This is the second part of the essential SEO tips for WordPress blogs covering the topics of Google Sitemaps plugins, pings and ping servers, valid (X)HTML, importance of a layout that puts post content ahead of sidebars and navigation, and displaying post excerpts and teaser text on the home page.
You should also check out other articles relevant to the SEO for blogs: How to Make a WordPress Blog Duplicate Content Safe and SEO for WordPress Part 1
To keep the quality of the web search high Google spiders constantly crawl the Internet searching for new or updated content. The main way Google discovers a new page is following links that point to it. Some pages donâ€™t have enough incoming links to be quickly discovered by Google, and it may take weeks for them to appear in the index.
To speed up the indexing process Google allows webmasters to upload a specially formatted XML file called â€˜sitemapâ€™ containing links to all the pages in a given website and the frequency of their updates. This not just increases the chances of a new or updated page to be picked up quickly, but also optimizes the indexing job, as instead of random crawl spiders now can be sent directly to the new content.Although I can say that from my experience WordPress blogs are usually indexed without much problem, it is still can be useful to create a Google account and upload a sitemap file for your blog. There is a handy plugin for WordPress that allows you to create sitemaps with little or now knowledge of PHP and XML. Check it out:
- WordPress Sitemaps plugin from Arne Brachhold. It builds a new XML sitemap every time a post is written or updated. It can set priority of a page based on the number of comments to it. It also has a friendly user interface to customize all the parameters. Plus there is an informative video tutorial explaining how to install the plugin and work with sitemaps by Andre Chaperon.
- To display your XML sitemap in your blog just as a regular sitemap (which would help visitor to browse your blog) use SiteView plugin . The page is in German, so here is the link to the automated English translation .
Each time you publish or update a post your WordPress engine attempts to notify ping servers about the new content on your site. Ping servers provide lists of recently updated blogs to blog search engines and aggregators helping them to show the most recent content to their users. You can manage the list of servers to ping in Options -> Writing section. The more servers you ping the better, but be aware that as your blog notifies a long list of ping servers this an extra load on your webserver making you wait every time you publish updates. The best solution is to choose a few popular ping servers that can guarantee that all the major blog search engines and aggregators will be notified about your new post. Here is the list of recommended ping servers:
A comprehensive list of active ping servers you can find on Wikipedia
Only a small percentage of pages in the Web fully confirm the standards of W3C, and even some big websites allow having their web documents not validating against the W3C rules. The modern major browsers are capable to display such pages regardless the errors in HTML and search engine crawlers are mostly able to index them. But sometimes structure (X)HTML errors may prevent your pages to be indexed correctly. To make sure that your pages are valid use the W3C validation service or one of the plugins for your browser, such as for example, this one based on Tidy.
Post Content above Navigation
Your blog navigation and the content of your sidebar are repeated across the blog while the content of your posts is mostly unique. It would be a wise decision to put your posts above the navigation so that to get advantage of the content prominence (one of the factors used to judge the relevance of a page).
To see how the content and sidebar navigation are arranged in your pages use a text-only browser like Lynx, or temporarily disable CSS in your browser options. Or better yet, install Web Developer plugin for Firefox that allows you to enable and disable CSS in one click. Once you disabled CSS you can see you blog just as search engines crawlers see it.
The designers of WordPress themes place post content above navigation and sidebar by editing CSS file associated with the theme. The most popular blog layout â€“ posts to the left, sidebar to the right â€“ doesnâ€™t require any special adjustments as sidebar appears after the post content. But when you want to use a three column layout or a layout with a left sidebar â€“ you have to make sure that the theme you are going to use puts posts above the navigation and sidebars in the CSS disabled view.
Showing Teaser Text or Text Excerpts on the Home Page
If you prefer to write long posts you should think about showing only a part of them on your page. The reasons for that are:
- decreased loading time for your home page,
- improved visibility of you previous posts,
- precaution against duplicate content penalties.
Simply put tag after the first or second paragraph of your post and make sure that the first lines displayed on the home page are capable to capture the attention of your readers motivating them to read the entire post. Copyblogger gives excellent tips on writing captivating teaser text.
Some more resources on SEO for Blogs:
This article is largely based on SEO fÃ¼r WordPress â€“ die besten Tipps â€“ Teil 2 by Michael WÃ¶hrer with some new input by me.
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