SEO for WordPress - The Complete Guide

Quick Facts

1. There are 55 million blogs out there, if you don’t stand out you will
have no chance.

2. The first second of a visitors attention is the most crucial.

3. Your main traffic should come to articles and posts inside your blog, not the
home page.

4. Search engine rankings relies heavily upon the quality and quantity of links
to your blog when they determine the ranking.

5. The best way to get links is by natural recommendations from other bloggers
or web site owners.

Section 1: Optimize Your Blog

Usually the WordPress themes are well designed and structured already but
there are a number of things you really should do to improve it for better
optimization for search engines.

Using the best URLs

To enable the permalinks is easy and you have probably already done that,
just go to Options -> Permalinks in the admin panel. But what format is the
best to choose? The structure /%postname%/ - nothing else. This is best because
your URLs to your articles should never change. And if you have it like
this it does not matter if you change the category of the article or republish
it with a new date, it will always be the same URL (more about that later). And
if you happen to have two posts with the same title it is not a problem as
WordPress will automatically add “-2″ in the end.

Have you been using the wrong format? Well, if your blog is not totally new
you should not change. It is not vital and for the next time
you make a blog you know how to make it right.

Handling URL Canonization

Every WordPress blog has an issue in which there are 4 different URLs for the
same post and this has to be fixed to prevent dilution. Follow my guide on how
to fix it here.

Title Tags

The title tag is the most important HTML-tag in terms of SEO.

Here are different versions you should use inside the
<title></title> located in theme/header.php

Optimum ranking:

<?php if(is_home()) { echo 'Your blogs name  Few important words'; } else { wp_title('') ;} ?>

For branding purposes:

<?php if(is_home()) { echo 'Your blogs name  Few important words'; } else { Your blogs name: wp_title('') ;} ?>

The best title tag solution for advanced users

Either install and properly use the SEO
Title Tag plugin
or do the following:

1. Download and install this

2. Replace <?php get_header(); ?> with the context in header.php on
single.php, page.php and category.php.

3. Work out the best titles for the different versions and use the plugin to
create different versions of category.php and single.php with their own versions
of title tags. For example if your category with ID 5 is “SEO News” you
could have the following title tag in single-cat-5.php:

<title>SEO News: <?php { wp_title('') ;} ?></title>

In category.php you could have:

<title><?php { wp_title('') ;} ?>  Your Name</title>


Headings are defined by HTML with H1 (largest) to H6 (smallest). You need to
use them in your articles when you write. Your article title should be in a main
heading (H1), sub headings with H2 and small headings with H3.

Make sure that in theme/single.php this code <?php the_title(); ?> is
wrapped in H1 so that it looks like:

<h1><?php the_title(); ?></h1>

If your theme designer already used a specific CSS design for the heading
tags you can do like this:

1. Open up theme/single.php and add <div class=”singleheadings”> to
the top after <?php get_header(); ?> and </div> to the bottom before
<?php get_footer(); ?>.

2. Add then add for example the following lines of CSS to your CSS file:

.singleheadings h1 {font-size:XXpx;font-family:XX}
.singleheadings h2 {font-size:XXpx;font-family:XX}
.singleheadings h3 {font-size:XXpx;font-family:XX}

You can change your quicktags by for example using this
instead (also add H2 to the file) so that you easily can insert heading
tags when you write.


Most of the link power is coming to the home page of your blog and gets
distributed evenly among the rest of the links on that page. So in additional to
having a good navigation structure for your visitors also do the following:

  • Have links to the most important articles and pages from your home page.
    That can easily be achieved by making a category with your best articles and
    using the WP
    Category Post
    plugin to make a list of them on the index.php file.
  • Install the Related
    plugin and have your articles link to similar articles.
  • Also link yourself to previous articles you have written.
  • Place the attribute rel=”nofollow” on links that are totally useless
    for search engines such as to RSS feeds for the blog and comment links. In
    case you want to remove the nofollow on the comment links make sure you
    check the author links before approval as it is important that you don’t
    link to bad sites from your blog.
  • You should not have hundreds of external links on the home page, if you
    have that I recommend that you place them on a separate page.

Site Map

A Site Map is where your visitors go to navigate and find specific articles
and posts on your blog. It is also a place for search engines to find links to
all your pages on your blog.

Use my
article on how to make an automatic WordPresss Site Map
and add one for your
blog. I prefer that you make the first version in the guide.

What about a Google Sitemap?

It is not needed. There is no reason for a WordPress blog with a proper
navigation structure to submit a Google Sitemap other than for information
purposes. A Google Sitemap does not improve your ranking, only crawling, and
that is not a problem.


Everyone has different tastes about design but here are points to think about
when you design your blog:

  • Keep the design simple, very simple.
  • Have the body text big with big and clear headings.
  • For some reason blogs are not liked in the big social network sites (like
    digg, reddit etc) so make your theme unique and try to make it look like a
    site and not a blog.
  • Make sure nothing steals attention from your text.
  • The text width should not be longer than one and a half alphabet, even
  • When a visitor reaches an article on your blog, the text should be seen
    instantly. Have the text as far up as possible. A visitor should not have to
    scroll to reach the content.
  • If you are not making decent money with ads I suggest you to erase all ads
    you have on the blog.

References to follow:

What About the Meta Tags?

There are various WP plugins out there for this but to be honest and frank I
can tell you that they are not worth the effort. The meta keywords tag are not
used anymore (or extremely little) in the ranking calculation and while the meta
description tag can show up in the SERPs
I consider the snippet of text the visitor gets being better.

CSS Positioning

It has been said that by providing the important content first in the source
code it will make a positive difference in your search engine ranking. I am not
sure if this is true, but it won’t hurt to do it. For example on this blog the
navigation on the left is in the bottom of the code.

Section 2: How to Craft Your Articles

You should read the entire section of Authoring
High Quality Content
by Mr. Fishkin but I give you here a very quick summary
as it relates to this article.

First the most important quote:

One Great Page is Worth a Thousand Good Pages

While hundreds or dozens of on-topic pages that cover sections of an
industry are valuable to a website’s growth, it is actually far better to
invest a significant amount of time and energy producing a few
articles/resources of truly exceptional quality. To create documents that
become “industry standard” on the web and are pointed to time after time
as the “source” for further investigations, claims, documents, etc. is to
truly succeed in the rankings battle. The value of “owning” this traffic
and link source far outweighs a myriad of articles that are rarely read or
linked to.

Write articles or posts that serves as a stand alone document. This means
there is everything valuable collected on that page on that specific topic. For
example a stand alone document on “SEO for WordPress” should have everything
on that page and the reader should not need any other articles on that topic.

Better 1 great article that you revise 10 times than 10 smaller ok articles.

To do this you can also rewrite and republish your old articles with the
current time to show up again as the latest article.

Include links to more reading if applicable

Withing or at the end of your article you should link to other sources so
that the reader can read more if he is interested. You can also use this as
sources if you got your writing materials from other places.


You should write the kind of headlines to your articles that:

  • Contains important keyword combinations or phrase for ranking
  • Describes with great interest what the article is about
  • Makes the reader want to read it and clicks on it in the SERPs
  • And is short and to the point

Section 3: Increase User Interaction

  • Use polls from for example Poll Daddy.
  • Increase the commenting field for longer user comments and better
    interaction. This also provides more unique content to your articles.
  • Install the Subscribe
    to Comments plugin.

  • Actually do reply to your commenters and answer their questions.
  • If you revise an article based on a comment, do link and give credit to
    the commenter.

Section 4: Get Links

  • The art of writing the kind of content that get natural links is called
    link baiting. See my article on that with a list of ideas here.
  • Post your link baits on the major social network sites such as digg,
    reddit and the others.
  • Install my Link
    to Me Textbox WordPess Plugin
    which provides an automatic HTML box of
    code for easy linking to you.
  • Regularly link and reference other bloggers in your field in your posts to
    get attention from them. You loose nothing of it and many of them will
    return the favor and link to you. Also comment on their blogs to make them
    discover your blog.
  • Read and follow my Link
    Building Guide

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