Even if you decide to use something else, you can still get the basic necessities from the details I’m providing. The self-hosted version of WordPress (here is a good post about- why self hosted for wordpress ?) is nothing more and nothing less than a publishing platform. Even though the default theme is set up for maximum usability, it lacks in certain areas for search engine optimization (SEO). There’s a good reason for that – the SEO landscape changes often enough that it makes more sense for plugin authors to keep SEO practices current. I’m going to provide plugin information on web and why you would want to install them after installing WordPress. Each of the plugins can be installed from within the WordPress administrative back end.
There are two SEO plugins that I can recommend, although I only use one and only on one website. The first is the All in One SEO Pack and the second is HeadSpace2 SEO. I use the latter because it’s easier for me to use and that’s the only reason. There are other SEO plugins available and you can examine them as you see fit, but you probably want to start with one of these.
I don’t use any SEO plugins, other than on one website, because I use the thesis Theme for the rest. It has most of the SEO options I need already built into it.
Blog or Static Pages
Briefly, you designate blog pages by using “post” options and you designate static pages by using “page” options. If you don’t want to use a blog with WordPress, you simply never use the post options. The built in menu maker will allow you to build page menus (after you’ve created the pages) and put them just about anywhere you want.
The default appearance of the default theme is that of a blog. With other themes (check here –how to choose the best theme), and there are thousands available, you can change the way it looks in more ways than I could possibly list.
Page and Post Titles
The default behavior of WordPress is to make the page titles the same as the blog post titles (and page titles for static pages). If I’m not mistaken (because I haven’t used a default theme in years), it also appends the website title to the end of the page titles.
The SEO plugins allow you to change this behavior. You can make the page titles different than the post titles and you can choose to append or not append the website title.
You want your page titles to be brief, concise and you want them to contain your keyword(s). Since the search engines only show up to X number of characters in the results pages, you want to make the page title fit within those results. It can’t always be done, but it’s a good practice to follow if at all possible. If you tend to create long post titles, use the plugin options to shorten them for the page titles.
You’ll probably be inclined to include all the default widgets. Don’t do it. Any widgets that don’t aid in usability or navigation can hurt your performance. Date archives are virtually meaningless and the category and tag listings are rarely used. I recommend you move the category and tag listings to separate pages using various plugins.
Recent posts, popular posts, recent comments and popular comments are some things you would probably want to have in your sidebar. Two of the default widgets are recent posts and recent comments. The others can be added with plugins.
The default behavior of WordPress is to allow indexing of all posts and pages. Based on my personal experience, you should use “noindex” on date, category, tag and author archive pages, as well as any pages set up to list them. The default behavior of WordPress is to allow links to be followed by the search engines. You don’t need to do anything with “follow” or “nofollow”. If set up this way, the links on the “noindex” pages will still be followed.
There are many people who will argue this point with me, but they have experience in making certain archive pages behave in a specific way. As a newbie, you’re not going to know how to do that and you really don’t want your archive pages ranking higher in the search engines than your content pages.
Meta Keywords and Meta Descriptions
Despite what you may read elsewhere, the search engines do not pay attention to meta keywords, so don’t even bother doing any research about them.
As far a meta descriptions go, it’s a different story. Google has come right out and said that if they can’t find the appropriate text within your content, they’ll use the meta description. As I’ll mention later on, this is why it’s important to get to the point at the beginning of your content.
WordPress is database driven. Each page is pieced together using database queries. Caching is a method to save the pages as static pages that expire after a given time. The cached pages are served to your visitors much quicker than the non-cached pages and in the eyes of Google, faster is better.
There are three popular caching plugins available: W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache and Quick Cache. I use Quick Cache because, frankly, some of the features are those that I suggested during its early stages of development. Not only that, but it’s the easiest of the three to set up.
While it’s not really necessary, I recommend using a sitemap. If you register your website with Google Webmaster Tools, you’ll be able to see how many of your posts or pages are already indexed and how many are pending.
The most popular plugin for generating a sitemap is Google XML Sitemaps. There are others, but I’ve never tested any of them, so I can’t recommend any of them as an alternative.
There are both free and paid analytic services out there but why would you want to pay? Google Analytics is one of the best and it’s free.
While there are plugins designed to allow you to easily insert the analytics code, you can do the same thing with one of the SEO plugins. When it comes to plugins, the fewer you can use and do what you need to do, the better.
Long before your “blog” becomes popular enough to earn you some money, you’ll get flooded by comment spammers. The plugin that comes with WordPress, Akismet, does a good job of flagging comment spam, but you’ll end up spending a lot of time wading through them for legitimate comments that need to be “despammed” or deleted.
I recommend layers of protection, starting of course with Akismet. The next layer I recommend is Conditional CAPTCHA for WordPress. It works by blocking automated spammers while giving comments flagged as spam by Akismet a second chance to prove they’re human.
The final layer I recommend is the Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin. It sticks a checkbox and an instruction on the comments form that basically foils any remaining automated spambots.
Once you have the layers of protection in place, the only comment spam you’ll receive will be from persistent HUMAN comment spammers – and this is why you should moderate all comments, even if you think it would be easier not to.
You want to set up your main feed to go through FeedBurner (owned by Google). You can place the FeedBurner links directly on your website.
The reason to use FeedBurner, primarily, is because it publicizes your feeds. Another reason is because you can offer the same feeds by e-mail. Still another reason is that you can have your posts automatically published on Twitter.
The only plugin I recommend for database backups is WP-DBManager. It will save the backups on your website and e-mail them to you as well.
This is only part of a complete website backup strategy. I’ll address a complete, almost foolproof backup strategy in another article outside of this series, but this will get you started.
There are tons of other plugins that will make your WordPress website behave exactly as you want it to behave. I won’t write about any of them specifically, but consider plugins that handle these tasks:
There are lot of blogging tips and things you find online that can do with WordPress and I’ve just covered the basics. Before you can get into publishing content on your WordPress website, you need to have it set up so that you can focus on the content.