Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a key to a sucessful website. Every site owner naturally needs as high a search ranking as possible for their site, so the most important thing to do is optimize the code for search engines. The hard part is that there is no way for most of us to know exactly what the search engines’ algorithms think of our web pages. We have to make assumptions of what the black boxes of Google, Bing and Yahoo actually do.
The best guide to SEO that I know of is Joost de Valk’s WordPress SEO guide, which complements his very thourough plugin WordPress SEO. It has some fresh ideas, such as not coding your template with any h1 tags except for single-post titles. That’s a great way to focus search engines. I had not seen a single WordPress theme built this way but I’m finding it is very effective.
Its important to take a common sense approach to SEO. For example its not effective to try to trick crawler-bots to achieve a quick boost in ratings. Gimmicks like keyword-stuffing, inappropriate meta tags and loading your site with irrelevant links are not going to help your site – they may get it downgraded. The best approach to SEO is to maintain an up-to-date website. Frequent and informative content additions is important. Search engines, like viewers, prioritize fresh content over stale content. WordPress is a huge help in this regard, because it makes it quick and fast to publish new material, whether in the form of new web pages, or in blog format.
WordPress also publishes clean, semantic code, which is efficiently indexed by search bots. For example, all words coded as headings will be considered keywords by Google. This is far more accurate than indexing the arbitrary keywords that a website coder inserts into a page’s meta tags.
WordPress also makes it simple to maintain an organized menu system, so users can find content easily. A well coded, up-to-date and informative site will be a findable site.