WordPress as you know is arguably the best CMS today both because of ease of maintenance and SEO and more and more web designers and developers are embracing it for their projects. Most importantly, however, is the fact that beginners and novice bloggers are setting up the WordPress websites themselves. That’s great, as more and more blogs are coming up daily without the need of hiring web designers and developers. Setting up a WordPress website is really easy and in my last article, I have explained the process of installing WordPress and guide for beginners.
But after setting up WordPress, there are a few essential settings and must dos for better Search Engine Rankings. If you are a beginner, you can easily get overwhelmed with the kind of available settings, themes and plug-ins. In this article, I will try to answer the question – “What should I do after installing WordPress?” I will take you through the 5 most essential workarounds of WordPress for SEO and How to get the most out of your blog.
Manage Comments (filter spam)
If you have set up your blog recently, you must have seen a lot of comments coming up. But if you go through these comments, you will find that most of these are one liners, links, not related to the post, arbitrary texts and so on. As the WordPress is growing, so are the spam comments. And if you notice the name and websites, you will find that these are mainly for putting a link with targeted keywords. As your website grows, these comments will become unmanageable and take away a whole lot of your precious time in picking out the legitimate ones from spam. At the same time, if your post has a lot of spam comments, your search engine rankings will get affected badly.
So, how to protect your blog from spam comments? The first thing you would like to do is to turn off the automatic publishing of comments. Go to Settings -> Discussions and check either of the two options available from ‘Before a comment appears’ menu. You should also define the number of allowed links in any comment for auto publishing. See the below screenshot.
The next setting for spam protection is to activate the Akismet plugin. Akismet is really a powerful plugin to filter out the spam comments and it is already available with new WordPress installation. Every comment is first filtered by Akismet server before it comes to you for moderation. For activating Akismet, you will need to visit their website and create an account. After that you will be provided with the Akismet key which is required at the time of activation.
Other than Akismet, you may also like to use other plugins for comments like Disqus and commentluv. These provides with additional options apart from spam filtering. You can also integrate it with facebook page and link the discussion threads. But for beginners, I will advise to go with Akismet. Of course, as per your requirement, you can use other plugins in future without losing your existing comments.
Publish post on regular intervals
You may be wondering – why am I asking to do that? Well, I understand all the websites and blogs are not the same. Depending on your niche, you may like to put a new post every day, week or month. Whatever be your frequency, one of the keys for search engine optimization is to put up the fresh contents on regular intervals; be it daily, weekly or monthly. This will help the search engines like Google to crawl your website more frequently.
So, what is the catch? In most of the cases, your timings are not fixed. You may post multiple articles in one day or may not post any for the months together. This can adversely affect your website image both for your loyal visitors and search engines. Thankfully, WordPress has the option to schedule your posts for future dates so that you can follow your publishing schedule.
Go to Edit screen of the post which you would like to get published in future (Posts -> All Posts -> Edit). Or you can directly open any draft from ‘Recent Drafts’ section on dashboard. In the Publish section (top-right of your page); you have the option to change the publishing time (click on edit link with Publish immediately). Change the date and time as per your convenience. As you click OK, the publish button changes to Schedule. You can now schedule your post to publish automatically on defined date.
Setup the Social Sharing Button the easiest way
I am sure you must be aware about the importance of social sharing websites in success of your website or blogs these days. If your content is well taken and shared, you can immediately see the burst of new targeted visitors on your website. At the same time, the social sharing is also an indication to Google about the importance of your content. More your contents are shared; better rankings they get in search results. And if you provide your visitors with the easy to click sharing buttons, they are more likely to share your contents.
Although, you can manually integrate the social sharing buttons from the websites like facebook, twitter, Google plus, Reddit and Stumble; it is always better to use a plugin to take care of all your social sharing worries. There are many plugins available which will do this for you, but I recommend going with AA’s Social Floater Plugin. This is really light weight and easy to integrate with support for eight most important social sharing sites. The buttons appears in a floating bar fixed at the location defined by you.
Ideally you should limit up to 5 sharing sites as these effect the page loading time. But if you are looking for more, you can go with Digg Digg. There are dedicated websites which help you to customize and integrate social sharing buttons like sharethis, at this point of time, I recommend you to use simple plugins.
SEO (and user) friendly links
By default, WordPress uses the auto generated number as the URL for your post like this.
This is neither SEO friendly nor gives any information to the visitors about the contents of the post. At the same time, if someone bookmarks some of your post, he will never know which link will refer to which page. So, it is always advisable to change the permalinks settings to display the post name as URL. For changing go to Settings -> Permalinks and in common settings select post name radio button.
But this is not enough! Suppose you have a post with name “How to draw a circle with HTML5 canvas the easiest way”. Now as you type this in the post name, the URL of your post by default will be something like this.
Well, the link may look easier to read by your visitors, but you should also keep it in your mind that the URLs are also an important element of search engine optimization. You should try to create URLs which are keyword rich. So, you should try to make a balance between the search engine optimized and user friendly URL. In fact, you can edit the permalink which appear just below the post name in the edit screen.
Click on edit button just next to the permalink. In the text box you can change the URL to something like “html5-draw-circle”. Search engines like small URLs and you should try to keep your important keywords in the beginning of the URL. Avoid using generic words like “how”, “to”, “with”, etc. as they don’t serve any purpose.
Set page title and description
You must already know that the page title and page description are important for search engine optimization. For html websites, you write the page title and description between <title> and <meta description> tags. Search Engines use titles to determine the contents and your page is likely to appear with better rankings with keywords used in titles. Page description is also important to attract the visitor to your site from the list of 10 search results.
By default, WordPress uses the post name as both page title and main heading. And you have no option to write the page description in WordPress.
For setting the page description and page title (other than main heading), I recommend you to use a WordPress plugin. All in One SEO Pack does this right for you. For each post; you can write the page title, page description and keywords. Of course, if you are too busy, you can leave it blank and WordPress will use the default title.
If you are serious about search engine optimization of your blog, this one (or other similar plugin) is a must have!
So, these are the top 5 SEO tips for your WordPress website. These are all easy to implement and will definitely boost your Search Rankings.