There are a few resources and plugins that I recommend for any new WordPress powered sites. When I start a new site one of the first things I want to do is set up the Google Search Console. You can read more about the Google Search Console on Google’s Support Site.
With the Google Search Console you can do the following and more:
- Verify Google is able to access your site and and has no errors to report.
- Submit new content to Google and remove content you do not want Google to list.
- Be made aware of any malware or spam issues by Google if they detect it.
- Target a country’s search engine results.
- See how GoogleBot sees your site.
- Control URL parameters such as using or not using “www.” on your domain.
I also highly recommend installing and configuring a caching plugin such as WP Super Cache or W3TC. Properly configured caching can be the difference between your site being online with thousands of visitors or offline with only a few.
Once you have some content and you want Google and Bing to know what content you have and when it updates I would also recommend installing Google XML Sitemaps by Arne Brachhold.
7 Replies to “New WordPress Recommendations – Google Search Console, Caching, XML Sitemaps”
All great points to keep track of, Michael. I can’t count how many times the Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) has allowed me to find and fix errors with my site, which I’d have never figured out without it.
Just wanted to add that the Yoast SEO plugin (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/) can be a convenient addition. It can take care of the XML sitemap generation and some of the interfacing with the Search Console.
That plugin is great to hit several SEO related birds with one stone, but I have to say Arne Brachhold’s sitemaps plugin is still great when you want complete fine-grained control over your site’s XML maps.
I’m a new addition to the MDD Hosting tribe, and I’m glad to see the blog getting active. Looking forward to more.
The biggest issue we’ve seen with Yoast is CPU usage. I don’t have details off-hand and to be honest I’m not even sure if it has been an issue recently.
I’ll have to perform some testing. Are there particular settings in Yoast you would suggest for somebody new to the plugin?
As far as settings for the beginner with Yoast SEO are concerned, it think there are very few absolutes I would suggest, because it really depends on your particular site.
I would say that the majority of users probably want to set the meta tags to not allow indexing of Tag pages and date archives and such, to avoid duplicate content issues. These settings appear in the ‘Titles and Metas’ sub-page of the plugin’s settings.
The other settings under ‘Titles and Metas’ are the most important to look at and decide on and will have the most direct impact on search engine results in most cases.
The ‘Social’ sub-section is quite useful these days to set up the meta tags for rich display of your site’s pages when shared on Facebook, Twitter and such. That can make a big difference in how professional your site appears on those platforms.
And in the main Dashboard there’s a ‘Webmaster Tools’ tab to allow you to verify your site for Google, Bing and Yahoo’s search tools.
I think those three areas are crucial to look at.
The XML sitemap feature is built-in, but I suspect it uses more of a dynamic generation method as compared to the proper physical file generated by the other plugin. I personally prefer the physical files method, but this plugin is good for a one-size-fits-all solution for less technically-savvy admins.
I’d be very interested in knowing more about the CPU load issues. I am not surprised. The plugin is inundated with marketing pushes and “live” features that are bound to take a toll. The live tests for readability and keyword density and similar are probably part of the problem, but I do think they can be disabled, so that’s worth looking into.
I’ve been looking into (and suffering from) CPU load issue on various fronts over the past few months on various projects. So much so that I plan on writing about it in some detail. I’d love to pick your brain on this sometime. But for now, hope this was useful for some.
The XML Sitemap plugin I recommend in this post doesn’t use physical files anymore either.
I’ll have to give Yoast a look. Will likely install it here and see how I like it.
Thanks for these very helpful tips. A small note: conflicts can arise between plugins, especially when using the otherwise super useful caching plugins.
Specifically I’ve come across challenges with mobile-friendly plugins like WPTouch. While it’s important to be aware of potential plugin conflicts, this doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t still be used. Often developers or helpful users have published clear explanations of how to overcome any potential conflict challenges.
As an example, WPTOuch has this helpful page to troubleshoot potential problems when used in conjunction with caching plugins: https://support.wptouch.com/support/solutions/articles/5000537668-configuring-cache-plugins-for-wptouch – no I don’t work with or for them – just found it helpful! 😉
The benefits from using a caching plugin certainly justify a bit of extra time with configuration – thanks again for these articles!
Yeah – I discussed WPTouch in the W3TC post. I do need to update the WP Super Cache post with that content as well.
There can and inevitably will be conflicts – and I should make that more clear as well as elaborate on some of the more advanced configuration.
Hey guys I’ve been using MDD since last year and everything has been great! I actually use both plugins and love them, especially the Google XML sitemap plugin. I know Yoast has one included their plugin but I ususally disable their version just so I can use the Google XML plugin instead.