Optimizing Your Blog for Search Engines

There are many mysteries surrounding how search engine rankings work and what really boosts your Web site’s visibility when it comes to search engine listings, but most industry experts believe that all search engines love Web sites that are updated often. This is why blogs can be so successful at generating lots of Web traffic.
With the help of some basic settings, free plugins, and useful tips you can increase your ranking in most search engines. Below, in no particular order, you will find helpful information on optimizing your WordPress blog for search engines:

  • Permalinks: Every WordPress blog has the ability to display permanent links to each post in a variety of ways. By default WordPress uses web URLs which have question marks and lots of numbers in them, however WordPress offers a few alternative link structures to choose from, or you can even create your own custom link structure to suit your needs.
    The WestHost blog uses the Month and name setting, which will produce links such as http://blog.westhost.com/2008/08/post-title-goes-here/. Having a post with a title that matches relevant post content will be a big plus for Search Engine Optimization.
    This setting can be changed in your WordPress admin control panel. Simply click on Settings from the top right and then click on Permalinks from the sub menu that appears below. Once you select what link structure will work best for you, simply click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page.
  • All in One SEO Pack Plugin: This plugin is streamlined for some of the best practices for WordPress SEO. While it gives you many options the defaults reflect the settings the author recommends using.
    Some features:

    • Automatically optimizes your titles for search engines
    • Generates META tags automatically
    • Avoids the typical duplicate content found on WordPress blogs
    • You can override any title and set any META description and any META keywords you want.
    • You can fine-tune everything
    • Backward-Compatibility with many other plugins, like Auto Meta, Ultimate Tag Warrior and others.
    • And more!
  • Google XML Sitemaps Plugin: This plugin will create a Google sitemaps compliant XML-Sitemap of your WordPress blog. It supports all of the WordPress generated pages as well as custom ones. Every time you edit or create a post, your sitemap is updated and all major search engines that support the sitemap protocol, like Google, ASK.com, MSN Search and YAHOO, are notified about the update.
  • Link related posts: This one sounds simple enough, but many people forget to do this. If you are making a post that may have related info in past posts you’ve made, link to them. This isn’t just helpful to search engines, but to your site visitors as well. Many search engines will analyze what content you are linking to, and when it is a relevant post, it will help increase the credibility of your current post. For example, in this article we have discussed using WordPress plugins to help with search engine optimization, and only a few weeks ago we wrote a post on how to install WordPress plugins.

These are just a few ideas to help get started with optimizing your blog for search engines. As you can see, SEO on any Web site is a constant task, but all of these little things can really add up and pay off big when it comes to search engine rankings for your blog content.