Optimising a website CMS is reasonably easy as long as you can edit meta code, manage url rewrites, deal with canonicalisation issues and create reasonably clean, semantic HTML. A few years ago that meant developer time and a lot of work. I managed it in an hour.
Nearly everything you need to optimise your WordPress blog is a standard option in version 2.5 or higher, or available as a plugin. I built this WP blog in no time (the site, not the content!!) – here’s how:
1) Get WordPress hosting. Here’s a list of the best wordpress hosting companies in the UK and US. When you sign up you can get a free domain, but if you already own a few, they’ll help you 301 redirect all of them over to your primary domain. Once you’ve changed nameservers in your DNS control panel, it seems everything else can be managed from within WordPress. Oh, you get FTP too, which will be useful later on.
2) You’re only at step 2, and already you’ve got a blog that looks like this! Your host will send you a username and password, and a link to the CMS control panel. Login. Now, go to settings (the link on the right hand side of the CMS control panel) and set up your blog title, tagline and url.
3) Get a theme – there are thousands to choose from. I must say, you could do a lot worse than install a free theme from themelab. Once you’ve downloaded and saved the theme, open the zip file and upload the theme directory via ftp to the /wp-content/themes/ directory. There are some fantastic instructions (if you need them) here. It really is easy.
4) One last thing before you install your SEO plugins. Set up your url structure so that there are no nasty “?=” query strings in your urls. They’re almost always bad news for SEO and simple to turn into perfectly formed, “friendly” urls – like this: http://seogadget.co.uk/woops-spam-list/. Go to settings>permalinks and select the “Custom Structure” radio button. If you key in:
Then you’ll have your friendly urls all set up.
5) The plugins! Installing a plugin is as simple as downloading & unzipping the plugin file, and upload the plugin to your website. One it’s uploaded, you activate the plugin
Download and unzip a plugin (we’ll come on to some good ones in a minute) and copy via ftp to the public_html/wp-content/plugins/ directory. Login to wordpress and you’ll see a list of all of the plugins you uploaded ready to activate. If you need more instructions, read this page.
The plugins you need to optimise your blog:
1) All in one SEO pack – this gives you a meta code manager across the entire website. Quick and easy!
2) Google analytics for WordPress – This plugin makes it simple to add Google Analytics with extra search engines and automatic clickout and download tracking to your WordPress blog.
3) Google XML sitemaps – This plugin will generate a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of your WordPress blog which is supported by Ask.com, Google, MSN Search and Yahoo.
4) KB Robots.txt editor – Manage your robots.txt file from within WordPress. Especially useful for WP-MU installations.
5) That’s it. Follow these instructions and review the links I’ve provided and you’ll have a nice SEO friendly WordPress CMS. If you want to learn more about plugins, go to the WordPress plugins page. Have fun!