Photo courtesy of viZZZual
Before we create our site content, let’s look at Thesis 2 Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is a process by which you build a site and make it easy for search engines to index. The goal being to rank high in search results so searchers will find and click your site links. An important factor with any site is good SEO. Thesis 2 provides several options for helping with SEO. However, some SEO functions are up to you, the site owner.
Thesis 2 SEO and WordPress
There are SEO items you can perform within Thesis 2 and WordPress. These include:
Creating a Sitemap
Done! We did this in Step 35. Sitemaps help search engines to easily locate content on your site for indexing.
Friendly Post and Page Titles
Search engines try to determine what a page is about by looking at headings. In this case, WordPress renders post titles with the “H1” HTML tag. This is the top “heading” tag so it gets a lot of weight from the search engines. Post titles are also a way to grab your reader’s attention. This is a double bonus. So a well structured post title is important to the reader and the search engines.
In WordPress, URLs are called “permalinks”. We addressed permalink settings in Step 11. WordPress will automatically generate a permalink or URL from your post title. However, you can click the “Edit” button to alter the link. This might be desirable if you have a really long post title. Search engines will use the URL as a clue to what the page is about when possible. Nondescript URLs, such as post numbers, aren’t very helpful in this respect. This is why I like to default to post name in the permalinks settings. Just like post titles, your visitors may see only the URL so a descriptive URL helps to pull the reader in too.
Adding a Custom Title Tag
Thesis 2 allows you to set Title Tags for every page on your site. This includes the home page, category pages, tag pages, static pages, and single post pages. Search engines use title tags, in addition to on-page content, to help determine what a particular page is about. Much the same way search engines use your post title and URL. Title tags should be descriptive and contain the same keywords as the post title, URL, and page content that you are trying to rank on. If you don’t write a custom title tag your post title will be used by default.
Be sure to add a Custom Title Tag for each post and page. In addition, add Title Tags for each Category and Tag. From the WordPress Dashboard click on Posts then Click “Categories” or “Tags” and edit each category or tag individually adding a Title Tag.
Here is what Google has to say about setting title tags.
Adding a Meta Description
Meta descriptions provide a concise description of your page content. They can be used by search engines to display in search results if the search engine cannot create a better description of your page. Just like post titles and URLs, meta descriptions are another place to grab a potential site visitor’s attention and make them want to click-through to your site. These can also show up in social media sites when your page is shared. This means you want to write good copy for the meta description and make sure it is in line with the page content.
Be sure to add a Meta Description for each post and page. In addition, add a Meta Description for each Category and Tag. From the WordPress Dashboard click on Posts then Click “Categories” or “Tags” and edit each category or tag individually adding a Meta Description.
Here is what Google has to say about setting meta description.
Images and SEO
Many site owners overlook another tool in the SEO toolbox and that is the SEO options for pictures. When uploading media or when including media in your posts, you have the option to set title and alternative text for the image. The title will appear when a visitor moves his cursor over the picture. The alternative text can be read by search engines as well as tools used by those with sight issues. You don’t want to leave anyone out.
Another item not to overlook is the name of the file itself. Do you think search engines prefer file names like this, “DSC12356”, or this, “Thesis 2 SEO”?
Thesis 2 Home Page SEO
Thesis 2 allows you to set a Title Tag and Meta Description for your home page. These are very important so don’t overlook them. From the WordPress Dashboard click on Thesis then Thesis Home. Click on “Site” menu then “Home Page SEO”.
Write some great copy for your Title and Meta Description and click the green “Save Home Page SEO” button.
SEO and You
A post or page should be focused on a precise subject. A subject that your visitors will be interested in. This makes it easier for the search engines to accurately index a page. If you have trouble figuring out what a page is about, so will the search engines.
You should link to content within your own site. Linking to prior content will help visitors find additional information about a topic of interest. It also reinforces to the search engines what a particular page is about. If you are writing about a topic you’ve covered before, find a way to link back to the older content.
Your content can point to a targeted landing page for the keywords you want to rank that page on. This is similar to cross-linking except you focus your internal links on a single page. Landing pages can also have calls-to-action to get your visitors to act. Actions may include signing up for newsletters or buying goods or services. Landing pages may also be used to measure campaigns and customer behavior. You limit the publication of a landing page to specific outlets instead of linking within your site. You can then measure which outlets drive more traffic to your site using Google Analytics.
You want your visitors to share and distribute your site links as much as possible. Make it easy for them to do so. We’ll cover some additional tips for plugging social media sharing into your site in the near future.
The next step in SEO is setting the right noindex options in your site. These are covered in the next step.