Is WordPress Killing Your SEO?

Is your WordPress website not appearing at all in search engines?

A simple setting in your WordPress dashboard could be preventing your entire website from being indexed!

To see which pages on your website are indexed by Google, visit www.google.com and then enter the following in the search box:

site:mydomain.com

Where mydomain.com is the domain name of your website. For example, this search lists the pages indexed on this website.

If no pages are listed, then its possible that a simple WordPress setting is causing the problem.

A common cause of this is WordPress’ site visibility setting being set to private:

WordPress Privacy Settings Screenshot
WordPress Privacy Settings

The WordPress Codex describes this feature in detail, but it basically prevents your site from being indexed by search engines such as Google. It also prevents any RPC ping notifications from being sent.

To check, visit your WordPress Dashboard (typically mydomain.com/wp-admin/), then navigate to Settings, then Privacy and ensure that it isn’t set to the “I would like to block search engines, but allow normal visitors” option.

I quite often see this setting set to private while a WordPress website is being developed, but quite often people forget to set it back to public when they go live with their website.

Making Progress

Wordpress 3.1 Dashboard Header ScreenshotAs of WordPress version 3.0, if you have your WordPress website set to private you will see a “Search Engines Blocked” message at the top of your Dashboard (see right).

It was great to see this notification added, however I find that people still forget that their website is set to private.

An Alternative

Instead of using the privacy setting during development, I generally use the WordPress Members Only plugin. This ensures that people (or search engines) can’t view your website unless they are logged in as a valid WordPress user.

Be Patient

If you just changed the WordPress privacy setting, it will take time for search engines to recognise the change (it usually isn’t instant). This is because they won’t recognise the change until the next time they index your website.

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