How to Optimize Your WordPress Site Under the Hood

By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

Some optimization concepts really happen under the hood of a WordPress site. You can’t readily see these adjustments on your page, but they have an effect on how search engines deal with your content.

Metadata

The metadata on a website contains the information that describes to search engines what your site is about. Additionally, the information often contained in the metadata shows up as the actual search engine results in Google. The search engine pulls the page title and page description that appear in search results from the header of your site. If you do nothing to control this information, Google and other search engines often pull their description from the page title and the first few sentences of a post or page.

Although the title and the first few sentences sound good in principle, they probably don’t represent what your site is actually about. You probably don’t sum up your topic in the first two sentences of a post or page.

Those first few lines likely aren’t the best ad copy or the most enticing information. Fortunately, some plugins (such as the All in One SEO Pack plugin, which is in the WordPress Plugin Directory) allow you to control these details on a post and page level. Additionally, theme frameworks such as Genesis offer you more control of your SEO information.

Include descriptive page titles, descriptions, and targeted keywords for each post via these plugins or frameworks. This information has an effect on your results and often helps people decide to click the link to your website.

The robots.txt file

When a search engine goes to your website, it first looks at your robots.txt file to get the information about what it should and shouldn’t be looking for and where to look.

You can alter your robots.txt file to direct search engines to the information that they should crawl and to give specific content priority over other content. Several plugins allow you to configure your robots.txt file.