Search Engine Finesse – Installing SEO Plugins for WordPress

Update – June 19, 2010

Added suggestions and edits are in blue text below.

Our focus for the Search Engine Finesse series (see the intro here) will be on writing content of interest to our readers, including terms that will help our readers(& search engines) find us, and creating a quality user experience.   From the horse’s mouth itself:

Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit.” ~ Google Webmaster Guidelines

How do readers find our websites?

  1. by word of mouth, social networking, advertising or other referral method.
  2. by searching for a term of interest to them, in a search engine

“…search engine algorithms have evolved to treat the trust and authority of your domain, what others think about your content, and the words they use to describe it in links as more of an indication of quality and relevance”  ~ Brian Clarke of Copyblogger

For my websites the two usually work hand in hand.  Unless someone has a business card in front of them, they search for “Desperately Seeking WordPress” in a search engine.  That is the number one search term leading to this website.  And unless they possess the self esteem to admit to their desperate need of WordPress assistance, they have heard of us and are looking for this site in particular.  I definitely need some search engine finesse to increase the number of terms that a reader can use to find me!  What if they are looking for blog maintenance help?  Or recommendations for plugins?  Nope.  Those terms won’t find me near the front page of Google!  That just makes me weepy.  Since this post we are now 2nd (after for WordPress Technical Support.

Simple and Speedy Instructions for SEO Plugins

During my research for this tutorial, I have come to the conclusion, that there is no way to discuss all the SEO information out there in my usual style.  I could spend my life time explaining the how and why of each item that a search engine is looking for.  As most of you know, I usually drone on and on about techy stuff until I’m sure that a)you can trust that I know what I’m talking about and b)you are comfortable knowing that you’re not getting ripped off.  But, oh my word! The mountain of opinions on how to really be seen by Search Engines is unlimited!  And, we just can’t have you (and I) doing nothing because it is all so overwhelming.

Search Engine Finesse Homework

So here’s how we’re going to proceed:  Homework.  I challenge you to install and configure these particular plugins ’cause I said so (and you can research each one on the plugin’s home page too).

Although I’ve said I won’t drone on and on, I can’t resist a few guiding principles to explain how I selected the plugins for today:

  • I’m not presenting more than one plugin for each desired function.  One is all you get, and happens to be all you need.
  • None of these are designed to generate ‘unnatural’ traffic, or trick any search engines.
  • Every single one is widely used, recommended by top bloggers, and updated regularly.

Here’s your homework for this week: Install and configure each of the following:


This one is just way too technical.  Instead I recommend Google Analyticator, All in One SEO (or your own Thesis or Genesis), SEO Friendly Images, and Google XML Sitemaps.

You are going to need to set aside a few minutes to configure this one.  The following are the settings that I recommend:
Under Page Modules, we’re going to click and drag a few modules into the Simple box so that we can edit these settings on a post-by-post basis.  Drag:

  • the Page Title,
  • Page Description,
  • More Text,
  • Keywords, and
  • Tags

over to the Simple box.

Next, we’re going to modify some Page Settings.
1.  Click on the Archives link, and copy this: Blog Archives %%Page%% – My Blog Title into the Page Title line.  To see the text that %%page%% will generate view the Special Tags section on the Page Settings page.
2. Click on the Categories link, copy and paste this: %%category%% Archives %%page%% -My Blog Title
3.  Click on the Posts link, copy and paste this: %%title%% – My Blog Title
4.  Copy the above line for the Pages link too.
A note about the Site Modules panel – this is the coolest panel of all for a geek like me! I finally added a stat counter to my blog, incorporated a couple plugins into this one Headspace plugin, and can remove some of the unnecessary ones from my blog!  I’m SO pleased with this plugin – so go ahead – explore, use it, and unclick the box if something goes wrong! Have fun!

Automatic SEO Links

Click on Add Link, and add the most common linked to words within your site – ie: contact, feed, about, and the names of top posts.  Complete the text that you want the plugin to grab, and replace with a link.  Copy and paste the link address, and add a title.  Click “_blank” if you want the link to open in a new window.  Now you won’t have to link to these common words while you are writing your posts.  In the hand-crafted links, remember to use alt text and a title for your links.  This is the stuff that search engines read.

Robots Meta

I’m going to refer you to Yoast for all the reasons- there are many, and sum it up like this – we don’t want duplicates.

Check the following boxes:

  • noindex the comment RSS feeds,
  • This site’s search result pages,
  • All admin pages,
  • Date based archives,
  • enforce a trailing slash,
  • redirect attachment urls to parent post,
  • disable date based archives,
  • redirect search results pages when referred,
  • nofollow category listings on pages,
  • nofollow category listings on single posts,
  • nofollow login and registration links,
  • nofollow comments links,
  • replace the meta widget.

Leave the rest un-checked.
IF you are the only author on the blog, also check the following:

  • author archives,
  • disable author archives.

If you use tags only, check “category archives”.

If you use categories only, check “Tag archives”.

A note about conflicting opinions: This robots stuff is still a fairly new concept to me, and as we learn together, I’m going to take the middle road – I’m not going to let the standard WordPress installation go it alone without a robots file, but I’m not going to force the search engines bots exactly like so.  I’ll make the best guesses that I can, and see if the search engines crawl more of my site. What we are accomplishing through this plugin can always be tweaked later.

Redirection by John Godley.

All the wisdom says to either use www before your name or don’t.  But don’t use both.  Once you’ve chosen which name you will use consistently, (MU users don’t have a choice)install the Redirection plugin.

  • Go to Tools >> Redirection >> Options.
  • Under URL Monitoring, assure the post and page urls “Modified Posts” are checked.

SEO Slugs

This will automatically remove “stop words” from your post titles – words like “a”, “the”, “in”.  And you don’t even have to configure it!

(All of these open in a new window so you can add them to your blog and keep this list open.)

How do your websites rank?

If you use a Firefox browser, SEO for firefox will let you see how you rank among your peers in a search page. And as you are viewing a page, you can see its Pagerank and Alexa rank if you have the Swoosty SEO addon installed.

  1. Swoosty SEO add on for Firefox browser.  This little baby will display the page rank and Alexa ranking of any website you are visiting.  This is great to get a handle on how your competition is doing and to measure the success of our efforts over the course of our Finesse-ing.
  2. SEO for Firefox gives you a lot more information on each search you perform.  This is the screenshot of the results for my site.

Most of the content above has been garnered over time through the blogs of three people:  Joost of Yoast.comBrian of copyblogger,  and Darren of Problogger.

Notice how fast this page loads?

Synthesis Managed WordPress Hosting


  1. says

    Search Engine Marketing is very important for your local business and most small companies are starting to realize the importance of being on the first page of the search engines. I can see by your website that you have a vast understanding of internet marketing and I will let my readers know about your wonderful site.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *