SEO and Optimization

I spent about an hour or two this morning trying to optimize my site.  For those of you interested, here’s what I did.

First of all, let’s start off with my goals:

Goal #1: Optimize site speed.  I wanted the site to be faster, more stable, more responsive, etc.

Goal #2: SEO.  I want my site to show up on the first page of all the major search engines (Google, MSN, Yahoo) when searching for “website design fort wayne”.

So, with those two goals in mind, here’s a brief list of what I did, along with links:

1.  Database backup plug-in (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-db-backup/) – this plug in does just what its names says – it backs up your database.  Great for any issues that show up.  Really nice feature is that you can schedule it to run at select times.  I set up an immediate back up and then a schedule every week.  It should e-mail me the back up every week – this should be a great confirmation.

2.  WP-Super-Cache (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-super-cache/) – this plug-in is often thought of to be the single most important thing you can do to increase your wordpress’ speed.  It creates caches of your pages and posts and serves up these whenever it can.  Very easy to install (not much technical knowledge needed).

3. Delete Plug-ins – obviously, deactivating old plug-ins that aren’t being used is a good idea.  But, I went ahead and made sure I deleted them from the plugin directory as well – just to be sure.

4.  Optimize template head – there is a LOT that can be done to optimize the template.  I just did a little bit – trying to reduce database queries.  I went through the head and tried to find references to bloginfo() and replace it with static text.  A lot of the info is never going to change (like character set and other things like that).  So, I took out the database calls and put in the text.  Won’t really “speed up” the page load much, but will reduce the server load.

5.  Optimized the Database – this I did manually.  There are some plug-ins to help (you’ll have to search).  But, I went into phpMyAdmin and optimized all the tables and then deleted any tables that were created by plug-ins I wasn’t using anymore.

6.  Optimize CSS and javascript libraries (CSS - http://iceyboard.no-ip.org/projects/css_compressor, JS - http://www.xtreeme.com/javascript-optimizer/) – these tools simply remove the white space and comments from files that are completed.  Be sure to keep non-compressed files as the compressed ones are virtually impossible to edit or debug.

NOW, for some other SEO thoughts:

1.  Text – I tried re-writing most of my text to make sure it includes my keywords.  BUT, I am not willing to sacrifice quality or readability for sake of keyword stuffing…

2.  Google XML Sitemap – (plugin - http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-sitemap-generator/) – this great plugin will create a normal and compressed version of a google compliant site map (XML).  It will also submit the sitemap to google and to other.

3.  Include and update all meta tags – I know, it’s not a big deal to search engines any more, but, I wanted to make sure every page, every post has valid and helpful meta tags on them.

4.  rename images – I went through my images and re-named them to include my keywords

5. Page title – the <title> tag is often cited to be one of the most important to google.  So I re-worked it as well.  It now includes all my key words.

6.  H1 tags – I tried to put <H1> tags at the top of every page and include my keywords inside these <h1> tags.  Not on every page – due to readability.

7.  LINKS – ok, I know this is a HUGE deal, but I don’t have that many incoming links.  I’ve tried to go and put links on sites I have developed, when appropriate, but that’s not a ton.  We’ll just have to see.  I do have good links from my linkedin page (http://www.linkedin.com/ehdesign), my facebook page (http://www.new.facebook.com/profile.php?id=590430234&ref=profile ).  But, it’s still not a ton

8.  Content – I’m trying to put good up to date content on a regular basis.  More people will read, more people will link, google will crawl more often – it’s a win for everyone.

9.  ALT tags – Again, it’s not a huge deal, but I tried to go through all my images and make sure my ALT tags did two things – described images (as they should for visually impaired), and also make sure that those ALT tags include my keywords.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing.  Right now, the results?

1.  Wordpress is much faster

2.  What about SEO?  Right now – number 5 on MSN, number 2 on Yahoo, number 17 on google (that’s page 2 – weird, huh?)

Still to do:

1.  Work on business ranking placement….

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