10 Ways To Optimize WordPress For More Traffic

WordPress is a fantastic blogging platform, I love using it! But if you are using a fresh WordPress install you’ll probably not get much in the way of traffic. Luckily WordPress is super easy to optimize. Here’s a short tutorial on how you can take a standard WordPress blog and optimize it to get more traffic from search engines.

Without much further ado, let’s get going …

  1. Page Titles *
    One of the most important things you can do, if not the most important, is optimizing your page titles. Search engines need to know what your post is about, so if you are writing about the “New Cool Gadget From CompanyX” then you should give your post a title such as ” Reviewing The New CompanyX Cool Gadget”. Try and avoid time specific page title’s as people will not click throgh as frequently from a search engine result page if they feel that your post is out of date.

    To change your title you need to go to your Admin panel, then Presentation > Theme Editor and pick your current theme. Now select Header from the list of pages at the side. Here’s the code I use:

    < ?php bloginfo('name'); ?> < ?php if ( is_single() ) { ?> » Blog Archive < ?php } ?> < ?php wp_title(); ?>
  2. Keywords In Content
    Using keywords in your post title is important, but you also need to use keywords throughout your post. Concentrate on the first paragraph then use variations of your main keyword throughout the rest of your post. For eaxamle, while you may be posting about ‘blue widgets’ why not talk about ‘red widgets’ and ‘green widgets’?
  3. Permalink Structure *
    Firstly, my advice is that you setup your blog in the root directory because search spiders can be slow to spider content located several directories deep. A lot of bloggers will arrange their permalink structure by date to look something link http://www.myblog.com/11/07/2006/postname.php. I would strongly advise that you change your permalink structure to something much more simple like http://www.myblog.com/category/post-title.php or just http://www.myblog.com/postname.php.

    To change your permalink structure you need to quickly login to your WordPress admin panel, then go to Options > Permalinks. Choose custom. To create a permalink structure like http://www.myblog.com/category/postname.php you need to enter the following code:


  4. Header Tags
    The header tags are used when assigning a title, typically within a post. These title tags are have a numerical value associated with them that also indicates their importance, ie. < h1 > is used for your most important header, < h2 > would be used for a sub title etc. Place the same keywords as used in your post title in the < h1 > tag then use variations of your keywords in < h2 > / < h3 tags for optimum effect.
  5. Related Posts **
    When a person visits your blog you want then to stay for as long as you can. One of the best ways to keep visitors interested is to show them other content on your blog that may be related to the post they are currently reading. The easiest way to do this is with the ‘Related Posts‘ plugin. Upload using your FTP client into the wp-content > plugins folder, then login to your WordPress admin panel and activate the plugin from the ‘Plugins’ page.
  6. Use Sitemaps **
    To get the most traffic from search engines like Google it is best to get as many of your pages indexed as possible. Make it easier by installing the Google Sitemaps plugin. Upload into wp-content > plugins via FTP and then activate from the Plugins page. This will then create an XML file that Googlebot can spider and then find all your content. You’ll need a Sitemaps account though where you can register your new Sitemap.
  7. Keep It Fresh
    Search engines love fresh content. So when you are posting regularly you will find that Googlebot / Slurp / MSNbot will come round more often to spider your fresh content. One tip I would suggest is to use the timed post feature to release posts that you have prepared for the future. This comes in particularly handy when you are off on holiday somewhere without any internet access. To set a date and time for a release date, click on ‘Post Timestamp’ and select your date and time.
  8. Make It Unique
    Keep your content unique, otherwise you are running the risk of penalisation for duplicate content. Although it can be tempting to just copy and paste someone elses content or use a syndicated article, you will not benefit from it.
  9. Build Backlinks
    To get more traffic you need backlinks. Ideally other blogs will like what you write and link to you, but if you are just starting out and need a little exposure then submit your blog to one of the many blog directories. Other ways to get backlinks is via commenting on other blogs and using trackbacks.
  10. Go Social! **
    Take advantage of social sites like Digg, Del.icio.us, Bebo and Myspace. One of the best ways to get your content out there and exposed is to install the ‘Sociable‘ plugin. All you need to do is upload into wp-content > plugins then activate from the Plugins page. Each post will now have a link to submit it to one of many social websites. I find that if a story gets picked up on one of these sites it can go viral … so install Sociable ASAP!

Optimizing WordPress is quite simple, which is part of the reason why I enjoy using it so much. If you stick at it and keep going you will eventually build up traffic and reputation. :)

* If you are editing pages using the WordPress admin you will need to change permissions for the file. To do this, navigate to the file (probably in wp-content > themes). In Transmit for OS X, select the file and hit Command-I. For windows, right click the file and select Properties. Then change permissions to 666.

** If you are trying to install a plugin that you have downloaded, please follow the instructions for them. Most require nothing more than uploading a file or folder into wp-content > plugins, then activation from the Plugins page.

31 thoughts on “10 Ways To Optimize WordPress For More Traffic

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  8. admin

    Thanks for your handy explanation…. I benefit a lot from it…. But I’ve one question:

    Can you tell me the best wordpress theme that you think good enough from optimization aspects… Thank You

    (please leave me a message at my blog)

  9. Andy Post author

    In terms of themes and optimization (I assume you are optimizing for better CTR) then you really need to go for a 3 column design. There are plenty available for free if you don’t want to code your own, but I speak from experience when I say that your own custom theme is well worth it.

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  14. dat

    attention on this from WordPress site (http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks):
    Using only %postname%
    If you use postname as the only element in your permalinks to create a structure such as myblog.com/post-title, the rewrite rules may make it impossible to access pages such as your stylesheet (which has a similar format) or the wp-admin folder. It’s best to include some numeric data (e.g. the post ID or date) in the permalink to prevent this from happening. Additionally, WordPress v1.2.x requires the use of a date structure in order for some features, such as the calendar, to function properly. /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/ is always a good start.

  15. Andy W

    Hi Andy,

    nice post however I don’t agree with you on using the postname in the permalink structure. I use the post id since it gives a nice short url rather than a long keyword-loaded url.

    I also don’t go along with the sitemaps idea since as long as you have a coherent navigation structure the search engine robots will find all of your posts.

    I agree with the rest of your suggestions though. Keep up the good work :-)

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  17. Oscar Centeno

    Excellent tips. Here are 3 cool plugins Im using right now:

    All in One SEO Pack: excellent for optimizing for Search Engines.
    Audio player: Puts a flash payer on each post that links to an mp3.
    Blog Icons: I want my website to be “iphone friendly” having a nice icon any user can put in there home.

  18. Art Grauer

    These web and blog optimization tips seem pretty sound. I’ve been doing this for a long time and just recently setup a wordpress blog and it’s funny how sometimes we forget the basics. Thanks for the cool article.

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