Pumping Up WordPress for SEO

So, I didn’t get to have lunch but I sure hope you did. Feel free to let me know how awesome it was down below.  My stomach will just have to live vicariously through yours.  In session we have the awesome Vanessa Fox moderating speakers Jon HenshawJordan Kasteler, and some chick named Rae Hoffman.

Jordan is up first.  He’s looking especially Fall Out Boy-ish today.  Pete Wentz wishes he rocked that hard.

He wants to talk about your robots.txt. Basically, create one and use it to block out all the crap you don’t want anyone crawling.    By default you get the WordPress template.  Slice and dice the links in the footer.  If you’re using a template that’s NOT the default WordPress template, rename all image files, rename CSS IDs and classes, rearrange code.layout, delete extraneous code and delete the comments in the code.  He thinks Google rewards people who don’t just grab a generic WP template. There’s probably some truth to that. The whole “being different’ thing.

[He talks about a lot of code that I can't blog because it makes no sense to my head. Sorry.]

Make your code as static as possible. You want to hard code your CSS stylesheet location, blog title, Meta http-equiv, etc.

When you go through WordPress, it puts parameters in the URL by default. You can create your own permalink structures which is really good for SEO and will allow you to get keywords in there.  He recommends just sticking with the post name. If you want to be in Google News, you need to have three numbers in your URL.

Clean up slugs or stop words in your URL with the Slug Trimmer plugin. It removes short works like “a”, “the”, etc.

You’ll have problems with pagination by default in WordPress. You can use WP Page Numbers to make sure the bots can crawl through everything.  In your Category area, clean it up the area and add your own content to get them ranking.  Use breadcrumbs in your blog. [how to add breadcrumbs to your wordpress blog]

Create a custom 404 page to guide people back to content they’re looking for if they got lost on your site. [Our 404 page rocks. #justsayin] User generated content will help your rankings.  Use DoFollow Plugin and the Top Commenter Plugin to encourage people to comment.

Internal Linking:

Add internal links to older posts with lots of external links.  The Insight Plugin is good for this. It lets you scan for keywords in your content to help you locate good internal link opps.

External Links:

You  can have WP ping blog direrctories after you publish your post so that you get crawled really quickly.  Go into Settings > Writing to set that up.

Security

This is really important to SEO. There’s nothing that will take you down harder than having someone hack your blog and throw links in there. Protect your wp-config file through your htaccess.  [10 steps to protecting the admin area in WordPress]  Also update your admin profile so your admin isn’t “admin”. Easier to hack.

Next up is Jon.

His voice is unusually sexy because he did karoake last night. He won’t do it here though. Because he’s no fun. No fun AT ALL!.

Run multiple instances of WordPress

[Jon just asked Vanessa to stop typing next to him. He doesn't like it. Hee.]

Hosting & Traffic

  • Use Unique IPs/C-Block
  • Cheap – but not too cheap
  • Use WP Cache: http://hen.sh/2T to make sure your artchitecture will be able to withstand traffic
  • Use Amazon S3: http://hen.sh/2s

Scraper Protection/Opportunity

Navigation Structure

  • All in One SEO Pack: http://hen.sh/2v
  • Permalink Structure: He likes category/title because you're eventually going to be blogging about the same thing.

Meta Tweakge

Quality Indicators

  • Terms of Service
  • Privacy Policy
  • Public WHOis
  • Phone Number
  • Physical Address
  • Accessibility
  • Microformats: http://hen.sh/2w

Frenemy Communication: Do you want to give Google your data? Google doesn't just want your data to help you out, they have marketing incentives. It can be used against you in some instances.

  • Header/Footer: http://hen.sh/2x
  • Google XML Site Maps: http://hen.sh/2y
  • Google Analytics for Stats: Just because you don't use Google Analytics doesn't mean you're hiding something.

Frenemy Stat Alternatives

Content Enhancers:

Internal Linking

Affiliate Links

Post a lot. Link to people. Make sure your links work. Engage socially.

Next up is Rae.

URL Shorterning

Creats your own URL shorterner. It's very easy to do with WordPress.

  • Branding: Do you want TinyURL getting your branding or do you want to keep it yourself?
  • Control: All of the old zi.ma URLs are now gone because the service went away.  We don't want that happening to our links.
  • Tweetjacking: Only you can create short URLs on your own site.   Protects someone from replacing your links with their spam links.
  • Link juice: Stop losing popularity by controlling how it redirects.  You want to make sure you're using a 301 NOT a 302.

Link Shortcut Plugin: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/link-shortcut/

Also check out the Outspoken post on how to create your own URL shortener.

The Thesis Theme

Thesis is a WordPress theme, but it's not about the design. The design is very vanilla. Thesis isn't a typical WordPress theme. It's a framework. Let's say you have the 2 column theme. In 6 months you want to go to a 3 column theme. You'd have to download the  new theme and edit all of your pages. With Thesis, you edit that once and then you can change your design whenever you want. You don't have to rewrite all of that into your template files.

  • It's flexible
  • One touch design changes
  • Control panel access to headers and footers
  • Canonical URLs optionally built in
  • Change all feed links without touching the code
  • Flexible category layouts
  • Tons of possibilities via custom functions.

You can create your own Title tags, your own Meta Description tags and your own Meta Keyword tags.  You can do it on a post-level.  You can assign custom alt tags and choose your navigation links, the order of your pages in the navigation and your navigation alt text.

What you can do with hooks?

You can do all the typical stuff and:

  • Custom category pages: Create category-level landing pages
  • Advanced ad targeting: Match your ads to your category level.
  • Add date base triggers to posts - if a post is 3 months old [insert your own date], you can show them AdSense.
  • Custom page templates
  • Featured posts sections
  • Custom content carousels

How to learn hooks:

Michael Gray: If you’re going to put your posts into multiple categories and tags, use the More tag so your post isn’t duplicated. When you’re doing your blog posts, title your posts with keywords in them. There are plugins that let you write punchy times but keep the keywords in the Title tag.

How do you improve your WordPress category pages?

Michael: He goes with the Thesis ones.

Rae: Keep your categories limited because it will make them stronger.  There’s a plugin called Custom Query String that will let you pick how many posts show up on your category page.

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About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

6 thoughts on “Pumping Up WordPress for SEO

  1. I read through all your posts from SMX East and was quite impressed. A thousand times better than the typical powerpoint copies someone receives from a show. I have come away with a wealth of useful info and list of items to investigate. I also come way with two conclusions. First, I definitely should attend this show next year. Second, you must be the world’s fastest typist (in order to take such good notes).

  2. Lisa,

    Holy Cr4p that’s a lot of information. I started reading it and then started clicking links and now I just have to bookmark it to check out the rest of the links.

    Thanks

    :)

  3. Wednesday’s lunch was okay- deli style cole slaw and potato salads (I think one was called “red potato bliss”… huh…), macaroni and cheese, pulled pork, something called quartered chicken, and corn bread. Nothing compared to the Chinese extravaganza the day before.

    In other news, excellent write-up, as always =) have fun tonight!

  4. I have tried to leave a response on this blog but each time I submit it times out the screen or provides an error. Do you think the webmaster could possibly look into the reason it keeps messing up?

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