5 Less Common WordPress SEO Tips

Serious looking man with binoculars - looking for Less Common WordPress SEO Tips
Looking for Less Common WordPress SEO Tips? Keep reading…

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is smoke and mirrors to some and a logical, systemized process to others. ManageWP’s Business Package offers keyword rank tracking and white-label client SEO reports because SEO is a critical part of promoting a business online, not just because it’s another thing that can be done.

There are dozens and dozens of “SEO for WordPress” articles, and I’d be a fool to think I could write a single blog post like “The Comprehensive Guide to WordPress SEO”, for several reasons:

So there you have it. You won’t learn every nook and cranny of WordPress SEO (from me) today. Instead, I’d like to point out a few simple-to-implement but somewhat less common SEO tips that might help along the road toward SEO perfection.

5 Less Common SEO Tips for WordPress

To get started, install and activate WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. That’s a no-brainer. If you need help setting it up, check out one of these video tutorials or read Tom’s two-part series about it. Now for the less common tips…

1. Use a Customized robots.txt File

funny robots.txt sign at a conference
Funny robots.txt sign at a conference. Image Credit: Timothy Vollmer

A physical robots.txt file is not auto-created by the WordPress Installer. Instead, a virtual robots.txt file is created. It’s bare bones:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /wp-includes/

Yeah, that’s it.

If you want to customize it, you’ll have to create an actual robots.txt file manually via FTP/SFTP at the root of your WordPress installation.

Creating a custom robots.txt file can help your website in several ways:

The Codex offers a suggested robots.txt file for WordPress, but you might consider incorporating parts of Andrew Ryno’s version. Also, don’t overlook Yoast’s robots.txt commentary.

When customizing your own robots.txt file, make sure to change the example.com references to match your website address, and if you have additional directories like demo, testing, or downloads, consider including those in the file as well, either as allow or disallow.

2. Add Customized Content to Your Archive Pages

Customizing your category archive pages (and optionally your tag archives too) is great for 2 reasons:

  1. It’s more user-friendly for humans, and
  2. You can tell search engines what this specific list of posts is all about

Derek Halpern, a website conversions specialist, wrote a great post about this strategy at DIYThemes (home to the Thesis theme). Several themes allow you to accomplish this natively.

In addition to adding front-end user-friendly content on custom category archives, Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin allows you to customize the search engine settings (like title and meta description) per taxonomy.

Bonus: The same principle applies to author archive pages. Include an author bio or something more than just a list of posts if the author archive pages are accessible on your site.

3. Microdata

Microdata include a variety of HTML markup to help search engines interpret and categorize a page’s content. In other words, it provides search engines with context. For example, microdata can be used to organize a movie review by indicating it’s a movie, what the title is, and what the review rating is (i.e. how many stars). Another example is organizing the items for a recipe.

You may wonder what microdata can do for you besides organize movie reviews and recipes. Well, they are used for general blog posts, events, local business information, and more.

You can use the Schema Creator plugin to manually create and display your custom microdata information, and the itemprop WP plugin helps automatically add microdata to all posts and pages.

The popular Google+ Google Authorship microdata is another example you might be familiar with.

Once your page has microdata, you can see what Google sees via Google’s Rich Snippet Tester.

4. Optimize Images

Optimizing images is both a simple concept and fairly easy to accomplish; however, I see too many blogs not doing it so I’ll consider it a less common WordPress SEO tip. Here’s a collection of SEO image optimization tips:

Here’s an example of a well-optimized funny cat image:

Image optimization isn’t quick, but it’s not too time-consuming. If you don’t want to spend all day optimizing images, here’s a time-sensitive workflow:

If you’re looking for good images to use on your site, check out WPMU.org’s lists for free and paid images for your website. Also check out Wikipedia’s list of Public Domain Image Resources and Google’s Advanced Image Search (see the “usage rights” option).

Bonus: Using a CDN like MaxCDN (coupon), JetPack’s Photon (free but only works for images), or any other can really improve site speed, which can boost your SEO efforts.

5. Fat Pings (PubSubHubbub)

Fat pings, accomplished via the PubSubHubbub protocol, help you beat content scrapers in the race to inform search engines of new content and where it originated from (so that you’re the first to notify).

Content scrapers are very active and if you don’t have a very popular blog (like a big newspaper or corporation) that gets indexed consistently, your site might get indexed after a content scraper’s site with your content on it.

If you’re familiar with FeedBurner’s PingShot option, you’ve got the idea.

WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr, and other companies have been using PubSubHubbub for years.

The PubSubHubbub plugin for WordPress.org is as easy as installing and activating. (There are alternative plugins if you’re interested.) ManageWP makes it easy to bulk install and activate WordPress plugins.

The True Purpose of SEO

Let’s keep in mind that the true purpose of Search Engine Optimization is conversions — getting them to do what you want them to do on your site. Whether you buy visitors (e.g. AdWords), get visitors from social networks, or have a high SERP (search engine ranking position), once that unique visitor lands on your site, wherever they may land, you want to get them to convert.

A successful conversion can be a variety of things: download your PDF, make a comment, sign up for your newsletter, buy your product, click a social share button, like your Facebook Page, call your telephone number, submit a contact form, etc.

SEO, like any marketing or communication effort, cannot be effective if you don’t have a defined message to communicate and goals to accomplish.

Hopefully one or more of these tips help you accomplish your goals, and I thank you in advance for your comments and social shares.

Images courtesy of gerlos and Timothy Vollmer 

Clifford Paulick

Clifford Paulick is @TourKick, doing cool things with WordPress, photography, and videography. He provides web and technology consulting services at TourKick.com and is a Tulsa Realtor.

20 Comments

  1. MatijaZ

    Yes, I agree with latest sentence.
    True purpose of SEO is conversion. And I would recommend to start with getting conversions from sales as soon as possible.
    I have been doing SEO here in Slovenia fro three year now (furniture market) and I’ve started with getting sales right from the beggining. Still now I am not working on email collections, shares and nothing else. Simply because I don’t have time. If SEO is one’s work, he must gets paid asap. So, go for sales. That’s just my opinion. Regards,

  2. Erick

    image optimization is an important thing that is sometimes forgotten when you’re optimizing a website, I strongly agree with all the statements mentioned in point 4

  3. Raees

    SEO is a good technique to visible your site on search engines. Few things play an important role in SEO. LIKE
    On-Page and Off-Page SEO Optimization
    Backlinks
    Keywords
    Promote article on Social networks
    Comment on other blogs
    Quality Content
    Update your Site twice a week
    AND Never Give Up…because Google like old domains..

  4. Harpal Singh

    Nice info , according to Google they are not using micro data for ranking sites. But it seems that even then we should include microdata in our site. Thanks again for this awesome tips.

  5. seo services

    These five tips of word press seo is really good thanks for sharing these informative tips…

  6. Harpal Singh

    Nice tips. The thing you mentioned about the robots.txt is good, but brother what I personally think is that we should add some more lines for better security to it. I got an error while editing it, from google webmaster.
    Overall nice tips.

  7. Wonderland Events

    Glad to have found this post. Really helpful one.

  8. N I Singh

    Thanks. The article is really helpful.

  9. Abhay Singh

    Great article for site optimization. Now we applying all points in our blog.

  10. wpflame

    thanks for sharing these tips, really useful

  11. Jomer Gregorio

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to be a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  12. Samuel

    I already customized my robot file, which I think I did already awhile back.

    These are not common at all but then again you already told us that. :)

    The image optimization section is very important though.

    Keep up the good work.

    Samuel from internetdreams.com

  13. Vivek Nath.R

    Okay, I need your suggestion about XML sitemap. Which one is better Yoast or Google XML sitemap plugin?

    1. Clifford Paulick

      If you use Yoast SEO, I’d suggest using his XML sitemaps. They work well for me. As long as the sitemap is “valid” and able to be read by Google, which they both are, you’ll be fine either way.

  14. Tiyo Kamtiyono

    Great checklist! I never know about the last point before, not ever install the plugin too :) One happy news to anyone like managewp.com which using Genesis, because Genesis 2.0 will support microformats by default.

    Thanks Clifford.

    1. Clifford Paulick

      Thanks, Tiyo.

  15. Chris Mayhew

    Great tips Gunjesh; I haven’t heard of a few of these. Fat Pings sounds like a great tool and can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Clifford Paulick

      Glad you enjoyed it, Chris.

  16. Gunjesh Kumar

    Some great tips here Clifford! I completely agree with you that providing the right file name, title, alt and caption to an image can boost up the search rankings. Keep up the good work.

    1. Clifford Paulick

      Thanks, Gunjesh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>