WordPress SEO Tutorial updated February 2014
I wrote a general SEO Tutorial some years ago (before using WP), the vast majority of the old search engine optimization tutorial is still relevant, but like the rest of the world I moved on and now use WordPress as an SEO CMS (I no longer offer SEO services to clients, make my living from a network of sites running WordPress) and this new tutorial will concentrate on WordPress users like me. It will still be very useful to non WordPress users, but there’s going to be a lot of highly WordPress specific search engine optimization tips.
I also sell the best WordPress SEO theme called Stallion Responsive and will aim parts of this tutorial and tips at my Stallion Responsive Theme customers to help them get the very best search engine optimization out of my theme package. So yes I’m trying to sell you Stallion Responsive, but not by misleading you with SEO Bullshit, everything you read here can be verified from other sources.
WordPress SEO Plugins vs WordPress SEO Themes 2014
Many (possible most?) WP users believe any WordPress theme (Thesis or Genesis for example) with an SEO plugin like Yoast WordPress SEO or All in One SEO (two of the most popular plugins) is all they need to achieve maximum search engine rankings. I’m afraid you can not get maximum SEO from WordPress just by using a WordPress SEO Plugin that changes the title tags and adds a few meta tags with a nice looking theme, you must use an entire WordPress SEO package like Stallion Responsive or have decent HTML/CSS/PHP skills to build your own.
Although WordPress out the box with almost any WP theme is better than your average website from an SEO perspective, WordPress is clearly NOT designed by SEO experts for maximum search engine results, it’s good SEO wise, but it’s not awesome: just look at how core WordPress uses rel=”nofollow” that we’ve known for years deletes valuable PageRank/link benefit. Yes, WP out the box deletes your valuable link benefit (you work hard to generate backlinks and WordPress wastes a lot of it!) and not one of the popular WordPress SEO plugins or themes deals with the rel=”nofollow” problem, in fact in many cases they make it much worse by adding more nofollow links and noindex and nofollow robots meta tags in a vain attempt to sculpt PageRank through a site!
WordPress SEO Fact: What’s a rel=”nofollow” link?
If you do NOT want a text link (or image link) to pass link benefit/PageRank (PR) to the page linked to you add a rel=”nofollow” attribute that looks like this:
<a href="http://domain.com/" rel="nofollow">Anchor Text</a>
The corresponding dofollow link (dofollow means the absence of rel=”nofollow”) looks like this:
<a href="http://domain.com/">Anchor Text</a>
Unfortunately Google deletes the valuable link benefit that would have passed through the text link, so every nofollow link from a page still consumes PageRank that would have gone (if the nofollow link didn’t exist) to your dofollow links. A simple example, imagine a page with 10 links and 5 are dofollow and 5 are nofollow. The 5 dofollow links consume 50% of the PageRank, the nofollow links delete 50% of the PageRank. Remove the 5 nofollow links and the 5 dofollow links consume all the PageRank and pass twice as much link benefit.
WordPress SEO Tip Check for Nofollow Links
If you currently run one of the popular WordPress SEO Themes and/or SEO plugins mentioned above, go to http://linkcounter.submitexpress.com (Quick SEO Tip: note how I’ve NOT turned this into a clickable link, if you don’t want a link to pass PR add it as plain text, this will work with any WP theme) and enter your sites pages, try the home page, a category, a post, a post with comments etc… and see how many PR deleting rel=”nofollow” links you have.
Note the tool isn’t 100% accurate, doesn’t count internal nofollow links (these still delete PageRank) and struggles with some link formats, for an accurate count use a browser addon (Firefox and Chrome has some good nofollow finding addons) or view source and count them. Try these URLs to see how much damage so called SEO themes and plugins are doing or to be more precise not preventing (the rel=”nofollow” added to comment links are added by WordPress core).
http://semperfiwebdesign.com/blog/all-in-one-seo-pack/all-in-one-seo-pack-pro-version-2-1-released-today/ – developers of the All In One SEO Pack Plugin: Feb 2014 around 60 nofollow links, that’s around 1/3rd of link benefit deleted!
http://diythemes.com/thesis/version-21/ – developers of the Thesis theme: Feb 2014 almost half the link benefit is deleted by the Thesis theme because it doesn’t remove nofollow!
Check any page of this site, you won’t find any rel=”nofollow” links.
On most WordPress sites NOT running WordPress SEO Plugins it’s posts with comments that have most nofollow links, though if you check the pages above you’ll find there are nofollow links added to Twitter and Facebook links that were probably added by the site owners rather than WordPress core. If you have a post with 20 comments it could be deleting the SEO link benefit of 40 links! Add to this what the popular WP SEO plugins could add if the plugin users don’t understand nofolow/noindex and you could be deleting over half your valuable link benefit from a page!
Don’t forget to run this site through the nofollow link tool, you won’t find nofollow links here.
Stallion Responsive SEO Theme
Want to get ahead of the SEO game, use the Stallion Responsive theme, it includes the very best SEO template optimization code possible, even if you didn’t have a clue what SEO was when you wrote your content, the themes code will help a LOT with search engine rankings, for example it can remove all the rel=”nofollow” links added by WordPress conserving your valuable link benefit for ranking your important content. That being said there is also a lot more you can do to improve the optimization of your blogs content and understanding WordPress SEO in 2014 is well worth time learning. If you don’t understand how Google sees the importance of a posts title tag, you won’t write the best post titles.
Lets cover the technical details first, please note some of the information described in this SEO Tutorial will sound like you need a computer programming degree to perform if you’ve never attempted similar before. My wife is a bit of a technophobe, she just doesn’t get it fast! So I’ve learnt to explain computer terminology in a VERY detailed way that almost anyone can follow (I have to write little computer tutorials for my wife :)). Be patient and I’m sure even the least confident WordPress user will be able to get this working just as I do on my search engine optimized blogs.
If you do get a little stuck feel free to post a comment and I’ll try to help out with more SEO tips and tricks.