Your Guide to WordPress SEO Best Practices

Robert Valcourt
Sep 19, 2014
Your Guide to WordPress SEO Best Practices

WordPress is a fantastic CMS, but it's not very SEO friendly out of the box. This guide will help you optimize your site using effective SEO plugins and learn how to configure them correctly. You'll need to get started with some handy plugins. You can download them directly from WordPress of use the links below. What you'll need:

  • Yoast WordPress SEO
  • Yoast Google Analytics
  • Simple 301 Redirects
  • 410 For WordPress

Yoast WordPress SEO

This plugin is written from the ground up to improve your site's SEO on all needed aspects. While this WordPress SEO plugin goes the extra mile to take care of all the technical optimization, it first and foremost helps you write better content. WordPress SEO forces you to choose a focus keyword when you're writing your articles and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere. This plugin is accessible via the WordPress admin area and is labeled SEO. Let's have a look at the key features…

Webmaster Tools Support

On the Dashboard page, you can enter your Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools verification values. Do this! Support for Alexa, Pinterest, and Yandex is also included.

XML Sitemaps

This plugin will create automated XML sitemap for your pages. XML sitemaps should be submitted to search engines in their webmaster tools control panel. On the XML Sitemaps page, I recommend configuring Exclude post types and Exclude taxonomies as follows.

  • Exclude post types
    The only values I would leave checked are the Pages and Posts types.
  • Exclude taxonomies
    Unless you wish to have a specific taxonomy indexed, I recommend checking all values.

Titles & Metas

Here you can configure the site-wide meta configuration. Meta titles and descriptions can be auto formulated though I do recommend that you write your page and post title and descriptions manually for optimal performance. To ensure that thin pages are not indexed by search engines, you will want to configure your Post types and Taxonomies. Pages that should not be indexed should have their Meta Robots value set to noindex, follow.


Facebook OpenGraphs and Twitter cards are becoming increasingly popular. Enable and configure these features in this section.

Yoast Google Analytics

The Google Analytics by Yoast plugin for WordPress allows you to track your blog easily and always stays up to date with the newest features in Google Analytics. It has full support for Google's newest Universal Analytics snippet.

Simple 301 Redirects

Simple 301 Redirects provides an easy method of redirecting requests to another page on your site or elsewhere on the web. It's especially handy when you migrate a site to WordPress and can't preserve your URL structure. By setting up 301 redirects from your old pages to your new pages, any incoming links will be seamlessly passed along, and their PageRank (or what-have-you) will be passed along with them.

Once installed, this plugin page is located in the Settings section of the WordPress admin area. For each entry, you have two fields: Request and Destination. Wildcards can also be used with this plugin using the * character. Example usage:

Single Redirect
Request: /oldpage.php

Wildcard Redirect
Request: /oldsection*

This wildcard will catch any request that starts with /oldsection and forward to the value specified in the destination field. This applies to any page or subfolder in that section.

410 For WordPress

There have may be times when you will want to add a 301 redirect for your moved for deletes pages. In some cases, you may wish to have search engine remove a page or post from their index. The 410 for WordPress plugin will issue a HTTP 410 response to requests for articles that no longer exist on your pages or blog posts. When you delete a post or page, it records the URL for that page and issues a 410 response when that URL is requested. You can also manually manage the list of obsolete URLs.

Once installed, this plugin page is located in the Plugins section of the WordPress admin area. To add 410 responses manually, scroll to the bottom of the configuration page to the Manually Add URLs area. Wildcards can also be used with this plugin using the * character.

Content Is Key!

While the above plugins and related configuration will help you create a solid Wordpress SEO foundation, they cannot address the most important thing: your content. The highest majority of your site score will be derived from the content on your pages. The content you create should be original, relevant, and well written.

For help writing content, please see our other articles for Search Engine Optimization.

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