A WordPress blog is quickly set up. With nearly 80 million users, WordPress is among the most widely distributed content management systems (CMS) available today. There are some rules to keep in mind to avoid frustration and to make all the work and effort needed to build and run a website worthwhile.
Always stay up to date
The security of a website largely depends on if the latest versions are installed for all components used at all times. This starts with the WordPress version itself (currently, the latest version is the security release 4.0.1; not taking into account the beta version for WordPress 4.1).
But also the plugins and the template used should always be checked for available updates. This is the only way to avert hacker attacks aiming at known security vulnerabilities.
It’s every webmaster’s worst nightmare that their own website is hacked. This can happen to everyone and destroy the work of weeks, months or even years – unless you have performed backups on a regular basis. Depending on how often there are changes and updates on your website, you should decide on a backup interval such as weekly or bi-weekly for example. In case of damage you can then easily go back to the last version you have backed up.
It’s fairly easy to perform backups in WordPress using plugins. One example for such a plugin is BackUpWordPress
Avoid duplicate content
Duplicate content is one of the most common SEO problems and can have multiple reasons. For example, if a website is available in two versions, one with and one without “www” (domain.com and www.domain.com), they are regarded as two individual websites and might both end up in the indexes of Google and others where they would have to compete against each other.
Session IDs and other URL parameters can also lead to duplicate content. Another example are printer-friendly pages: These pages contain the same content as the original, but with a different layout. What matters for Google, however, is the content which then exists twice.
To check if your website has duplicate content on Google, simply perform a “site:” query. When searching for “site: domain.com”, all websites indexed for the domain “domain.com” are found. This makes it fairly easy to detect duplicate content.
There are many measures to take against duplicate content. For one thing, setting a canonical URL which is basically the main URL per page, is an option. With a canonical tag, you can let search engines know which URL should be indexes and that the others should be ignored.
SEO Plugins such as Yoast help you to avoid duplicate content by making sure there are no duplicates when setting up URLs.
The right page structure matters
You can imagine a website like a network of subpages. These pages are connected with each other and form a hierarchy. When planning and designing a website, it’s important to build the connections between the subpages and the hierarchy in a way that all subpages are easily and quickly accessible. A flat hierarchy with few levels (four at the maximum) is recommended.
Good internal links and just a few levels are also important for search engine indexing. Remember: The lower a page is located in the page hierarchy, the lower the chance of being found by crawlers.
WordPress supports the page structure setup with the possibility to easily create categories. Categories and subcategories should match thematically and you should always check if a subcategory is necessary or if the superordinate category is sufficient.
It’s also possible to assign one post to several categories. However, the URL of the post only contains one category. That’s why you should always think about which category is the most important before assigning a post to several categories.
Use SEO plugins
WordPress inherently includes pretty good methods for creating search engine ready websites. However, to handle the most common problems such as duplicate content or poor meta tags, using special plugins is highly recommended. Most of these plugins are available free of charge. Read more: SEO Plugins for WordPress – 5 Recommendations
Set permalinks correctly
Permalinks in WordPress determine how the post URL will look like later on. You can create an own permalink for each post and adapt it manually. When adapting permalinks, it’s important to remember that it contains the keywords for which you want the post to be displayed in search engines. The keywords should be ordered in the permalinks from important to less important, meaning the important keywords at the beginning and the less important ones towards the end. But don’t exaggerate this, please. Ideally, a permalink should only contain three to four keywords for not being too long and thus reducing its effect.
If you observe these rules, chances are good that you will get a decent search engine ranking and for another thing you minimize the risk of your WordPress getting hacked one day. And even if this is the case, you can easily go back to your last backup.
How do you protect your WordPress installation? How do you optimize it for search engines? Let us know by leaving a comment!