The Semiologic Autoinstaller

New Semiologic Pro users frequently come asking how they should best optimize their new site for search engine optimization.

The short answer is “start posting”.

On new sites, the Semiologic Pro autoinstaller completes a couple of steps in addition to setting the default captions, skin and layout, and setting up the panels with some default widgets. This puts the site on rails.

1. It flushes the WordPress junk

Nobody I can think of needs the initial post, page and comment; nor those default links in the link manager.

On entirely new sites, they get flushed down the drain, which saves you a few minutes of cleaning up when you create a new site.

2. It sets the permalink structure

WordPress comes with fancy urls called permalinks. When it comes to search engine optimization, these are better than the default urls.

Fancy urls could look like this:

http://yourdomain.com/2008/04/01/your-post/

The default look like this:

http://yourdomain.com?p=2

On entirely new sites, Semiologic presets with my recommended permalink structure. It is good for SEO. And it is good for usability.

3. It extends the ping list

Sending ping notifications is a good thing, from an seo standpoint.

By default, WordPress pings a service called pingomatic — which, incidentally, is run by the creators of WordPress — and nothing else. We add a few more on entirely new sites. But only a few more.

Keep in mind that pingomatic is a ping service pinging service, i.e. when you ping the latter you’re in fact pinging a whole bunch of other ping services. The same applies to most of the services we add.

You do not want to be pinging the same service twice. (Your site might get banned if you do.) Extend this list at your own risk.

4. It closes the comments

Most Semiologic users are building AdSense sites or small niche sites rather than “real” blogs. Semiologic turns comments and pingbacks off by default as a result on entirely new sites.

If you want to turn on one or both by default, browse Settings / Discussion. Note that you can override this default for individual posts and pages, from within the editor’s advanced options.

And if you turn them on at any point, don’t forget to turn on spam fighting features (in Semiologic Pro, you’ll find them all under Features).

5. It Activates Several Features

Semiologic Pro includes a great deal of features. The autoinstaller will, on new sites, activate and pre-configure two dozens of them. These cover the SEO needs of nearly all sites, and the business needs of most sites.

The Default Layout

The default layout (Main, Sidebar, External Sidebar), is the default for a reason. You might decide it works for your site; or not. But here goes for reference.

User interface research suggests that, when end users initially probe a web document to get their first impressions, their eyes typically go from the top left corner of the screen to the bottom right corner, and then jump towards the top right corner.

Sparing you the gory details, westerners’ reading patterns (left to right, top to down), and the way right handed users spontaneously extend their right arm outwards to get their mouse pointer out of the way may have something to do with it.

Of interest to us is that, in much the same way browsers place the search box to the top right, you should be placing your mailing list subscription form, key message, and so on, in the very same area.

Tip: Use the Clone Wizard

Once you’ve configured a site “your way”, odds are you’ll want to clone it and to work out the differences, rather than go through the entire process of configuring it again.

For this reason, we’ve added a handy clone wizard in Semiologic Pro. Browse Wizards / Clone to use it. (If you don’t see it, activate the Semiologic Wizards feature.)