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You may know nothing about SEO or how search engines function. That does not mean SEO does not know about you. And you know more about the principles of “SEO” than you think.

The Ultimate Guide to Thesis SEO

Thesis includes its own SEO options, eliminating the need for multiple SEO plugins. I wrote this as the Ultimate Guide to Thesis SEO.
Once you’ve installed Thesis, you can modify various SEO settings in the Thesis Options under Appearance in your WordPress admin.

Title Tag

You can decide whether to show the site name or the site tagline in the title tags for your blog’s home page, or both, and in what order. These settings are only for the home page and not for single post pages or other blog pages.

thesis-head-seo

This matters, because Google places a lot of importance on what thetag has in it. To search engines, a document’s title is the primary indicator of its contents. In Thesis, what you call your blog and use for the blog tagline may become your blog’s title tag content. Title tags are often (but not always) used by Google as the main link text in a search result.

I would only show the tagline if it’s short and has more important keywords than the site name. For instance, if a site name is a brand name instead of a keyword, but if keywords are in the tagline, then consider showing the tagline in addition to the site name.

Google is sensitive to what appears natural (and seems to be growing more sensitive to this by the week). The most natural “non-SEO” way to do titles is to have the site name first (and often as the only thing).

Keyword-heavy titles are a no-no, precisely because to Google it looks like you’re trying to artificially boost your search rankings. Notice I didn’t say no keywords. Keep it light and keep it real. Get maximum keyword authority by availing yourself of link services from a trusted SEO service provider.

 

Append site name to page titles

Checking this box in your Thesis options sticks the name of your blog after the titles of pages and that include single post pages. It’s common now to exclude the site name on other pages, and for blogs especially to exclude site name from single post pages. I don’t think this is a smart idea, for two reasons:

It’s more natural and non-SEO-ish to include the site name, and faking naturalness is the paradoxical name of the game where Google is concerned.

If it’s good for people, it’s usually good for SEO.
For me the bottom line with appending site name to page titles or not has to do with brand-building and being user-friendly. Page names without any site names would make your browser history, back button, and tabs more difficult to use, not easier.

Thesis also lets you choose the text separator character placed between blog name and tagline. By default it is a hyphen. Any common character is fine, such as colons or pipes, which look like this: | (a simple vertical line, it is shift+backslash on your keyboard).

Home Page Meta

Meta tags for SEO are the meta description and meta keywords. Except it’s really only just the description. Google and most other search engines pay little to no attention at all to the meta keywords because of past abuses by site owners. However, the meta description becomes the descriptive text below a result link in search engine results pages (called SERPs), so what you write in it is very important. You have to keep it short: about 150 characters or less (use twitter’s “countdown” feature in the tweet box if you don’t want to count characters yourself).

thesis-home-meta

Whatever you create for your blog’s name, tagline, and home page meta description are going to have a big impact on what your blog’s home page gets found for in search, and whether or not people will actually click on its entry in the results pages when it appears.

Add Noindex to Archive Pages

Google sends its trusty Googlebot search engine spider to crawl the web and add pages to the Google search index. You have control over what Googlebot sees by controlling which pages are added to Google’s search index. These search spiders are also called robots.

thesis-noindex

Why would you not want Google to add all of your blog archive types to its index? Because if there is more than one URL for the exact same blog post, then Google will see those URLs as separate, individual web pages that have the exact same content in them. This creates what SEOs refer to as “duplicate content.” The real problem with this is that you are now competing against yourself and these URLs are weaker than one big strong URL would be. In other words, Google likes an obvious main choice.

So you really only want one type of archive pages to be indexed by Google. Which one you pick could depend on how you have your blog’s permalinks set up.

If you’re using category-based permalinks like this: http://domain.com/category/postname/, then you want to uncheck category noindex. If you’re using typical date-based pretty permalinks like this: http://onlinewebapplication.com/year/month/day/postname/, then uncheck the daily archives noindex.

It’s also worth noting that checking boxes does more than noindex these archive pages: it also nofollows them. Not only will the pages not be in Google’s search index, their links will not be followed (seen, really) by Googlebot to their destination (think of it as “blocking the exits” but only for search engine spiders).

Canonical URLs

You want this. This is a brilliant feature in Thesis. Canonical URLs tell search engines which URL for a post is the one you want it to see. This is done through a link tag in the head of the HTML:. So a link to:http://remarkablogger.com/2009/06/11/frugal-theme-review/#comment-98707 would actually be seen by a search engine as http://remarkablogger.com/2009/06/11/frugal-theme-review/.

Optimizing at the Page/Post Level in Thesis

When you write a post or a page and you’re using Thesis, you have many great SEO options at your command.

Custom Title Tag

You can supply a custom title that is different from the post’s main headline. You should use this… but not like you’re probably thinking. Here’s the thing: there is nearly no difference between a headline that’s great for SEO and a headline that’s highly attractive to people. Having gobbledegook title tags that are “SEO optimized” is an outdated strategy.

When you submit a post to any social media service, the title tag is used to create the headline for the item on the social media service. So if your title is different from your blog’s headline, this could create a problem. The title tag has to be a great headline, so it should be the headline. And of course, titles (not headlines) are what Google uses as the headline link in search results pages. So, even in search, the headline does all the work of pulling people in.

In other words, what I’m really saying here is take the time to create killer headlines for your blog posts that are so good, you won’t have to use the custom title tag feature in Thesis.

Meta Description

Same deal as meta description for the blog’s home page mentioned above, except this time it’s for this individual page or post. The character limit (about 120-160) is short. What you write here matters. Google bolds keyword matches in this text in search results pages (also for titles). Do not needlessly repeat keywords in the meta description–once is enough, really.

Meta Keywords

Fairly useless, but if you feel you must, put about 3 to 10 keywords here.

Noindex this Page

Checking this box essentially tells Google and other search engines: “Hey, don’t bother adding me to your search index, I don’t want to be found.” In other words, the entire page or post will not exist for Google (and for the world, essentially).

Post Image Alt Text

You can supply a post image in the Thesis single post options that is treated differently than placing the image directing in the post content, which is one of the coolest features of Thesis. This alt text is designed to be used by assistive technologies which allow the disabled to browse the web. Making this text target important keywords for your blog can help your SEO (so does accurate image file naming).

Excerpt

You should write unique, original material in here that is not the same text as your meta description.

None found.

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