I get a lot of emails, tweets, etc asking me what are the “default” settings I use on WordPress websites, so thought I’d put a post together.
Here are my SEO ‘settings’ for most WordPress websites:
For new sites, I do not use tags of any kind. Older sites, like this one I never had a policy on tags but over the years I’ve found them to be pretty much useless.
Only use 5-6 categories for most sites, unless a very large website that is content based.
I use SEO ultimate plugin (paid) for most basic SEO tasks, such as title tags and meta descriptions. This is a great SEO plugin I’ve been using for probably 10 years now. It also does a great job of Twitter Card and Open Graph settings.
Most schema markup I add to the site manually, on a page or post by post basis. I use JSON-LD type of schema rather than the traditional form.
What I No-Index and No-Follow
Over the years I’ve changed my opinion on this, but I prevent indexing, and no-follow:
- admin pages
- author archives
- blog search pages
- category archives
- comment feeds and subpages
- date based archives
- tag archives (no tags)
- user login pages
Essentially I try to make it so Google doesn’t have to crawl the same page twice. I normally noindex and no-follow these pages. WordPress URL’s such as:
/category/SEO /tag/SEO and /2010/01/ /page1/etc
…all yield the same result, and I don’t want to waste a crawl budget on that, especially for larger sites. These pages usually don’t rank very well, but there are a few exceptions to this rule. Yes, canonicalization “fixes” a lot of this, but I thin its better to remove it from the equation.
Image attachment pages get the axe.
Robots.txt file really varies. A lot of times I just leave it empty for the most part, or just add the sitemap.xml file reference to it. We also normally block the wp-admin portion of the site from being crawled. Googlebot knows a WP site for the most part by now.
I have been using this sitemap plugin for almost 10 years. Within it, I use the following settings:
- notify Google / Bing
- add sitemap to virtual robots.txt
- try to compress
- no automatic priority
- standard content: homepage, posts, pages
- include last modification time
- change frequences: (homepage=weekly) and (posts=daily)
- Priorities .6 homepage and 1 for psots .6 for static pages blank for everything else
Server and Database Maintenance
I run a database cleanup tool every month. Sometimes I use the WP-Optimize plugin for this, other times I do a database cleanup using PHPMyAdmin when I need to do it on a more granular basis.
I manually cleanup the server probably once per month. This includes examining any error log files and attending to them, looking for core dump files, or any other stray files.
I optimize images with EWWW image optimizer. Settings vary from site to site, but I’ve found this plugin is easy to use, and shaves off on average 50% of image size.
I don’t use any tools for image alt tags, permalinks, etc. All done by hand on an image to image basis.
I use the “Yet another related posts” plugin to help users find more helpful posts, and is a great way to do some smart internal linking. There are a few other plugins that do this, this is the least intrusive.
Google Publisher is added and verified in child theme head.php.
I try to make all permalinks helpful to the user visiting the page, and keyword rich at the same time. I try to keep it at 2-3 words. This is good practice in general.
I verify Google Search Console using HTML file.
I do not like Yoast SEO plugin, in particular because of the issues it causes with schema markup. I’ve also had a lot of sitemap issues with this plugin. I don’t think an SEO plugin should be responsible for the generation of an SEO sitemap, these should be modular.