A simple SEO plugin can do the task, but if you are interested in learning about why the particular settings in WordPress SEO have been enabled / disabled – here I come up with few points to setup basic SEO for your WordPress blog. As you all know, there are more than 70 million WordPress blogs in the world and if you don’t learn the basic SEO, you will make some deadly mistakes in future that will affect your blog in long term.
You can also read : Search Engine Optimization Guide For Beginners
A simple SEO plugin does the work by its default settings, if you know how each setting will work, it’s an additional advantage. If you learn these settings, it can allow you to experiment and grow. You can see an increase in your growth and the WordPress SEO can teach you how search engines operate, how to make your blog interact with search engines and more.
This article specifically deals with WordPress websites and SEO settings involved in it. The main advantage of WordPress is plugins. But how many of you know about the settings involved in it? How many of you know what happens if you enable/disable a specific stuff in the plugin? What will happen if I don’t learn about these settings?
If you don’t learn about these basic SEO settings, there are chances of your website going crazy over search engine results. Craziness can be defined as duplicate content, irrelevant stuff getting indexed, your blog post not getting indexed, thousands of your website tags indexed and more.
What happens when you’re aware of the settings? You can select the stuff that should be accessible to users and search engines. You can control the entire website on search engines. You make your site get crawled soon by search engines.
Before I get to discuss step by step, you can try out these two WordPress SEO plugins – All in One SEO and Yoast SEO for WordPress. Here we go…
First you have to understand the difference between the WordPress pages and WordPress posts. The SEO for both posts and pages differs. The WordPress pages are static pages similar to HTML web pages. But, WordPress posts are time sensitive and belong to categories, tags, dates and authors. You can keep a WordPress page as your home page and SEO for it will differ from the WordPress pages which cannot be the homepage for a website.
Meanwhile you should understand how the WordPress posts can be accessed from multiple sources such as categories, tags, dates, homepage, sidebar etc. For example: You can tag a single post under many categories and multiple tags. The dates archive is organized under specific months, but for author archives you could see all the posts from different dates under one author archive. Similarly, all these categories, tags, author archives have sub-pages (pagination) of them. This is how the whole WordPress posts work and once you’ve understood this, you can easily understand the SEO for it.
For a better SEO, you should name your pages carefully, assign to limited categories, for homepage you can either choose the recent posts or a static page etc. Better decide your categories at the beginning.
Set 5-7 categories in total and allow it to index on search engines. Make sure you re-name the default un-categorized into a category and also place the categories on your website homepage top or sidebar. Based on your niche, decide your categories well in advance and select the category keyword carefully so it gets indexed well in search results. It should be accessible to both users and search engines.
Never put the categories in dropdown. Always try to show them in main menus. Organize all your blog posts under 5-6 categories. You can have multiple keywords in your category.
For example: Your category title can be different from the URL slug of the category.
You can use Google query to search “site:mydomain.com/category” to check whether your categories are indexed in the search engines. If you’re going to tag a post under many categories, then you can add a small description under category description column for the best practice.
The above talked categories are in hierarchical format Main category > child category > sub-child category etc. Tags are like fine tunings of your categories. You can add much number of tags for a single post. You can create tags while you write a post on the fly. Always use No Index for tags. Never place it on the main menu. If you want you can add it in your side bar or leave it below the blog post. It usually helps people to navigate easily for related posts.
Tags should be accessible to users and not to search engines. If you’re already allowing tags to index, then check your analytics and find out how many visitors your tags bring in to your website. If there is no big numbers, then you can make it no index. Because for some website tags actually perform well than categories. Tags are also extremely helpful for long tail content and ranking. Don’t miss them to use it on your blog posts.
Never give Tags and Categories the same name. Keep it unique. Assign a title and description for every tag/categories. No-index all the sub-pages of tags and categories. With these you can eliminate lot of duplicate content issues.
In my point of view, tags are completely for a user experience for easy navigation and to learn about related content. But some friends of mine say, Tags bring a lot of traffic due to special Meta structure of a tag’s page. But in WordPress, categories are considered to be the main navigation and structure of the posts.
Author archives display the list of all the posts by specific author. If your blog is multi-authored, then let’s see how to configure SEO for it, if its single author blog, then you can simply no-index author archives as it looks exactly like the blog home page.
The Author Profile URL should be set properly. Allow it to index on search engines and it will effectively show up when searched for the author name. You can use this Google query “site: mydomain.com/author” to check whether the author archives are indexed properly for a multi-author blog. If you are running the authors as individual pages on WordPress don’t forget to link the author pages up to Google+ to claim your articles.
For a multi-author blog, set a custom author page. The page should display the author name, linked to Google+ profile, his/her photo and all the articles written by them. The list of articles written by the specific author. Use Google’s Rich Snippet Tool below to check if your posts are structured with the author tag.
The date archives are needed and some people might browse archives by date. It’s good for the user experience. Almost all the website’s date archives look similar, so it’s better to no index on search engines.
If you find duplicate issues on pagination or subpages like category/page/2 … Category/page/3 or tags/page/2, 3 … then you should No index all the sub-pages. In the Yoast plugin, you can set No index subpages of archives. Enable this setting to avoid issues. You can simply no index past page one. Rel = prev /next to show they are of sequence. All the categories, tags, author archives, dates have pagination.
You can use this Google query to check whether the subpages are indexed in search engines.
Google “site:mydomain.com/ inurl:page”
WordPress pages are important; they’re static pages in your website. WordPress pages can be used to display about content, contact information, for a business website you can show directions, prices page. For hotels, you can display menu cards etc. So make sure to display the best out of it. It gets indexed on search engines and helps you to grow your business by showing them as site links on search results. Put your categories and WordPress page links on the main menu. Other things can be put to display on sidebar.
I always suggest you to do SEO with the help of plugins. Don’t make any direct changes in the themes by adding indexation, analytics, titles, descriptions, etc. You should only use your themes to make changes with the colors, fonts, headers, layout, footers etc.
For SEO plugins – you can try Yoast for SEO or All in One SEO. If your blog is already indexed in Google and you want to check on duplicate pages, you can use Google webmaster tools. You can use third party tools like screaming frog to find the duplicate pages. The free version of this software allows you to scan up to 500 pages.
I hope these basic SEO settings will help you understand better about WordPress. The main intention of this post is to teach the beginners to know about the SEO stuff involved in configuring the SEO plugin.