WordPress SEO Settings Menu – Easly WordPress SEO Setup

WordPress SEO Settings Menu – Easily WordPress SEO Setup

WordPress SEO Settings Menu – Easly WordPress SEO Setup

During the initial setup of a WordPress site, it’s a good idea to go through the Settings menu first to make sure everything is set up properly. You will find this settings menu in the left sidebar of your Dashboard. Mouse-over the word ‘Settings’ and a popup menu will appear displaying the options. Click on the word ‘Settings’ and that menu integrates into the sidebar, below the main Settings heading:
Once we install a few plugins later on, there will be more items in the Settings menu, but we’ll deal with those as and when we get to them. Note that I will only be covering the settings that are specifically related to good SEO.
General Settings
Site Title & Tagline
WordPress SEO Settings Menu – Easly WordPress SEO Setup

The top two items in the General settings are Site Title and Tagline. Later in the book we will look at creating a custom logo image and using that on the website, but until you create & upload that image, the Site Title and Tagline entered here will be displayed at the top of every page on your site. DO NOT stuff keywords into the site name or tagline fields. Your site name will most probably be based on your domain name, and the tagline should be a short sentence specifying your site’s goal, philosophy or slogan. There is a good article on creating a tagline on the Copyblogger website:
If you need help with yours, I suggest you read that.
E-mail Address
The only other setting we need to concern ourselves with on this page is the email address. This will be used by WordPress, plugins, and a free external service (Gravatar.com). We’ll be looking at these later, so your email address needs to be correct.
Writing Settings

In terms of SEO, the only setting we need to change here is the Update Services. These are a list of web services that get notified whenever new content gets published on the site. Having a good ‘ping list’ will help your content get indexed quicker too.
Search Google for “WordPress ping list” and you’ll find a list of sites to include. Simply copy and paste the list into the Update Services box, and then save your settings. 
Reading Settings

Latest posts vs. static page

At the top of the Reading Settings is the Front page displays:
WordPress SEO Settings Menu – Easly WordPress SEO Setup

This will tell WordPress which if the two options to use for the homepage on
your site. You can select:
1. Your latest posts
2. A static page

If you want to have a static page as your homepage, i.e., an article that does not change, you can create that article as a WordPress ‘Page’, and then select that page here to use as the homepage (front page).

In this book, we will be using a Genesis theme, and the home pages in Genesis are widgetized. If you’re not sure what that means, don’t worry. Just realise that it’s good, and we’ll look into it later in the Homepage section of this book. To take advantage of this fantastic Genesis homepage feature, you need to leave the settings here to show ‘Your latest posts’ on the front page (which is the default setting).

Next up on the Reading Settings is deciding how many posts to display on the homepage and archive pages (like category page, author page, etc), and decide what information is shown in RSS feeds (something WordPress generates for your site).

The default setting is 10, which means WordPress will show 10 posts on the homepage, 10 on the category pages, and 10 on the author page, etc. If there are more than 10 posts to show, then the remainder will be added, in batches of 10, to additional pages, and you’ll get a next/previous type navigation to move between them.

I would recommend you leave the ‘Blog pages show at most’ set to 10. Beneath that is the ‘Syndication feeds show the most recent’ option. WordPress creates RSS feeds for your site (see my WordPress for Beginners book if you want to read more on this –
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009ZVO3H6). Your site will have a main feed, plus there will be feeds for category pages, tag pages, and so on. This setting tells WordPress how many items to include in the feed. With Google’s Penguin algorithm looking at the over-optimization of inbound links, I’d limit the RSS feed to a maximum of 10. In the past, webmasters have included 100 items (or more), and that would mean any site that is displaying your RSS feed will contain 100 links back to it. Before Google Penguin, that was OK, but not now. So I would suggest leaving this number set at 10. You now have to decide what the feed contains, i.e., all the content of your posts, or just a summary of them. Select ‘Summary’ because otherwise you are making if far too easy for scraper software tools to copy (steal), your content. These software tools monitor RSS feeds and strip the content out. Your content is then likely to be posted on one or more spammy sites around the internet, and that’s not good.
WordPress SEO Settings Menu – Easly WordPress SEO Setup

Later in this book we will look at Google Authorship, and one reason I recommend you use this is to tell Google that you are the author of the content. Essentially, when it’s set up, any new posts you add to your site will automatically be tagged in Google with you as the author. Then if someone does steal your work, Google knows who the real author/owner is, and rewards you in its search results pages.

The final option on this page is ‘Search Engine Visibility’. When some people develop a website, they want it to be finished before the search engines come to spider the site. This option allows you to do just that. By checking the box, your website will basically tell the search engines to ignore it until you decide the time is right, and uncheck this option.

I recommend you leave this box unchecked from the start, that’s unless you have good reason to not want the content indexed as you create it. As I add content to a website, I want Google to find and index it as soon as possible. If they see new content being added over a short period of time, they’ll know the site is under construction and needs to be spidered more regularly so as to keep their index up to date. By leaving this option unchecked, you are encouraging the search engine spiders to crawl your site, and that’s a good thing.

Discussion Settings

The Discussion Settings refer to the commenting system built into WordPress. Google likes to see visitor interaction on a website, so this is an important part of your WordPress SEO, and so you’ll want to keep the comments enabled. At the top of these settings, you will see:

These boxes should all be left checked. The first option means WordPress will try to send a notification to any blog you link to in your posts. This lets a site owner know you have linked to them, and can sometimes result in a link back. The second option is the first one in reverse. If someone links to your site, then WordPress will notify you so that you can see who’s linking to you. This has been abused by spammers and you will get a lot of false positives here, but you’ll still get these even if you disable this option. The final option simply tells WordPress to allow visitors to comment on your posts. This is what we want – visitor participation. The ‘Other comment settings’ section has a few more options:

Check the first box so that anyone leaving a comment must enter a name and an
email address.

WordPress SEO Settings Menu – Easly WordPress SEO Setup

The second box should be unchecked unless you are creating some kind of membership site where people need to register in order to participate. Leave the third box unchecked too, unless there is a reason why you want to close comments on older posts. I personally like to keep comments open indefinitely, and if there is a post where I want to close them, I can do that in the ‘Edit Post’ screen, just for that one post. The fourth checkbox will enable nested comments. This is something that not only makes the comments look better, but more intuitive for your visitors. This is because replies to a specific comment will be nested under the original, and this in turn makes following the conversation much easier. The next option allows you to spread comments across pages once you get over a certain number of remarks on the main post page. This is a good idea if your site gets a lot of comments, because the more you have, the longer the page will take to load. If you anticipate a lot of comments, enable this option. You can also specify here whether you want comments to be shown with the oldest or newest first. I personally think it makes more sense to have older comments at the top. That way, the comments are chronological, but this is a personal


Next on this page is the ‘E-mail me whenever’ settings. Do you want to be notified when someone comments on a post? If so, make sure that option is checked. I recommend you check this so that you get instant notifications of any new comments posted on your site. This means you get to reply quickly. Fast responses to comments are important, and it makes the visitor feel that you care. Practising good interaction means there’s a much better chance the commenter will come back and visit your site again.

The second email option is to notify you when a comment is held for moderation. You can uncheck this, because in a moment we will tell WordPress to hold ALL comments for moderation, and we are already getting notified every time someone posts a comment anyway. In the ‘Before a comment appears’ section, check the first box, and uncheck the

WordPress SEO Settings Menu – Easly WordPress SEO Setup

This will force ALL comments to appear in a moderation queue, and will only go live on your site once you approve them. This means the next couple of settings in the ‘Comment Moderation’ section are irrelevant, since ALL comments are now held for moderation. We can therefore ignore that section. NOTE: Moderating comments might sound like a lot of work, but it is essential. If you have your site set up to auto-approve comments, you pages will end up full of spam remarks, and all kinds of gobbledegook. Needless to say that would
take a lot more time cleaning up than moderating comments. The ‘Comment Blacklist’ is a good way to fight spam. You can include email addresses, IP addresses, and certain words in the box. If a comment matches any of those lines, it is automatically marked as spam. If I end up getting a lot of spam comments from a particular IP address, I usually add that to this list as well.

You can also search Google for a “WordPress comment blacklist” which will get you started. Just add one item per line, and save your changes when done. The final section on the Discussion Settings relates to the use of “Avatars”.

An Avatar is a small image of the author. If the author of a comment has a Gravatar (http://gravatar.com/) assigned to the email address, and they use that same email to leave a comment, then that Gravatar is shown as their avatar. I recommend you check ‘Show Avatars’. I think this helps the comment section become more active, since visitors to your site can see little photos of real people leaving remarks. Site visitors like to know who they are dealing with, a face behind the name as it were, so these images help instil confidence and help gain site credibility. I would recommend you check the ‘G’ rating, so the avatars on your site should be suitable viewing for all ages.

Also, select ‘Blank’ for the default avatar. Avatars take time to load, thus increasing the page load time. With blank selected, if a person does not have a Gravatar setup, no image is loaded for that person.

Media Settings

While the settings here allow us to determine the maximum sizes of images in posts, I recommend you do that manually on a post by post basis at the time you create them. Therefore, there are no specific settings in the Media Settings section that we need to change for SEO purposes.

WordPress SEO Settings Menu – Easly WordPress SEO Setup

Permalinks Settings

The Permalink settings are important, because whatever you enter here will influence the way the URLs are displayed for the pages on your website. The default WordPress setting will produce URLs like this:  Mydomain.com/?p=123
The ‘?p=123’ parameter in this URL is simply a call for the page with Page ID = 123. This is not very useful for visitors, it looks ugly, and it’s certainly not helpful to search engines.
A lot of people will use the ‘post name’ option, which uses the post title in the  URL. Actually  it uses the post ‘slug’ which is the portion of the URL that represents the post. But by default that will be the post title unless you change it.  For example, if you had a post called ‘Liverpool win in Istanbul’, then the URL  for that post would look like this:
Mydomain.com/Liverpool-win-in-istanbul Note that capitals are stripped out, as well as some other characters like apostrophes.
There is a problem that I read about with this permalink structure. Basically, as the site gets larger, WordPress struggles to locate the post if it only has the post ‘slug’ (filename), to go on. It therefore takes longer to load pages. In order to fix this problem, you need to add in either the page ID, or the category into the permalink. I actually recommend you use a permalink that contains the category anyway, so even if this wasn’t an issue with the latest WordPress, I’d still recommend you choose ‘Custom Structure’ and enter the following as your permalink structure:


Here it is in my settings:
Now the URL of any page will include the category and filename of the post. A typical URL for a post might look like this: Mydomain.com/dog-breeds/alsatians So in this case, the post filename is ‘Alsatians’, and the post is in the ‘dog breeds’ category.


With Google’s Panda and Penguin looking for what Google calls ‘webspam’, we need to be very careful about choosing the correct category names for our site, especially if we are including the category in the URL. For example, if your site is called mydietreviews.com, and you had a category called ‘diets’, then a URL might look like this:
mydietreviews.com/diets/hollywood-diet/ This URL has the word ‘diet’ in it three times. That could well be seen as keyword stuffing and should be avoided. If you think that this type of situation will arise on your site with the categories you have chosen, then play it safe and
use this alternative permalink:
Post_id is replaced with the ID of the post (basically an integer number that is assigned to a post at the time you publish it). Your URL may then look like: mydietreviews.com/1045/hollywood-diet/ A URL like this appears is a little less spammy, yet includes the page_id which helps WordPress locate the page faster.

At the bottom of the common settings, there are some optional choices:

To understand what these options do, I need to tell you how WordPress assigns the URL for category pages and tag pages. Essentially, every category page will have the word ‘category’ in the URL, and every tag page will have the word ‘tag’ in the URL. Therefore, using the examples above, the category page URL would
look like this:
mydietreviews.com/category/diets/ This category page will then show all the posts in the diets category. Similarly, a tag page URL would look something like this:
mydietreviews.com/tag/fat-loss/ Any posts on your site that were tagged with the term ‘fat loss’ would be listed on this page.

OK, back to category base and tag base settings. These will replace the word ‘category’ or ‘tag’ in these URLs, with whatever you specify here. If you set the category base to be ‘abracadabra’, then the category URL would become: mydietreviews.com/abracadabra/diets/ Before Panda and Penguin, category and tag bases were used to keyword stuff the URLs. Today, leave them blank as they will only get your site into trouble.

WordPress SEO Settings Menu – Easly WordPress SEO Setup


Before we look at the plugins, I need to mention that many are updated frequently and their appearance can change a little as a consequence. That means the screenshots in this book may not be identical to what you are seeing in your Dashboard. Most changes are minor though, so you should still be able to set everything up properly, even if your plugin is a different version to the one that I am showing in this book.

What I am going to do in this section is get you to install certain plugins. We won’t go through the configuration of each one just yet; we’ll do that later in the book when we need to achieve certain SEO goals.

There are a few essential plugins to get your WordPress site ready for the search engines. I’ll cover these first, and I recommend you install ALL three of them. I’ll then list a few other plugins that you may find useful, and explain what they do. You can hold off installing these until you know whether you will need them or not.

To install the plugins, login to the Dashboard, and from the left side column, go to Plugins -> Add New. You will see a search box & button. Enter the plugin names in the search box as I state them below, and then install and activate each one.

Hope You like 

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