A Quick SEO Foundation When Setting up a WordPress Site

From the archives…

[Note: edited slightly from the original 2007 version.)

When I originally set up the site, I didn’t have a lot of time. So I just did a few quick things to set up a good SEO foundation:

  1. Installed the latest version of WordPress and found a theme with a layout I liked. Then I tweaked it with my own graphics and modified the CSS a bit.
  2. Changed the URL structure to be name-based. This version of WordPress has lots of different URL options (including easy ways to customize), found under Settings > Permalinks > Post name. Why did I do this? Mostly to reduce my own confusion. No way I’ll know what /?p=527 is, but I when I see /which-willow-hairstyle, I’ll know just which post that is. (This can help user experience as well.)
  3. Switched the order of my title tag to be post name then blog name (so that the search results display begins with the topic phrase that may match the searcher’s query).
  4. Set the site to resolve with the www under Settings.
  5. Installed the following plugins:
    • Akismet (to prevent comment spam)
    • Google Analytics (to easily add Google Analytics tracking)
    • Yoast SEO
      • To add field for Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools site verification
      • To add fields to make it easy to set custom titles and meta descriptions
      • To generate an XML Sitemap
      • To easily generate robots exclusion protocol settings
      • To add Facebook OpenGraph meta data
      • To set up breadcrumbs
      • To  customize canonical attributes and 301 redirects
  6. Signed up for Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools and submitted my RSS feed as a Sitemap. While in Google Search Console, I verified my site using the meta tag option and set my preferred domain to www.keylimetoolbox.com.For a new site, Google Search Console will show no links or query data (most reports will be empty since there’s no data to show yet). However, some things you can look at right away include:
    • Does the site include a robots.txt file (it might even if you didn’t create one! WordPress may create one by default!).
    • Is Google having trouble crawling the site? You can see crawl behavior before you’ll see query data (since Google will crawl the site and index it before it starts ranking/getting clicks).

Then I monitored that the site was getting indexed correctly.

Now I’m set for a solid SEO foundation and can focus on creating quality content, marketing awareness, and visitor engagement.

21 thoughts on “A Quick SEO Foundation When Setting up a WordPress Site

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  • sugarrae

    YOU have a buffy site? You like Buffy? 😉

    Vanessa does SEO. It’s like Debby does Dallas, only more interesting to women. 😉

  • wreilly

    Vanessa has a fan site; I’m not alone after all.
    So much for validation…

    I get the impression that a traditional web site is not going to fair as well as a blog if for no other reason that getting IBLs will be, well not automatic, but Much easer.


  • Vanessa

    What? Buffy who? Did I say that? 🙂

  • Kwyjibo

    So I get to harass you at conferences with questions, and now you have your own blog to make that easier!?!

    awesome! 🙂

    Hope the blog works out well for you.

  • JohnWeb


    Doing the 301 redirect for www version that way will always redirect to http://www.ninebyblue.com/index.php which isn’t the best idea as you’d want it to redirect to the current page, like http://www.ninebyblue.com/2007/04/04/quickie-seo/ if someone where to link to http://ninebyblue.com/2007/04/04/quickie-seo/

    So to do it correctly with word press, I usually use the enforce www preference plugin found at: http://txfx.net/code/wordpress/enforce-www-preference/ works like a charm. There’s another one that lets you redirect old pages as well, let me know if you’d like that one.

    John (JLH)

  • Vanessa

    Thanks John! Since I’ve been putting things together as I have a few spare seconds, I hadn’t even tested that. That plugin works great. Thanks!

  • wreilly

    Ahhhh..sorry.. you guys lost me what did you fix? I do my 301 redirect exactly like Vanessa shows and it works fine.

  • Vanessa

    If it’s the site linked in your profile, your redirect is working fine. For instance, http://anistoncenter.com/jen/filmography.php redirects to http://www.anistoncenter.com/jen/filmography.php. In my case, the non-www version of the URLs were redirecting to the www version of the home page (rather than the www version of the specific URL).

  • wreilly

    Ok, good you had me worried. That must be a quirk in WordPress then.
    Thanks Vanessa.


  • Maurice

    Theme is broken in IE6

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  • wreilly

    Yep, IE 6 doubles the margin width of floated divs.

    I used the display:inline in the CSS to get around this. There are otheree ways.


  • Halfdeck

    Hey, I want pictures 😀 Seriously, for a minute there I didn’t think this was really your blog. I’m adding you to my Google Reader right now.

  • dugdale

    Thanks for the recommendation on the 301 plugin for WP. I will have to give that a try on my blog.


  • CarrieHill

    Hi Vanessa – For your title tags I recommend using a plugin called the SEO Title Tag plugin – we use this on our WordPress blogs and it works great. It will automatically make the title of your post the title tag on the page. You can find it here:http://www.netconcepts.com/seo-title-tag-plugin/

    Also if you want to add keywords and a description to every post try this site: http://www.bitcycle.de/wordpress/plugins/btc-meta/2/ – It’s in German but I had a friend help me out – it’s pretty straight forward and if you need a hand (heck probably not) shoot me an email.

  • Andy Fletcher

    Save yourself some time checking your keyword rank:


    No, it’s not my site but it seems to work and lets you check the big 3 all at once, without having to crawl the pages to find your position. You do need to give them your Google API key, but I did and Google haven’t banned my key (yet!).

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  • CAD Website Design

    I just recently got tagged for dup content in my wordpress blog and did a little research into seo for my wordpress. It will take a while, but I am confident that the tools added will help. I noticed some of the steps you took and I wanted to point out a few that I found;

    1. WordPress Duplicate Content Cure plugin. It can be found over at seologs.com
    2. We worked on the whole www versus non www, and we also were able to eliminate the trailing index.php from our blog so that it now reads mydomain.com/blog/ and if you type in the index.php, it does a nice re-write. We had to do it through the index.php file of wordpress as we kept running into a conflict with the mod re-write of wordpress. This is our addition;

    if($_SERVER[‘REQUEST_URI’]==”/blog/index.php”):header(“Location: http://www.yourdomain.com/blog“) or die(“no can do”);exit;

    We added it between the opening and closing php tags on the index.php file.

    I hope this helps anyone who is looking for this solution as I searched all over for it and we had to make it ourselves.


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