WordPress SEO: Get Insane Traffic From Google (8452 Words)

wordpress seo

When I started my first online project, I didn’t know much about WordPress SEO… However, I was extremely passionate about my project, and I had really high hopes for it to become an authority widely recognized among the webdesign world. But I quickly realized that you can’t just build a website in 5 minutes, throw it onto the interweb and wait for a huge crowd to come visit it. You need to put a lot of attention into search engine optimization.

Of course, this website was my first “baby” online, so I was thinking:

They will understand how great my website is!

The thing is, a lot of people around the internet are thinking the exact same way and don’t pay too much attention to SEO, but building a website is like opening a shop in a really dark blind alley. You have to bring it to people’s attention or else no one will notice it: this is what WordPress search engine optimization is all about.

So I began a long journey around the web to understand the various tips and techniques that I could implement to build an audience for my website. I was going to build up my online presence through SEO and get people to acknowledge my website.

So, what is this WordPress SEO about?

Well, according to Wikipedia:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a web site or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.

As I had almost no money to spend on my website, I had to find ways to build my online presence for a very little cost (except the web hosting and the domain name registration) and this seemed like the perfect fit.

Here comes the wonderful world of SEO…

General information

WordPress SEO is all about organic traffic. Organic traffic generally represents about 70% to 80% of the big websites traffic. As you can easily understand, this is a huge load of FREE traffic you can grab, and no one is going to turn their back on it, because traffic (or should I say “targeted traffic”) is the key to everything online. This is why search engine optimization is so valuable for website owners.

SEO is very important because it’s the biggest source of free traffic you can have for your website and because it’s targeted traffic, people will be interested by the content of your website.

How does it work?

When you are looking for a business or for information on a given subject, you usually go to your favorite search engine (Google… What else?) and type in one or several keywords. You express freely and spontaneously what you expect to find, your needs, what you like, your taste, without being restrained.

The main goal of SEO is to have content which is highly relevant to the main subject of your website, so that when someone is looking for information about your website, you are appearing as high as possible in the search engine results to capture their attention.

One of the basic principles is: the more content you have, the more keywords you will be targeting and getting traffic from!

If you want to reach a wide audience, you need to make your website as Search Engine Friendly as possible.

There are a few shady techniques to gain some rank in the search engines, but I won’t be discussing them here. They are usually short term methods, and I’m here to help you build a long term relevant online presence. So, never forget that if you are nice to the Search Engines with clean SEO, they will send you a lot of traffic in return.

Word Of Caution Regarding “SEO Experts”

You can find a lot of people online who will tell you that they are Search Engine Optimization Experts and they can get you on the first page of Google for a little cost. They generally don’t know much about SEO and are just planning to defraud people who know even less than them. They are hit’n’runners, fast made so-called services built overnight, spamming their advertising, taking your money for a non-existing service, then vanishing.

There is also a huge number of people who are offering to help you get thousands of backlinks, but beware, most of them are doing some automated submissions to spam directories, sure you will get a lot of backlinks in 2 days, but then, due to bad neighborhood effect, your site will go down and down in the SERP, negating all your efforts.

Time to roll up your sleeves, and get to work on your WordPress SEO.

beginner

1/ WWW or not WWW

You may already noticed it when you visit your favorite websites: some of them are using a URL starting with WWW (http://www.dukeo.com) and some others are not (http://dukeo.com).

When you register your domain and setup your website, you can usually visit your site through both URL formats.

It may look pretty convenient as it makes sure your visitors will always reach your site no matter which URL they are typing in their address bar, but it’s actually a bad thing regarding search engine optimization.

Let me explain.

In the eye of Google, http://www.dukeo.com and http://dukeo.com are two different domains. Which means that Google might consider your site to be a duplicate of itself.

Moreover, people might link to your blog, sometimes using the WWW format and sometimes using the non-WWW format. The result is that it dilutes your link authority and pagerank.

To ensure your domain is properly optimized, you need to choose one solution or the other and stick to it.

icon beginnerTask: In order to make sure all your visitors are browsing your blog with the same formating, and optimize your WordPress blog for search engines at the same time, you need to redirect them to the right one.

Using an FTP client, you need to locate the .htaccess file in the root folder of your blog, and add the following lines of code at the very beginning of it. (Don’t forget to replace dukeo with your own domain).

If you want your website to always be displayed with WWW (http://www.dukeo.com), paste the following code:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.dukeo\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.dukeo.com/$1 [R=301,L]

If you want your website to always be displayed without WWW (http://dukeo.com), paste the following code:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^dukeo\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://dukeo.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Tip: As an aditionnal step, in Google Webmaster Tools (described lower in this article), you will need to indicate to Google the kind of formating you prefer for your website.

2/ Permalinks

To be optimized for search engines, your Url structure needs to be simple and relevant at the same time for both users and search engines. And your keywords needs to be separated by dashes “-“. Here is a simple example to help you understand how to optimize this:

www.mysite.com/category-1/sub-category-1/page-1-of-sub-category-1.html

icon beginnerTask: Navigate in the admin area of your blog to:

Settings > Permalinks

As you can see, the default url structure is: http://dukeo.com/?p=123. This kind of structure doesn’t help at all for SEO. This is why you should change it to something more relevant.

If you visit a few blogs, you’ll see that sa lot of them are using a date-based structure such as http://dukeo.com/2012/10/12/sample-post/. Even if this kind of structure is relevant in terms of Search Engine Optimization, I don’t really like it because I prefer writing timeless content and I don’t want Google to lower my rankings as the posts get older, so I don’t want my posts to be dated.

In my opinion, there are 2 possibilities which are valuable regarding SEO. Either using /%category%/%postname%/ or just /%postname%/.

However, the /%category%/%postname%/ has a huge downside: if you change your categories, you will kill your search engine rankings and “reboot your SEO efforts“.

So unless you are 100% confident about your keyword research and categories, I would advise you to set your WordPress blog’s structure to /%postname%/. (This is what I’m doing on Dukeo for optimal results).

3/ Page Accessibility

To improve your SEO, all the important pages of your websites need to be at most 3 clicks away from your homepage. When your pages are lost in the depth of your site, It is very difficult to get a good return on your efforts, and to get them to rank well in the search engine result pages.

If your website structure is pushing some pages deep into your website, you can still do some cross-linking from one page to another to lower the number of clicks to reach it and improve your blog visibility in search engines. But never forget that you need to make your links as contextual as possible.

icon beginnerTask: In order to semi-automate your cross-linking between pages, you should install a plugin called SEO Smart Links.

SEO Smart Links allows you to automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts and comments with corresponding posts, pages, categories and tags on your blog. This inter-linking will help you rank better.

SEO Smart Links looks for keyword phrases that match the titles of your posts and pages by default (and you can enable categories and tags matching too). These phrases are then turned into the links to optimize your WordPress SEO. The matching is case insensitive and the original case is preserved.

Moreover, SEO Smart links allows you to set up your own custom keywords and set of matching URLs.

You’ll see that this plugin offers 4 different versions: Free, Personal, Professional and Business. I love the premium version of this plugin because it offers a plethora of aditional features such as Built-in Caching (improves performance), Advanced automatic interlinking options, as well as Detailed Statistics & Reports, and many more!

This is why I’ve been using the Business version for more than 2 years now! (The caching system makes it completely worth it).

For the free version, click here. You can also check the differences between all versions and all of their benefits, by clicking this link: SEO Smart Links

4/ Website Structure & Targeted Keyword

The name of your categories and subcategories are VERY important to get some good ranks and improve your results in search engines. They need to contain some of the highest targeted keywords for your website. For example, on Dukeo, some of my categories are: “WordPress SEO“, “List Building“, “How To Start A Blog” because I’m trying to optimize my blog to rank high for keywords related to these terms.

To find the “good” category names, you need to put yourself in the place of the people who are searching on the web and think about the keywords you want them to type to get to your website.

Another factor to consider is the need to target a given set of keywords. Nowadays, the competition to get search engine traffic is so fierce, that you can’t just write about anything and everything, then hope to land on Google’s first page.

To get the most out of your SEO efforts, you need to define a tight list of primary keywords that you will try to rank for, but finding such keywords is not an easy task…

Once you have an idea about the keywords you want to rank for, you can verify their pertinence through a few tools like Google Keyword Tool, Google Trends and Google Insight for Search.

icon beginnerTask: In order to find relevant keywords and categories for your blog, you should go to Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

Once you’re there, type your main keyword in the Keyword or Expression box and hit Search.

You’ll get a list of related keywords that you can sort by competition or search volume. Try to find keywords that have high search volume and low competition. They will be the easiest to rank for.

While the Google approach can be interesting, I like to use a premium plugin that uses a completely different methodology that will give you a huge edge over your competitors.

The plugin that I am using for the keyword research part of my WordPress SEO at Dukeo is named Keyword Winner.

Keyword Winner allows you to optimize your WordPress blog by researching keywords for your posts and categories easily. You can drill down for blog post headline suggestions for either short or long tail keywords in less than 1 minute right inside your blog dashboard. Up to 10 keyword suggestions will appear in a drop down menu along with color coded stats.

The awesome benefits of using this plugin for your Search Engine Optimization is that it provides competition data, contrary to Google that uses searches data. This competition data allows you to find keywords that have decent search volume, yet for which your competitors have few backlinks (making it easy to outrank them).

Just click on the link above to watch a video that will show you exactly how this plugin works.

Another tool that I love using for keyword research is called SEM Rush. This tool offers yet another approach by letting you spy on your competition and find out which keywords they are targeting.

It will be extremely useful if you want to take over a niche! All you need to do is input your competitor’s URL and check which organic keywords are sending him traffic, as well as how much it would cost to advertise on Google Adwords for the same keyword.

This kind of information is golden when you want to learn the most valuable keywords of your competitors. To be honest, I’m using SEMRush on a daily basis to research keywords for my articles!

5/ One content, one page, one language

You should consider this absolute rule to optimize your inner pages for better visibility in search engines:

1 page = 1 content = 1 language

It is almost impossible to rank your pages for more than 2 or 3 main keywords or keyword phrases.

If you are writing a page about economy, fashion, weather, and travels, you must break it into 1 article per category or else you won’t be able to rank for any of these themes.

The same rule applies for language. You shouldn’t use more than 1 language for each of your pages or you would lower your ranks in each language.

icon beginnerTask: When you are writing a post, remember to write it in a single language, and focus on a single topic/keyword.

If you don’t follow this rule, you’ll lose both your readers and the search engines’ spiders.

6/ Semantic Structure

The semantic structure of your page consists in the use of specific HTML Tags. It’s the exact same thing as using Styles in Word to automatically generate a table of content.

The semantic structure when implemented correctly lets the Search Engines understand fast and without error, how a webpage is built. Regarding SEO, the text contained within some of these tags has more weight regarding the various keyword ranks.

It implies that all of your pages must have a title, including the Homepage and the “category homepages“. It is forgotten on a lot of websites and it is a great loss in term of proper optimization.

The title of each page must be included between <h1> and </h1> tags. Subtitles between <h2> and </h2> tags, etc…

There are 6 possible levels of titles from <h1> to <h6>. But it is widely accepted that only the first 3 levels have additional SEO weight for your SERP ranks.

There are a few rules to respect: a webpage can include only one title <h1> tag, and the <h1> tag cannot be under a <h2> tag (a title can’t be under a subtitle).

icon beginnerTask: If your WordPress theme is well-coded, it is most likely using <h1> and <h2> tags in its structure. As a consequence, you should use <h2> and/or <h3> (and <h4>) tags to structure your posts.

In order to organize your content properly, you should also use <strong> and <em> tags along your posts to highlight some of your key content, as well as ordered (<ol>) and un-ordered (<ul>) lists. You should also break your content in easily readable paragraphs (2 to 5 lines each).

To make sure you are not missing anything regarding semantic structure as well as keyword density in your posts, you should definitely check the premium plugin I installed on Dukeo: SEOPressor for WordPress.

This plugin includes a set of user-friendly tools that automates the process of optimizing your keyword density, formating your posts, tweaking your semantic structure to make sure you get the best results out of your writing efforts.

7/ Links and Text/Link Ratio

There are a few rules to follow when you setup the links on your site:

  • They shouldn’t be set on a whole paragraph, but on a few targeted keywords (at most 3 or 4 keywords).
  • You should use a variety of anchor texts including keyword-targeted anchors and generic anchors such as “click here“, “to know more“, “check also“.
  • Each article should be linked at least once from other pages of your site. Orphan pages won’t be indexed properly.
  • Try to avoid Links on “Imaged-text“: for example, you shouldn’t use an image menu as it won’t help much your SEO.

Tip: Remember that Google considers that, when a link is made with a given Anchor, the target page is relevant for this Keyword or Keyword Phrase.

There must be a good quantity of non-clickable text on each of your pages. If a page includes more links than text, Google will take it as a navigation page, or worse, as an Over-optimized page (which will result as very bad rankings in the SERP).

icon beginnerTask: When you are writing a new blog post, never forget to link at least 2 or 3 of your older posts for optimal search rankings.

It will help the link-juice flow between your pages, as well as reduce your bounce rate by giving more content to read to your visitors.

Use a variety of anchor texts: keyword-targeted anchors, and generic anchors such as “click here“, “to know more“, “check also“.

You will avoid over-optimization penalties and make your link profile look more balanced and natural.

8/ Image optimization

Tip: There is no form to get images indexed in Google Images, there is no Sitemap system for images, you have to wait for Google to index them automatically.

Image Caption

When possible, include a short caption above or under the image. Search Engines are analyzing the semantic context of the image to determine its content. This caption will help them understand the content of the image.

Avoid using JavaScript pop-ups to display your images, they wouldn’t be read by Search Engines.

Image ALT Attribute

One of the best SEO practice is to ALWAYS put some Alt attributes on your images. It must be a small description of the content of the image, or at least the Title of your article. This text is used for the visually disabled to know the content of a website and it is also displayed in the tooltip in Internet Explorer when your hover an image.

Image TITLE Attribute

Do not mistake it for the Title Tag of your page. This attribute is used to define the links and the images. It is showed in the tooltip in FireFox and Chrome when you hover an image.

Image File Name

If your website system does not automatically rename the files when you upload them, take good care of your filenames.

Name them with keywords linked with the image content, separate the keywords with dashes “-” and don’t let any space between the words.

icon beginnerTask: If there is one thing that keeps getting overlooked by bloggers, it’s this one! Before uploading images to your blog, make sure to properly rename the image file.

The best thing to do is using the main keyword(s) you are targeting with your blog post (or at least your blog post title).

Once the file is uploaded, copy that same keyword(s) in the title and alt attribute boxes for even better results.

Image File Size

Google has clearly stated that the load-time is now one of the factors that influences your ranking in the search engine result pages. In order to optimize your blog, it is essential to resize your images before uploading them to your site.

icon beginnerTask: In order to optimize your images, you should download and install the WordPress plugin WP Smush.it.

This plugin will automatically strip meta data from JPEGs, optimize JPEG compression, convert certain GIFs to indexed PNGs, strip the un-used colours from indexed images. To sum it up, it will make your images lighter and allow your pages to load faster.

Once installed, navigate in the admin area of your blog to:

Settings > Media

Then, at the bottom of the page, set Use Smush.it on upload? to Automatically process on upload.

9/ Pingbacks and Comments

Every successful blogger knows that in order to get more people to link to your content, you also have to link to other people’s content.

In order to let them know when you are linking to them, as well as being warned any time someone is linking to your own content, you should enable Pingbacks on your WordPress blog.

As an aditionnal step, you should disable Comment Pagination for your blog. If you keep this option ON, it will create duplicate content issues with your articles.

icon beginnerTask: To set Pingbacks and Comments properly, navigate to:

Settings > Discussion

Once you’re there, you should check the following boxes:

  • Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article
  • Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)
  • Allow people to post comments on new articles
  • Comment author must fill out name and e-mail

To make sure you don’t create a ton of duplicate content for your own posts, you should Disable Comment Pagination on the same option page.

Congratulations for completing the first part of this very long (and extremely useful) post! It wasn’t that complicated so far, was it?

What about tweeting the following message to let people know about this guide?

I just completed the first level of the best WordPress SEO guide ever by @dukeo. Check it now!
(Click to tweet)

Time to move on to the second level of this WordPress SEO guide.

Don’t be scared. It will be a little bit more technical, but if you read the directions carefully, I’m sure you’ll be able to make it.

medium

10/ Robots.txt and XML Sitemap

An essential step is to have a Robots.txt file. The Robots.txt file is used only by Search Engines. It is located in the root folder of your website. It has 2 goals: Give the Sitemap Url to the Spiders, tell the Search Engine Robots which part of your website they shouldn’t index.

Here is an example Robots.txt:

User-Agent: *
Disallow: /cgi/
Disallow: /admin/
Disallow: /content/this-article.html
Sitemap: http://www.mysite.com/sitemap.xml

Generally an XML Sitemap is a webpage linked from the footer of the website and it’s presenting the structure of the full website. Its purpose is like the table of content of a book. It lets the Search Engine having a global look over all of your content.

Sitemap is an internet protocol which is widely accepted by Search Engines. The aim of the Sitemap is to feed the Search Engine Robots in an automated way the Urls of the new pages to index.

This improves drastically the speed of indexation of your newest pages, which is very useful when you launch a new website.

You can find all the useful information about Sitemaps on http://sitemaps.org which also provides a file validator to check the coding of your sitemap file.

You can generate this file manually, but it is better to have it generated dynamically when your website is updated. It is recommended to put the freshest urls at the top of your Sitemap file.

For optimal results, a Sitemap shouldn’t include more than 50 000 Urls and weight more than 50Mo. In the case you have more Urls, you should have additional Sitemap files regrouped in a Sitemap Index.

The Sitemap.xml file should be declared in the Robots.txt (located in the root folder).

Added to the classical Sitemap, you can add specific Sitemaps for some types of content. Here is a list of these other sitemaps that you can implement to improve your search engine rankings, but you don’t really need them for a blog:

  • Google News Sitemap: It will highly help regarding the speed of indexation of your articles in Google News. It is limited to 1000 urls and it must include only “news-type” articles. Also, it should be updated in real time, every time you post a new article.
  • Video Sitemap: It will let you submit your videos while associating them with meta-data and a snapshot which will be shown in the SERP.
  • Geolocalised Sitemap: It is indexing the files with geographic information like KLM and GeoRSS which will be shown in apps like Google Maps and Google Earth.
icon mediumTask: In order to help search engines index all your content, there are 2 actions that you should take.

The first thing you need to do is download and install the WordPress plugin called Google XML Sitemaps.

This plugin will automatically generate a Sitemap that will be used by search engines to find all the pages of your website.

Once the plugin is installed, navigate to:

Settings > XML-Sitemap

Here is a list of the options that should be checked:

  • Write a normal XML file (your filename)
  • Write a gzipped file (your filename + .gz)
  • Rebuild sitemap if you change the content of your blog
  • Notify Google about updates of your Blog
  • Notify Bing (formerly MSN Live Search) about updates of your Blog
  • Add sitemap URL to the virtual robots.txt file.
  • Build the sitemap in a background process
  • Do not use automatic priority calculation
  • Automatic detection
  • Include homepage
  • Include posts
  • Include following pages of multi-page posts
  • Include static pages
  • Include categories
  • Include tag pages
  • Include the last modification time.

Don’t forget to click on Update Options at the bottom of the page.

If the plugin is installed properly, you should be able to click on the Rebuild the sitemap link at the top of the page and see a confirmation message.

Now that the sitemap is built, there is a small optional step: creating a link to this sitemap in the footer or the sidebar of your blog to make it even more easy for search engines to find it.

To add the link to your sidebar (assuming your theme is widget-ready), you should navigate to:

Appearance > Widgets

Then create a custom link widget with the following url:

http://yoursite.com/sitemap.xml

That’s it! Now that your sitemap is built and index-able, let’s move to the next step and improve even further your website structure with breadcrumbs.

11/ Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics

The main Search Engines are now offering tools to analyze the way your site is being seen by the Search Engine Spiders so you can optimize your WordPress SEO.

The most complete set of tools is probably Google Webmaster Tools. You’ll find a ton of useful information to optimize your site and tweak it to make it Search Engine Friendly.

You can also submit your sitemaps to get indexed faster, identify errors, and learn which keywords you are ranking for. You can also ask for a page to be removed from the index (very useful if some admin pages get indexed by error).

People tend to forget it, but a huge part of your SEO work is actually analyzing data to make the right choices regarding your next Search Engine Optimization step and what efforts you should emphasize.

Combining Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics will allow you to get most of the basic information you need to study your visitor/website interaction.

icon mediumTask: In a first time, register your blog in Google Webmaster Tools, then Submit Your Sitemap by navigating to:

Optimization > Sitemaps

And clicking on the Add/Test Sitemap button. Enter your sitemap url, then click on the Submit Sitemap button.

You should also navigate to:

Configuration > Settings

Then set your preferred domain to either the WWW or the non-WWW version of it. (Leave the other settings unchanged on this page).

In a second time, intall the Google Analytics code on your blog to get basic data about your website and your visitors.

This free enterprise-class web analytics will allow you to monitor activity as it happens on your site. So, you’ll immediately see what’s working, and what’s not.

12/ Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are VERY USEFUL in terms of search engine optimization and navigation, and are totally under-used on small websites. Breadcrumbs help your visitor locate the page he is currently on, and let him navigate to your category pages more easily.

Here is an example:

Mysite > Category 1 > SubCategory 1 > MyArticle

Each of these words would be linked to the corresponding homepage / category / subcategory / article. It won’t let you get good rankings by itself, but it will most likely improve your SEO efforts.

icon mediumTask: This section’s action is going to be slightly more advanced that previous ones as you’ll need to edit your WordPress Theme’s file.

While there are many WordPress plugins that will allow you to implement BreadCrumbs on your blog, I would advise you to use Breadcrumb NavXT.

Breadcrumb NavXT has by far the easiest setup and the best customization options.

Once installed, you’ll need to edit your theme (most likely the header.php file) and paste the following code where you want the breadcrumbs to be displayed:

<?php if(function_exists('bcn_display')) { ?>
  <div class="breadcrumbs">
    <?php bcn_display(); ?>
  </div>
<?php } ?>

Then, if you want to style the breadcrumbs, you’ll have to edit the style.css file by adding this code:

div.breadcrumbs{

}

And adding whatever styling you want between the brackets.

There you go! You now have a very clear navigation, your visitors will thank you for that and search engines will love it as well.

13/ Meta Data

Meta-Data consists of some data that you can find in the <head></head> part of your HTML pages. They are not directly viewable by your visitors. Youtube Example:

<head>
<title>Youtube – Broadcast Yourself</title>
<meta name="description" content="YouTube is a place to discover,
watch, upload and share videos." />
<meta name="keywords" content="video, free, simple, search, find,
discover, watch, engage, share, sharing, upload, entertainment" />
<meta name="robots" content="index, follow" />
</head>

<title> tag

The title tag contains the text which will appear at the very top of the browser window and also on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP).

It should usually have a length between 50 and 70 signs. You should try to give your pages unique titles (2 pages shouldn’t have the same title because the title tag is very important for the search engines to detect duplicated content.

Meta Robots tag

This tag is used to tell the Search Engines Spiders (robots used to index your pages) if they should index your pages or not, and if they should follow the links on a given page.

You can put 2 values for each variable: index/noindex (it will index your page or not), follow/nofollow (it will follow the links on this page or not).

The Robots.txt file has a similar use, which makes this tag optional but it can be useful if you want to prevent the indexing of a single page.

Meta Keywords tag

WordPress SEO specialists are still discussing the importance of this tag. In the past it appeared to be used a lot by the Search Engines to rank the pages for given keywords, but due to some abuse by Black Hatters, its importance has been lowered.

Moreover, if you decide to use them, the same rule as Meta Description applies. It seems to be used to detect duplicate content, so it should be unique for each page.

icon mediumTask: As a WordPress blogger, you have countless actions to perform to reach success, so it’s important to use your time wisely. As a consequence, it’s essential to automate as many tasks as possible.

Here is a little trick that I’m using to optimize my blog for searh engines and generate relevant meta-keywords for my page completely automatically: using automatic WordPres tags.

First of all, download and install the WordPress Plugin “Auto Tags”.

Once the plugin is installed, navigate to:

Auto-Tags > Settings

Then check the 2 boxes: Enable automatic tagging of your posts by WP Auto Tag as well as Enable automatic tagging of your pages by WP Auto Tag.

Finally, set the maximum number of tags per post to 10 (A bigger number will not help your SEO) and don’t forget to save the changes.

This plugin will use the API from the Tagthe.net project to analyze your post content and automatically generate relevant tags when you save and update it.

Once the tags are generated, we are going to use another plugin to get them used as meta keywords. (See the next Action step)

Meta Description tag

Most of the SEO evangelists agree that this tag is not used anymore to rank the websites in the SERP. But, it has a huge impact on the click-through rate in the SERP because it does appear just under your page names to provide the visitors with a small description of the content of the webpage, so it should be highly relevant to your content.

Also, it appears that it is also used to detect duplicate content, so it should be unique for each of your website pages.

icon mediumTask: In order to handle all your Meta Tags (Title, Meta Description, Meta Keywords and Meta Robots), I strongly advise you to install the plugin Platinum SEO Pack.

Once installed, navigate to Platinum SEO (At the bottom of the navigation column) and optimize the settings as explained below.

Home Title is the title of your homepage. (It is advised to use your main keyword in this field. Make it part of a sentence to avoid looking spammy).

Home Description is the little description that will appear most of the time in Google Search results under your homepage URL. (In some cases, it will be replaced in the search engine results by a keyword-relevant description selected by Google).

Home Keywords are the top keywords you are targeting with your blog (usually 5 to 10).

Then you should tick the box “Rewrite Titles” and set your custom titles as detailed below.

  • Post Title Format: %post_title%
  • Page Title Format: %page_title%
  • Category Title Format: %category_title%
  • Custom Taxonomy Title Format: %term%
  • Archive Title Format: %date%
  • Tag Title Format: %tag%
  • Search Title Format: Searching: %search%
  • Description Format: %description%
  • 404 Title Format: Nothing found for %request_words%
  • Paged Format: , Page %page%

And finally, make sure the following boxes are ticked:

  • Use Categories for META keywords
  • Use Tags for META keywords
  • Use noindex for comment pages of posts
  • Use noindex for comments RSS feeds
  • Use noindex for all RSS feeds
  • Use noindex for author archives
  • nofollow login and registration links
  • Autogenerate Descriptions

Once all of this is done, do not forget to hit the Update Options » button to save your settings.

If for any reason, you do not want to use the Platinum SEO plugin, you can install WordPress SEO by Yoast.

14/ Error 404 Page

When some of your webpages are removed or don’t exist, the webserver returns a 404 error. The page displayed when this error is returned is totally customizable, and it is strongly advised to do so.

Offering a webpage to your visitors with the same layout as the other pages of your site and with a high number of clickable links to other content will significantly decrease the bounce rate usually generated by an error page.

Tip: How to design your 404 page? It must use the same layout as the other pages. All the links to your categories should be there. You can add a mini sitemap that will help your visitor locate some content that might be interesting for him.

icon mediumTask: Creating a custom Error 404 page for your blog is not as complicated as it may seem in the first place.

The first thing to do is checking if your theme already includes a custom 404 page. To check this, navigate to:

Appearance > Theme Editor

And see if there a 404 Template in the list of files. If that’s the case, you’ll just have to make modifications to this template file.

However, if you don’t see any 404 Template, you’ll have to create one by using your favorite FTP client to access your website FTP server, then going to /wp-content/themes/you-theme-folder/. Then you should either copy the file named page.php and rename it to 404.php (preferred method) or creating a new one from scratch by pasting the following code in a new text file named 404.php:

<?php get_header(); ?>
<div id="content" class="narrowcolumn">
<h2 class="center">Error 404 - Not Found</h2>
</div>
<?php get_sidebar(); ?>
<?php get_footer(); ?>

Once you have this 404.php file, you have to upload it to your web server.

The next step is to edit this page in order to provide some alternative pages to visit for your visitors in case they hit this error page.

For example, you can add a list of all categories by using this code:

<?php wp_list_categories(); ?> 

Tip: I encourage you to Google any other ideas that you might want to include in your Error 404 page. One of the massive advantages of using WordPress is the extremely active community. Most of the time, when you want to implement something on your blog, you’ll find someone who already developped and documented it before.

15/ Cloaking Affiliate Links

Link Cloaking is a process used by affiliate marketers and bloggers that turns long ugly links into pretty short links and helps improve conversions and sales. Once you start using affiliate links and start relying on those sales, you’ll quickly learn why link cloaking is so important.

If you’ve ever used an Amazon affiliate link then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Here’s what they look like:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061353248?ie=UTF8&tag=dukeo-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0061353248

Most users won’t see that link on your site because you’ll be using anchor text. But when they hover their cursor over your anchor text that link appears in their task bar and a lot of your visitors will check before they click. If the link looks scary, (and I think we can all agree that Amazon links are downright frightening!) then some visitors just won’t click.

Some visitors just refuse to click on someone else’s affiliate link. So they either go directly to the site and conduct their own search or they remove your affiliate ID from the link before they click through.

Link cloaking simply changes the link, generally making it shorter and less frightening. It makes the link look like a regular link that doesn’t include an affiliate ID. For example, here’s the same link from above after being cloaked:

http://dukeo.com/click/predictablyirrational/

icon mediumTask: There are several possibilities to cloak your links. The easiest one is to use a generic URL shortener such as Bitly. However, I do not encourage you to use such service because you have little control about the link and once it’s created, you can’t edit it.

The solution I am using (and most bloggers are doing the same) is a redirection plugin.

As for with most services, you have the free low-tech version and the more advanced paying tool.

The first possibility is a free plugin called WordPress Redirection. Once installed, navigate to:

Tools > Redirection

Then add a new redirection by entering the Source URL in the format /shortpath and the Target URL in the format: http://www.target.com/full-link-with-long-path/.

The downside to this plugin is the very limited amount of control and data available to you.

In case you want the best available redirection plugin with plenty of options, you should get the same premium plugin as me: Maxblogpress Ninja Affiliate.

The killer feature of this plugin is that you can define Keywords that will automatically be converted to affiliate links on all the pages of your site.

You should definitely check it out as it automates a lot of the process and will save you tons of time.

Well done, you’ve just completed the second part of this awesome post.

If you made it this far, you should definitely tweet the following message to let people know about this guide:

I just completed the second level of the best WordPress SEO guide ever by @dukeo. Check it now!
(Click to tweet)

You are now getting into the last part of this guide. Now is not the time to give up, you are almost done! Keep reading.

expert

16/ Google Authorship

A while ago, Google started displaying rich snippets in its search engine result pages. You have certainly noticed, when doing a search on Google, that some results are showing an Avatar of the author as well as his/her name and some aditionnal information.

While this may seem like a detail, it has actually some important consequences in terms of SEO: It increases tremendously the click-through rate of results showing this kind of information.

Indeed, even if you are not ranked in the top 5 for a given query, you will most likely be the only one showing an avatar. And believe me, it will certainly attract more attention to your listings.

icon expertTask: To implement Google Authorship, you should visit this page.

Once you’re on this page, you can link content you publish on a specific domain (such as dukeo.com) to your Google+ profile.

The most convenient method can be completed with only 4 steps. However, you will need an email address using the same domain (blog@dukeo.com in this example).

The 4 steps are as follow:

  • Make sure you have a profile photo with a recognizable headshot.
  • Make sure a byline containing your name appears on each page of your content (for example, “By Sté Kerwer”).
  • Make sure your byline name matches the name on your Google+ profile.
  • Verify you have an email address (such as blog@dukeo.com) on the same domain as your content.

If you don’t have an email address on the same domain, you can use the alternative method described on this page.

17/ Link Juice & Pagerank Sculpting

Pagerank Sculpting is the practice of controlling the way Pagerank and Link Juice are flowing between the pages of your website. To understand it, imagine that each link TO one of your pages, is a “vote” that recognize the authority of that page. Of course, the value of this vote depends on the authority of the page which is linking to you.

For example, one of your pages is linked from a few pages, totalling a “vote score” of 90 points. In a second time, this page includes 9 links to other pages, so each links carries 10 points to the target pages.

Of course, the model is not so simple, and search engines include a decay factor of 10-15% of the PageRank on any given page disappearing before the PageRank flows along the outlinks.

But it can be interesting to control this link juice between pages to pass along more authority to pages you wish to rank higher in the search engines.

However, you have to be careful since attempting to “hoard” your PageRank will most likely have negative consequences for your site. In the same way that Google trusts sites less when they link to spammy sites or bad neighborhoods, parts of their system encourage links to good sites.

icon expertTask: There are 2 actions you must take in order to optimize the link juice flow between your website pages.

The first step is to noindex the generic pages of your site to not waste link juice on pages that don’t really need it. For example, you probably do not need your Contact Page to be findable directly through search engines.

Thanks to the plugin Platinum SEO Pack that you installed earlier, the task of noindex-ing a page or a post is extremely easy. When you are writing or editing a Post or a Page, you’ll notice an option panel named Platinum SEO Pack under the content. In this panel, simply click on the radio button noindex, nofollow and save changes.

Check your own website and see if there are some pages or posts that should be noindexed.

The second step is to use the rel="nofollow" attribute on some links in your WordPress theme. Adding this attribute to a link tells the search engines that they shouldn’t pass PageRank through that link. As a consequence, it increases the value of the remaining links.

Here is how you implement the nofollow attribute:

Classic link:

<a href="http://dukeo.com">dukeo</a>

Nofollow link:

<a href="http://dukeo.com" rel="nofollow">dukeo</a>

Let’s take the example of Dukeo.

On the index page of Dukeo, you can see that I use post excerpt to entice people to visit the post page to read the full content. For each post, there is a total of 3 links: the title (keyword rich link), the image (image link), the Read More (generic link).

As it is quite useless to have these 3 links conveying pagerank, I added the rel="nofollow" attribute on 2 of them and kept only the keyword-rich link.

Check your own theme and see if there are some redundant links that should be nofollowed to control your link juice.

18/ Schemas & Microformats

Schemas are HTML tags that webmasters can use to markup their pages in ways recognized by major search engines (such as Bing, Google, Yahoo! and Yandex) to improve their search engine rankings. Search engines rely on this markup to improve the display of search results, making it easier for people to find the information they are looking for.

As a webmaster, you use the schema.org vocabulary, along with the microdata format, to add information to your HTML content and optimize your WordPress SEO further. While the long term goal is to support a wider range of formats, the initial focus is on Microdata.

Most webmasters are familiar with HTML tags on their pages. Usually, HTML tags tell the browser how to display the information included in the tag. For example, <h1>Avatar</h1> tells the browser to display the text string “Avatar” in a heading 1 format.

However, the HTML tag doesn’t give any information about what that text string means. <h1>Avatar</h1> could refer to the hugely successful 3D movie, or it could refer to a type of profile picture, and this can make it more difficult for search engines to intelligently display relevant content to a user.

Schemas improve your SEO by giving a meaning to the different parts of your webpages.

icon expertTask: In order to start using Schemas and Microformats, you should visit Google’s guide on Structured Data.

You can also read the Getting Started guide of Schema.org.

As a blogger, Schemas and Microformats are especially useful to post reviews and get rich snippets in the SERP by displaying a star rating as well as the reviewer name.

Schema.org provides a collection of shared vocabularies webmasters can use to mark up their pages in ways that can be understood by the major search engines: Google, Microsoft, Yandex and Yahoo!

For a complete list of schemas to improve your WordPress blog, visit this page.

If you’ve added structured data to a page, but it’s not listed in Google Webmaster Tools, use Google’s rich snippets testing tool to make sure that Google can access and understand your marked-up content.

That’s it! It was the last step to implement on your WordPress blog to improve your rankings. Congratulations for completing all the steps of this SEO guide successfully! Stay tuned for a little more information, you are almost done with this post.

What about tweeting the following message to let people know about this guide?

I just completed all the steps of the best WordPress SEO guide ever by @dukeo. Check it now!
(Click to tweet)

Search Engine Unfriendly Technologies

  • Flash Files: Nowadays, the Search Engines still have a lot of difficulties to index the Full Flash Websites, even if some progress have been made.
     
    If your site is using Flash Technology, you should limit it’s usage to elements which doesn’t include some crucial textual elements. You should also avoid using it for the navigation menu, or else, you should make a double in full HTML.
     
    Tip: Don’t forget to clearly fill the tags of all your flash content, with equivalent non-flash content.
  • Ajax and JavaScript: Despite some great improvements, Search Engines are still unable to fully properly index the content located in Ajax and Javascript. These technologies shouldn’t be used for navigation elements and important content regarding SEO.
     
    Tip: To make sure that your website won’t be penalized after the launch of a new version, it is very useful to visit your site after deactivating JavaScript in your browser. This way you can also see your website like a Search Engine Spider would.
  • Forms: Search Engine Spiders are unable to read the elements within a form. You shouldn’t use drop-down menus for navigation. Most of the time you can replace them with dynamic HTML elements.
     
    Tip: If you still want to use drop-down menus for navigation, you should double it with an HTML menu (in the footer of your website for example).
  • Frames and iFrames: Search Engine Robots do not index properly the pages within frames. Try to avoid using frames when possible.
     
    Tip: If you absolutely want to use frames in your website, put some content within the <noframes></noframes> of the code to feed the spiders.
     
    For iFrames, the problem is almost the same. If you want to use them, you should forbid their indexation by Search Engines, through the use of Meta Robots or the Robots.txt file. Otherwise, it will lead to bad indexation and misleading of the visitor to an orphan page.

It’s All About Adding Up Small Steps

There is not a single SEO technique that will do magic and get you in the top of the Search Engine Results. You need to apply a wide set of techniques to gain more visibility in search engines.

If you think about Search Engine Optimization and apply it from the very beginning of your website project, it will be quite easy to implement.

On the other hand, if you already have your website, you can still use the advice from this post to dramatically improve your ranks.

I personally hope that you have found some useful information in this guide, and I would love to hear your thoughts, and advice that I might have missed.

Don’t forget to share this guide about WordPress SEO on all social networks if you think it might help some other people!

Stéphane Kerwer
Article written by Stéphane Kerwer (1995 Posts)
Bonjour from a french guy. My name is Sté Kerwer and Dukeo is my blog. I do most of the heavy lifting in here but from time to time, you may see some guest posts. To receive updates from Dukeo, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.
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103 Comments (Add one)

  1. Donna Anderson
    Donna Anderson

    When I saw 7985 words at the top I thought you were going to send me to some download. What a post! I’ve been looking for something like this that actually explains how to do everything, all in one place, because I know I’m missing out on a lot of SEO stuff on my blog. Love it! I’m bookmarking this because it’s going to take me a while to get through all of it. But it’s awesome! I’ll be sharing with everybody I know :)

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Surprise, surprise, it’s all in one blog post!

      I’ve heard from many people who wanted to have all the information in a single place so they can simply bookmark it and come back whenever they need… So here it is.

      Glad you like the post.

  2. Michael Aulia @CravingTech.com

    That’s a crazy amount of info about SEO! This should have been inside an e-book :)

    1. Sté Kerwer

      I find it more convenient in a blog post. Ebooks are nice when people can work with them offline, but since this guide is a lot about downloading and installing stuff on your blog, you can’t follow it offline anyway.

  3. Amol Pomane
    Amol Pomane

    All basic to advanced SEO in 7985 words awesome,what I liked most is 1 page=1 content=1 language ,good work :)

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks for the kind words Amol!

  4. Ejaz Siddiqui
    Ejaz Siddiqui

    Very good and informative article about WordPress SEO. I have tweeted your story. Thanks

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks a lot for your kind words Ejaz, I hope this post helps!

  5. Tony Dowling

    Awesome, really easy to follow and fantastically helpful! Ive finally managed to get my self onto Google webmaster tools, thanks!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      You’re welcome Tony. I’m always happy when I can help :)

  6. Mike

    Nice Post.

    Great stuff

    you can wrap it nicely and sell it. )

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Hehe, thank you for the kind words Mike, but this content will stay free and accessible here for anyone it can help.

  7. Rabby
    Rabby

    Hey great post. The most detailed on wordpress seo in fact (As far as I’ve seen) You didn’t point to any plugins regarding Schemas & Microformats, would love your recommendation.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Schemas and Microformats are tough. I didn’t link to any plugin yet because I simply didn’t find any that delivers the results I am looking for. On Dukeo, I made the implementation manually in my theme. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open, and if I hear of any good plugin, I’ll update the post with a link.

      Thanks for your comment Rabby.

  8. Brook

    Nice article. First time I have seen that Platinum SEO plugin. Will give it a whirl!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks for your comment Brook!

  9. SebasB
    SebasB

    Ste, outstanding content.
    Thanks a lot.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks for the nice words SebasB

  10. Lea Ann

    re: permalinks. I have three years worth of links that include date. 2012/12

    When I go into my dashboard and change it to a topic url, none of my past links in social media will send readership to my articles. (Past Facebook, Pinterest, G+ links) Is there a way to fix that?

    1. Sté Kerwer

      You should be careful when updating your whole structure. First of all, do you really need to remove dates from your links?

      If that’s the case, you can find some plugins such as “Permalink Migration” which will handle the redirections from your old structure to the new one. However, remember that you will certainly lose some link juice in the process.

  11. Steven Hughes

    Hey Ste -

    Holy Cow, how long did this post take to produce?
    Unfortunately, I think it will end up in the bookmark black hole for many.

    It will get traffic, it will get shares, and tons of SEO juice. That is all great, but what percentage of people will actually read it all? I just did a post on Blog Length, and comments were split down the middle on long/short blog post preference. Would you change your style (length) if much of your audience was looking for 700-1000 words instead of 7000+?

    A lot of great stuff here Ste at first glance. Going to bookmark, and hope I can get back to it and dig into the content.

    The effort spent to create is certainly appreciated.

    Regards,
    Steve

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Hi Steven, it certainly took a long time to write.

      I don’t set my blog post length based on my audience liking. For me it works the other way around: if I have a subject that needs 7000+ words to be covered, I’ll write that many words; if I have a subject that can be covered in 400 words, I’ll use 400 words.

      I’m not a machine and I don’t force myself to write a certain number of words just because I want all my posts to be formatted the same way. It makes no sense.

  12. Project Southsea

    Consider this bookmarked. Very informative, thanks Ste.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks a lot! Good luck with your blog.

  13. Melanie Robertson-King

    Wow! What a post! I’ll be implementing your tips pronto. I use wordpress for my self-hosted blog and over at my .com site that I set up for a character in my novel so your advice is invaluable.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks for the kind words Melanie!

      This certainly was a lot of work to put this post together :)

  14. Prateek Bansal
    Prateek Bansal

    Each and every word is clear and valuable to readers who are either new to Blogging or are professional. Thanks for the great post

    1. Sté Kerwer

      You’re welcome Prateek!

  15. Lance Carlson
    Lance Carlson

    Wow nothing but WOW! I am new to your site but I plan to be an old timer here. Great epic post! Not sure how I found you through Twitter as a retweet. I have been at this for over a year now a thought I had most of my SEO taken care of…OK One more time from the top!

    Thanks my friend,
    Lance Carlson

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Well, I’m glad if this helps you improve your blog Lance :)

  16. Milton Olave

    Hi, really thank you very much for this information, is very helpful and gives a lot of value to this blog. Please tell me you are completely sure that there are no errors in the code to choose my preferred domain. What happens is that I have lost many visits the next day.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Hello Milton! In that piece of code, make sure you don’t forget to replace “dukeo” with your own domain name.

  17. Tom Jamieson

    This is a great post. Loads of help and very easy to understand. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks for the nice words Tom! Don’t forget to share it with your friends ;)

  18. Stephen Pate

    I like the column and working my way through the suggestions.

    #2 I read on another blog that using the postname will slow down search for pages. Apparently WP needs a number before the text. I noticed your pages are sometimes slow to load. >10 seconds last night when I read the blog.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Stephen, using the name might slow down the load by a few milliseconds, but the benefit of having a keyword-rich URL completely out-weights this. Regarding the number in the URL, this is absolutely not needed and becomes useful only if you are publishing high-end news that are GoogleNews-worthy (Because, last time I checked, Google needs this unique number to include you in Google News).

      1. Stephen Pate

        Thanks for the reply. I might change my permalinks then, although changing 10,000 might be more trouble than it’s worth???

        The Google News tip (need number) in the permalink is interesting. My stories never get listed in Google News but they do when re-published on OyeTimes which uses postnumber-title permalinks. I always find it inscrutable that my story on my site never gets covered and the same stories hit Google News regularly from OyeTimes.

        1. Sté Kerwer

          Be careful if you change your whole link structure. You might lose a lot of hard-earned link juice.

          1. Stephen Pate

            You are right. I tested it on a sandbox site and the results were a disaster. There are many other things I can do first. Thanks again for replying.

          2. Sté Kerwer

            Stephen, migrating the whole structure on WordPress is possible. You should be able to find a plugin to handle the migration process.

  19. Raman
    Raman

    Very informational post. Learned too many new ways which I missed.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks for the nice words Raman

  20. Dhruv

    Man, you just rock..!

    No one has the capability to write such a lengthy yet useful post..

    I know many of the points..!

    But thanks for the plugin : SEO Smart Links..!

    Thanks a lot man :)

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thank you Dhruv. It’s been a lot of work to get this post together.

  21. Sujith

    You have covered almost everything in terms of SEO. A very quick and must follow tips for new webmasters. Worth to bookmark and share. Congrats.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thank you Sujith. I tried my best to include everything I know about SEO in that guide :)

  22. Saurabh Rai

    thanks a ton for sharing this post buddy. I must say it is one of the most easiest post which I have ever read to understand about SEO.

    Thanks again

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks a lot for the nice words Saurabh

  23. Julie McElroy

    Wow! There is a lot of useful information in this post, many tips that I am not using. I appreciate all the time you put into crafting this short report to help people with SEO on their websites. Mucho kudos!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks for your comment Julie. Let me know about your SEO progress. (8000 words is a short report?! That’s harsh ;)

  24. Barry

    Great article, nice to see a comprehensive yet easy-to-read piece.

    Nice one :)

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thank you for your comment Barry. I tried my best to keep this long guide as user-friendly as possible while providing a ton of value.

  25. Johanna Jansen

    I’m confused: task 1 ‘www or not www’ went bad (and I feel like an idiot). Is there any theme related tricks one should not try at home?

    1. Sté Kerwer

      There are no theme-related tricks. for this task, you have to edit the .htaccess located in the root folder of your website.

  26. Robert Paul Connor III
    Robert Paul Connor III

    Thanks for the lengthy schooling on SEO. Have implemented all that my version of wordpress would allow!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Congratulations Robert! As long as you are using a self-hosted version of WordPress, you can implement every single one of these tasks.

  27. Tara Fay
    Tara Fay

    thanks so much, really informative, i notice you always refer to wordpress. I use typepad for my blog, are all of these tips applicable to that also?

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Tara, as the title says, this post is about WordPress SEO. You might be able to adapt some of the things developed in this guide to Typepad, but without the plugins, it’s going to be complicated.

  28. Oana

    freakin’ mind blowing useful content. I would buy right about anything I could afford from you after reading and applying the info in this post.
    unbelievably helpful.
    also, you inspired me on how I want to write articles on my new blog so that my readers would have my reaction here :)
    thank you!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thanks a lot for your comment Oana. You sure sound very positive about this guide. I’ll check your blog to see how it evolves.

  29. Daniel Katz

    I am new to blogging and found this post very useful. You answered a lot of questions that I had and questions I didn’t know I had;)

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Hey Daniel, I’m always happy when I’m able to help other people! Let me know about your progress.

  30. Astro Gremlin

    Terrific roundup of everything I’ve learned about SEO (and more). Nice job, Robert.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      You’re welcome Mitch

  31. Brian Jackson

    Wow, this is an impressive post! I’ve done almost everything you mentioned already… however, I haven’t done the Google Authorship. Will definitely be walking through that. Thanks!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Congratulations for already going through all the steps that I detail in this guide. Google Authorship is an excellent way of increasing your visibility on Google.

  32. Felipe Kurpiel
    Felipe Kurpiel

    Great post, but there are some details that need an update! Recently, I had a problem with duplicate content generated by comments. And that option to remove comment pagination doesn’t exist anymore! You have to use the SEO plugin by Yoast to remove that but sometimes not even this can solve the problem.

    I hope this can help!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      As far as I know this is not needed since, by default, comments are not paginated.

      1. Felipe Kurpiel
        Felipe Kurpiel

        Yes and no… by default comments shouldn’t generate new pagination but when I did my on-page analysis I saw that problem. Then I had to adjust the SEO plugin to get rid of it.

        Actually, most blogs don’t have comments enabled for a reason, but I like to keep mine with this kind of interaction.

        1. Sté Kerwer

          Maybe because you had pagination activated on your WordPress install before the option was removed.

  33. Felipe Kurpiel
    Felipe Kurpiel

    Hey Sté… unfortunately the problem was not that simple, but now everything looks fine!! :)

    But I have to tell you, when saw the duplicate content on my site I was scared!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      I can totally understand Felipe. With all the communication on various rules and potential penalties made by Google, it can be stressful when you fail to comply…

  34. Marko Cvijic
    Marko Cvijic

    Bravo for the tips and tricks – very useful for all beginners

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thank you for the nice words Marko!

  35. Sibo
    Sibo

    Honestly I have not seen any detailed post like this. I only learn stuffs when I am ready to apply them to my blog right away – just in time leaning. The instructions listed in this article are very easy to follow. Thank you for the great info!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thank you Sibo, I’ve put a lot of work into this guide :)

  36. Rhonda Kronyk
    Rhonda Kronyk

    Thanks for such a great post. It is not often that so much detailed information is laid out in such a clear manner. Greatly appreciated.

    One of my jobs for this weekend is to work on refining my website. Now I have some more tips for optimizing it.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Glad you liked it Rhonda.

      This is how I roll: making things better and easier to understand for everyone :)

  37. Vin DiCarlo
    Vin DiCarlo

    Thanks for this great seo guide. recently i start a new blog and i will follow this guide to make my site great seo optimized. I want good rank on google and yahoo. Will you please write SEO Guide for drupal.

    Thanks for share

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Hey Vin, how is it going with your blog? Were you able to improve it thanks to this guide?

  38. Rahul

    Thanks Ste for this huge compilation of all the SEO tactics. I can’t image the time it took you to write all this. This post is so huge that I ad to bookmark it. I will come back to this after my lunch and read it again and implement everything you have mentioned.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      You’re welcome Rahul! It took me many hours to put this guide together :) Bookmark it and don’t forget to share it with your friends!

  39. RedRocketWebWorks.com

    Wow, quite possibly the longest post I have ever read! Some really great tips and tricks. This will be bookmarked for sure!

    Will have to start putting this advice to the test with a couple of blogs I am working on, will report back with my findings soon!

    1. Sté Kerwer

      I think it was also the longest post I ever wrote!

      How is it going with your website?

  40. Rani

    Simply wow wow wooowww!
    what a brief data u had share with us.
    marvelous and full of information post.
    great work dude need to follow your site now.
    some basic tricks was really very new for me thanks again.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thank you for your comment Rani! I tried my best to keep it interesting for everyone who want to learn about this subject!

  41. Gene
    Gene

    I could read this SEO article without my glasses and with my small brain and still understand it. You just helped me move my website light years forward. Great job! Thanks Sooo MUCH

    1. Sté Kerwer

      haha Gene! Don’t underestimate yourself ;)

  42. Ton in
    Ton in ‘t Veld

    Hi Ste. I am overwhelmed by the great work you did. I have only one suggestion: a go to the Top button would help :-) And one question: aren’t you afraid the keyword set “WordPress SEO’ will be seen as spam?

    1. Sté Kerwer

      I’ll definitely consider the “back to top” button. Right now, if you scroll to the very bottom of the page, there is a link to scroll back in the footer. I’ll find a way to make it accessible no matter how far down you’ve scrolled.

      I’m not really afraid because this article is the best page about WordPress SEO you’ll find online. Great resources are what Google want, right?

  43. daniel

    very interesting article. some tips and tricks i am going to implement on my sites. good job done, i am glad to follow you, thanks

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Thank you for your comment Daniel. I wish you the best with your sites!

  44. Warren Chandler

    Thanks for putting this together, Sté. Having written similarly long SEO and programming related articles, I truly appreciate the time taken to compile all these great points.

    Will bookmark it, share it and point people to it as a wonderful source of information – at least that saves me explaining these things over and over again!

    Great work and thanks again.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      You’re welcome Warren! Writing such long and detailed articles definitely takes a lot of time. But my goal is to help people understand SEO better, even if it means spending weeks writing such guides :)

  45. mamun

    Very interesting man. I never found all this option into one article. Thanks for write this long article for us.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      I’m glad you liked it Mamun. Let me know if you think I missed something!

  46. Steve Faer

    Ste’
    Killer post, albeit a bit lengthy for my normal blog digestion session. I noticed you have a fairly high keyword density for the keyword WordPress SEO. It also looks to be front loaded, in that the early part of the post has a higher density. Is this by design? Did you actually look at density for this post?

    Keeping in mind that SEs don’t place nearly the value on this metric as they did a few years ago, do you usually look at it? If Google is going to be pacing greater emphasis on longer content, you certainly nailed it! I was just talking to my VP of Sales the other day about the value of very short blog posts, vs. authority reference posts, and now you show up with this one! Nice job.
    Thanks,

    Steve

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Hello Steve, thanks for the nice words. I published it as-is without putting much attention to the density. Now that you bring it to my attention, the KW density seems extremely high to me and I’m probably going to make some edits to tone it down.

      I don’t put the same emphasis on density as I did in the past. I certainly don’t push the envelope as much as trying to hit a certain ratio. I think nowadays it’s more important to have content that reads as natural as possible. Search engines are getting smarter, and you can’t game the system that way anymore.

      Maybe just make sure that your target keyword appears in the first sentence of the article to give a serious ‘hint’ to search engines about your article’s focus.

  47. Joe Houghton
    Joe Houghton

    Holy cow am I glad I read this. I’ve been learning SEO as quickly as I can, but this is by far the best and most thorough article I’ve ready yet. I’m going to spend the rest of the night getting my site optimized

  48. Lisa Harvey

    So thankful! Just starting out with blog and new website. I’m in the process of switching to Word Press sites. You certainly demystified SEO. Obviously, it’s still a lot of work and takes time, but I now feel I have a plan of attack. And I love that you provided levels to grow into. Thanks immensely!

    ~ Lisa

  49. Kelli Roig
    Kelli Roig

    What a refreshing and rewarding find! This is the informatio I’ve been searching for the past 2 years, written in words I can understand and not assuming I’m an expert already.

    Thank You so much, I look forward to continuing to learn from you.

    Kelli Roig

  50. George Georgiev
    George Georgiev

    I’m speechless!Never would’ve believed that there exist a thorough SEO guide so readable and captivating.Excellent job !Now I have to look back and see how I found you and present my gratitude for sharing.
    There is a recent Schema plugin that does the job nice and easy.I’ll keep you posted later.Can’t remember the name of the plugin off my hat,sorry.
    Anyway,You’ve got a real fan here.
    Best regards:
    George

  51. Florin

    Great guide man. 80% of the things you wrote about i already use on mi sites. There are some things i can also improve thanks to your guide. Thx a lot and as sign of mi recognition about your work i will tell you the only think you didn’t wrote about in this guide. There is one important factor hwo helps your site rank better . Speed !!! You didn’t say nothing about any cache solution here. I use lite cache as plugin for the cache with some htaccess rules for the browser caching. Bring this guide to the ultimate level ;)