Tag Archives: SEO

June 2014 Meetup Slides: WordPress SEO with Lou Anne McKeefery

Things change rapidly in the WordPress world. The content in this post is more than a year old and may no longer represent best practices.


Here are the slides from Lou Anne McKeefery‘s presentation about SEO for WordPress on June 22nd, 2014.

Download the PDF file .


This is Lou Anne’s Keyword Silo Worksheet (you can download it in Excel format)


Google is limiting the things you can do for free. For instance, you need to pay to appear in Google’s shopping results. More than that, 80% of SEO is “off page”–determined by things that happen elsewhere than your own website. (The part of off-page SEO that you do control is your social media profiles and activity and how those relate to your website.)

This talk focuses on the 20% of SEO which is “on page,” the part you do control with what you do on your own website.

To see how you’re indexed, type in site:domain.com. To see what’s cached, type in cached:domain.com. This isn’t 100% foolproof, because sometimes Google will do what it damn well pleases.

The way people search is changing. Younger people search images and videos rather than text/web. That means it’s important to optimize your images (file names, ALT tags) for search. Video search is technically off-page, but you can optimize your videos at YouTube when you upload them. (Vimeo too, I presume.)

One important factor in WordPress SEO is your permalink structure. For SEO purposes, the best permalink structures are /%category%/%postname%/ or just /%postname%/.

Use breadcrumbs to help guide both humans and search engines through your site. If your theme doesn’t have them built in, you can use the breadcrumb feature in the Yoast SEO plugin.

Keep your H1, H2, and H3 tags in the proper order of importance. H1 is supposed to be the most important item on the page. WordPress normally shows your blog post title as H1 in the single post view and H2 in the blog index view.

Edit your page meta description. This doesn’t help the search engine itself, but rather entices people to click on the link once they see the search results. (Yoast SEO lets you edit this, and also the page title if you need one title for the search engine and another for the readers.)

Don’t use multiple keywords/phrases in your URLs or page titles–Google doesn’t read these, nor URLs with multiple dynamic parameters.

XML Sitemaps are important to help search bots find their way around your site. Yoast SEO generates them, or there are separate plugins to create them. (WP Engine requires a different sitemap plugin.)

Use the robots.txt file to tell Google which files and folders not to index.

If you have rebuilt an old HTML website into WordPress, make sure you set up 301 redirects from the old pages to the new pages. There is a plugin called Redirection that will do this, but it’s actually more efficient to use the .htaccess file.

Check for broken links–but don’t leave the Broken Link Checker running all the time. It’s a terrible resource hog. Run it and then turn it off, or use an online service.

Be aware that search engines can’t read JavaScript or text that’s contained within images (though they do read ALT tags on images).

Google dislikes orphaned pages–which is what many landing pages and squeeze pages are, because they are not part of the navigation and don’t link to other pages in the site. You might want to set those pages to “noindex.” (You’re probably directing people to them via a marketing campaign, rather than expecting people to stumble across them in search.) You can use the Advanced tab in Yoast SEO to set any page to “noindex.”

Redirecting before showing content is a red flag to Google. So are some former black hat techniques like hiding keywords in fonts that match the background color, or “cloaking”–showing one result to visitors and another to search bots.

All SEO projects rely on keyword research. Lou Anne likes to use Wordtracker (there’s a free trial, but apparently they are no longer accepting free user signups). You can collect some information just by seeing what Google suggests when you start typing. Yoast’s SEO plugin will also make suggestions for you when you start typing a focus keyword. Be aware that Google’s keyword suggestion tool bases its suggestions on paid search rather than organic search.

Start with the less-competitive keywords. Go for the low-hanging fruit.  Keep track of the page names you use the words on. Put the keywords that you’ve optimized for into your meta tag field because then you can track them more easily. (If you’re using Yoast, you have it there.)

Use hierarchical design of pages. Also of categories.

Make sure to include your keyword/phrase in your post title, permalink, meta description, and throughout your content. Also name your images with keywords and use keywords in your alt tags, title tags, and captions for the images.

Use your keyword research to determine the site’s post categories. Silo the site content using Lou Anne’s worksheet. Don’t use more than 2 keyword phrases per post.

Page speed is increasingly important for SEO these days. Good hosting is the best thing for this, but in addition to that, you should optimize your images, css, and scripts, and use a CDN. You may want to use a caching plugin if your host is not providing sufficient server-side caching. (But be careful setting up W3 Total Cache: if you do it wrong, it will make things worse.)

Measure your results. Lou Anne likes My SEO Tool ($39/month, worth it if you are a professional or your business depends on SEO.) Also, set Google Analytics up to track your internal search queries.

Schema.org markup is currently important for recipes, reviews, and local search, and will be important for e-commerce soon.  There are plugins like Organization Schema Widget and Local Business SEO that include schema markup for specific purposes, but nothing comprehensive yet. In certain situations, it can be a real SEO secret sauce.

May 2014 Meetup Notes: Hosting, Updates, SEO, Authorship, and More

Things change rapidly in the WordPress world. The content in this post is more than a year old and may no longer represent best practices.

Here are some notes from the Q&A session of the May 2014 East Bay WordPress Meetup, and also a few from the presentations on Google Webmaster Tools and the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin.

Go Daddy WordPress Hosting

For years, no one–including Pieter Hartsook–has had a good word to say about Go Daddy when it comes to WordPress hosting. But Go Daddy recently introduced managed WordPress hosting, and it actually works. (Pieter tested it, and unlike Go Daddy’s regular hosting, it’s fast.) What’s more, right now it’s on sale for $1/month.

No one at Go Daddy knows how long the sale will last, so if you’re interested in trying it out, you should probably head over there now. And yes, if by some mischance you have Go Daddy’s ordinary shared hosting, you can switch to this new service. Since you could hardly do worse than the regular shared hosting at Go Daddy (unless you were moving to 1 and 1), you should definitely move any WordPress accounts you have on Go Daddy over to the new Managed WordPress hosting service.

Atahualpa Update Issues

Diana Thompson has a strange issue with WordPress and Atahualpa. She just took over a client project with an outdated version of both WordPress and Atahualpa. She’s duplicated the site locally (same WP version, same theme version, same plugins, same content), but for some reason gets “You do not have permission to access this page” errors when trying to edit posts and pages.

Suggestions included checking to see that the PHP and MySQL versions were the same on both the local and live installations (since it is possible to edit posts and pages in the live install), but, since the local installation is expendable, to just see what happens after upgrading both WordPress and Atahualpa.

Video Embeds Aren’t Working

Lisa Bigeleisen has a client for whom YouTube embeds fail to work, either when using oEmbeds or when copying the embed code. Though the site is still running WordPress 3.6, YouTube oEmbeds have been part of WordPress for several versions now, and ought to work.

The consensus in the group was that something–either a plugin or something in the theme’s functions.php file–was causing a conflict with the native embed function of WordPress. (I have seen this happen before. Sometimes using the shortcode helps, and sometimes it doesn’t.)

Italics Not Working

Anthony Bello has a site where italics are not showing up in posts, even when the <em> tag showed up in the HTML editor. Everyone suspected there was an issue with the CSS, and so Pieter Hartsook’s inspection of the theme’s stylesheet after the meetup proved.

Ultimate Tiny MCE Breaks in 3.9

Bob Hemstock complained that Ultimate TinyMCE, a plugin he relied on, no longer worked in WordPress 3.9. He had especially relied on it for inserting tables.

Pieter Hartsook explained that if you wanted to regain the functionality provided by Ultimate TinyMCE, you should install the WP Edit plugin instead. WP Edit will import your settings from Ultimate TinyMCE.

How to Search Anonymously

If you don’t want to see local search results, or other results that are tailored to what Google knows about you, go to megaproxy.com, click the “try it free” button, and enter “www.google.com” in the URL box.

If you are going to need this service often (e.g. to check SEO for clients), you might want to get a paid account.

Keeping Up with the Changing SEO Landscape

What worked yesterday may not work today. How do you find out what search engine optimization techniques are going to be successful?

How to Ask Google to Re-Index Your Site

We mentioned that doing this was possible with Google Webmaster Tools, but not specifically how. The section of Webmaster Tools that you want is “Fetch as Google,” in the “Crawl” section.

To submit your entire site for indexing, leave the URL box blank. Once the home page has been fetched, click the submit button and check the radio button that says “URL and all linked pages.”

instructions to fetch site as Google

Google Authorship with Yoast SEO

There are instructions in the Webmaster Tools slides about how to use All in One Webmaster to verify Google Authorship, but you can also use WordPress SEO by Yoast to do this. I found a nice tutorial on it this morning.

May 2014 Slides: WordPress SEO with Yoast

Things change rapidly in the WordPress world. The content in this post is more than a year old and may no longer represent best practices.

Pieter Hartsook presented Anca Mosoiu’s slides and then gave a demonstration of Joost de Valk’s WordPress SEO plugin on his own website.

Pieter also talked a bit about Google’s changing algorithm and the contextual orientation of Hummingbird, which recognizes topics related to a keyword, and may return posts about breakfast food when the search term is “muffins.”

By using the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, you can preview your search snippet and modify your post title and meta description to make searchers more likely to click on your listing than your competitors.

You can also choose a focus keyword (or phrase) and see how well your post scores, then modify your title, slug, subheadings, and content until your score improves.

The Page Analysis tab in the WordPress SEO metabox scores your post for everything from keyword density to reading ease. It will warn you if your post is too short or your sentences are too long.

Anca Mosoiu’s Slides: WordPress SEO with Yoast

Most of these slides have more to do with the general principles of SEO than with Yoast’s plugin specifically.

Download the PDF file .

SEO with Lou Anne McKeefery (November 2009 Meetup)

Things change rapidly in the WordPress world. The content in this post is more than a year old and may no longer represent best practices.


More than 200 factors go into determining your site’s ranking in Google.

You see results from optimization faster with WordPress than with HTML sites.

Lou Anne took her example client from 189 to 1055 keywords—those are the terms real people actually used to find the site.

Keyword research is critical. The most searched term was “weight loss”, which the client thought was 90% relevant. “Fitness” was 100% relevant.

The trick is to find the words that people haven’t found your site with, that you want them to.

Tip: When people phone you, they may actually tell you the keywords they used, or would use, e.g. “I’m looking for a 3-bedroom home in…”

KEI: Keyword Effectiveness Index

From her keyword research, Lou Anne creates categories so she can organize the site. She works with the web designer in the early stages. If the only pages you have are services ABC, you’re only appealing to people who are already ready to buy. Use the terms people use when researching. The site will end up larger, but it will appeal to a greater range of people.

Ellen asks how SEO for WordPress differs—Lou Anne says in the implementation. (Regular websites don’t necessarily have categories and tags.)

Lou Anne doesn’t know how much tags affect SEO. But think of them in terms of keywords anyway.

Note: No search engine uses the keyword meta tag field. Lou Anne only uses them to keep track of what her client is trying to optimize on.


Don’t change your permalink structure without setting up 301 Redirects. (You can use the Redirection plugin (see list below) for this.)

Lou Anne’s preferred permalink structure is %category%/%postname%

• Page slug
• Description—Not used for ranking, but people will click based on this.

Search for “site:yourdomain.com” to see what your page descriptions look like now.

You want every page’s title and every description to be unique.
Plugins for SEO

Headspace2 rather than All in One SEO. It lets you put your Google Analytics code and other IDs
Robots Meta plugin helps take care of duplicate content
Automatic SEO Links
SEO Smart Links
SEO Friendly Images
Google Sitemap Generator
MaxBlogPress ping optimizer
Redirection to fix broken links and otherwise create 301 redirects
Surveys (search-friendly) http://wordpress.org/…
PollDaddy (not searchable, if you’re asking about something not relevant to searches)
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)
Folding Category Widget


• Noel recommends FastTube plugin for YouTube:
• Marco suggests WordTube

103bees.com $10/year


Work on the words/phrases in 5th to 9th position. Those are the ones you can move, and make a difference with.

The reason you might use “noindex” is if you’re writing something not related to your main topic.

For more SEO expertise, contact
Lou Anne McKeefery,
Be Found
408 946-8632