3 Commonly Overlooked WordPress SEO Tweaks

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WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, particularly with Internet marketers and SEOs. Its a great system that is easy to use and provides a huge amount of flexibility. Here are some advanced techniques to give your site that extra push:

Check Your HTML Semantic Structure

The power of WordPress, cheap or free themes, is also its greatest weakness. Even well-designed themes that claim to be “optimized for SEO” can have huge flaws built into them. The most common of which is misused header tags.

SEO rules dictate that only one H1 tag can exist on a given page. Many WordPress themes use multiple H1 tags on the sidebar for each widget, and in blog archive listings for each post title. This could lead to several H1 tags on EVERY page of your website, which is a big SEO no-no.

You’ll need to do a “view source” check in your browser and search for multiple H1 tags. If you have coding experience you can edit the theme files yourself, but if you have limited experience its best to get a cheap freelancer to take care of it for you. You must remove any H1 tag placing except for the blog or post title on that page, set all other headers to H2-H6 in the correct order.

Clear out Duplicate and Polluting Pages

Make sure you set all of your search results and tag pages to “no index”. These are insidious sources of duplicate content that Google hates. Tag pages can be especially problematic because people think that more pages is better; meanwhile, many tag categories may look extremely similar if they are closely related. Avoid this trap.

Another option is to include description for each tag in the tag listings page, this will add uniqueness to the tag listings to avoid duplicate content issues, a bonus is that you can use HTML in the description field for tags and categories (bet you didn’t know that!) so you can actually cross link internally.

You also want to minimize the archive breakdown. Some sites break down their archive listings by day or week, so unless you’re creating five new pages of content daily this is a problem. Empty or thin archive pages look spammy and will only damage your site.   Try to keep your archive listings to semi-annual or, if absolutely necessary, monthly.

Anything you noindex you should also make sure not to link to, so Google simply doesn’t find it.

Optimize Your Internal Linking

Most sites have a “Home” button or use the logo as a home navigation button. Set this to NoFollow, and instead create a link in the footer that links back to the homepage using the targeted keyword for the homepage.

You should also “silo” your categories. Read more about the silo structure here. By grouping pages into categories that are semantically related, you get bonus points from Google for having a lot of related content in the same section of the website.

You can also let Google itself dictate your internal linking structure. Do a search using the operator “Site:” followed by your URL and the targeted keyword for a particular page. Google’s results page will show you how Google ranks the pages of your website for that keyterm, build links from the top 10 pages to the landing page you’d like to rank. (e.g. site:myurl.com, “my keyword”)

Ilan Nass

Ilan Nass

Lead Marketing Strategist at Fueled
Ilan Nass is the founder of Taktical Solutions, a boutique digital marketing and strategy firm in New York City and the Lead Marketing Strategist at... Read Full Bio
Ilan Nass

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  • Rob Morgan

    I have noticed on my WP website that I had 3 H1s…One on the homepage as a title, which is fine then two on the slider homepage…

    I have removed the H1 titles from the slider (both of them) – now looking at the HTML I can see:

    Advanced Driving Courses. For UK Businesses, Who Want Safer Employees…

    So clearly although I have removed the body of the description/content in the H1 tag, the class= still exists….From an SEO point of view do I actually have to totally delete the existence of the h1 class or it is enough to simply not add any H1 text??

    Many Thanks

  • Robert

    Thanks you for the nice tips IIan 🙂 I am still confused with the Home button. I do have a home button on my homepage, but I don’t know whether to add nofollow to it or not. Some people say it is a must while the others told me that Google will ignore it since they know that button will lead to your homepage.

  • Chelsea Bowling

    Thanks for these tips! These sorts of articles are really helpful– once I read them, I think, “Of course!” but I wouldn’t have been able to think of it so clearly independently. Some WP themes are absolutely horrible for littering H1s all over the place, including slapping the tags around header images and logos. Noindexing tags and search pages is a basic, but I hadn’t thought of the implications of having daily archive pages for blogs with sparse content; it looks bad from both a human and an SEO perspective.

  • Jon

    I agree, it’s easy to not look or not think about something when it says “SEO friendly” but you always need to check. There are lots of developers who claim to make things SEO friendly but in fact they are far from it. (There are also lots that do claim to be SEO friendly and are as well, which is where the confusion comes for the person in the middle!)

    I think it’s safe to say – always check, never assume.

  • Mary Grace Viado

    H1 tag should only be used once for article or post title and the rest should be in H2 down to H6. Remember, to give emphasis on what will be seen first by users and crawled first by robots. Duplicate content will definitely kill you. And, internal linking is the best way to show care to your readers. Bringing your readers to the right landing pages without any difficulty will be highly appreciated by internet users.

  • Dave

    Great advice, I also see duplicate meta description tags inserted in some themes. Sometimes for instance if you’re using All In One SEO pack some themes will display both the meta description from the plugin and the site description on the General settings page. I edited a theme to get rid of the second meta description just the other day.

  • Heron

    This is a great article with really great information. I have read many articles about SEO but I have never seen any with this kind of information. Now I know why my site has not been getting any great rankings even though I have been following advice from so called experts in SEO.

  • Jenny Samuel

    Valid tips. Hope this will help many since WordPress have been used by many today.Some WP topics are totally appalling for littering.No indexing tags and look pages is an essential, yet I hadn’t thought about the suggestions of having day by day document pages for websites with inadequate content; it looks terrible from both a human and a SEO point of view.

  • Warren Trosclair

    Ilan,l believe with the upcoming hummingbird update and past updates it’s even more important than ever to keep an eye on what your site links to. It’s not enough to simply maintain your future links but to get a good link analysis might not hurt so to your point you can see other sites that may be contaminating your rankings.

  • James

    Good article that succinctly highlights a few key elements that people need to be aware of when planning and developing.

    I think one of the problems that encourages people to act and start developing without possibly completing their investigation into their chosen solution is the term ‘SEO Friendly.’ I see this term more and more and nowadays comes across as an advertising ploy to target individuals that are looking to develop websites but do not necessarily now how to code. Therefore, when they are looking to develop an online presence, they have heard people talking about SEO and how important it is so the term ‘SEO Friendly’ is designed to build trust, albeit, possibly mis-placed.