WordPress – its a great blogging and CMS. Until this year, I had no direct experience of using it myself as anything other than a blogging platform, but since then I have installed it on a few websites in light of problems with Google’s Blogger service removing it’s FTP upload facility and my overall feedback on it is very positive.
I’ve installed this a few ways – I’ve done a few manual installations with the first few that I have created, and also experienced the ease of use of a web control panel one click install (which to be honest was even easier than the Blogger installations that I used to do for clients until the change from FTP publishing).
The manual installations were not particularly tricky, as even then, WordPress does a lot of the work for you once you have hooked it up to the database. I struggled with a few details of it at first, but mainly due to my silliness rather than any inherent problems in the creation system.
However in the last few weeks, we’ve had a couple of prospects that couldn’t identify reasons that their search engine visibility had been dropping since relaunching their website with a WordPress blog/CMS.
Upon us looking at it, we were easily able to spot the problem – with a “<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”>” tag placed on every page of the website by the unsuspecting webmaster. Simple enough fix I assumed, I thought that this may have been something left over in the theme from when it was a dev site, so we checked all the theme files and couldn’t find it.
I had a nagging doubt that I was forgetting something that needed to be checked, as I liaise on Twitter with a number of frequent users of the WordPress system. So I asked where this may be coming from and within minutes, we had our answer (and a number of other potential solutions were also suggested – these were fortunately the things that I had already checked!).
In the privacy settings of WordPress (it might be slightly different in some WordPress installations), if you look in the basic WordPress settings, and choose “Privacy”, you are greeted with the following screen, or something similar:
If you have the above option “I would like to block search engines, but allow normal visitors” selected, then this is going to add these tags to your website and prevent pages either being indexed in the first place, or likely cause these pages to be de-indexed if they are already.
If you are creating your site in an initial development or testing environment, then it is wise to use this option and then update when you make it live – and failure to do so could be costly for your search engine optimisation results.