Search Engine Optimisation for WordPress

Despite what you may have heard that "Google loves WordPress", an out of the box installation of WordPress leaves a lot to be desired with regard to search engine optimization. Which means that you need to make quite a few tweaks to ensure that your WordPress installation is optimized correctly.

Page Titles

These are downright ugly in a lot of WordPress themes. The default is for your website's name to be added to the page titles - sometimes at the front, sometimes at the end, depending on the preference of the theme developer. Either way, the default title rarely looks good in the search results which, in turn, reduces the chances of people clicking onto your site. Various themes and plugins can help with this issue.

Meta description

This is the short extract that appears below your page title in the search results. Out of the box, WordPress gives you no ability to add or edit this. The trouble is that if you don't add a meta description then Google will just make one up for you. Which is rarely what you'd have typed of your own free will. Like page titles, there are plenty of plugins like the Yoast plugin for WordPress that will help overcome this.

Page names

If you don't go into the Permalinks section of your WordPress dashboard, your post names will be along the lines of?p=247. Which doesn't give prospective searchers or Google any clue as to the contents of your pages. You need to change the Permalink structure to something more meaningful.

Duplicate content

Google isn't a fan of duplicated content across a site. It thinks that this is something you're doing to fool it. But WordPress has a myriad of different ways to show your content - page extracts, tag pages, category pages and archive pages to name but a few. If you don't take control of how these pages are indexed then you run the risk of Google thinking you are trying to spam it. Any self respecting SEO plugin should be able to help with this.


Google expects one top level headline per page. Most themes provide this but they are by no means consistent in how they do so. Some will make the title of the page into the top headline, which is usually good. Others will make the name of the site this headline, relegating your post's title to the second level, which Google thinks is less important.

More duplicate content

If you use blogroll links these default to being "site wide" which means that they appear on every page of your website that hasn't been deliberately set as a single column page. Again, Google's robot isn't impressed by this tactic and it could impact negatively on your SEO.

There are a few more things that WordPress doesn't automatically do to help with your search engine optimization but the above ones will fix the glaring problems. You can install an SEO plugin to handle these issues or you can enlist the help of a search engine optimization expert. Either way, it's something you need to address.

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