As of 2015, 23% of the world’s websites are running in WordPress and if you are going to join the league then the following points will help you overcome some common pitfalls and improve the user experience of developing a website with WordPress.
If you think that you can download WordPress and install it and you are ready to take on the world then hold your horses. This is not enough. To make your website successful from search engine, performance, security, etc., perspective it is important that you tune up your WordPress.
Remove unwanted baggage
Keeping the default blog and sample pages during the development stage are acceptable as the fonts and layout of the site can be tested. But once the site is ready to go live for public access, remember to remove them. Moreover rename the default “Uncategorized” category if you insist on keeping it as the posts that you will be writing will not be uncategorised and also this default category will be the focus for search engine optimisers.
Clean and clear Permalinks
Permalinks is a WordPress format to display the page path. So from an SEO’s point of view keeping the premalink structure as clean as possible ensures correct indexing by the search engines. The best practice for a clean and clear permalink is to use the post name itself and it should be structures as either /%postname% or /%category%/%postname%/. This way the user too is aware of what the page is all about.
Better and fast indexing
The search engine’s crawl rate decides how quickly your new posts or pages get indexed. To speed things up, you can take the help WordPress to add update services to your pages. The following four sites should be part of the list, though there are many others listed at allstuffweb.com and WordPress.org sites.
Hide unwanted pages
Pages like the Archive, Admin and tags pages that are not user oriented must be hidden from indexing services. Similarly when a firm is submitted, the resultant ‘Thank You’ page must also be hidden as there is no traffic directed towards these pages. Because their content might be considered as duplicate by search engines, pages like Tags and Category can also be hidden.
To block all search engines use the code in the robot.txt
Disallow: /[relative page url]
A word of caution
It is advisable to use this sparingly as it might affect the SEO efforts.
No Broken Links
It is a good practice to keep all the links in your website fresh and active. With the increasing number of pages in your site, managing the links can become a cumbersome job. There are WordPress plugins to help you achieve this and keep the site clean.
Using themes and plugins
WordPress offers many themes and plugins aimed at adding more functionality to your website. Choosing the right theme and plugins will make a lot of difference from SEO’s point of view. When installing a theme or a plug-in the following factors need to be addressed on priority basis;
User’s mobility must be considered when installing a theme or a plug-in, just ensure it is responsive. Test it extensively for major device and browser compatibility.
A schema mark-up is a code that helps search engines return more accurate and relevant search results to the user. Ideally it tells the search engines what they actually means and says. Schema is least utilised in SEO, because many webmaster fail to understand its importance. If properly understood and implemented, it boosts the sites ranking.
Any plugins that you install must be a compatible one to your theme. A wrong or conflicting plug-in can result in .htaccess issues, jumbled up sitemaps and even duplicating title and heading page elements.