Introduction video for – How to setup a WordPress site for SEO?
The core WordPress has few SEO friendly features already incorporated without any plugins installed. However, some of these features are not turned on by default.
Don’t worry. It is as easy as clicking a button to turn them on (or off). You just need to know where to look for them.
In addition, we will also explore a few simple SEO related plugin to really boost your search engine visibility.
Enable “Post name” Permalink option
A newly set up WordPress uses the default permalink option which is not SEO friendly. Choose the “Post name” option so you can change the URL to include target keywords.
Allow search engines to access your site
1) Go to Settings>Reading>Search Engine Visibility
2) Deselect the “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” option
In case you are interested in what this does, it essentially adds noindex/follow robots meta tag (more details in the video).
As you can see there is a text under the option states that “it is up to search engines to honor this request”. In other words there is a possibility that search engines could still index your site.
In case you need sometime to prepare before launching your site or if the site you set up is a staging or a testing site, you really don’t want search engines to index it.
How to block search engines & human visitors if my site is not ready?
If your site is still under construction, you might not want human visitors to be able to see an unfinished site (or a testing site for that matter).
A simple solution is to use “Maintenance Plugin“. Watch the video below to see how you can block both search engines and human visitors effectively with this simple plugin.
Add a few lines of code in robots.txt
Some files on WordPress do not need to be indexed. By using robots.txt, you can tell search engines to not access these folder path or files.
Below is the recommended folder path and files to be blocked from search engines.
User-Agent: * Allow: /?display=wide Allow: /wp-content/uploads/ Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/ Disallow: /readme.html
Create XML sitemaps
XML sitemaps can help search engines know how your site is structured so they can crawl and index your site faster. Use a plugin like Google XML Sitemaps (the sitemaps it generates actually works for other search engines also not just Google).
Add sitemaps location in robots.txt
Add the following line in robots.txt to tell search engines where your sitemaps are located. You can add other kinds of sitemaps (images and videos) as well.
This will help every search engines from around the world (Yandex, Baidu, Naver etc) as well as Google and Bing to know where your sitemaps are located.
Submit your sitemaps in both Google and Bing Webmaster Tools
You can tell Google and Bing where your sitemaps are located by using the Webmaster Tools. You can also monitor how many pages have been indexed.
Disable XML-RPC using a plugin
XML-RPC is used when you want to publish WordPress posts with a program like Windows Live Writer.
XML-RPC used to be disabled by default due to security reasons and there was an option to enable it up until WordPress version 3.5.
Now it is enabled by default and there is no option to turn it off. Not to worry, you can still turn it off using this plugin.
Just download, install, then active. That’s it.