With any new blog I work on, one of the first things I do is change the permalink structure. WordPress permalinks will determine the URL that your post will appear under. Just go to any blog, click on a post title and then look at the URL shown for it. If the blog is using the default permalink structure, you will see a question mark and some numbers. Since keyword rich URLs is one way to optimize your blog for the search engines, why not change your permalink structure to a more search engine friendly one?
In most cases I use the custom structure of
/%postname%/ (see below caveats on when you might want to use a different one). You can set this up for yourself under Permalinks in the Settings Menu.
This means (as a default) my post title will also comprise my URL (with dashes in between the words). You do also have the ability to customize your permalink to be different than your title. I often do this because I want my blog posts to have catchy titles, which doesn’t always mean that they are optimized for keywords.
Now here are the two caveats you need to keep in mind:
/%year%/%postname%/instead. My blog has a lot of posts, so I may need to consider a change, however point 1 will apply so I will need to proceed with caution.
If you are a blogger with your own hosted WordPress site, consider installing these WordPress plugins:
Update: March 4, 2013: These plugins are all still valid. I’ve published a more extensive list of WordPress plugins critical for SEO that you might want to check out as well.
I have been doing some customization to the wordpress theme I have using for this blog. The original theme was too mono-colored and the link color was hard to see. And of course I wanted my own header.
Many blog themes put the title of your blog both as the page title tag and also as a H1 somewhere as text in your header. This was fine with me but I wanted to have it display in a smaller font size to be more compatible with my custom header and not overrun my graphic.
So I went into the css of the blog theme and found the id tag (called “h1”) that specified the size in “em” and picked a smaller size.
It looked great on firefox, but on IE7 the size was unchanged. Furthermore I had also changed the link color from a barely distinguishable grey to a dark red with a command to underline the link on hover. Again worked great on Firefox 3, totally ignored on IE7.
With some help from my webdesigner friend from talksure, we figured out the problem. For the blog title, the theme not only enclosed the text in a div tag specifying the id “h1”, but it also had additionally enclosed the text in h1 tags (confusing .. but they *are* different). Of course the css had a larger size specified for the h1 tag. What was happenning was Firefox gave the div tags priority .. but IE7 gave the regular h1 tags priority.
A similiar problem explained the link color problem.
If you have conflicting tags, the behavior by IE and Firefox is likely to be different.
We think the reason that the title was enclosed in both a div tag and a h1 tag was to give the search engines a recognizable H1. And it makes sense this would be the blog title. However for now, the H1’s are removed so that my blog looks the same on all browsers.