WordPress, straight out of the box, comes ready to embrace search engines. Its features and functions guide a search engine through the posts, pages, and categories to help the search engine crawl your site and gather the information it needs to include your site within its database.
WordPress comes with several built in search optimization tools, including the ability to use .htaccess to create apparently static URLs called permalinks, blogrolling, and pinging. There are also a number of third party plugins and hacks which can be used for search engine optimization (SEO).
However, once you start using various WordPress Themes and customizing WordPress to meet your own needs, you may break some of those useful search engine friendly features. To maintain your WordPress site’s optimal friendliness towards search engine spiders and crawlers, here are a few tips:
Good, Clean Code
Make sure your site’s code validates. Errors in your code may prevent a search engine from moving through the site successfully.
Search engines can’t “see” a site. They can only “read” a site. Pretty does not talk to a search engine. What “talks” to a search engine are the words, the content, the material in your site that explains, shares, informs, educates, and babbles. Make sure you have quality word content for a search engine to examine and compare with all the parts and pieces to give you a good “score”.
Write Your Content with Searchers in Mind
How do you find information on the Internet? If you are writing something that you want to be “found” on the Internet, think about the words and phrases someone would use to find your information. Use them more than once as you write, but not in every sentence. Learn how search engines scan your content, evaluate it, and categorize it so you can help yourself get in good favor with search engines.
A search engine enters your site and, for the most part, ignores the styles and CSS. It just plows through the site gathering content and information. Most WordPress Themes are designed with the content as close to the top of the unstyled page as possible, keeping sidebars and footers towards the bottom. Few search engines scan more than the first third of the page before moving on. Make sure your Theme puts the content near the top.
Keywords, Links, and Titles Meet Content
Search engines do not evaluate your site on how pretty it is, but they do evaluate the words and put them through a sifter, giving credit to certain words and combinations of words. Words found within your document are compared to words found within your links and titles. The more that match, the better your “score.”
Content in Links and Images
Your site may not have much text, mostly photographs and links, but you have places in which to add textual content. Search engines look for alt and title in link and image tags. While these have a bigger purpose of making your site more accessible, having good descriptions and words in these attributes helps provide more content for search engines to digest.
It is not how good your site is, it is how good the sites are that link to you. This still holds weight with search engine favoritism. It’s about who links to you. Blogrolls, pingbacks, and trackbacks are all built into WordPress. These help you link to other people, which gives them credit, but it also helps them link to you, connecting the “links.” The number of incoming links your site has that have been recognized by Google can be checked by typing link:www.yoursite.com into Google (other search engines have similar functions). Other ways to generate incomming links to your site include:
- Add your site’s url to your signature on forum posts on other sites.
- Submit your site to directories (see below).
- Note: Leaving comments on blogs will not help with this, since all modern blogging tools use the rel=”nofollow” attribute. Don’t be a comment spammer.
Good Navigation Links
A search engine crawls through your site, moving from page to page. Good navigational links to the categories, archives, and various pages on your site will invite a search engine to move gracefully from one page to another, following the connecting links and visiting most of your site.