Over the last couple weeks I’ve been focusing on traffic building, link building and SEO on my WordPress blog. All three of these website strategies go hand in hand and all build on each other. In this post I will discussing how to make sure your WordPress blog is running efficiently.

WordPress does a lot of cool things in the background to make your website run smoothly. Have you ever noticed that when you change a blog post from one category to another, somehow, someway, you always arrive at the new location?  That’s WordPress doing it’s magic!  Unfortunately, Humans interact with a blog differently than search engine spiders, so while your permalinks might look nice and organized, the search engine spiders might see problems.

The best place to start is with a blog audit. If your WordPress blog is not using Google Webmaster Tools, this is a great place to start.  Google Webmaster tools will not only show you how Google sees your website, but also recommend tips to improve the crawling of your site.

I just did a blog audit and found a couple problems. My sitemap was not getting generated anymore due to permission problems. Even worse the old sitemap had many bad links. Using webmaster tools I could see that Google received 80 posts from me, but only indexed 4. OUCH!  Of course I have many more links in Google from other websites. The sitemap is only a recommendation to Google, but I highly recommend keeping up to date. I used the the Google XML Sitemap plugin.

I also had a duplicate content problem. To me, this is really frustrating, because again, as a human, I see my blog a certain way and it looks fine. Then looking at my website from the search engine spider’s point of view, I see many of my posts repeated as many as 5 times.

You might think that is great… 1 post, 5 entries in Google. Well, it’s not because instead of having one powerful link to your website, you have 5 at 20% power. Try cooking a potato at 20% power, it’s a waste of time.

How does this happen? I was using All-in-One SEO plugin and that is suppose to have canonical links, but I still have duplicate content.

So like any hacker, I built a simple Googlebot tracker to see how Google spiders my site… Wow, not what I expected. There is so much I’m learning from the Googlebot tracker, I will have many posts on this little bot, but for now let’s just say, I bet you are wasting Google’s time with your WordPress blog!

The Googlebot doesn’t just come into your website and spider all your content. In my case it comes and grabs one page and leaves. It’s doing this every couple minutes for a total of about 200-300 per day. Webmaster tools will show you how many times you get spidered, but will not show you what pages get indexed.

I was horrified to see that I was wasting Google juice on tags and categories. If Google is only going to hit your website 100 times a day, you better try to give Google 100 different blog posts. If you have 10 tags per post, you might be giving Google 1 blog post with 10 different links. Google then has to choose which page is the highest priority. You can see how 100 blog posts, can easily turn to 10 blog posts because we all love to tag our stuff.

How do you solve this. First of all it takes time. you have many links in Google and the Googlebot will continue to follow them, which isn’t bad… Don’t try to shut off the Googlebot, just make changes for the future of your website.

  1. Make sure you have canonical link set up. This tells Google where the main blog post, and that all the links from categories and tags really are just pointers to the main blog post.
  2. Make sure you nofollow internal links to categories, tags, archive, sitemap, etc… Your goal is to drive search engine spiders to your blog posts, not to a category page full of links. There are a few plugins that do this, but I manually did it to my menu and sidebar widgets.
  3. If you change you permalinks, make sure you provide Google with 301 redirect messages pointing to the new link.  For this I use permalink redirect plugin.
  4. Make sure you sitemap is up-to-date. Not only does the Google XML sitemap plugin update your sitemap, but it also pings Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask every time you post.
  5. Audit your website often. Use Google Webmaster Tools to find mistakes and keep you blog running smoothly.
  6. Use analytic software to track visitors to your site.  A free service like Google Analytics will do this well.

Please don’t just read this post as another SEO article. Put these tips into action and start with an SEO audit… If you see anything funny, post a comment below and we’ll see if we can help!

This article was contributed by Matt of MattDunlap.org, where he writes about how to increase your conversion rates with a smarter blog.

The above article was contributed by a member of the WPHacks community. If you are interested in participating, you can find our guidelines for contributing an article here.

  1. Wow! Nice find.
    Definitely, My WordPress blog is (not) wasting Google’s time :)
    Making categories and archives nofollow doesn’t seems to be working. I think making it “noindex” is the best way. Here, Google will not index categories but they will index the posts included in that categories. Thus: More internal link to your blog post.

  2. Matt Dunlap says:

    I currently have some noindex links on my blog, but I’m thinking I might remove them… While I can see a lot of categories and tags getting indexed, I think they are old and I don’t want to mess with anything old. I only want to make better indexes moving forward.

    SEO is such a fun game, what strategy works best?

  3. David says:

    i would disagree with making your tag pages and categories no-index, I normally leave one of them available to the bots. This is because a full page of summaries is different content than a blog post so it can and will get indexed. I would use caution as to not have the same post in multiple categories or tags so that the same content is not on a bunch of pages but a group of summaries and a blog post are not duplicate content.

  4. hillary bost says:

    I hope my blog won’t waist Google time. I am in the process of putting all the final pieces into place. It will be interesting to see how i am doing in a few months.

  5. perfect pitch to understand the meaning of blogging. I mean we can’t avoid these tips if we expect to be a successful blogger. thanks for tips.

  6. Dr. Blunt says:

    Well my contractors insurance blog site http://www.handymaninsurance.com sat at #2 for the past few months then google bounced it and now nowhere to be found. Several reconsideration requests later — I am still struggling to have it get back in to the top 10 with keyword search: handyman insurance. I went back and removed the multiple category posts not yet published per your suggestion and will see if that helps.

    IF you have any suggestions please take a look at my site and advise if I have goofed something up?

    Dr. Blunt

  7. Matt Dunlap says:

    Dr Blunt… From what I have seen, websites don’t just drop off Google, unless there is something fishy. Once you get high into to Google SERP you have to get “knocked” off by other websites that do SEO better then you.

    So, I would look at the websites that have taken your place at the top of Google and see what they are doing right… They probably did the same thing to you

    • Dr. Blunt says:

      Thanks Matt for the reply – I would agree with your findings IF for example the site was bumped or moved with the local results say #2 -> #8; and I would agree then that some SEO competitors provided more relevant content, hussled some extra back links, and flat out laid it on me. But that is not the case here IF you review the keywords: handyman insurance. I was moved at last count from #2 (1.4 average) to #42.

      No I just checked the webmaster list and Google shows result as 10.1 average yet when one googles the keywords still = no joy. I have been around the horn with the google dance with another site and finally took it off line for a month or so, then turned it back on. That seemed to get me off the dance floor.

      I have poked around for awhile but as you know google is vague when it comes to the reconsideration remarks: We’ve processed your reconsideration request for http://www.handymaninsurance.com/ April 24 29, 2010 We received a request from a site owner to reconsider how we index the following site: http://www.handymaninsurance.com/.

      We’ve now reviewed your site. When we review a site, we check to see if it’s in violation of our Webmaster Guidelines. If we don’t find any problems, we’ll reconsider our indexing of your site. If your site still doesn’t appear in our search results, check our Help Center for steps you can take.

      Anyway — I am hoping for some insight.
      Thanks, Dr. Blunt

      • Dr. Blunt says:

        Just an update since the past July post there has not been much google position change. Funny thing Bing/Yahoo search for “handyman insurance” puts the web site at the top position. Just don’t get it with google as multiple reconsideration requests have landed on def ears.

  8. in short every WordPress blog should get their SEO optimization done.. else it’s waste of your blog time and so is Google.. Make sure useful links are indexed and useless links like contact and advertise here should not be..
    Very useful post.. :)

  9. Thanks Matt for that great article, I think my site is optimized as I get ok rankings
    but seem to move around, ist that Google testing different algorithms one day or hour of the day not there on page one then im back?
    Terry

  10. Steve says:

    I am new to SEO, and for us newbies it can get real confusing, real fast. I am an intelligent person, but when you get 30 people telling you different things it is hard to distinguish who is correct. Since I am new, it all makes sense. It seems to me that everyone is calling plays from a different playbook. How do you know what the right answers are?

  11. I hope my blog won’t waist Google time. I am in the process of putting all the final pieces into place.

  12. I am new to SEO, and for us newbies it can get real confusing, real fast. I am an intelligent person, but when you get 30 people telling you different things it is hard to distinguish who is correct. Since I am new, it all makes sense. It seems to me that everyone is calling plays from a different playbook. How do you know what the right answers are?

    • Matt Dunlap says:

      Dizi,

      I agree, there is a lot of information out there… Too much in fact.

      Make an SEO plan and monitor that plan.

      If you want to lose weight, you make plan to diet, then you monitor yourself by getting on a scale and monitoring your weight.

      If you want a faster car, you make a plan to install different engine parts, then monitor it on a dyno…

      My advice, stop reading and start doing!

  13. Mttb says:

    Hi

    Very useful tips.

    There is an option in All in One SEO Plugin for no index for categories, archives and tags. Will it help?

  14. Gary Chiro says:

    Matt I have noticed the canonical issue with “All in One SEO Plugin”.

    I ticked that option but articles are appearing in Google SERP under the tags I placed on them. So I think I am losing link juice because the posts aren’t always being shown instead the tags I placed them in.

    I heard WordPress 3.0.1 already builds in the canonical link in the code. Is this true or do you do something else?

  15. Mark says:

    Super good thoughts about wordpress. I used “All in One SEO Plugin” plugin too.

  16. Namit Gupta says:

    Whether a post is categorized in several categories or tagged with multiple tags, this will not effect the post permalink unless you have category in your post permalink. Then how will it count in duplicate content? the post content is on a single link…

    • Matt Dunlap says:

      Namit, You’re right, if you are not using a category based permalink structure the post url will not be dependent on the number of categories that post is associated with…

      I have switched my permalinks to post_id/category/post.html because category/post has been found to be slower and it breaks wp-supercache. Adding the post_id before the category helps with speed and I still get the keywords from the category name.

  17. Josh says:

    Thanks for such a great article about SEO. One thing most people always miss is that there are two major branches in SEO: Traditional SEO and Social SEO. It’s not a question of whether or not social networking is better than keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing and social networking differ greatly but they both help boost your rank on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). The end result of your website ranking depends on how well you utilize the social networking tools to boost your standing on the search engines.

  18. Charleen Ruivo says:

    I really like this focus, My organization is inside online marketing/SEO. Have you ever heard about meetup.com? I find that there are generally a few decent probabilities to fulfill and netwoork with other people it. It is best that you check it out in case you get yourself a period.

  19. Bill Davis says:

    Was it Yoast who developed a true canonical SEO plugin for WordPress?

  20. Vivek Parmar says:

    after reading this i can say that i’m not wasting google time, optimizing wordpress blog is quite easy and it depends on you what you want to index or noindex

  21. karl says:

    hi thanks for the update… I too am having problems with my wordpress blogpost not showing up on google… Categories have just been indexed. Thank fully i only have 4 post on my blog. will try your advise

    Thanks

  22. suraj says:

    Yes you are right, using proper nofollow and noindex structure is best way to play with SEO. And one more think people create sitemaps but forget to add link on blog like in footer as well as in webmasters tool, which is really essential.

  23. eTipsLibrary says:

    I Think it is not a good idea to make the internal links nofollow by assigning the categories & tags nofollow. It is better to make them noindex and dofollow

  24. Mediasiana says:

    hi thanks for the update… I too am having problems with my wordpress blogpost not showing up on google… Categories have just been indexed. Thank fully i only have 4 post on my blog. will try your advise

  25. cnxsoft says:

    I’ve noticed blogger.com (which belongs to Google) blocks links to tags with robots.txt, I’m not sure this is a good practice or not. I have not blocked the tags and categories on my blog yet as it seems to be referenced OK.

  26. cnxsoft says:

    I’ve just found the recommended robots.txt file for wordpress and they do block categories, but not tags.
    http://codex.wordpress.org/Search_Engine_Optimization_for_WordPress#Robots.txt_Optimization

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