By CY Tang
To optimize your wordpress blog, simply follow the following guidelines:
Friendly permalink structure
The first thing to do before creating any post is to change the permalink. Always do this before you post anything. The most friendly permalink structure should be what this site has, with the structure "domain.com/post-name". I have seen a lot of people tend to use the date and month in the middle of the url, which is not a good thing, as the deeper you put your post in, the harder it gets found, unless you really have a good content.
If you have already used these formats and want to change to my suggested one, then the only thing you can do is to create redirection manually for each pages. Do not try editting htaccess because it won't work. I have tried it but the next day you woke up, you will find htaccess being rewritten back to the default. It seems like WordPress will automatically rewrite htaccess file. The only way you could do is to create "permanent redirection" for each page. It is important to choose permanent redirection instead of temporary as it is the one that is seo friendly. From my experience, using this method can successfully changed top ranking pages to point to the new url without losing any ranking. If you are already using the default structure, which is domain.com/?p=5, then simply no need worry. Just changed the structure and it will keep the old pages active instead of error page. Sooner, spiders will update your ranked pages with the new url.
Use suitable tags and structure
Make sure every post you make, the title has h2 tag, instead of some other name created in css. If it has something like "post-title", change it to "h2" in the stylesheet. It is important to have h2 tagged titles in every post you make. Always choose a good title for your post. Try not to use the newspaper style of headline. If you are writing about advantages of playing tennis, simply call it "Advantages of Playing Tennis", it's strong enough itself. Always put bolds on the suitable wordings or sentences. Adding "li" tags can be a powerful way to make your post looks more orgnaized. Some WordPress theme has h2 tags on some wordings that should not deserve, such as "Leave a comment" or "Category". Always change them to smaller as they will not do any goods to you. Always put the correct links in your blog that can allow spiders to follow. Never hide your archives and categories links. Put them at the sidebar. It is important to realise that, without having a link to somewhere, search engine spiders will *never* know the existance.
Use optimized title
The default title WordPress uses is less friendly to be used as it puts the post title at last. It is better to move the title infront. You can download a plugin called optimal title, which allows you to put on the title, which can show the title anywhere you want. You can use the format "Post Name" – "Site Name", which is the most effective way. But do remember, don't always change your mind after making the modification. If you change the format 5 times in a month, it is unlikely your posts will be indexed high and you will be wasting your time.
Install related post plugin
This can be the most powerful thing to do. Always install this plugin, it is an effective way not only making your website looks more valuable and also a great way to improve page views. People who read your article will always want to read more, and at least 5 related articles link put aside or below the article should attract them to go ahead and read more. Try download the related plugin and change it to display 10 related articles instead of 5, if possible. This plugin can also help your post looks more valuable to spiders and making other related posts easier to be indexed too.
Link exchange with quality blog
Never neglect the importance of outbound link in your blog. If your blog has already had some pagerank, you should probably find some link partners easily from forums and blogs. Always choose those with related content to be your partners. It will make your website seen more quality to spiders. If you are starting out and have no partners at all, it can take sometimes to search for the right partners. Always make friends in forums, post actively there. Leaving your blog's url in signature of every post for many big forums can be a powerful and effective way to promote your blog. Some forums are popular enough that they have high pagerank on showthread.php file or others, it is a good way to increase your PR too!
Get rid of spamming comments and links
We all know people can leave comments in every post, but how valuable are comments? I must admit, comments are extremely valuable. They can make your post rocks so high on a competitive keyword, but only if the content is good enough. Related comments can add more context to your post, in terms of the view from spiders. Having nice people leaving related words is a great way to improve the value of your article. However, there are spammers in the blogging world. Often times you will find people leaving stuff like "buy viagra, cigrattes, etc" in the comments and leave whole bunch of links to unrelated content. These should always be taken as a serious issue because they are killing your post! Do always filter new comments before approving it. There is a nice function in WordPress that you can use to hold a post if it contains a particular word, or if it has x number of links. Simply go to Options -> Discussion, at the part where it says "Hold a comment in the queue if it contains more than…", enter the number as 1. Now, if anyone places a link or more in the comment, the comment will automatically be put on hold. Below it is the Comment Blacklist feature, put in the words that you want to block to prevent undesirable wordings to appear in your blog.
Top viewed posts plugin
Another powerful method you can do is to install the top views plugin. This plugin can display the most popular posts in your blog, thus attracting more readers and improve your pageviews. I think you can change the default number to display, I usually will display the top 15 most viewed posts.
Customize your error 404 page
Always remember to edit the error page. Often times when a post is deleted and there is new visitor coming, wordpress will bring the visitor to the 404 page. Now, you don't want to miss any new visitor to know more about your site. One thing you can do, is to copy the index.php coding and paste it to the error page. This can let the visitor seeing your homepage instead of a blank page saying the page is not found. Alternatively, you can leave the correct link on the error page, asking the visitor to click on it to arrive on the correct page.
Keeping a fast loading blog
I often see a lot of bloggers putting all sorts of weird codes and frames inside a blog. Never do that, as it slows down the loading of a page and keeps visitors away. Internet users are mostly lazy people, I should say, they rather close the window and go and get a Subway, than sitting there waiting for something to be shown for 2 minutes. You should always make sure your blog has easy navigation for people to browse through the whole site. The default "Next" and "Previous" links are good enough, but you can try to change the anchor text to something like "Read more about %sitename%" and "Read old topics on %sitename%".
Google sitemap for WordPress
It was quite a buzz last few years when Google announced that webmasters can use sitemap as a way to communicate with spiders to help getting their pages indexed. According to Google's website, it states "The Sitemap Protocol allows you to inform search engine crawlers about URLs on your Web sites that are available for crawling. A Sitemap consists of a list of URLs and may also contain additional information about those URLs, such as when they were last modified, how frequently they change, etc.". Fair enough that a sitemap should do some good to your blog. Learn how to generate a Google sitemaps and submit it to Google to help boosting your indexing power.
CY Tang is a search engine profession, helping websites to get ranked higher with better search engine visibility. Visit his seo blog for any seo tips and advice.
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