Friday, December 7, 2007

google your wordpress blog

I’m not really into blogging, I had planned to build this site using a content management system such as Mambo but Wordpress is so much easier I decided to blog it instead.

Unlike a lot of bloggers I am not really into the blogsphere as such, preferring to use Google, Digg and Dmoz to find sites of interest, so, naturally I want this site to index well in Google.

If you want to Googalize your Wordpress blog your in luck as SEO (Search Engine Optimisations) in Wordpress is good out of the box:

Containing many internal links to different pages (by month, category, author)
Not using images for links
Not using JavaScript for navigation
Wordpress keeps things simple for search engines, so you are already off to a good start!

However there are some tweaks you can apply.

Change the order of page titles in Wordpress

If you look at the page titles on this site, the title of the post appears first, followed by >> and the name of the blog (you will need to click on a post to see this, in the bar at the very top of your browser.

Page title is an important factor for search engines, it is usually used in the first line of Google entries, in bold above the other gumph about the page.

The problem with Wordpress is that, out of the box, it puts the Blog name (in this case Site Logic Web Development) before the title of the post. This means that all your pages will start with the same keywords, whereas you probably want more emphasis to be put on different post titles to help users find them. To remedy this you can manually edit the file:

wp-content / themes / yourTheme / header.php
There are a couple of lines of code near the top of the page between the title tags.

Simple reverse the order of:

php wp_title(”); (Blog post title, in this case Google your Wordpress Blog)
bloginfo(’name’); (Blog / site title, in this case SiteLogic Web Development)
Alternatively use this plug in, which should work on all your templates:
Personally I think a plug in is overkill to solve a problem that can be overcome with such a simple code edit, but if you want the additional control it is a benefit.

So that’s it, amend that snippet of code, or install the plug in and your google entries will start with the title of your post, as opposed to the name of your blog.

Set Permalinks

Another important factor in SEO is the filename of a page. page_1.html says nothing about your site, but Google_your_Wordpress_Blog.html does. The problem here is that wordpress does not use HTML pages, all information is stored within a database, however there is a built in solution. Go to Options / Permalinks and have a play.

If you select ‘Custom Structure’ and insert ‘/%postname%/’ as the value, then the title of your posts will be used to create the ‘file path’.

Note when you do this code will be generated below which you then need to insert into your .htaccess file. Once you have done this, you will see more descriptive text displayed in the URL, a good thing!

Get your site listed in Google

To get your site indexed in Google you will need a back-link from a site that is already indexed, or submit your URL to Google manually.

Then you will want a Google account so you can use Google’s Webmaster Tools.

To get the most out of the Webmaster tools you will need to verify your site. The easiest way in my opinion is to select “Add a META Tag” from the verification options. Google will generate a small piece of code for you. Again in header.php, insert this code below the line starting:

The second tag containing the ‘verify’ code from Google.

Once you have inserted this you can click a verify button within the google webmaster tool. This proves that the site belongs to you (or at least that you are working on it) and allows you to access a lot more information about the site.

Upload A Sitemap to Google

Finally you will benefit from uploading a sitemap. For this I would recommend you install the Sitemap Generator 2.7.1 (version at time of writing) plug in. This plug in will automatically generate an XML sitemap of your blog helping Google index the whole site. If you don’t use this plug in, it is still likely your site will be indexed due to the number of internal links used by Wordpress, but in my experience using a the sitemap speeds up the process.

Once your sitemap has been built (using the plug in), submit the sitemap to Google using the Webmaster tools provided and wait for your pages to index!

The thing I really like about the Sitemap Plug In is that it automatically updates whenever you post, there is also a manual button for creating the sitemap if you want to be sure its working!

I have not given detailed instructions on the use of Google Webmaster tools as they are so easy to use.

These are only minor tweaks, as I said, Wordpress is great out of the box, but the beauty of Open Source software is that you are free to improve (or ruin it) as you see fit

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