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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru Rebirth Studios's Avatar
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    Post WordPress SEO Checklist

    I was wondering if the more savvy WordPress users could supply a checklist of things they do to improve its SEO readiness. A recent post got my wheels turning again on this subject.
    Quote Originally Posted by ssandecki View Post
    Wordpress actually has a duplicate content issue, you can find your content on 4-5 different URLs on your blog, which is considered duplicate content. Correct usage of robots.txt and robots meta tags can be used to correct this.
    I recently made a tweak to my own blog (see sig), but noticed that the theme that I used was actually not really that great in its treatment of semantic markup.

    I'm planning to redesign my whole site & blog within the next month, so having the knowledge of how to tweak the default template would be helpful.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Google Zombie ssandecki's Avatar
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    I'll give you a few pointers, I don't use wordpress so all this is related to questions I've read from others..

    1. Proper use of robots.txt make sure content is only crawlable and indexable in one URL location.

    2. (Plugin?) Ability to change meta tags per post. Title, Keywords, Description & Robots.

    3. Proper use of nofollow in comments, yes you might get more comments with dofollow, but most of them will be spam and only left because of the outbound link to their site.

    Those are three tips I could give you.

  3. #3
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
    Featured Article: Free Comprehensive SEO Guide
    My Guide to Building a Successful Website
    My Blog|My Webmaster Forums

  4. #4
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    I do use WordPress. To start, I wrote my own master theme framework that uses clean, minimal, pure, semantic and valid XHTML (even though it's served as HTML). That means using headings as they were intended, having the source code order defined (header, menu, content, sidebar, footer) to ensure that all pages that NEED to be are able to be indexed, using an actual image for my masthead (rather than abusing an H1 element), and so forth.

    From there, I use the All In One SEO Pack to allow me to not only rewrite my page and post titles, but also write which keywords and meta descriptions I want to use on each page and post, rather than the whole blog (since hard-coding it n the header.php file will cause the same text to be used on every page and post).

    I also use Enforce .www Preference as well to not only enforce whether or not I use the .www subdomain or not (I personally use it), but also to redirect all index.php calls to their directory (such as www.example.com/blog/index.php getting redirected to www.example.com/blog/).

    The next thing I do is use Category Base Killer to remove the /category/ directory from many of the links - that way I don't have as many duplicate content issues since all the pages will have the same link structure.

    Then I modify my robots.txt file to block the tags and archives sections from those spiders that actually obey the protocol (the legitimate spiders, of course, meaning search engine spiders). There's no need to block the category since /category/ has already been stripped from the URL string anyway, and the "articles" "entries" or whatever directory I have my blog posts in will be where the posts are at anyway (and they are where I want the engines to go to anyway). There are two ways you can do this. One is to use a hand-written robots.txt file; the other is to use KB robots.txt so you can manage your robots.txt file from within the Dashboard. I have a sneaky suspicion this feature may be incorporated into WordPress 2.5 (even though I haven't tried the betas) so keep your eyes peeled. If it does, then remove the plugin.

    With regard to what ssandecki said, WordPress uses rel="nofollow" by default in comments, so there's no need to use a plugin to add it (or even modify the WordPress core files). But if you want to remove them, then the Do Follow plugin will let you do so.

    You may also want to read Pushing WordPress's SEO Boundaries and WordPress SEO MasterClass For Competitive Niches, both by Andy Beard as well as Understanding Search Usability and Understanding Search Usability, Part 2 by Shari Thurow.

    Off Topic:

    Chris, ToddW's blog is broken in Opera. I had to scroll down below the sidebar to read the content. It does appear to be obsolete in places though; other than that, I don't see a problem with what he wrote (especially since I like to use as few plugins as possible while getting the maximum gain out of what I do use).

  5. #5
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    1) URL method: WordPress comes with several built in search optimization tools, including the ability to use .htaccess to create apparently static URLs called permalinks.

    Include %postname%
    Having keywords in your URL is an absolute must, especially when it’s as easy as WordPress makes it.

    2) Sitemap: Creating a Google sitemap for your blog is a easy process.

    3) WordPress 2 SEO Plugin - Plugin optimizes titles, meta tag information and RSS link feeds for auto discovery.

    4) Title Tags Change: Changing a post’s title tag - For this tweak, you’ll need to install "SEO Title Tag WordPress Plugin". SEO Title Tag lets you define custom page titles for your posts.

    5) Optimize images : Images can open up a whole new stream of search engine visitors for your blog. I’ve wallpaper sites where 80% of my traffic comes from Google image search, and on Blogging Bits, I am already getting quite a few hits from Google images.

    6) Optimize links : Links are one of the most important factors that determine your page’s value in a search engine’s eye. Knowing how you should link to internal and external pages will improve your rankings a lot.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Addict silver trophy
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    Great post Dan and good resources. Cheers, Hairybob.

    Actually, after reading Dan's post, I decided to visit his site (entitled Search This - please note that the link for this site appears in Dan's signature). Search This is a superb resource and one which I will frequent from now on. Particularly worthwhile for anyone reading this thread are the following posts:

    Wordpress - from install to pimped out;
    How to promote your blog; and
    10 blogging mistakes / why your blog struggles

    Awesome reading!!!
    Last edited by hairybob; Feb 1, 2008 at 03:37. Reason: Additional info - Search This

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy hooperman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz View Post
    I do use WordPress.
    Thanks for such a comprehensive post Dan. I've just started using wp so I'll digest it more fully later when I have a bit of time.

  8. #8
    Trash Boat mkoenig's Avatar
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    I've tried it a few times and from what I've seen it seems to work well.

    SEO Improvements always are a plus.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Guru Rebirth Studios's Avatar
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    Thanks all, these are great suggestions!

  10. #10
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jainmanoj123 View Post
    1) URL method: WordPress comes with several built in search optimization tools, including the ability to use .htaccess to create apparently static URLs called permalinks.

    Include %postname%
    Having keywords in your URL is an absolute must, especially when it’s as easy as WordPress makes it.
    Yeah, I forgot to mention this (sorry, Rebirth Studios). If I remember correctly though, the Category Base Killer plugin actually requires this anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by jainmanoj123 View Post
    2) Sitemap: Creating a Google sitemap for your blog is a easy process.
    It's helpful, but not required. I'd actually go with a page-based site map, something along the lines of Dagon Design's Site Map Generator plugin (even better if you don't need the backlink to DD's site, but that's just me).

    Quote Originally Posted by jainmanoj123 View Post
    3) WordPress 2 SEO Plugin - Plugin optimizes titles, meta tag information and RSS link feeds for auto discovery.

    4) Title Tags Change: Changing a post’s title tag - For this tweak, you’ll need to install "SEO Title Tag WordPress Plugin". SEO Title Tag lets you define custom page titles for your posts.
    These are unnecessary if you use the All In One SEO Pack. And the fewer plugins you have running, the better off the performance and response times for your users will be.

    Quote Originally Posted by jainmanoj123 View Post
    5) Optimize images : Images can open up a whole new stream of search engine visitors for your blog. I’ve wallpaper sites where 80% of my traffic comes from Google image search, and on Blogging Bits, I am already getting quite a few hits from Google images.
    This isn't necessary for all sites though. On mine I tend to actually BLOCK images via the robots.txt file, but that's just me. It is an option, of course.

    Quote Originally Posted by jainmanoj123 View Post
    6) Optimize links : Links are one of the most important factors that determine your page’s value in a search engine’s eye. Knowing how you should link to internal and external pages will improve your rankings a lot.
    So is writing good quality relevant content. Just don't think that because you have a blog you should get carried away with either one.

    Quote Originally Posted by hairybob View Post
    Great post Dan and good resources. Cheers, Hairybob.
    No problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by hairybob View Post
    Actually, after reading Dan's post, I decided to visit his site (entitled Search This - please note that the link for this site appears in Dan's signature). Search This is a superb resource and one which I will frequent from now on. Particularly worthwhile for anyone reading this thread are the following posts:

    Wordpress - from install to pimped out;
    How to promote your blog; and
    10 blogging mistakes / why your blog struggles

    Awesome reading!!!
    That's not my site. It's Golgotha's.

    Quote Originally Posted by hooperman View Post
    Thanks for such a comprehensive post Dan. I've just started using wp so I'll digest it more fully later when I have a bit of time.
    No problem, Hooperman. I just wish I hadn't forgotten about the keyword based URL structure recommendation.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Quote Originally Posted by jainmanoj123 View Post
    1) URL method: WordPress comes with several built in search optimization tools, including the ability to use .htaccess to create apparently static URLs called permalinks.

    Include %postname%
    Having keywords in your URL is an absolute must, especially when its as easy as WordPress makes it.
    Yep!

    Go to Options >> then Permalinks >> then select custom

    and insert %postname%

    next to custom structure

    click save and you have search engine friendly urls


  12. #12
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    Awesome post, there Dan.
    I think that the All in one seo plugin gets 85% of the job done.
    Thanks also for the custom robots.txt file.
    Directory Blog - Blog for Web Directory Owners

  13. #13
    The Omnipresent [ArcanE]'s Avatar
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    Great info Dan

    We at Inventis are very impressed by wordpress' default installation and how it performs SEO wise, pages get crawled very fast (but thats more due to the nature of blogs) and pages are very well indexed if you use the correct theme.

    I will personally have to check out the plugins you posted, looks like they are really usefull!
    Webdevelopment : Skyrocket Concepts Inventis Web Architects
    Ain't got time for the future or the past.
    Live for the moment, make it last.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Zealot SEO Canada's Avatar
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    "Which is considered duplicate content"
    I may be wrong, but I think that duplicate content refers to the same content on two domains, and that 'canonicalization' problems is the term for having it on the same site. Might be just me though, and it does seem that they're used interchangeably.

    Concretely, on image optimization, it's nice for some sites (like backgrounds, celebrity etc) where the images are the content's focus. Otherwise, its' not particularly useful, imho. That said, if you're going to have pictures inline, try and provide a descriptive caption right below them. And by below, I don't just mean visually (i.e. the following paragraph) but in the code (i.e. img tag then paragraph tag with the caption; I've done the mistake of left-aligning, with a text paragraph following and the caption coming (in the code at least) a little ways on...)

    Besides that, if you use the related posts plugin, you're going to be doing yourself a huge favour as far as getting all your content discovered and indexed. Also, if you use the 'you're new, so let me suggest you get my rss feed' plugin (afaik it's called the seth godin plugin or something like that), then be sure to nofollow the rss feed link there.

    Also, and this goes for all blogs, nofollow all links that are not to sites you're building a relationship with or giving credit to, or remove them entirely. Feedburner link? When was the last time you networked with FB's people in a way that would make you want to give them a link? Powered by WP? Uh, nobody cares and you're wasting PR power that could help some pages get indexed or go to your friends. Affiliate links? Not only should they be nofollowed (you don't want to help the merchant outrank you, after all) but passed through a robots-blocked redirect (and probably click-tracked too; there are a few free ones if you want).

  15. #15
    SitePoint Addict Coon's Avatar
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    Great read! What is the most SEO friendly theme? Or are they all the same?
    Soccer Videos - Freestyle soccer videos. Must SEE!
    Soccer Forum - Freestyle and soccer community.
    Soccer Transfers - Transfers, player values & more!
    Lupe Fiasco - My Lupe Fiasco fan blog.

  16. #16
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    SEO wise most of them are fine. Though the ones that do claim to be "SEO Optimized" do in fact have moderate to severe usability and accessibility issues.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Member cr8tive's Avatar
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    Nice checklist. I miss out the part for WordPress 2 SEO Plugin and Optimize images. Is there any plugin for wordpress which Optimize images?




    Thanks
    David Cheong.
    .................................
    Submit to Multi Page Directory | Galo Directory for better traffic
    Get Earning Online Guide and tips

  18. #18
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    What do you mean by "optimizes images"? (There's a few ways that could go - optimizing image alt and title attribute text, optimizing and compressing file sizes and image quality, and so on...)

  19. #19
    SitePoint Addict Coon's Avatar
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    Is wordpress the best blogging software out there? SEO wise I mean?
    Soccer Videos - Freestyle soccer videos. Must SEE!
    Soccer Forum - Freestyle and soccer community.
    Soccer Transfers - Transfers, player values & more!
    Lupe Fiasco - My Lupe Fiasco fan blog.

  20. #20
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Yes and no. Like everything else, it's only as good (or bad) as you make it.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Addict Coon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz View Post
    Then I modify my robots.txt file to block the tags and archives sections from those spiders that actually obey the protocol (the legitimate spiders, of course, meaning search engine spiders). There's no need to block the category since /category/ has already been stripped from the URL string anyway, and the "articles" "entries" or whatever directory I have my blog posts in will be where the posts are at anyway (and they are where I want the engines to go to anyway). There are two ways you can do this. One is to use a hand-written robots.txt file; the other is to use KB robots.txt so you can manage your robots.txt file from within the Dashboard. I have a sneaky suspicion this feature may be incorporated into WordPress 2.5 (even though I haven't tried the betas) so keep your eyes peeled. If it does, then remove the plugin.
    Dan, could you please tell me what you wrote in your robots.txt to block the tags and archives sections from spiders. I have never written a robots.txt. I would greatly appriciate it if you could post that here or send me a pm.

    Thank you for all the help.
    Soccer Videos - Freestyle soccer videos. Must SEE!
    Soccer Forum - Freestyle and soccer community.
    Soccer Transfers - Transfers, player values & more!
    Lupe Fiasco - My Lupe Fiasco fan blog.

  22. #22
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Like so:

    Code:
    User-agent: *
    
    Disallow: /cgi-bin
    Disallow: /wp-admin
    Disallow: /wp-includes
    Disallow: /wp-content/plugins
    Disallow: /wp-content/cache
    Disallow: /wp-content/themes
    Disallow: /trackback
    Disallow: /comments
    Disallow: /category/*/*
    Disallow: */trackback
    Disallow: */comments

  23. #23
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    Set up wordpress blog
    Install plugins
    make a quick post
    Ping goat pingomatic pingcraptatic pingyourmom, whatever
    ping after every post
    submit to search engines... use one of those autosubmit scripts so you can instantly submit to all of the search engines, space it out if you can, search engine algorithms are picking up on 0 links 0 links 10,000 links type patterns.
    create an XML doc and/or RSS.... Submit those to directories... again you can use an auto script.
    create a press release submit it to top 10 PR directories
    Create an article and submit it to top 10000000000000000000 article directories, make sure to do this manually because autosubmission won't work much longer in the article directory department...
    join 10 yahoo groups, 10 msn groups 10 google groups and submit links to them...
    If you get banned from the group, make sure to harrass the person that banned you by forwarding him all the spam you ever got and posting his email all over forums so the spambots pick his email up... send him a message saying "Odoyle rules" or whatever...
    oh sorry, got off track

    make a 1second video... seriously just do like a screen capture... have it be a picture of a smiley face, or a screen capture of a video of a video of a video of a video... who really cares...
    Submit it to all of the major video directories... in the description goes your link.
    Offer your body to google employees to get your site ranked #1
    Download plugins
    sitemap
    robots
    hire slaves, have them do all that shiat for you
    pay people to hire slaves for you
    hire someone to find people to hire
    hire someone to find the people that hire those to find the people to hire the slaves for $6 an hour labor
    Buy small countries where there is no law against monopolies
    buy google, yahoo, MSN
    Buy governments and force them to elect peewee herman as their president...
    ummm....
    yeah

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz View Post
    Like so:

    Code:
    User-agent: *
    
    Disallow: /cgi-bin
    Disallow: /wp-admin
    Disallow: /wp-includes
    Disallow: /wp-content/plugins
    Disallow: /wp-content/cache
    Disallow: /wp-content/themes
    Disallow: /trackback
    Disallow: /comments
    Disallow: /category/*/*
    Disallow: */trackback
    Disallow: */comments

    This person I run our two blogs with is quite nervous about implementing a robot.txt file as we are worried about blocking google from indexing stuff.

    Are their any dangers associated with using the robot.txt file you have included here.

    There are four caveats though

    1) blog a) urls is domain.com/staticfolder/category/postname
    2) blog b) is on a subdomain.domain.com/category/postname
    3) We dont want to block images as they are normally pretty relevant to our articles and we get some decent search traffic from them.
    4) Would this interfere with any plugins that may overlap e.g. All In One SEO.

    I would really appreciate any advice as this is something I know we should be doing but we are nervous about shooting ourselves in the foot.

    Also for other people, that a complete wizard at this stuff.

    Using All in SEO plugin you can

    Use noindex for Categories:
    Use noindex for Archives:
    Use noindex for Tag Archives:

    Thanks for any help

  25. #25
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    Set up wordpress blog
    Install plugins
    For the most part, this has nothing to do with SEO.

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    make a quick post
    This won't do much on its own.

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    Ping goat pingomatic pingcraptatic pingyourmom, whatever
    ping after every post
    Pinging won't improve your search engine rankings either.

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    submit to search engines... use one of those autosubmit scripts so you can instantly submit to all of the search engines, space it out if you can, search engine algorithms are picking up on 0 links 0 links 10,000 links type patterns.
    create an XML doc and/or RSS.... Submit those to directories... again you can use an auto script.
    It's best to manually submit to three of the four major search engines (the fourth being Ask.com which doesn't accept manual submissions). Either that or just get a link pointing back to your WordPress installation (it's basically "don't call us, we'll call you" at this point). Besides, using automated software is just a waste of time anyway, and may actually violate some search engines' TOS. Not only that, but there's also no way you can cover EVER SINGLE SEARCH ENGINE on the Web anyway (trust me, I know - I own one that's currently under development).

    Submitting to directories is a good thing to do for new sites since it gets you incoming lilnks, but overall their value will be next to worthless, especially in the long run. Think of them as a way to "jumpstart" your site's marketing and promotion campaigns while you work on getting real links pointing back to your pages.

    Oh, and WordPress automatically sets up an RSS feed for you, so there's no need to create one.

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    create a press release submit it to top 10 PR directories
    That won't do much either. In fact, you might even risk getting hit with a duplicate content penalty if you have the same text submitted (and published) to multiple sites. Besides, most press releases are ignored anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    Create an article and submit it to top 10000000000000000000 article directories, make sure to do this manually because autosubmission won't work much longer in the article directory department...
    Uhm, why? (See above.)

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    join 10 yahoo groups, 10 msn groups 10 google groups and submit links to them...
    This is called spam, and you will get banned. Not a great way to get a good reputation if you ask me, especially in this day and age where word of mouth marketing can literally make or break your business and/or site.

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    If you get banned from the group, make sure to harrass the person that banned you by forwarding him all the spam you ever got and posting his email all over forums so the spambots pick his email up... send him a message saying "Odoyle rules" or whatever...
    oh sorry, got off track
    Please tell me you're joking.

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    make a 1second video... seriously just do like a screen capture... have it be a picture of a smiley face, or a screen capture of a video of a video of a video of a video... who really cares...
    Submit it to all of the major video directories... in the description goes your link.
    This has no content, no value, and the links back won't be worth much because they'll likely be pulled from the sites anyway. It's called SPAM for a reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    Offer your body to google employees to get your site ranked #1
    Ok, now you're being silly.

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    Download plugins
    See my earlier points about plugins. For the most part, they won't help you (the ones I listed in my first post on this thread will, though).

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    sitemap
    Which one? XML or Web page? (I personally prefer the latter.)

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    robots
    What, like Bender?

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    hire slaves, have them do all that shiat for you
    pay people to hire slaves for you
    I should report you just for saying that. Ever hear of a thing called human rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    hire someone to find people to hire
    That's just pointless, don't you think?

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    hire someone to find the people that hire those to find the people to hire the slaves for $6 an hour labor
    See my earlier comment about reporting you. In fact, I think I'll do it anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    Buy small countries where there is no law against monopolies
    buy google, yahoo, MSN
    Thankfully, you don't have that kind of money. If you did, I'd stop making Web sites and go get either a McJob or become a 28 year old greeter at Walmart.

    Quote Originally Posted by secretbonus View Post
    Buy governments and force them to elect peewee herman as their president...
    ummm....
    yeah
    If I wanted a puppet in the White House, I'd vote for Walter (world famous ventriloquist Jeff Dunham's puppet, "Walter", that is).

    Quote Originally Posted by cyrillsneer7 View Post
    This person I run our two blogs with is quite nervous about implementing a robot.txt file as we are worried about blocking google from indexing stuff.

    Are their any dangers associated with using the robot.txt file you have included here.
    Not really, but let's go through your caveats, ok?

    Quote Originally Posted by cyrillsneer7 View Post
    There are four caveats though

    1) blog a) urls is domain.com/staticfolder/category/postname
    The robots.txt file would be placed in domain.com's root folder and would have /staticfolder/ (where "staticfolder" is the name of the folder being used).

    Quote Originally Posted by cyrillsneer7 View Post
    2) blog b) is on a subdomain.domain.com/category/postname
    The robots.txt file would be placed at the root of the subdomain, so it would be found at subdomain.domain.com/robots.txt

    Quote Originally Posted by cyrillsneer7 View Post
    3) We dont want to block images as they are normally pretty relevant to our articles and we get some decent search traffic from them.
    So remove the image block from the robots.txt file.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyrillsneer7 View Post
    4) Would this interfere with any plugins that may overlap e.g. All In One SEO.
    No, because the robots.txt file takes precedence.


    Quote Originally Posted by cyrillsneer7 View Post
    I would really appreciate any advice as this is something I know we should be doing but we are nervous about shooting ourselves in the foot.

    Also for other people, that a complete wizard at this stuff.

    Using All in SEO plugin you can

    Use noindex for Categories:
    Use noindex for Archives:
    Use noindex for Tag Archives:

    Thanks for any help
    If you want to use the All In One SEO Pack to do this instead of a robots.txt file you can. Just remove the relevant blocks from the file and use the plugin instead.


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