WordPress SEO

WordPress SEO is a big subject but start with these coding weaknesses that WordPress sets by default

I am a WordPress SEO guy just because I have to be. I do love SEO and WordPress but I am not a WordPress SEO expert. However, there are a number or weaknesses in WordPress that hurt your Google standings from an SEO standpoint. These do come from WordPress SEO experts, I just happened to write about them.

This is the kind of web 2.0 search engine tactics for blogs that come with Wickedly Evil Social Marketing Tactics.

#1 The WordPress title tag code sucks

Harsh, but the only way to put it. The way your WordPress title is currently set up adds a bunch of worthless navigational based words into the title tag or ends up keyword stuffing the title tag by repeating your blog title on subpages. Worse yet on every subpage. Google sees this as keyword spam.

Use this code to fix it:

<title><?php if(is_home()) { echo ‘ENTER YOUR HOME PAGE TITLE TAG HERE’; } else { wp_title(”) ;} ?></title>

Replace your WordPress title tag code in your header.php file. Make sure you leave the single quotes ‘ ‘ around your home page title tag text. Now the text you enter will be in the title tag only on your homepage.

But on your articles standalone posts pages, (called a single in WordPress) the only thing that will appear is the title of the blog post.

#2 WordPress uses <h2> tags for the blog post title.

These should be <h1> tags.

Open your index.php page and your single.php page (depending on the theme) and look for this.

<h2 class=”storytitle”>

<a href=”<?php the_permalink() ?>” rel=”bookmark”><?php the_title(); ?></a>
</h2>

This is the title of the post. It should be in <h1> tags so that you are telling search engines that this is the most important text on the page since <h1> tags denote the largest font size.

It should be something like this.

<h1 class=”storytitle”>

<a href=”<?php the_permalink() ?>” rel=”bookmark”><?php the_title(); ?></a>
</h1>

#3 WordPress uses <h2> tags to create your navigation labels, like archives and catagories.

<h2> tags should be reserved for the second most important words on the page, I use them for sub headlines.

Change them to <p> paragraph tags and control how they look with CSS classes. If you do not know how to do this then just style the individual labels. They are found in your sidebar.php file.

#4 Use nofollow or remove redundant links in the sidebar and the footer.

NoFollow does not mean that search engine spiders stop and do not continue to the link target. It only means that you are telling Google (thru Googlebot) especially that you do not want to pass on link juice (I hate the term PageRank) to the link at the other end. This is especially important to administration page links, a contact page, site map, privacy policy, terms of use page, copyright page, WordPress admin links and of course the WordPress.com link.

There is a finite amount of Google link juice you have to pass on to other sites, why waste it on links that do not need it or do not warrant it.

Well that about does it for a WordPress SEO tweak article. If you do not want to FTP each file up and down or just do not know where they are in the couple hundred files that are a WordPress install do this.

Log into your WordPress control panel and go to “theme editor.” From there you can click on the file name on the right hand side of the page and open it in the textarea. Then you can change the items I mentioned.

Do yourself a favor and back up that file if you are not familiar with HTML. Right click the file text when you first open it, click “select all” then right click the highlighted blue text and click “copy.”

Now open WordPad in Windows and paste the code into the page. Then save that page as the file name you opened in the “theme editor” in WordPress. Save it to the desktop. Now if you really FRAK (battlestar galactica reference) up the code up you can always replace it with what you started with.

If you are totally lost in this article consider hiring a WordPress guy like me to do this for you. Or you can just contact the author of your theme and he should be glad to get the extra work.

22 Comments

  1. Posted June 23, 2008 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks for taking the time to let us know about this.
    I am glad you mentioned saving the original coding incase your
    blog gets angry that you made some changes.

    I have tempramental blogs. They hate change and will go on
    strike sometimes. Backups are my friends when it comes to Word Press blogs.

  2. Posted June 23, 2008 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    Awesome post, Chris. When I move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org (very soon), this is going to come in handy :-) Thanks a lot!

  3. Posted June 23, 2008 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    thank you! i will try some of your recommendations!

  4. Posted June 24, 2008 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    Thanks Chris, verrrrry useful, I will be utilising this baby a lot over the coming months as I start to build websites (using WP of course) for lots of people in my local area..

    Thanks for a great and useful blog.

    Sue

  5. Posted June 24, 2008 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the good words everybody, I appreciate it very much!

  6. Posted June 29, 2008 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    I understand everything you wrote but i don’t like
    playing with codes.Each time i try it i messes up
    my blog,i guess am not code person.

  7. Posted June 29, 2008 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    “Page Rank” has nothing to do with a “pages rank”- it’s the name of the algorithm developed by Larry PAGE to evaluate a websites ranking- it’s just misunderstood by most.

  8. Posted June 29, 2008 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    David, I agree, PageRank has nothing to do with how your page ranks in Google.

    In the last round of Stompernet videos to support SiteSeer, Andy Jenkins I believe, said that PageRank has nothing to do with your site’s rankings. Mostly it determines how often the site is fully spidered. Or something darn close to that.

    Considering Dan Theis is behind StomperNet SEO content I take this as fact. This is the first time I have really heard an authority as visible as StomperNet offer documentation on this. Also as I understand that PageRank is less valued these days and I am reading a lot about Hilltop. Google it.

    While I am no SEO pro, I do have a good working knowledge and test my own ideas and strategies so I know what works and since I have made tons of mistakes I know what does not.

  9. Posted July 13, 2008 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    This article is very informative as I have just moved from blogger over to wordpress. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Posted July 16, 2008 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Chris,

    Doesn’t the plugin ‘all in one SEO’ take care of this…?

  11. Posted July 16, 2008 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    @Matthew yes it supposedly does, but I like coding it myself. Full control is good, and I can alter things myself rather than depending on a plugin. I coded it myself when I tried to use the plug in and it took more coding to get it to work than if I just did it myself.

  12. Posted July 16, 2008 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Chris!

    Thanks! You make a good point. Those seconds do add up! But I am little nervous like Tyna above, I often screw everything up when I start changing codes – LOL! I might give a go anyway.

  13. Posted July 16, 2008 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    @Matthew, I do write code and I do offer consults. Tomorrow the new version of my book comes out and I am going to offer a phone consult with me, Chris Lang, a $97 value with the purchase of my book for a package price of the consult, $97. (basically you get the book for free)

    I will offer you the same deal, and you can apply the consult to me fixing the coding errors in your WordPress blog and spend the rest of the time explaining the update to the book.

    Don’t worry, if you already purchased my book, the upgrade will be free, but I will let you upgrade to the consult bonus for the difference for $43.

    How does that sound Matthew?

  14. Posted August 25, 2008 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    This is my title code, but unfortunately not quite like your example. Where would i make changes? I put ticks outside the tags.

    Thanks. Keep up the great blog info!

  15. Posted August 25, 2008 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    @ Gregg Eppleman,

    Your code example did not show as WordPress will strip out any PHP code you try to upload thru a form.

    However your code is vastly different than the WordPress default that I talk about above.

    Leave your code alone, you either have a SEO plugin installed or have a custom theme that uses custom SEO coding.

  16. Posted August 25, 2008 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Chris,
    I sent the code to your email address. Thanks for any help you can give.

  17. Posted August 28, 2008 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    hi there

    I suggest that anveryone make a back up before thay start with these edits especially if you are working on a “themed” wp Blog.

    I just “lost” my Blog doing the first header edit, Luckily I know how to access everything via ftp and cpanel was able to “regain” my blog, however many people may not know how to do this may think they lost their Blog entirely.

    The other Edits worked fine, but I did make backups fistt just in case

    Geoff Lord

  18. Posted August 28, 2008 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Geof Lord,

    You might notice that both I an Rocque, the first commentor recommended backing up your files before proceeding.

  19. Posted September 14, 2008 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Good stuff. Will give it a try. So glad you mentioned copying the file before messing around with it. I always copy the stuff first, just in case. And most of the time I end up pasting the copy back in because I usually screw things up.
    I wrecked one blog so bad, I had to start all over. Again…saving a copy is the smart way to go.

  20. Posted December 11, 2008 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the post,

  21. Posted January 22, 2009 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    Seems like an awesome tool. Wish I had more time to play with it.

  22. Posted January 22, 2009 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    @saravanakumar,

    Actually you don’t have to waste any time at all. My friend at SEO Design Solutions have realesed a WordPress theme that has even better SEO tricks coded right in. Forget the all in one SEO pack, forget coding in the calls to the plug in. This SEO theme does it all and it rocks.

    I have all my clients using the themes and they are getting huge results. The two themes are now a free bonus as part of my Wickedly Evil Members only site and membership is only $27.

    http://keywebdata.com/seo-tactics.php

    Cheers! = Chris Lang