SEO encompasses a lot. One means of Search Engine Optimization is the semantic tagging of sections, which became possible with HTML5. In this respect, bootScore and SEO fit well together:
<section> are meant to show search engines what is important in terms of content and what is not. Including these tags properly is the job of a WordPress theme. In bootScore,
<main> delimits the central content from “subordinate stuff” in all templates.
<aside> marks the thematic side section the
<header> important headings, and
<nav> the less important navigation elements. Even the tag
<article> is used correctly in
index.php to separate the teasers of the individual articles as thematically independent areas. bootScore knows its craft.
What is missing is keywording and an outline of the site structure, the sitemap. These aspects are not the job of bootScore but are necessary for successful sites. Fortunately, we can realize both with plugins:
- Verify that your theme uses semantical HTML tags
- Skip the tagging with keywords
- Create the sitemap:
- Install the plugin Simple XML Sitemap Generator.
- Call Settings/Simple XML Sitemap Generator
- Change ‚Add WordPress post category to the Sitemap?’ to yes.
- Modify any post for starting the scan.
https://your-blog-domain.xyz/sitemap.xml— it’s generated now.
- Be a bit paranoid and verify your sitemap by [https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/validate-xml-sitemap.html]
- Make the sitemap known to Google:
- Clear the cache of your browser!
- Using your Google Account, log in to [https://google.com]
- Call [https://search.google.com/search-console/]
- (If you already have any sitemaps, create a new property)
- Insert the domain of your site
- Download the Google identification file.
- Upload this file into the root directory of your site.
- Let Google verify the upload.
- Go to the dashboard of your Google Search Console.
- Select the menu item sitemaps.
- Press the button
- Make the sitemap known to Bing:
- Using your Google Account (yes!) sign in to BING webmaster tools [https://www.bing.com/webmasters/]
- Insert the domain of your site
- Load down the file
BingSiteAuth.xmlinto the root directory of your site
- Press the button
- Go to your Bing webmaster dashboard.
- Select the menu item
Sitemapsand insert the complete URL of your sitemap
RankMath is currently considered a must-have, but it is not an Open-Source plugin: Although openly developed on GitHub, the repository does not contain any license file or a licensing statement.1 And if it talks about its ‘free download’, it refers to a ‘free’ but ‘severely limited feature set’
YOAST — probably the best-known WordPress SEO plugin — is true GPL licensed Open-Source software. It uses a business model that is reasonable from a free software perspective: If you need the service of getting new versions etc. ahead of time, beyond just using it, you are in good hands. But we do not need the PRO-Version. Even the free version does what is necessary.
On the one side, YOAST tries to inaugurate a ‘Focus keyphrase’ for each post. And it enforces the author to use this keyphrase in different contexts. That’s supportive. On the other side, it also tries to put a second keyword-based text ‘behind’ the actual one only accessible for the search engines. That is reasonable for product sites that essentially consist of images. In other sites, this ‘SEO specific text’ doubles the really readable text. But saying things twice doesn’t make them more important. Not even in the ‘eyes’ of the search engines:
Search engines ‘loathe’ keywords. Too often, authors have tried to fool them with content that their text did not contain. Therefore, the rule today is, at best, one focus keyword per page or article — matching the text. But this word often already occurs in the reading text — perhaps even in the headline. To cut a long story short: Tagging with keywords? — Maybe. But I wouldn’t put too much effort into it. It’s better to spend that time creating good content.
That’s why I refrain from trying to enrich my content with keywords (and outdated meta tags). I’ve done that long enough in the past. And I only ever felt I had to write my text a second time unnecessarily.
On the other hand, search engines love sitemaps. Without them, they would have to “read” everything, evaluate all the links, and go to every page to get a complete overview. They can do that, no question. We know that as web crawling. But it takes time. That’s why search engines often try to minimize their effort by means of heuristically motivated “shortcuts”, such as indexing only the first page of a site. This would be fatal for a thematically heterogeneous blog.
To compensate, search engines give sites the opportunity to determine for themselves what should be indexed — through a sitemap.
There exist some open-source sitemap generator plugins for WordPress, e.g. YOAST, the Google-Sitemap-Generator, or the Simple XML Sitemap Generator. At first, I wanted to leave it with the WordPress own generator. That generates several sitemaps linked into an umbrella sitemap. But that makes Bing and Google stumble: The Bing Webmaster Tools show only the number of linked sitemaps themselves. So, the site administrator doesn’t know if the content ‘underneath’ has ‘arrived’. And Google Search Console often says it could not retrieve or read some (embedded) sitemaps. Actually, this is not a big deal. Because Google comes back. But until then, Google has interrupted the indexing. So the more sitemaps we submit to Google, the more likely it is that not all of them can be read the next time, and the worse the indexing rate.
So it is better to use one sitemap that directly contains everything. That’s why I finally gave the Simple XML Sitemap Generator a try. According to the Readme.txt in its repository, it is licensed to GPL‑2.0 or later. An integrated sitemap.xml let us — perhaps — wait longer in the Google Search Console until the traffic light changes from red to green, meaning ‘understood’. But if it’s green, everything is green.
A final remark
Even 25 years after Google entered the search engine stage, the relevance of your content is still determined by your readers. Accordingly, the number of links to your site is taken as a benchmark. At this point, link farms come to mind. They were a reaction to Google’s rating algorithm. Against inserting small coins, one could buy links to one’s pages and thus pretend relevance to Google. Google, for its part, developed counter strategies to detect such abuse. In other words: SEO was ever embedded into the “competition between good and evil”, between those who searched and ranked and those who wanted to be found and ranked well, for better or worse.
Engaging oneself in this struggle is futile. Effort and result are out of proportion. Eventually, it is cheaper to directly buy a ‘sponsored’ link at the top of a hit list. For all those who do not want to do that, it is enough to
- write good content
- use the semantic markup of HTML5
- provide a sitemap without dead links
- and have your pages delivered fast enough.
And how does this …
… support our migration to bootScore? Well, if a web designer must abandon her current WordPress theme, she needs a replacement. A free ‘off-the-shelf’ theme, she probably wants to personalize. First a bit cosmetically, then in terms of the gray value of her pages, multilingualism and internal reference techniques and linking. Finally, she perhaps enables special footers, a secondary menu or a copyright notice before checking the SEO features of the selected theme. This is a way that this post supports too.
- last check: 2023-07-19