WordPress SEO Tutorial updated September 2016
I wrote a general SEO article on choosing the correct domain name and naming a website at Domain Name Optimization that’s still fully relevant today and well worth a read. The above SEO article goes into a lot of detail about choosing the right domain name (hyphenated domains etc…) and name of a site for the best SERPs. I’m not going to cover domain name choice here or repeat the entire article, so please read the above article if you want more details.
The Stallion Responsive theme for sale on this site is search engine optimized so the name of a WordPress blog is much less of an SEO issue than for a standard WordPress theme: many (used to be ALL) WordPress themes are awful in this respect including those listed as SEO WordPress themes because they use the site title as a H1 header sitewide which informs search engines like Google EVERY page of the site should rank for the name of the site!
Also a lot of themes add the site title (this sites title is “Stallion Responsive Theme”) to the beginning or end of ALL title tags, this post for example has a title tag “WordPress Site Title Tag SEO 2016”, if I used a random WordPress theme it might be:
“WordPress Site Title Tag SEO 2016 – Stallion Responsive Theme”
“Stallion Responsive Theme – WordPress Site Title Tag SEO 2016”
Which is far from ideal SEO wise which is why WordPress SEO plugins like Yoast WordPress SEO and All in One SEO were created and became popular to override poorly thought out hard coded WordPress theme title tags.
Why the WordPress Site Title Tag is Important for SEO?
You set the WordPress Site Title Tag under your WordPress Dashboard “Settings” >> “General” : “Site Title”.
As you can see in the screenshot above I set the Site Title to “Stallion Responsive Theme”. If this was your average WordPress site the site title would be used as the home page Title Tag (see WordPress SEO Tutorial Title Tag for it’s importance), a home page link in the header area surrounded by a H1 header and possibly a footer link back to home.
Since title tags are very important for SEO what you set for the site title is important: note some themes like Stallion Responsive and some SEO plugins like Yoast WordPress SEO and All in One SEO Pack can override the site title tag (set another site title tag: in Stallion Responsive you can set two, the second one is used by the footer link: see this sites footer link anchor text).
With many WordPress themes the site title is used for a home page link in the header and it’s surrounded by a H1 header. This is not best SEO practice 2016, in Stallion Responsive for example you’ll find the home page, monthly archives and 404 error pages uses the site title within a H1 header, but the rest of the site doesn’t, on the rest of the site it’s just a plain text link with no added H* header value. This is best SEO practice 2016 because H1 headers are considered important for SEO, most SEO experts would agree add only one H1 header per page and add that pages main keyphrase within the H1.
For example for the home page of this site I want Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) like “Stallion Responsive Theme”, so ideally want that phrase or something similar within the one H1 header on the homepage, view source in a browser like Firefox/Chrome of the home page and you’ll find this code which is a derivative of the site title (good idea to mix up the on page SEO and not only use the best keyword rich phrase all the time):
<h1 id="contread">What is Stallion Responsive?</h1>
However on this page (the one you are reading now) I don’t want “Stallion Responsive Theme” or “What is Stallion Responsive?” within a H1 header, I want the name of the post (post title for example) or something relevant. You’ll find the H1 header for this page is “WordPress Site Title Tag SEO 2016”, view source and you’ll find this code:
<h1 id="contread">WordPress Site Title Tag SEO 2016</h1>
No WordPress SEO Plugin and few WordPress Themes can achieve this level of WordPress SEO (and this is basic on page SEO), there are WordPress theme developers who have stopped adding sitewide H1 headers containing the site title, so it’s getting better with WordPress themes. I don’t think we’ll ever see a WordPress SEO plugin like Yoast SEO or All In One SEO being capable of changing a themes behavior regarding a sitewide H1 header because it requires CSS styling to change from a H1 to something else and it would be impractical to expect a plugin to be able to manage the myriad of CSS styling themes use (in Stallion Responsive it was a pain to make the home page link look the same sitewide using CSS without using a sitewide H1 header).
If your theme currently adds a sitewide H1 header, change themes, it’s not an SEO theme. This is also true for H2, H3 and H4 headers, you’ll find with a lot of themes they use H2 to H4 headers for widget headings, so you’ll find the word Category within a H2 sitewide, this again is bad SEO practice 2016. Themes/plugins should either not use H* headers or use them for SEO reasons, Stallion Responsive for example uses H1, H2, H3 and H4 for adding related keyphrases (a built in Stallion feature you won’t find in any other theme) through out the site.
Title Tag and Keyword Proximity
A lot of SEO consultants believe the first keyword of the title element (little side note here, it’s title element NOT title tag as many so called SEO experts call it!) is the most important on page SEO factor, I’ve seen no evidence to support this SEO view, if it is true it’s a very small SEO boost. In my SEO experience all keywords are treated equally and general SEO benefit from the title element is spread evenly over all keywords, what is important is their proximity (Keyword Proximity) for relevant multiple keyword SERPs, my blog name for example:
Stallion Responsive Theme
So all three words will receive 1/3rd of the total SEO benefit from this title element.
But, we aren’t only after one SERP and this blog name covers many potential multiple keyword SERPs
Stallion Responsive Theme
Responsive Stallion Theme
Stallion Theme Responsive
And many others related to the keyword SEO even though SEO isn’t used in the title tag.
Stallion Responsive SEO Theme
Stallion SEO Theme
Responsive SEO Theme
The phrases above that are created with greatest keyword proximity are going to receive the most SEO benefit from this title element. So “Stallion Responsive Theme” is going to get a bigger boost than “Stallion Theme” because “Stallion” is separated from “Theme” by one other keywords where “Stallion Responsive” is a continuous phrase (greatest keyword proximity). So what you try to do is create a title element that covers a few relevant SERPs with the most important SERP being kept close together if possible to increase keyword proximity: my main SERP would be “Stallion Responsive Theme” for the main page of this WordPress blog.
Now we understand how your WordPress blog name (site title) is used by the search engines, how do we choose a relevant blog name?
Naming Your WordPress Blog for Better Search Engine Rankings
With the Stallion Responsive Theme as with most WordPress themes the name of the blog is listed in the header as a text link back to home, in some themes it’s also listed in the footer as a text link back to the home page. You might also have the name of the blog used as a link in a navigation link as well with some WordPress themes, so two to three links in general derived from the name of the WordPress blog: the anchor text of the links will be the name of the WordPress blog.
As you can see the site title could be used quite a bit sitewide and for most themes is used at the title tag and H1 header on the home page which will tend to rank well in Google for the name of the site (site title). Generally speaking choose your hardest SERP you are capable of ranking for. For example this sites hardest SERPs are single keywords like: SEO, WordPress, Themes, Plugins but this site isn’t just about those keywords and they are very hard single keyword SERPs (highly unlikely to rank high for the single keywords SEO or WordPress). Still difficult SERPs but more relevant include WordPress Themes, WordPress Plugins, WordPress SEO, Responsive Themes etc… but again these are competitive SERPs and you have to choose SERPs to target your site is capable of ranking for. Not much point targeting the home page to the “WordPress Themes” SERP if it has no chance of ranking high. Which is why I’ve targeted the phrase “Stallion Responsive Theme” and it’s derivatives: started adding content to this site in January 2014, if it becomes popular I might be more adventurous with the targeted homepage SERPs, but as I wrote the majority of this in February 2014 (not much changed between 2014 and September 2016 in this area of SEO) it’s targeted at realistic Google SERPs.
You may also find Google appends the home page site title to the end of search results even when it’s not part of the pages title tag. You can see in the screenshot below for some indexed pages from this site the title tags appear to end in “Stallion Responsive Theme”, but if you check those pages like the WordPress Tips category it’s title tag is “WordPress Tips” not “WordPress Tips – Stallion Responsive Theme”.
If you add a site title like “My Home Page” or “My Blog” or “Jims Site” and it has no SEO value or click thru value it could seriously put off Google users from clicking the Google results links to your site. Would you click on a search result with title “WordPress Tips – My Blog”?
Google adds the site title to results with short title tags to add more information for it’s search engine users. Remember Google will show up to 70 characters, if you have short title tags you might see the home page title appended to the end to use those spare characters. Not suggesting all title tags should be aiming for 70 characters, “WordPress Tips” is 14 characters and the SERP that category is aimed at.