At 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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!