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Wordpress SEO: Increase your Search Engine Ranking and your Traffic

Updated on May 5, 2012

Wordpress SEO means building your Wordpress blog in a way that will allow you to rank well with search engines like Google and get the most traffic possible.

You do Wordpress SEO (search engine optimization), because

  • it's easy and fast to do,
  • it gives your business an edge
    over 90% of other similar businesses
    who don't do SEO,
  • keyword research is essential for your posts.

This article is about how to set up your Wordpress site for SEO - optimizing your Wordpress blog for search engines. I know it's a long way down, but to my best knowledge it'sa complete list and walkthrough.

This is not intended to be a shilly-shally dilly-dally article about Wordpress SEO in general. I expect you to already know that SEO is important and why it is important to get traffic. I also expect you to follow the steps I describe without questioning why they are necessary. I will explain as much as possible, but to keep this hub as concise and usable as possible I had to cut back on some of the whys.

Overview of Wordpress SEO

When doing SEO for Wordpress the points of interest are:

  • keyword research
  • setting right page name
  • correct use of title tags, meta tags, header tags
  • correct use of bold, italics, underlining
  • keyword usage on posts
  • good link structure
  • promoting your page on the net

Wordpress SEO Plugins

Wordpress in not optimized for search engines out-of-the-box. So, our competent fellow Wordpress users created lots of plugins that will help them and help us to optimize our blog. We need to download these plugins from and then install them on our site.

Download the Wordpress plugins from the following locations:

  • All in One SEO
  • Google XML Sitemaps
  • No Duplicate
  • SEO Friendly Images
  • Redirection
  • Subscribing to Comments
  • Google Analytics
  • Popularity Contest
  • Related Posts
  • WP Polls

Installing the Wordpress Plugins

  1. Open your FTP program and log into the server where your Wordpress blog is.
  2. Unzip all the downloaded plugins into wp-content/plugins folder.
  3. Log into your Wordpress site through the admin login page as you usually do.
  4. Click on the Plugins tab on the left hand side.
  5. Find all the plugins that you uploaded in the list and click on activate for each of them.

Creating Clean URLs (Permalinks)

If you create a Wordpress post now, the URL that your Wordpress installation will assign to this post will look something like this:,

where n is a natural number.

This is not very useful for search engines, because they won't know what's on your page. We have to change this so that your URL will look something like this:,

where the title contains your most important keywords for the page telling Google what the page is about.

  1. Expand the settings tab in your left sidebar and click on permalinks.
  2. On the resulting page, click the custom structure radio button.
  3. In the field next to it, write
  4. Save changes.

You should see a message at the top of the page that reads:

You should update your .htaccess now.

If you don't see this message you don't have to do anything. But if you do:

  1. Scroll down, find and highlight the code that the system gave you and copy it.
  2. Go back to your FTP program and in the folder where wordpress is installed look for the file .htaccess.
  3. If you find such a file, open it, paste the code in, save it and close it.
  4. If there is no such file create one by opening your text editor program, pasting the code in and saving the file as .htaccess
  5. Find where you saved the file on your computer and upload it into the folder where your Wordpress resides. That's all there is to fixing our URL problems.

Keyword research

Since I'm dealing here with the technical side of how to optimize your wordpress site for search engines, the explanation of how and why to do keyword research is really out of the scope of this hub. I just assume you know these things, you have researched your keywords and you will have them ready when you need them.

Setting up All IN One SEO plugin

  1. Go to: Settings - All in Ones SEO
  2. Change plugin status to enabled
  3. Write a keyword-friendly home page title
  4. Write a home page description to appear in Google search results.
  5. Fill in keywords for the home page
  6. Check canonical URLs and rewrite titles
  7. Click update options

Posting the right way in Wordpress

An optimized post has these important components:

  1. title
  2. header tags
  3. bold, italics, underlining
  4. good content
  5. keyword tags
  6. optimized images

Post titles in Wordpress

Post titles in Wordpress should

  • describe your post content,
  • be keyword researched,
  • draw readers in,
  • contain your keywords only once

Good post titles are like the titles of some books. Example: Wordpress SEO: How to make your site rank well with Google. In this title, your most important keyword is 'Wordpress SEO'. The 'How to make...' part should be something that draws your reader in and makes them want to read your post.

Header tags in Wordpress

Header tags in Wordpress

  • tell search engines which one is the most important line in your post,
  • in html view are enclosed in <h1> tags or <h2> tags like this:
    <h1>This is my header tag.</h1>,
  • in order of importance to search engines are <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5>

I suggest you always keep this order - so don't use a <h3> tag if you didn't have a <h1> and a <h2> tag previously.

Bold, Italics, Underlining in Wordpress

Bold, Italics, Underlining in Wordpress should be used

  • to emphasize individual keywords in your post body,
  • with caution so that it won't put your visitors off from reading your post

Experiment with bold, italics and underlining, and switch to the html view to see what tags are used to create these effects.

Title and keyword tags in Wordpress

After you've written your post, scroll down to All In One SEO section and fill in the title and description for your post. Very important, because search engines will use these fields to display information about your post in search results.

Fill in the keywords as well with all the keywords for your post - comma separated list. Then update post.

Note that the information you write in this section is not displayed in your posr on your blog, it is only for search engines to display on search result pages.

Optimizing Images in Wordpress

Search engines don't know what your images are about by default. You have to tell them using the SEO friendly images plugin that creates tags for the images.

When you upload an image you have to fill in the title and description for it before you click insert into post.

  1. Go to: settings - seo friendly images.
    Here you can automate the process of adding alt and title tags to images,
    you don't have to fill them in each and every time,
    you don't have to go back and do it for images you have already uploaded.
  2. For the alt tag, you can use:
    %name %title
  3. For the title tag:
  4. Check the override box.
  5. Update options.

Displaying Related Posts in Wordpress

Displaying related posts along with your post is done by the use of related posts plugin.

  1. Go to: settings - related posts.
  2. Configure the plugins options (quite self-explanatory).
  3. Hit update and you have your plugin set up.

Now to actually make the related posts list appear on the site you have to take this code:

<?php wp_related_posts(); ?>

and paste it in your site template. Based on where you want to display the posts you can paste it in various template files.

  • Go to: appearance - editor,
  • chose where you want to have the related post titles,
  • and snip the code in.

No follow links in Wordpress

The pagerank of your site is determined by Google by counting how many incoming and outgoing links you have. Incoming links will boost your pagerank, while outgoing ones will slightly dicrease it. To avoid dicreasing your pagerank by linking to other sites you can make your links no follow.

When you create a link in your post by highlighting the link text and using the little chain icon, you should always tell the system that you want the page you link to to open in a new window. This is the way you avoid sending people away from your site.

So click the dropdown next to target and choose open in a new window. Once you've clicked insert, go into html view and find the link. It will look something like this:

<a href="" target="_blank">your link text</a>

To make in no follow, make the link look like this by putting in a rel attribute:

<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">your link text</a>

Click update post.

Google XML sitemap in Wordpress

A sitemap lists all the pages on your site. It's smart to send Google a sitemap. This plugin automates the creation of your sitemap.

  1. Create two blank files on your computer calling them sitemap.xml and sitemap.xml.gz
  2. In FTP upload these two files in the main wordpress installation directory.
  3. Once done, highlight both, right click, select permissions and change numeric value 644 to 666.
  4. Go to: setting - XML sitemap to see where you can tweak your XML sitemap creation settings.
  5. The defaults are usually fine. Scroll down and click update options to write in the two files that you've just created.
  6. If you get any errors click on rebuild the sitemap manually.

Interaction with readers in Wordpress

Adding polls

  1. Go to: polls - add poll.
  2. Create your poll, adjust the settings.
  3. Click add poll.

To make the poll appear:

  1. Go to: appearance - widgets.
  2. Drag the Polls thingy and pop it in whatever section you want.
  3. Click the little arrow to change settings.

Sobscribe to comments in Wordpress

Subscribe to comments plugin notifies people whenever new comments are made on posts they commented on.

  1. Go to: settings - subscribe to comments
  2. specify the name of the blog the email notification is from,
  3. your email and so on.
  4. Update.

So when next someone makes a comment on your site they will be asked if they want to get update notifications about future comments.

If you want to encourage people to subscribe to comments without their first leaving a comment on your site, paste this code snippet into whichever template file you want depending on where you want the subscription section to appear.

<?php show_subscription_checkbox(); ?>

Facebook integration in Wordpress

It's all about displaying a box on your site that shows visitors some of the things on your Facebook page and lets them become your site's Facebook fan.

  1. Log into your Facebook account
  2. click on create badge
  3. or go to
    Here you can get a code that you put into your template file where you want the Facebook box to appear.

Twitter integration in Wordpress

It's the same as adding a Facebook box.

  1. Log into your twitter account and get a code for a twitter badge.
  2. There is a nice walkthrough that shows you how to do it.


When you create a post in Wordpress the system automatically generates a small feed snippet of that post. You can use this to display it on other places on the net. With Google's Feedburner service you can easily manage and track your feeds across the net.

Google Analytics

  1. Go to: setting - google analytics.
  2. Paste in your account ID.
  3. Adjust the options you want and click update.

Site promotion - Getting the word out (about your site)

Articles, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Forums, Blogs


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    • Murilion profile image

      Nuriramadhan 3 years ago from @nuriramadhan

      It's a complete guide for newbie like me. I have installed some paid plugin in my wordpress though, but it seems I need more script to help my site grow

    • seanpollardz profile image

      Sean Pollard 4 years ago from CA 95203

      You already mentioned many points of why I like WordPress based website more than any other. Its really user friendly and I shave seen WordPress content gets indexed fast bay be because of inbuilt pinging feature.

    • profile image

      performance based seo 5 years ago

      Thank you for posting the great content…I was looking for something like this…I found it quiet interesting, hopefully you will keep posting such blogs…. Keep sharing

    • profile image

      seo services usa 5 years ago

      There some very impressive points in your blog. I must appreciate your excellent work. I find the blog post very interesting and moreover very informative. I am thinking to write a piece on related topic. Will definitely share it and waiting to read some more interesting blogs from you.

    • boosters profile image

      Sandeep Rai 5 years ago from India

      Awesome tips will follow your guidlines in my existing blogs..

    • Ethan Green profile image

      Ethan Green 5 years ago from England

      Very useful article, thank you. Any chance you could write one for as well?!!

    • ebballesteros profile image

      ebballesteros 5 years ago

      Very useful information especially now a days wherein many are into web business. Great article!

    • onlinekam profile image

      Muhammad Umer 5 years ago from Karachi Pakistan

      i am new member in WordPress but i am impress this services. and i am book mark this article.

    • shameemweb profile image

      shameemweb 5 years ago from India

      wordpress is very user friendly cms which most of the users love use it

    • ShaamCA profile image

      ShaamCA 5 years ago from India

      Lots of useful information's.Thanks for media sites are always help to increase the traffic.

    • newseotactics profile image

      newseotactics 5 years ago from KY

      Tons of great info! I'm bookmarking this one :D

    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 5 years ago from Hungary

      Iol I'm not a computer genius, but there was a time I experimented with WordPress. I should certainly update this hub in the near future as I haven't looked at it for a while. Thanks for stopping in, Sphinx's Sanctum. :)

    • Sphinxs Sanctum profile image

      Sphinxs Sanctum 5 years ago from Southern United States

      Okay Haunty, so you're a computer Genius Too huh?! lol Is there anything you don't know - Something- about? I'm quite impressed my friend and I'm sure will need your help implementing these techniques as well. :D

      I'd Love to see your IQ test score. Sure it would blow most away!

      Sphinx's Sanctum

    • CaravanHolidays profile image

      CaravanHolidays 6 years ago from Wales UK

      Excellent article, great to see a load of tips all in the one page, thanks

    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      Thanks. A bit old, but I hope it will be useful.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 6 years ago from Georgia

      This is so useful. Bookmarking!

    • Flaura78 profile image

      Flaura78 6 years ago from UK

      Great tips, especially the Facebook stuff. It looked complicated for me, too, at first.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 6 years ago from West Virginia

      Very useful information. I didn't know you could do all of this. I could never get enough traffic when I was there though, but I will try all your tips and see what happens. Thanks for the useful info! Take care.

    • agraj profile image

      agraj 7 years ago from London, UK

      i use most of plugins from your list., but want to say thanks for sitemap suggestion.

      - Agraj

    • profile image

      مانشيتات دوت كوم - اخبار - مصر - العالم - الرياضة - السيارات - الاقتصاد - الحوادث - النجوم - الصحف 7 years ago

      Haunty, from a long time i was looking for a hub on Wordpress. thnx dear.

    • pokermoneyclips profile image

      pokermoneyclips 7 years ago

      I recently switched from All in One SEO over to SEO Ultimate because Ultimate does everything all in one does plus a whole lot more. The deep link juggernaut feature of Ultimate is reason enough to make the switch as you can start auto linking words or phrases to chosen pages without any additional effort. It'll also monitor 404 errors for you.

    • profile image

      Professional Web Designers in Melbourne 7 years ago

      Great tips for wordpress websites owners, Some of above tips I have tried for my clients, many plugins help us to easily implement SEO friendly things, Meta Tags, Title Tags should be targeted with your desired keywords, and if you are maintaining a blog on wordpress and continous content/posting for 2 or 3 month, big support to boost your SEO presence.

    • manijee profile image

      manijee 8 years ago

      coool ...

      i found All in SEO the best on the planet ....thumbs up

      but i think you must have touched the "bredcrumbs" thing which is very kinda useful ..

      me too writing on some basics of SEO general ..surely i will come up with the more stuff of mine

    • AaronTellez20 profile image

      AaronTellez20 8 years ago from Syracuse

      great Hubs.. Very informative and surely bookmark this..

    • Fluffymetal profile image

      Fluffymetal 8 years ago from Texas

      I've only read two of your Hubs so far and they are great information. Rated up!

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 8 years ago from Australia

      Haunty a great tutorial. Too much to absorb in one reading so I am bookmarking for future reference.

      Thumbs up on this one!

    • profile image

      WebBizWiz 8 years ago

      Great tips here. Especially the Twitter and Facebook integration - it can really help drive traffic to your blog.

    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 8 years ago from Hungary

      Thanks, Wrath.

    • Wrath Warbone profile image

      Terry Chestnutt 8 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      Good stuff. Thanks.

    • Sagarika Rath profile image

      Sagarika Rath 8 years ago from Delhi

      Haunty, from a long time i was looking for a hub on Wordpress. thnx dear.

    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 8 years ago from Hungary

      Hello missmaudie. Thank you. If you have any questions ask them here. :)

    • missmaudie profile image

      missmaudie 8 years ago from Brittany, France

      Thanks Haunty, a very timely hub as I've just gone back to sort out my WordPress blog. Bookmarked to follow as I go. Great hub as usual.