Right out of the box, WordPress is a great product with many SEO features built in. For the average user, taking all of the defaults and making minimum customizations means having a site up and running in a short amount of time. For those who want to get the most out of their SEO efforts, there are a number of changes that can be made to improve the SEO of a WordPress site.
The first place to start is how the site and its content is referenced on the Internet.
URLs and the Permalink Structure
Decide if you want your site to show up as www.xxx.com or just xxx.com. This doesn’t appear to make a difference to search engines as long as you’re consistent. Change this in the WordPress site settings. Next you’ll want to set this up as you wish using the Google Webmaster Tools.
To make your permalink structure more readable, consider using /post-name/ or /category/post-name/ in the Permalink settings. Try to establish your structure prior to the site going live or you will have to deal with redirects to the new structure. Note that if you are using a version of WordPress prior to 3.3, you will have to deal with a coding issue that requires you to use a number, such as the year, in the permalink. Earlier versions had difficulty indexing content without a number in the path.
Finally, take control of the stopwords that can clutter up the content name. There are WordPress plugins that remove stopwords such as "the", "a", "and" and "an" from content titles so you won’t have to manually create the cleaned up title for posts.
Better Ranking Comes from Optimized Titles
It’s just a fact that you can write the world’s best page or blog post and have it be ignored by the search engines because of weak title SEO. Your title becomes the name of the browser window or tab, and the first thing the person sees in their search results.
Try to place keywords in the first few words of the title. The search engines will rate pages higher when they find keywords early. People also tend to scan the first words of a title to see if it is what they are looking for.
Be Descriptive for Better Ranking
The meta descriptions can be tedious but they are also important for good SEO. Search engines will pull from the meta description to display in the results. They may only use the meta description if it contains the users keywords. Beware of plugins that automatically create the meta description from the first few words in a post. You are better off letting the search engine create something than using a poorly generated field. There is still no substitute for a well-written meta description.
Don’t Ignore Image SEO
Search engines are becoming more sophisticated with indexing images. Create a good title for each image. Write alt tags that contain key words. Even the file name itself can make a difference so try to make it meaningful and not just a series of letters and numbers. All of this will add a little to your ranking.
Advance Your SEO from Good to Better to Best
There are dozens of other tips for improving the default SEO that comes with WordPress. The few simple tips presented here can improve your website ranking. Continued efforts in SEO can push your site even closer to the top.
Many people find it worthwhile to work with a third party to maximize the SEO of their website. There is a lot to know about search engines and how to modify WordPress to get the best ranking. Owners that are concerned with creating quality content may not have the time to spend on SEO. Regardless of the approach, take advantage of these SEO changes and get your website out in front of more people.