If you want more web site traffic, you’ll need to adjust your WordPress theme so that the search engines will index the right pages. The secret lies in preventing duplicate content, and here’s how to solve that issue.

When you create your site using WordPress, you’ll unwittingly end up with a lot of duplicate content. For example, there’s the actual post itself, the page containing posts made on a certain day, month, year, and even category.

Here’s the code to place in the header.php file of your theme, between the HEAD tags:

<?php if((is_home() || is_single() || is_category || is_page()) && (!is_paged())) {
echo '<meta name="robots" content="index,follow">';
} else {
echo '<meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow">';

(Found this code in WordPress And Google: Avoiding Duplicate Content Issues, thanks to Steven Bradley’s Problems With WordPress Posts Going Supplemental In Google’s Index. If you copy/paste code and later encounter errors, please check if the apostrophes or double-quotes are simple straight characters or slanted smartquotes. PHP requires simple apostrophes and quotes.)

What the code basically does is to tell the search engine robots not to index the page if it is a Date or Category page.

This helps a lot because I’ve noticed that WordPress category pages are shown first in the search engine results. The link to the actual post is not found, because the post is considered a duplicate of the Category page.

When searchers land on your Category pages, they usually have a hard time finding the post that they’re looking for, because there may be tens or hundreds of posts in that one Category. What do you think is going to happen to your site traffic if people can’t quickly find the info they need?

(NOTE: Sometimes, Google does eventually index your actual post rather than its Category page. Other times the post appears in the Google search engine results ahead of its Category page.

I don’t know why that’s the case, but I am concerned that my other WP-powered sites which predominantly display Category pages rather than actual posts in the SERPs. Are you experiencing the same thing?)

If you’d rather not deal with code, perhaps you can try getting rid of those sidebar links to your Categories or Monthly Archives. I’ve seen sites without those, and their listings in Google mostly show the permalinks of their actual posts and not of their Category/Monthly Archives pages.

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