default WordPress permalink structure (http://www.yourblog.com/?p=123) is if you have no other choice! It is unfriendly to your readers, and while search engines will still index it, you will most likely rank higher in the search results with a nicer permalink structure. While the there is endless debate about what the ultimate permalink structure is here are the three choices I would choose:
    1. Date and Name based: This structure is a familiar one to people that have used Blogger since it uses a similar permalink structure. It looks something like this: http://www.yourblog.com/2008/01/02/sample-post/. Depending how often you plan on posting I would remove the day and leave it to /year/month/
    2. Category based: Many people are using a category based permalink structure. It is more friendly to people and many people think it helps search engines because the url has more keywords in it. It looks something like this: http://www.yourblog.com/category/post-title/.
    3. Postname based: This is the easiest and the one choosen for Epiblogger. It is simply http://www.yourblog.com/post-title/. It gets right to the point and will probably deliver more search engine benefits than the other structures.
  4. URL Canonization – Before WordPress 2.3 WordPress blogs suffered from a problem with URL Canonization. That is whether or not they had the www in the front of the domain name or not. This created duplicate content for the search engines because www.epiblogger.net and epiblogger.net would seen as different websites, even though they had the same content. If you are running WordPress 2.3 or higher you no longer have to worry about this because WordPress will use the url you place in your options. If you are not using WordPress 2.3 or higher you really should upgrade for security reasons.
  5. StatisticsThere are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. (Wikipedia) Statistics might just be a bunch of lies, but there are better lies and worse lies. Install a decent statistics package to help you keep track of what people read, how they find you and to help you improve your blog. Google Analytics is a good package, but there are others. I have used pMetrics Performancing Metrics and it is very good as well.

Next week I will look at 5 WordPress Security Essentials to keep your blog secure.

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