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WordPress SEO: The Ultimate Guide to SEO for WordPress

WordPress is the best CMS but there is lot of misconception about SEO for WordPress. Many people think that Installing WordPress is all they need for SEO. Though it is true to some extent you can still improve a lot in WordPress for SEO and convert your blog into an SEO Powerhouse.

If you have just installed your WordPress blog make sure you have your blog privacy settings correct. Under the Settings > Privacy make sure you have visible to everyone, including search engines option selected.

The Theme

The choice of your theme can impact SEO to a great extent so choose your theme wisely. I personally prefer Genesis theme for all my blogs because it is one of the best WordPress theme and framework from an SEO viewpoint but you can use any good theme of your choice as far as it is SEO friendly.

Once you are done with your theme installation, we will move on to get right WordPress settings to help in SEO.

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Permalink Settings

Search engines and especially Google prefer better user experience. By default WordPress URLs look like http://imtips.co/?p=123 but as your can see URL of this post is http://imtips.co/wordpress-seo.html. You can get this done by editing the Permalink Settings for your blog.

This not only makes your blog URL’s user friendly but also makes URLs search engine friendly.

Anchor text in Backlinks is still one of the key factors in Google ranking and so anybody copying URLs will also have the keywords in the anchor text.

People when linking to your content may not always link like

WordPress SEO

But more likely will use


And this still has the needed keywords to your liking.

Many people even prefer to add category in the URLs. For using category you need to use the following permalinks structure




Caution: If your blog categories are such that your post can have multiple categories for a single post avoid using category in the URL.

All in one SEO Pack

All in one SEO is one of the most used plugin for WordPress SEO but if you are using Thesis Theme you can avoid this plugin but if you are using any other theme this plugin is a must. This plugin helps you customize your home page title, post page title to add your blog title to your post.

Apart from titles this plugin can also add Meta description and keywords to your posts.

A very important point to note is that by default this plugin has Noindex option checked for category, archive and tag pages. The main reason for this setting is many WordPress themes show full post content on those pages and so having those pages noindex can help you save from duplicate content but if your theme does not display full post content on those pages you can uncheck Noindex option. If you want you can even edit your theme to show only few lines of content from your post on those pages and enable this option.

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XML Sitemap

XML Sitemap Plugin helps search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engine’s crawl website much more efficiently. XML Sitemap WordPress plugin helps you create complete XML sitemap for your WordPress including posts, pages, categories, tags and other custom URLs.

Internal Linking Structure

Better internal linking structure can help a lot in SEO and so we will use few plugins to enhance the internal linking structure of our WordPress site.

1. SEO Smart Link – As your blog grows it becomes almost impossible to link to old posts. SEO Smart Links automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts as well as comments with corresponding posts, pages, categories and tags on your blog and helps internal linking for your blog.

2. Related Post – Many people argue how related posts can help in SEO but a better interlinking always help in SEO and related posts is a way to link to other related articles from your blog post. When it comes to related posts plug-in there are quite a few of them for WordPress but my personal favorite is Yet Another Related Posts Plugin because it has very intelligent algorithm for finding related posts.

3. Breadcrumbs – Google is integrating breadcrumbs navigation in SERPs and so having breadcrumb for your posts can help your SERP listing look more trustworthy.

Caution: I personally try to avoid breadcrumbs on blog where I have posts falling into multiple categories. As an example this post is under CMS and SEO category.

4. Pagination – As blog grows it contains tons of posts and if you use the default WordPress navigation, Most of your posts can be buried few clicks from home page. Using page navigation means each of your post is just couple of clicks from the home page.

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SEO and Speed

W3 Total Cache – We know site speed is a part of Google’s ranking algorithm and W3 Total Cache can help speed up your website considerably. It generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog and then uses html files intelligently to show them to your users, especially guests.

SEO For Images

SEO Images – Whenever you add Images to your post you always miss ALT and TITLE tag for images and SEO Images plugin adds both of them automatically.

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Optimize Category Pages

Category pages are the most overlooked pages SEO in your WordPress blog and you should always do SEO for those pages. With the Thesis Theme, you can easily add custom information to the top of your category pages but for your other themes I will recommend to add category description at the top of the page. See what I do for my blog categories like Make Money.


I have quite a few articles on how to generate backlinks but today I am going to discuss ways to generate more links to your Wordpres blog.

  1. Follow Readers – Follow your blog reader’s and visit their blog and comment on it. I always visit the site of person leaving comment on my blog to the extent I can and see if I can share some of my views on some their articles as well.
  2. Use Ping backs – You can use pingbacks to notify other blogs that you have linked to them and sooner or later they’re going to return the favour. Edit Settings > Discussion and have the option Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article checked.

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Final Thoughts

Feel free to ignore anything you think is not right for your blog. I myself don’t use all of them on all my blogs but they have worked for me or for my clients.

Don’t forget to leave your comments or suggestion for anything you think I have missed and I hope this helps all fellow WordPress bloggers.

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  • Excellent guide will definately keep coming back to your blog!

  • very good post. learned so much, Thanks


    • The pleasure is all mine Harpreet

  • hey dude

    thanks a lot

    i usually don’t get impressed easily

    but u forced me to read every word of this article and literally saying this is the article i was looking for….. thanks alot….

    i have pinboard theme for my wordpress site , there is seo option but i m confused how to use it… can you help

    • Yes I will be more than happy to have a look and help you as well.

  • WOW a great SEO WordPress tutorial, thanks for sharing it helped a lot and I love All In One SEO Plugin. Keep Posting.

    • Glad you liked it Varinder.

  • Hello,
    This is really a great one.. i have never think on this direction.. now this will really a helpful to me for create blog live.

    Thanks a lot 🙂

  • hi,
    one and half year back i moved to wordpress and thesis, but couldn’t find any difference between blogger and wordpress. I have tried all the plugins that you have mentioned but views, earnings everything was same so I gone back to blogger Jan 2012.

    do you think wordpress is better than blogger ?

    • Kishore, I don’t think WordPress or thesis or even those plugins can help you make sales and it is the type of traffic that you drive to your site that can make the difference. WordPress and plugins can help you get your site more SEO friendly and drive more traffic to your site but that does mean you would drive sales.

      As an example let us take an hypothetical site that sale shoes and if that site ranks very well for a keyword say “Buy Hosting”, do you think that site would make any sales. So it does not matter what CMS you are using, it will drive sales provided you drive targeted traffic and so comparing blogger to WordPress based on sales will not be very conclusive.

      I have explained what issues can arise when blogger over WordPress here – http://imtips.co/blogger-or-wordpress.html

      Hope my answer helps.

  • ensure

    You’re welcome! I’m looking for a Thesis Skin similar to IMTips. Are you selling this skin or know where I can purchase one similar?

    • I am not selling anything but you can get this done in Thesis very easily by choosing the full page framework.

      If you want you can hire some designer to get this done in Elance.

  • ensure

    I ordered Thesis Themes using your ref. Is there any difference (SEO wise) using Thesis made themes for Thesis vs regular WordPress themes?

    • Yes Thesis has lot of SEO features that many themes don’t take into account. One of them is category pages in many themes are just list of post pages but with thesis you can make it such that you can add introductory content and other details to make it SEO friendly.

      Thanks for getting thesis for your blog under my referral.

  • ensure

    That I know I was referring to the design itself

    • Yes it is customized design.

  • ensure

    Is this a custom theme imtips is running?

  • Hi,

    Very nice plugins for beginner, thanks for sharing:)

  • I found that using seo plugins without a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve holistically, planning your seo efforts is the first part, secondly with that plan you now have direction as to what you do everytime you make a post or a pages.

    Some thinks this attitude is an attempt to game the system, I happen to think that having no direction, is the direction your ranking will go.
    I only wish, I could find a plug source that would allow me to add/load all the plugins I know I’m going to use, (based on the plan of the site), that I could install and then check off the wants I want to active for the project. Wouldn’t that be cool. Have anyone seem something like this?

  • Thanks Shabbir,
    I am looking at a new site and its a prety big venture so I have been searching the web for ideas and info and i have picked up both here. Thanks.

    • The pleasure is all mine John.

  • I’m myself a beginner in blogging but these tips can be vital to me in doing my job well.thanks

  • Thanks for sharing the views with us.. I was wondering to know only plug-ins are used by wordpress?

  • If you run an online business and try to use blogs to promote your products and services, you’ll certainly find blogging advantageous. Blogging will help develop stronger relationships and loyalty with your clients by providing useful information on regular basis.

  • Hey thanks for this posts. I’m myself a beginner in blogging but these tips can be vital to me in doing my job well.

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