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2.2 Themes and SEO

Hello, and welcome back to this Tuts+ course on WordPress SEO without Plugins. In this part of the course, I'm gonna look at themes, and how your theme can help enhance your SEO. So you'll remember In the previous part of the course, we looked at this page on the WordPress codex, about WordPress optimization and performance. And one of the things it refered to was themes. So it's important to choose a theme that is coded in a way that will optimize your SEO. And what you'll find is that themes that have been accepted to the WordPress Themes Directory meet the criteria that WordPress has established for good theme development and that will include SEO. So that will include features such as meeting the WordPress coding standards, and having correctly written mark up. And if you buy premium themes from a reputable source, such as Envato's ThemeForest, those themes will also go through checks and should enhance your SEO. But it's important in both cases to check for theme, and also to make sure that you're using themes that are regularly updated, and that are relatively new and include features such as accessibility and responsiveness for mobile. Responsiveness from mobile devices is a really important feature of our theme for SCO purposes. Because Google and other search engines will definitely mark your site down if it isn't responsive. The majority of website visits these days are from mobile devices. I know from the work I do with my own clients, that we're running at about 70% on average visits from mobile devices. And in some cases, that's more. So if your site isn't responsive, not only will it provide a bad user experience, but also it will negatively impact your SEO. So make sure that whatever theme you use is responsive. And if you're developing your own theme, you need to make sure you use the theme development guidelines on the WordPress codex to ensure that your theme is built in the way that it should be and it meets the standards. Now it can help to get some ideas to find some themes that will help your SEO. And this post here on the Envato blog identifies some good WordPress themes that will enhance your SEO without installing a plugin. Now I'm not saying you shouldn't install an SEO plugin, but what I do think is important is that you optimize your SEO outside of that plugin, so that it's as good as it possibly can be. And these themes will help you do that. And again, if you are developing your own themes this article gives you some guidance on some of the things you can optimize. So it talks about, for example, the structure of the markup, which you can see here, and also the head section of the header file. And instead of scrolling through all this, you can take a look at it in detail, I'll show you an example on my own site. So this is my learn-wp site and let's take a look at the code behind it. So here's the header file. So in my header file, I've got the opening head section which is before the body section. Now nothing in the head is shown on the page. So this is all code that tells the browser things. So for example, we have a title here, so this title will enhance your SEO. Because Google and other search engines will use the title when displaying such results and also when searching through web pages to get a search result. And that title will help your appearance search engine rankings and also encourage people to click through. So here, the code for the title within my theme includes the name of the blog, it includes either the site description, if it's the home page, or it includes the title of the current post if not. Now you may have seen advice to add metadata for keywords, and lots of other things for SEO. The reality these days is that keywords actually don't help your SEO at all. What does help your SEO is the title and the description, and also the content of the page. And I'm gonna show you the markup of the page and how that helps. Because another important aspect of the way your theme is coded is the structure of the markup on each page. And your pages should be using h1 and h2 tags correctly, and you need to make sure that you're using h1 tag differently on your home page to how you're using them on your individual posts and pages. So let me show you, for example, this is my homepage, and I'll inspect this code here. That is the site title and the site title itself is in an h1 and then after it is the site description. So that's correct from my homepage, and for the rest of my site. The site title is incredibly important, so I'm telling search engines it's important by using an h1 tag. Now let's take a look at an archive page so you can see how it works in an archive page. So we've got our title up here, which I've used styling to make smaller than you might expect an h1 to be. And then here we've got the title of the page, so that again is in an h1 tag. Now, don't worry about the fact that you've got two h1 tags on the page. You might think that's bad practice, but actually since HTML5, that's not defined as bad practice. This is in a separate element on the page, so we've got some h1 for the page title. And then for each of the individual links in my archive page. Again, I've got an h2 class entry title. So the most important thing here is Essentials, which to be honest isn't that brilliant for my SEO. I might change that to WordPress Essentials for example and then my h2 tag is what's in the loop. So if I click on one of those posts, we can see here, if I inspect the title of the post now, that's an h1 and that title of my post is really important. That is what I want search engines to pick up if people are searching for a guide to activating WordPress Multisite, so that they could find this site. So the way your theme structures the markup is really important for your SEO, as well as the way the thing is coded, and the fact that it's coded in a way that's efficient, and will enhance the performance of your site. So those are some tips for ensuring that your theme enhances the SEO of your site. Again, you'll see we haven't added a plugin yet. This is just about having an SEO-friendly theme. In the next part of the course, I'm gonna look at the URLs in your site and the way that you structure those to enhance SEO. See you next time and thanks for watching.

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