WordPress SEO Checklist

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WordPress SEO Checklist

I have been working with WordPress for a very long time and I must say I have never had a single problem with it. It’s a powerful and semantic publishing platform with a focus on web standards, which appeals to me as a webdesigner. While using WordPress as a platform for various websites (including this blog) I have found many ways to make it SEO friendly and more visible in search engine rankings. So I decided to put together this WordPress SEO Checklist containing numerous plugins and techniques I use when optimizing WordPress powered websites.

WordPress Pretty Permalinks

Default WordPress permalinks look like this:

http://example.com/?p=N

Very ugly and definately not good for SEO. More flexible and much more SEO friendly permalink structure would looks like this:

http://example.com/category/post-name/

In order to achieve this handy permalink structure you must create a .htaccess file with rewrite rules. This requires Apache with mod_rewrite module installed and writable .htaccess file located in the directory where your blog is installed. When you create (or update) your permalink structure, WordPress will automatically generate rewrite rules and insert them into your .htaccess file.

If you are using Lighttpd as your webserver, getting pretty permalinks will be more complicated. I have recetnly written a detailed post explaining the process – Lighttpd And WordPress SEO Friendly Permalinks.

All in One SEO Pack Plugin

A must-have plugin offering out of box SEO for your blog. All in One SEO Pack enables you to rewrite your post titles and to set unique description and keywords meta tags for each post or page.

Remember that a title (what appears in your browser’s windows bar) is the most important tag on a page. Make your titles brief and descriptive. Titles should begin your keywords. You can possibly add some short branding text or motto to the end – but don’t overdo it.

You can download All in One SEO Pack here.

Category Base Removal Plugin

This useful plugin removes the “category/” text from your WordPress permalinks. Combined with pretty permalinks, you can get very elegant URLs:

http://example.com/post-name/

You can download Category Base Killer here.

Unfortunately, it is not yet compatible with WordPress 2.5.x.

Google XML Sitemaps Plugin

This plugin helps you to create and manage an XML sitemap. XML sitemap help searh engines find all important pages on your blog. Your pages will be crawled more often. Whenever you publish a new post or page, just go to Settings – XML-Sitemap and rebuild your sitemap with a single click. The plugin will update your sitemap and report the changes to search engines. This will speed up a process of indexing the new page.

You can download Google XML Sitemaps Generator here.

KB Robots.txt Plugin

This plugin helps you to create and manage a robots.txt file. Robots.txt file can have a great influence on SEO. By excluding “useless” (for search engines) files from crawling, you can increase your WordPress blog’s traffic and search engine rankings. AskApache has published a perfect SEO optimized robots.txt file. I recommend visiting his blog for further reading about WordPress and robots.txt as well as many extremely useful examples he got there.

An example of SEO optimized robots.txt file (should work on most blogs… just edit the sitemap URL):

User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin/
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /wp-includes/
Disallow: /wp-content/

User-Agent: Mediapartners-Google
Allow: /

User-Agent: Adsbot-Google
Allow: /

User-Agent: Googlebot-Image
Allow: /

User-Agent: Googlebot-Mobile
Allow: /

Sitemap: http://example.com/sitemap.xml


You can download KB Robots.txt here.

Additional WordPress SEO Tips

Pay an extra attention to on page SEO. Every single page should have its own unique title and h1 tag. Headings should be used to structure the text. So – after h1 there should come h2, then h3, h4 etc. Use em and strong tags for your keywords to give them more weight.

Optimize your images by adding descriptive alt and title attributes. Also make sure you have not excluded a folder with your images in robots.txt. You would be surprised how much additional traffic can Google Image Search bring.

Well, I have just written this post off the top of my head. I will be keeping it updated and probably adding more techniques and tips in the future as I remember them.

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