WordPress SEO Tips to Avoid Google Penalties

WordPress is one of the most popular, easy-to-implement CMS online. But just because it’s easy does not mean that the out-of-the-box WordPress settings are ideal for optimal on page SEO. In this post, I cover simple solutions to prevent redundant pages (pages with duplicate or minimal content) from getting indexed from the roving tarsus of Google spiders.

Search engines use a bag of words model to deduce market-focus (what each page is about) and topicality and relevancy are often lost when boilerplate templates, category pages, tags or archives pages are left wide-open for spiders to crawl.

By eliminating digital stragglers (thin pages), you’ll bolster your websites relevancy by having a higher percentage of unique indexed content.

While users might observe a tag page, a search engine is programmed to view that page as redundant content with very few classifiers to distinguish itself from the boilerplate template.

In fact, this is one of the prime directives of the Google Panda algorithm (to eliminate low quality content through normalization within a body of documents) hence, pages like these often get ignored or suppressed.

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Websites with a high percentage of duplicate or minimal content on pages (such as category, archives or tag pages) can trigger algorithmic suppression.

If your an avid SEO from Costa Rica and understand HTML then you could simply implement a meta-robots command such as nofollow or noindex, but unless you want to do that painstakingly page by page, you’ll need a plugin such as SEO Ultimate (The Premiere All-In-One WordPress SEO Plugin) from SEO Design Solutions that allows you to quickly and easily implement control over robots (search engine spiders) and canonicalization on the fly.

If you are already using SEO Ultimate, chances are you have already implemented these changes. If not, then let’s get started by making your website canonical and segmenting any potential duplicate content penalties. This is particularly important to new websites so they can make a great first impression (by preventing non-canonical taxonomies or duplicate content from being indexed).

With Google constantly updating their algorithms (Penguin, Panda and the other zoo animals running amuck) you’ll need to avoid tripping any algorithmic filters. Sharing content across multiple pages or thin content on boilerplate templates can devalue the integrity of your website architecture and spring these booby traps into action.

A splintering effect occurs dynamically by default when using WordPress. For example, when you create a post, that post also gets added to a category archive and if you use tags, then each tag also becomes a page with a link “via the excerpt” to the original post.

While implementing canonicalization helps, selective indexation via the Meta Robot Editor module is an ideal countermeasure to prevent multiple pages from being indexed and potentially creating penalties. Keep in mind, if its not indexed, there is no penalty (which is the basis of the Meta Robot Editor).

From an end-user’s perspective, tag pages are not ideal landing pages, which is why canonicalization is important. You want the search engines to show them the original page or post (not some tag or category archive).

Search engines have been known to suppress websites which allow tag pages and category archives to leach through into their index by relegating them to the supplemental results.


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