Higher rankings for WordPress sites | The Absolute Guide – Part B

2 Template optimization for higher rankings

In this article, which is continuation of the previous article “Higher rankings for WordPress sites | The Absolute Guide – Part Α”, we will provide you with the next most powerful and very first ways to achieve higher rankings for your website.

You’ll want to add breadcrumbs to your single posts and pages. Of course Breadcrumbs aren’t the crispy grated toasts. Instead, they are the links, usually above the title post, that look like “Home > Article’s Title”. Breadcrumbs are good for two things:

  • They allow your users to easily navigate your site.
  • They also allow search engines to determine the structure of your site more easily.

These breadcrumbs should link back to the homepage, and the category the post is in. If the post is in multiple categories it should pick one. For that to work, you should adapt both “single.php" and “page.php" in your theme, and use the breadcrumbs from Yoast SEO plugin. You find the settings for the breadcrumbs in the SEO → Internal Links settings page.


2.2 Headings

Although most themes for WordPress get this right, make sure your post title is an <h1>, and nothing else. Your blog’s name should only be an <h1> on your front page, and on single, post, and category pages, it should be no more than an <h3>. Your sidebar shouldn’t be crammed with <h2> and <h3>‘s either etc.

These are easy to edit in the post.php and page.php templates. To learn more about why proper headings are important read this article on Semantic HTML and SEO and our article about the Heading Structure for your Blog (from which a lot applies to non-blog WordPress sites too). Even if you don’t understand the reason why, it just happens with search engines and with the way they help you getting higher rankings and make visitors to stay longer and longer to your site.


2.3 Clean up your code

All that javascript and CSS you might have in your template files, move that to external javascripts and css files, and keep your templates clean, as they’re not doing your WordPress SEO any good. This makes sure your users can cache those files on first load, and search engines don’t have to download them most of the time.


2.4 Aim for speed

A very important factor in how many pages a search engine will spider on your blog each day, is how speedy your blog loads. You can do three things to increase the speed of your WordPress.

  1. Optimize the template to do as small an amount of database calls as necessary. We’ve highlighted how to do this in our post about speeding up WordPress.
  2. Install a caching plugin. We recommend you use W3 Total Cache if you’re technically savvy or nerd or WP Super Cache if you’re not.
  3. W3 Total Cache works even more magic when combined with a CDN like MaxCDN. Read more about WordPress CDN stuff here.

Also, be aware that underpaying for hosting, is not wise. If you actually want to succeed with your link-bait actions, and want your blog to sustain high loads, go for a good hosting package. We use #SiteGround.com ourselves, and they’ve proven to be better than most everything we’ve seen in hosting, but we’ve got great experience with Synthesis too. For more you should read our article about WordPress hosting.


2.5 Rethink that sidebar and remove it if possible

Do you really need to link out to all your buddies in your blogroll site wide? Or is it perhaps wiser to just do that on your front page? Google and generally search engines nowadays heavily discount site wide links. So you do not really make your friends any favor by giving them that site wide link, nor you help yourself: you allow visitors to get out of your site everywhere, when you actually want them to browse around a bit. In other words, with sidebar you only manage higher rankings for others except from your blog.

The same goes for the search engines: on single post pages, these links aren’t necessarily related to the topic at hand, and thus aren’t helping you at all. Thus: get rid or just minimize the amount of widgets you have added to that sidebar as we did here on wordpressmoneyonline.com. In our sidebar, we just left present widgets that only navigate to our posts and not externally (outbound) . Also, there are probably more widgets like these that only make sense on the homepage, and others that you’d only want on sub pages.

Hopefully, some day you will probably be able to change this from inside WordPress. Right now it forces you to either use two sidebars: on homepage and on sub pages, or write specific plugins.


2.6 HTML sitemaps

For some sites an HTML sitemap might be nonsense, especially when your site is really a blog. For more corporate and business type sites with several levels of pages an HTML Sitemap might actually be very beneficial for both users and search engines. Yoast team has provided us with an excellently written article on how to create an HTML Sitemap Page Template which would be a good start to get one going for your WordPress site.