Genesis SEO Settings Guide

WordPress Genesis SEO GuideAt Bourn Creative, we build our custom designed WordPress websites exclusively on the Genesis Framework by StudioPress.

The reasons behind our choice to develop our custom themes on the Genesis Framework are numerous, but a few we often highlight are that the Genesis Framework is very flexible/customizable, coded extremely well, and has been built with SEO as a priority (SEO — the art and science of being found online through organic search).

After all, a beautifully designed website means nothing if consumers and search engines can’t find you.

Genesis already has most SEO requirements built into the framework. As a result, a separate WordPress SEO plugin isn’t necessary, which means one less plugin to manage, and keep updated.

Guide & Instructions for the Genesis SEO Settings

The following settings are found after clicking SEO Settings under Genesis in the left column of the WordPress Dashboard.

Doctitle Settings

These are site-wide settings that affect the HTML Doctitle (also known as SEO Title or Title Tag) of every WordPress page and post. Doctitles are very important for both search robots and real people. They are often the blue clickable link in Google’s search results and are what is usually displayed in browser tabs and favorites lists.

The general rule for Doctitles is to limit them to around 65 characters, including spaces. If your title is longer, the remaining text usually gets cut off and ellipses are shown in the search results. Hence the recommendation to have your site title appended to the right of the doctitle — so it gets cut off before the main title of your page or post will.

WordPress Genesis Doctitle Settings

Append Site Description to Doctitle on homepage — Inserts the site description from the WordPress General Settings after the title on your home page. We usually uncheck this box and suggest writing the complete homepage title in the settings below (if you have your blog on the home page or are using a completely widgetized homepage template), or on the actual home page in the WordPress editor (if you are using a standard WordPress page as your homepage).

Append Site Name to Doctitle on inner pages — Adds the site name from the WordPress General Settings after the title on inner pages and posts. We usually check this box.

Doctitle (HTML title) Append Location — Determines which side of the SEO title to add the site name or description. Most SEO experts agree that if you append the page/post titles with the site name it should go the right of the separator (example: Custom WordPress Themes & Graphic Design | Bourn Creative).

Doctitle (HTML title) Separator — The character that goes between the title and appended text. The Genesis default is a dash, but I personally like to use a pipe (the vertical line above the enter key on your keyboard).

WordPress Genesis Home Page SEO Settings

Homepage Settings

These are the homepage specific SEO settings if your blog is on the front page of your site or if your homepage template uses only widgets. These settings will not apply if a static page is set as the front page.

If your site is set to use a static WordPress page as your homepage, you will need to set the SEO settings on that particular page. SEO Settings for individual pages & posts can be found later in this post.

Which text would you like to be wrapped in H1 (Heading 1) tags? — For a blog on the homepage or a widgeted homepage, we usually check the box Site Description or add an H1 tag manually within a text widget, depending on the site’s design.

Home Doctitle — Only used on this screen if your site has the blog on the homepage or uses a widgeted homepage template.

Home META Description — Also only used on this screen if your site has the blog on the homepage or uses a widgeted homepage template. A meta description will appear in the source code markup of your page or post, but like the Doctitle, it isn’t visible to people viewing your site. The general rule for meta descriptions is to limit them to around 155 characters and don’t just use them to stuff keywords. Write one really good, descriptive sentence about the homepage. Some search engines will show your meta description as the two lines of black text that shows below the clickable link in the search results.

Home META Keywords — The meta keywords tag is generally ignored by search engines so our recommendation is to not worry about or waste your time with them. This is not meant to be confused with the actual on-page keywords you use in your page content.

Homepage Robots Meta Tags — These checkboxes tell search engines how to handle the homepage. Noindex tells search engines not to index the page and not to include it in search results pages listings. Nofollow tells search engines not follow any any links from this page. Noarchive tells search engines not to make an archive copy of the page. Unless you are creating a private site, leave these unchecked.

WordPress Genesis Document Head Settings

Document Head Settings

Relationship Link Tags — These are tags added by WordPress that currently have no SEO value but can have an impact on how fast your site loads. They are disabled by default, but if you have a specific need for a plugin or other non typical use, you can enable them as needed here.

Windows Live Writer Support — Applicable only if you use software that supports this. Otherwise leave unchecked.

Shortlink Tag — Check this if required by any third party service you are using. Otherwise leave unchecked.

WordPress Genesis Robots Meta Settings

Robots Meta Settings

Noindex is explained in the home settings above. Here you can select what other parts of the site to apply these options to.

At least one of your archives should be indexed, but indexing multiple archives will typically result in a duplicate content penalty by the search engines. There is frequent debate in the SEO world of what archive to have indexed so there is no clear answer on this one. For the majority of our clients who are running 1-2 author blogs, we usually set the category archives to be indexed.

It’s also usually best to leave the noodp (No Open Directory) and the noydir (No Yahoo Directory) options checked so those tags are added the HTML of your pages and posts.

WordPress Genesis Archives SEO Settings

Archives Settings

Canonical Paginated Archives — Canonical links will point search engines to the front page of paginated content (content spanning multiple pages). This tells search bots that “this is paged content and the first page starts here”. It also helps to avoid spreading keywords across multiple pages. It’s generally good practice to leave this box checked.

Individual Page & Post Genesis SEO Settings

Besides the site wide SEO settings and home page settings from above (if your site has the blog on the home page or has a fully widgeted home page template), each page and post will have their own SEO settings visible when you are in the WordPress post/page editor for that particular page or post.

WordPress Genesis Theme SEO Settings

Theme SEO Settings

Custom Document Title — Same general rules as Doctitle from above, but here you get a nice character counter to let you know when you get close to the 65-70 limit.

Custom Post/Page Meta Description — Same as explained above and you also get the nifty counter to let you know when you are around 155.

Custom Post/Page Keywords — Don’t waste your time with these, most search engines don’t pay attention to this.

Custom Canonical URI — No sense in explaining this, just read this www.mattcutts.com/blog/canonical-link-tag/

Custom Redirect URI — No sense in explaining this either, just read this article from Google

WordPress Genesis Robots Meta SEO Settings

Robots Meta Settings — For pages you want search engines to index leave these unchecked. For thank you pages, confirmation pages, download pages, etc. — those pages you don’t want to show up in the search listings — we typically check noindex and nofollow.

Custom Tracking/Conversion Code — This is where you can paste code from certain software vendors to track conversions or sales. By default it is empty.

Category & Tag Archive Genesis SEO Settings

Each category and tag archive on a Genesis based site will have its own SEO settings as well as a few important content options that may impact your SEO. These are a little harder to find. You can access the settings two ways; when viewing a category or tag while logged into WordPress you can click the Edit link in the black admin bar or go to Categories or Tags under Posts in the WordPress Dashboard and then click edit on the category or tag you want to add options to.

WordPress Genesis Category Archive SEO Settings

Archive Headline — Here you can add a headline for the individual category or tag archive. When you add a headline here it will be added as an H1 (heading 1) on the archive page.

Archive Intro Text — Here you can add a short description as an introduction to the category or tag archive. Both the Archive Headline and Archive Intro Text will be shown at the top of the first page of the particular archive.

With our custom designs, we usually target the Archive Headline to be a different size and color of the post headlines below and will often apply italic font styling or other design styles to the Archive Intro Text to separate it from the post content below.

Theme SEO Settings — Here you can add a Custom Document Title, Meta Description, and override the Robots Meta archive settings from the main Genesis SEO settings menu. This allows you to add noindex, nofollow, or noarchive to a category or tag archive if you have those options unchecked in the general SEO settings. By default your archives indexation rules will follow what you have set in the general settings.

Author Archive Genesis SEO Settings

WordPress Genesis Author SEO Settings

The final Genesis SEO settings option is for the author archives that are automatically created by WordPress. You can access the author SEO settings by going to Users in the WordPress Dashboard and either selecting Your Profile or All Users then edit for the author you want to change.

On this screen you have the same options as the category and tag archives to display an Intro Headline and Intro Text, add a doctitle, meta description, and indexation rules; but you also have additional options to show the Author Box on individual blog posts and/or author archives. The author box will pull your Gravatar image and the content you add in the Biographical Info box under About Yourself in the same user profile screen.

Wrapping It Up

As you can tell, the Genesis SEO options and settings are very comprehensive, and they provide you with multiple options. It’s important to remember that SEO is an ongoing task of maintaining a site and your site’s SEO should be monitored and adjusted over time.

SEO Nerd Bonus!

How to Add Google Authorship to your WordPress site

About Brian Bourn

At the helm of Bourn Creative, is Brian, who manages the day-to-day business operations and all company projects. While he spends most days entrenched in code, Star Wars, WordPress, and the Genesis Framework building client websites and custom themes, Brian is also a brilliant business strategist and can often be found consulting with clients on how to best achieve their online goals.

Able to break down complicated topics into easy to understand, simple steps, Brian regularly attends and speaks at meetup groups, WordCamps (his favorite), networking events, and conferences on the topics of design, website strategy, and tech-nerd stuff.

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Comments & Feedback:

  1. Jennifer, I am sure that if I understood this, I would know what incredibly helpful info you guys are sharing here! There is so much I have yet to learn… ;)

  2. Wonderful teaching Brian! Thanks for being so clear and step-by-step :)

  3. This is definitely being saved in my reference files!

  4. Or better yet, just hire you to do it! After all, clearly you’re the expert. Strengthen your strengths, pay for your weaknesses, that’s what I always say.

  5. I’m with Mitch! Definitely saving this article to reference. Very comprehensive, thanks!

  6. Great guide for setting up seo in genesis. You have been bookmarked!

  7. This is going to have to be one I read over and over again. I have a feeling there is a lot that just went over my head. I really appreciate the generous amount of knowledge you have shared here. Thank you very much!

  8. My head is spinning right now… definitely a post to bookmark for the future. Thank you for the information and clear instructions.
    Mia xo

  9. This is why I love Genesis so much, it has so many hidden gems. Thanks for taking us through piece by piece, Brian. Definitely a bookmark worthy reference guide.

  10. Way more than I want to know about the inner workings of WordPress, but I’m glad YOU know it, LOL! Thanks for sharing your expertise.

  11. Very comprehensive and very useful info to know – am also book-marking this for my techie VA
    Thanks!

  12. Awesome post! Very helpfull…. Thanks….

  13. Wow! Very comprehensive teaching; thanks so much Brian. Like others here, I’ve bookmarked this valuable and useful information.

  14. Philip says:

    How do I move the “Archive Intro Text” from the top of the page to elsewhere?

    • Hi Philip,

      You will need to add some code your child theme’s function.php file. First, you will need to remove the taxonomy description from the default location, then add it back using one of the Genesis hooks. The best place to get some help with this would be on the community forums at StudioPress.com. There is usually always someone there willing to help out with actual code samples.

  15. Beth Niebuhr says:

    Great article and I’ve saved it for further study.

    Question: If I don’t want my tags and categories to be shown below each blog post (I use Genesis Lifestyle) and just have categories in the right sidebar, how can I do that? Should I eliminate my tags? Does that hurt SEO? Can I keep them from appearing on the posts without jeopardizing my blog’s visibility? Thanks.

    • You can use the category widget for your sidebar and add the following code to your theme’s functions.php file.

      //***Remove Genesis Post Meta**/
      remove_action('genesis_after_post_content', 'genesis_post_meta');
  16. Hi Brian,
    We’ve discovered that none of our category or tag pages are displaying a H1 in the page source. We’ve filled all the Custom Document and Description fields in and I’m a little confused about what to do next. Surely I should be able to make a H1 appear (like a post) with the title and not have to rely on a plugin?
    Genesis framework with Executive theme.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Matt,

      To get an H1 to display, you need to use the “Archive Headline” box. This will be visible on the screen (unlike the doctitle & description) and will be an H1 in the HTML.

  17. Hi Brian, thank you for sharing this comprehensive post. I like Genesis because I don’t need to install an additional SEO plugin for my blog which keep it lighter. However, I do have one question. I’m making a new blog out of Genesis framework. How can I add a custom site name to on inner pages? What I mean is for example, your site name is “Bourn Creative: Custom WordPress Themes”… how can I add “Bourn Creative” only on inner pages instead of the longer site title? Thank you.

    • Our site title is just “Bourn Creative” and is appended to all title tags on the interior pages. You can change your site title to something shorter or you could not use that option and write all of your site titles the way you want.

  18. Thank you Brian. I found what I need. I have to make a short site title in the WP general settings. In the Genesis SEO options, append that title to all inner pages, and then modify the site title in the homepage settings so that a longer site title will appear on homepage and in the SERP.

  19. Please, I have a website built on genesis, but I don’t want the bbpress aspect of the site to be found by search engines, how do I do this? Thanks.

    • I would create a robots.txt file restricting the bbpress directory from search bots and upload it to your server. If you do some searching, you should find plenty of tutorials on how to create one and where to upload it.

  20. Thanks for sharing! Great resource for those of us who are trying to bump our webpage up higher in the rankings. Time will tell.

  21. Joseph Croasdaile says:

    Great resource, but I have a question…

    I want to add the site name to inner pagers, but I assume when I did created a custom Document Title within a specific page or post it would override this.

    so being applied to all inner pages is
    | CrossBooks, a division of LifeWay

    on a specific page I want
    Manuscript Submission Guidelines | CrossBooks Publishing

    what I get it is
    Manuscript Submission Guidelines | CrossBooks Publishing | CrossBooks, a division of LifeWay

    Outside of having to manually input the title for each page do you know of a way to edit this via functions? Thanks for any insight!

  22. Curt Eastin says:

    Exactly what I was looking for! Complete yet succinct – what a talent you have.

  23. Great teaching Brian! This is excellent for those that wish to be told SEO and a useful key to induce good rankings. It helps most of the people who involved in SEO. You have added a lot of information which surely help us. Once again Thanks for Sharing!

  24. Well said Brian! Thanks for the guide.
    I was earlier using Thesis and purchased Genesis last week. I have installed it in one of my sites I am having problem with H1 tag issues.
    To avoid multiple H1, I unchecked “Use Semantic HTML5..” so for the homepage, it has made all post titles to H2 keeping the Site Title H1 which is good. But still in the post page there are two H1 Tags (one is SIte Title and another one is Post Title).
    Any idea how I can get rid of this two H1 tags in post page?

  25. KungfuGeisha says:

    Great tutorial! I don’t seem to have Doctitle Settings, however. Did this go away on newer versions of Genesis?

    • No, but with Genesis 2.0 the interface design now looks a little different than the screenshots in the post. If you are running one of the popular SEO plugins like WordPress SEO by Yoast, Genesis will “back down” and let the SEO plugin take over, and the Genesis SEO settings will be hidden.

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