A client of mine once asked me to help him with on-site WordPress Theme SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). And ultimately inspired me to write this short guide. This is only a short guide and is best done by someone who at least understands basic web development. I may write a more comprehensive guide in the future, but that would end up being at least twenty pages long.
Please Note: If you have no experience with web development, you are unlikely to be able to implement any of the
optimisations here. This is an advanced guide for a reason! You should have at least a basic understanding of HTML and PHP in order to keep your Wordpress themes usable.
If you want to gain a better understanding of Wordpress, I have uploaded this handy little WordPress for Beginners guide which I hope you will find useful.
All CMS (Content Management Systems) use similar aspects for SEO (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla & Even HTML sites!). They are structured like this:
SEO Optimised URLs – Permalinks
Most people have already gone wrong at this point and do not have a custom post structure and I’ll tell you now, unless you are running a major company such as Nike, your Wordpress site won’t be getting to the top of Google like this!
Go to WordPress Admin > Settings > Permalinks. Make sure you have %postname% in the permalink, which ever permalink you choose to use (some may be site defined). This will be gaining you extra keywords in the major search engines.
For category permalinks, I suggest removing the category base so that you have http://domain.com/catname instead of http://domain.com/category/catname . A very good plugin for this is called WP No Category Base.
HTML Semantic Structure
Most of the themes in this area are worse than rubbish. Even themes advertised as ‘SEO-Optimised’ (don’t fall for that junk – or at least do your research as 90% of these themes are complete jargon) are not done in the right way and suffer a more negative impact than a positive one.
H1-H6 tags have semantic meaning – seeing as they represent titles and subtitles, they have different weights for the major search engines. i.e Google see’s H1 as a main heading therefore has more meaning in Google’s eyes than you might think, you might be using this as a subtitle (a lot of people do!) and Google will be completely ignoring the actual heading!
Don’t Use H Tags for Widgets / Panel Titles (Sidebars)! If they appear on every page and your using H1 for “Categories”, “Tags”, ”Archives” + “Latest Posts” then you are polluting your keyword relevance! Don’t rely on Google’s algorithms to consider this when crawling your site. Lose the weight and use a H2 or H3 instead.
Is It Bad To Have The Site Name / Logo as H1?
YES! It appears on every page of your site. Hence you have having a H1 tag for your logo and one for your post titles. You should only have 1 H1 per page so that Google recognises the most relevant material for that page. If you just want to rank for your site name then have he site name as H1 and the titles as H2.
Tags With and Without Semantic Meaning
DIV and SPAN tags do not have a semantic meaning and add no extra weight for search engines, so use them as you please! Try to use
them to break apart relevance’s by using block level tags instead of H values. The difference between DIV and SPAN is that DIV is block-level and SPAN is inline-level (for CSS rendering) – (Inline-level elements are B, STRONG, EM, I, DEL, U, IMG, A, etc). DIV is block level – it will move it to a new line in the rendered page (other block-level tags are H1-H6, P, BLOCKQUOTE, OL, UL, LI, etc).
Content Break Down
· Make single post and pages have the title within H1
· Make listing pages (category, tag, archive, etc) have the listing title as H1 and actual post titles rendered from the loop as H2
· Have no H1-H6 semantic tags as widget/panel titles in the sidebars or other places on the page that are
not the actual content/post. You can have (though really not recommended) H2 tags in the sidebar for example if you have a “Latest posts” listing and H2 would be the post title (not the “Latest posts” widget title).
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