Feature
Post

Category
Publishing


Plugins for a Search Engine Friendly WordPress Blog

One of the first things that should be incorporated into a design is a strategy towards search engine friendliness. With the wealth of blogging platforms available, it isn’t immediately apparent what one can do to make a blog more search engine friendly. Sure, an author can lace the content with keywords and constantly update the content. However, with search engines, it’s the little things that count.

This article will be aimed towards WordPress users and the plugins that can assist the user in making a blog more search engine friendly. If you are not a WordPress user, some of the search engine tips you may find within may still be useful. Some of the tips that I will mention do not actually require plugins and will just require some modification of the WordPress settings or theme.

Human-Readable Permalinks

Human readable links aren’t as useful as they once were from a search engine optimization perspective. However, when searching for something in Google, one of the things that shows up with the search result is the page’s address. Furthermore, when a user clicks on the link, a useful link structure can inform the user what page that person is on and where in the site structure that user is.

So in essence, useful permalinks are more of a usability feature than a search engine feature. So why do I list it here? Because it does help some.

In WordPress, permalinks are easy to configure. In your administration panel, just go to Options and then Permalinks. You can then use the permalink options given to you, or create your own custom permalink structure.

Change Your Preferred Domain

Instead of www.devlounge.net, the next plugin will change the site’s URL to devlounge.net.

So what’s the benefit of the “no-www” plugin?

The “no-www” plugin allows you to specify which domain is indexed on your site. Google calls this a preferred domain. You can specify a preferred domain with Google Sitemaps, but I have yet to find a way to do this with other search engines.

The main benefit of this plugin is that all your indexed URLs will have the same prefix.

Change Your Title

The current title structure for WordPress is “Blog Title – Blog Archive – Page Title.” Ideally, the page title should be the first thing a user sees. Furthermore, when Google comes around and indexes the site, all of the indexed URL titles will look the same since the blog title is listed first (especially if you have a long blog title). There should be an easy way to change this.

And there is. Enter “Optimal Title.” This plugin makes the title first, so that all posts are structured as, “Page Title – Blog Title.” The plugin is simple to install and requires a small modification to the WordPress theme.

Submit a Sitemap

This next plugin makes it very simple to generate a sitemap that can be submitted to the search engines that support the format. Sitemaps are extremely beneficial and tell the search engine which pages are available for indexing.

The plugin is called “Google Sitemaps Generator.” There’s also a beta version that has added support for Yahoo and MSN.

Add Meta Tags

I noticed that when Google indexed my personal site, most of the pages would show up as supplemental because they all had the same description. After testing out some major sites, I noticed that Google actually included the description that was included in the meta tags.

This next plugin is called “Add-Meta-Tags” and is quite useful in allowing WordPress users to specify descriptions and keywords for each page.

The plugin uses a post’s excerpt as the description and the categories as keywords. You can also override the description and keywords by using a “description” or “keyword” custom field.

The plugin is versioned as 0.5 and is quite buggy. I found a bug just minutes after installing it. It doesn’t allow double or single quotes in excerpts, and also lets descriptions span over several lines. I’ve uploaded my own “somewhat fixed” version until the author of the plugin gets around to fixing it (Update: Author has fixed the version. Please download from the author’s plugin page).

Ditch Printer-Friendly Pages

Printer friendly pages are not necessarily website owner friendly. They’re useful for users wanting to print out pages, but they’re also useful for search engines. The design is stripped away and all that is available is the content.

I’ve personally stopped using the “WP-Print” plugin after discovering that the only pages Google indexed were my printer friendly pages. The fact that Google indexed my printer friendly pages is a significant problem because printer friendly pages are orphan pages with no link back to the main site.

An alternate technique is to use A List Apart‘s technique for using a print stylesheet and possibly using JavaScript to show a print preview.

Please note that one of the drawbacks of the JavaScript print preview technique is that it breaks the back button.

Use Tags

Although not necessarily beneficial to search engines, tags can help you place in blog search engines such as Technorati. One useful plugin that can help you insert tags into your pages is “Ultimate Tag Warrior.”

Other Plugins and/or Tips

This is where you come in. Have you found a WordPress plugin or technique that has helped you from a search engine optimization perspective? Please let us know about it.

For some related reading, here are some other links geared towards WordPress users and search engine optimization:


  1. By Rohit posted on January 10, 2007 at 12:11 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Thanks a million for this awesome piece of information. A fantastic post :).

  2. By Auke posted on January 10, 2007 at 5:47 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I agree with Rohit. This some very valuable information. Thanks.

  3. By Jan posted on January 10, 2007 at 10:48 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I also agree! A great summary of helpful information.

  4. By Jonathan posted on January 10, 2007 at 11:05 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I especially like your “Somewhat fixed add meta tags” plugin. I didn’t know either existed.

  5. By Ken Savage posted on January 10, 2007 at 12:01 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Pretty simple advice but definitely fundamental when it comes to basic onpage SEO. Espaecially for wordpress. It would give users some exercise an editing WP templates also

  6. By Ken Savage posted on January 10, 2007 at 12:02 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    btw, bookmarked to help out WP noobs.

  7. By Rirath posted on January 10, 2007 at 12:32 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    People seem to disagree on WordPress SEO. Some people say use stuff like Dup-Prevent to only index the single posts and homepage, while others are actively adding every single tag to their sitemap.

    My site has around 250~ posts, yet over 1,000 results in Google… so I’ve went with only indexing the single posts to avoid “supplemental” results. Which would you recommend? Could Add-Meta help this?

  8. By aj posted on January 10, 2007 at 2:18 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Excellent collection Ronalfy, great post!

  9. By eyn posted on January 10, 2007 at 2:44 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I would add “Permalink Redirect” and “Paged Comments” to the list. “Permalink Redirect” will redirect ugly links that has something like “?p=13″ to their pretty permalink equivalent and returns a 301 redirect which hopefully will retain the pagerank for you.

    “Paged Comments” is exceptionally important for SEO in my case. I had a post that has over 470 comments (it is no.1 on Google for certain keywords). There’s a period when Google totally removed that page from its SERP, most likely due to the humongous page size which is around 421k as appears on Google. The current page with “Paged Comments” limit 50 comments/page is only 48k. I believe there’s an optimal size for your page and if the size grows beyond that Google won’t like it very much.

    As for the “Dup-Prevent” plugin mentioned by Rirath, I believe it won’t be that much of a use. Yahoo!, for example, index way more pages than Google for my site. If “Dup-Prevent” is activated I believe you will only reduce your indexed page on Yahoo! and other search engines while it won’t have much effect on Google. Google is smart enough to indexed only categories pages for WordPress, and doesn’t index any tag page for most cases. Or in other words, Google knows what to index and what not to index, putting meta keyword “nofollow” won’t be much of a help IMO.

  10. By aj posted on January 10, 2007 at 3:12 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    And thanks so much for pointing out that WP-Print causes search engines to only list the printable pages! What a pain in the ass! I’ve removed that plugin now and put together a printable stylesheet, now just need to update the “print this article” button :)

  11. By Everton Blair posted on January 10, 2007 at 4:50 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Hi

    WordPress doesn’t add meta keywords and a meta description by default either. My readers did some work on fixing this, as well as recreating the effect of the optimal title plugin manually.

    http://www.connectedinternet.co.uk/2006/12/22/1223/

    EB

  12. By Rirath posted on January 10, 2007 at 6:32 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Eyn: Perhaps it’s because I run Ultimate Tag Warrior, but I have several tag pages listed in Google, even without adding them to my sitemap. I can’t tell you an exact count, but I bet it’s pretty close to every tag I’ve used.

    Personally, I don’t find Google very “smart” when it comes to WordPress at all. In fact, if left alone from a stock install, it will happily index the feeds and comment feeds, giving your searchers some very useless results. That said, I’m not yet convinced on the validity of NOINDEX tags on your categories, tags, and archives.

  13. By Alister Cameron, Blog Consultant posted on January 10, 2007 at 7:52 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I do not agree with the use of a plugin to control the forced redirection of either www or non-www versions of your site. This is best done by Apache using mod_rewrite and a couple of lines in your .htaccess file, which you’ve already got if you’ve setup permalinks. It’s totally unnecessary PHP processing to use a plugin.

    Full explanation on how to do it right is here:

    http://www.alistercameron.com/2006/12/21/pagerank-with-and-without-the-www-does-it-make-a-difference/

    Have fun!

  14. By Ronalfy posted on January 10, 2007 at 10:20 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Thanks for all the feedback all. I’m really glad that some people have been helped by this article.

    @Alister Cameron,

    .htaccess is a good way to go. However, not everybody wants to delve into the relative complexity of configuring the file. My current host wouldn’t let me have access to the .htaccess until I told them to let me have it. I also tried out the newest version of CuteFTP and it has the htaccess file hidden by default. A plugin that uses a simple php redirect is a simple and easy solution.

    I do agree with you, however. If you can and are able to modify the htaccess, then do it. If not, a plugin works too.

  15. By skarld posted on January 10, 2007 at 10:43 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    SEO Egghead gives tips on site maps, a duplicate content elimination hack and a pagination plugin in his post 3 WordPress Hacks For SE-Friendly Blog Archives

  16. By Ronalfy posted on January 11, 2007 at 12:04 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    @Rirath,

    I looked at what Google has listed for you as far as supplemental results. I am only theorizing here, but I think Google lists posts as supplemental if the description is the same, and/or the title looks the same. I think it’s a weird coincidence that the only pages that aren’t showing up as supplemental are the ones where you have the post title first as the title.

    I think the titles plugin will help, and possibly the meta one. It looks like your descriptions are okay though, so you may not need it. I’d concentrate on the titles and be patient. Google can take months to work its magic.

    @eyn,

    Good tip on the paged comments. I suppose having a lot of comments is a mixed blessing.

  17. By Podophile posted on January 11, 2007 at 1:25 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Good stuff! I’ve been wanting to get rid of “Blog Archive” from my page titles for some time now, but I’m concerned about losing my page rank if I do. Any insights on whether changing the title format can affect PR negatively?

  18. By Jordan posted on January 12, 2007 at 3:43 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Thanks for the list of plugins! I’m already using a few of them, but I haven’t searched through google nor the plugin database in awhile to see what else is available.

    I’m definitely going to have to get that UTW implemented, because I’ve always liked the tagging system.

    Gonna try out that Title plugin though, thanks =)

  19. By Michael Pollock posted on January 12, 2007 at 9:25 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Hey – thanks for the link. Nice post too.

    Regarding the WP-print issue. I had similar feelings when I noticed Google was indexing my print pages along with its corresponding “real” page. That got me to start worrying about duplicate content and how some search engines penalize a site for it. So, I installed the DupPrevent plugin.

    And it’s made a difference. My search engine placement has improved in both Google and Yahoo.

    Thanks again – Michael

  20. By Marios Alexandrou posted on January 14, 2007 at 7:42 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    An alternative for the print version of the pages is to add the noindex meta robots tag. This way you’ll keep your users happy and keep the print versions of the pages out of the search engines.

    As for duplicate content pages, I’m a fan of using snippets for the landing page and archive pages rather than full posts. The pages remain available for search engines including copy and links, but don’t look like duplicate pages.

  21. By emre posted on February 5, 2007 at 10:11 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    You can prevent Google from indexing your Print pages by adding a rel=”nofollow” to your links. I modified my plugin to do this, based on your observation. Maybe we could let the author know so he can add an option to do automatically?

  22. By joe posted on March 9, 2007 at 12:47 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    excellent resource. found a couple extra plugins to experiment with.

  23. By anthony posted on March 31, 2007 at 7:44 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Great list Ron! Here is an addition and an invite for your readers.

    Open beta invitation – WordPress video plugin – Basic online video CMS right within wp editor.

    Provides upload, transcode, hosting & streaming – by Vidavee.

    http://wordpress.vidavee.com/

    Examples here http://blog.vidavee.com/

    Download http://wordpress.vidavee.com/wpvidavee_latest.zip

  24. By Frank posted on April 10, 2007 at 2:05 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Excellent SEO article and very helpful SEO tip.

    http://supaz.wordpress.com

  25. By Jufri posted on July 31, 2007 at 7:30 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Nice tips….! THX

  26. By Miranda posted on August 12, 2007 at 9:35 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Awesome post. My site is a hobby for me and I’m not a very tech savvy individual, so your plain language and simple, straight forward, descriptions are a great help. Thanks.

  27. By B. Bakker posted on August 18, 2007 at 1:01 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Great article, I would also use google webmaster tools to set your “no www” preference.

  28. By seo on wordpress posted on August 18, 2007 at 1:16 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    We just release a new kind of plugin .

    Still in french , V 0.1 , just release this day

    Give your page the 301 +url , 302 + url , 404 error code from the “edit post page”

    Traduction needed ! ( mail can be found on our site if you can help )

    http://www.wordpress-seo.com/seo-http-error-manager.php

    How it works :
    Download, copy to plugin directory, Activate.

    When editing you can choose Leave, 301, 302, 404 ( and url for 301, 302 )

    Licence , “can be stolen” ;) and we still dont care of man who still want to give a licence for “nothing” like this !

    Comment for make it better welcome

    Sorry for my english
    ++

  29. By Hardip Patel posted on January 11, 2008 at 4:58 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Awesome information…thanks..:)

  30. By Sheridan posted on May 5, 2008 at 4:50 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Hey Ronald, I wrote 400 posts in wordpress before realising the benefit of seo friendly urls. I now want to use them from this point on. But as I still get many google hits from the old 400 posts, I don’t want to lose them. Which plugin will get round this problem?
    Thank you

  31. By anice posted on December 27, 2008 at 7:14 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    cool tips… thanks !

  32. By Billige mobiler posted on August 4, 2009 at 8:55 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    nice post man..

  33. By mobiltelefoner abonnement posted on August 8, 2009 at 6:05 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Really nice post. I get your point:)

  34. By billig mobil posted on August 9, 2009 at 4:25 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I’m can’t agree with all of it, but for det most parts i think it’s a really god post..

  35. By a-kasser posted on August 12, 2009 at 5:13 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Nice articel… please keep them comming.

  36. By taletidskort posted on August 12, 2009 at 9:04 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    A lot of good argument:) nice work..

  37. TrackbackWeblog Tools Collection » Blog Archive » Plugins for an SEO Friendly WP BlogJohn Martin Blog » Blog Archive » links for 2007-01-10Links für den 10.01.2007 | virtuatron::weblogConsejos para que los buscadores lleguen mejor a tu blog « Soporte-WordpressPlugins for a Search Engine Friendly WordPress Blog » Knuts bloggHier lerne ich Bloggen - blog :: weinschenker.nameJose Manuel Fuentes » Consejos y plugins SEO para blogs en WordPress» Blogging Action Plans Websitemonthly Concepts:Devlounge | Friday Focus #13Seòras.com - » Search Engine Friendly WordPressAtourworst.org | I have some inspiration.Blog CheckUp - WordPress: Improve your SEO - [LINICKX].comSEO PLUGINS FOR WORDPRESS 2007 | Nikki BlueLists of Your Favorite WordPress Plugins « Lorelle on WordPressStephan A. aus B. » NeustartWebmaster Directory » Blog Archive » Mejores plugins para wordpressfiLi's techGetting My New Blog Affiliate Site To The People.. » Affiliate Marketing Hints, Tips & RamblingsLinks selecionados para October 9, 2007 | Marcus Oliveira2 Pass-It-On Wordpress Plugins | SassafrassRandom Link: Favorite WordPress PluginsTempat mendiskusikan Plugin | BlogywalkieConsejos y plugins para WordPress | seosistems.comWPtags 4 MetaKeywords - T4H Make MoneyWPtags 4 MetaKeywords - T4H Make MoneyWPtags 4 MetaKeywords - T4H Make MoneyPlugins for a Search Engine Friendly WordPress Blog Devlounge | Uniform StoresSeo Search Engine Optimization services