The WordPress SEO Tutorial Search Result article is part of a series of SEO tutorials to support the Stallion WordPress SEO Plugin and the Stallion Responsive WordPress SEO Theme.
This WordPress SEO tutorial covers the Stallion WordPress SEO Plugin – WordPress Search Result Archives options and some Stallion Responsive Theme features related to search result archives.
Return to the main Stallion WordPress SEO Plugin Documentation article.
Stallion WordPress SEO Plugin Search Result Archives Tutorial
Under the Stallion WordPress SEO Plugin Options : Not Index Options Tab – WordPress Search Result Archives.
There are three options.
- Index Search Results
- Block All Search Results
- Index First Search Result Only : Block Paged 2,3,4…
Index Search Results – Completely SEO safe, it’s the default WordPress behavior, if you are in any doubt about not indexing search results archives, use this option.
When this option is set the Stallion WordPress SEO Plugin does nothing to search results archives.
Block All Search Results – Unlikely to cause any SEO damage blocking all search results, but there’s no harm from indexing search results, so not recommended.
If you block search results you can’t benefit from linking directly to them, see the WordPress SEO Tutorial below.
When this option is set the Stallion WordPress SEO Plugin adds a canonical URL to the sites home page on ALL search results archive pages.
Index First Search Result Only : Block Paged 2,3,4… – This is safe SEO wise for most WordPress sites, this is the best option.
When this option is set the Stallion WordPress SEO Plugin adds a canonical URL to the search results first page on all paged search results.
The first page of search result archives will be spidered and indexed by Google. Search result archive pages 2, 3, 4 etc… will be spidered, but not indexed by Google. Most of the SEO link benefit from search result archive pages 2, 3, 4 etc… will be recycled back to search result archive page 1 (the pages that’s indexed in Google).
The SEO benefit of this is most of the ranking benefit is concentrated on the first page of a set of search result archives, the first page is more likely to rank for any SERPs it targets.
WordPress SEO Tutorial
WordPress Search Results Archives are an interesting one SEO wise, they have the potential to be quite useful.
With the default WordPress Theme Twenty Sixteen the Search Results Archives output aren’t perfect SEO wise, but they are better than some of the other archives in some important aspects.
The above search results archive is better than all the other archives (including categories) because the Twenty Sixteen outputs excerpts on the search results archives. On categories Twenty Sixteen outputs the full post content rather than a more sensible excerpt: see the Category Archives SEO Tutorial for details!
If your current WordPress theme outputs full post content on archives (category, tags, dated, home, search archives) I strongly recommend changing WordPress themes. From a performance SEO and ranking SEO perspective using full content on archives doesn’t make sense.
An example search for a phrase like “WordPress SEO” on this website will find over 200 posts (got a lot of Posts which mention WordPress and SEO :-)). If I ran the Twenty Sixteen theme the title tags would be in the following format:
This is what the Search Results Archives title tags look like in the Twenty Sixteen theme.
Search Results for “WordPress SEO” – Site Name – example.tld/?s=WordPress+SEO
Search Results for “WordPress SEO” – Page 2 – Site Name – example.tld/page/2/?s=WordPress+SEO
Search Results for “WordPress SEO” – Page 3 – Site Name – example.tld/page/3/?s=WordPress+SEO
Search Results for “WordPress SEO” – Page 4 – Site Name – example.tld/page/4/?s=WordPress+SEO
Search Results for “WordPress SEO” – Page 5 – Site Name – example.tld/page/5/?s=WordPress+SEO
It’s not ideal SEO wise, but we do have the phrase searched for “WordPress SEO”, it’s unfortunate we have all the other words “Search Results for ” and the “Site Name”, but that’s a theme issue, not the Search Results Archive per se.
Ideally the title tags wouldn’t include “Search Results for ” and “Site Name” would be an option for branded sites (most sites don’t need branding, most sites aren’t big brands).
Despite these basic SEO failings the Search Results Archives can still be SEO useful.
Firstly they have no internal links, if a search result archive is indexed in Google it’s a free indexed webpage. It cost you nothing: maybe webmaster of another website thought a search archive was worth linking to and linked to it.
Here’s a few search results for this site, let’s see if these single links can get the Search Results Archives indexed and ranked for these long tail SERPs:
Awesome WordPress SEO Theme
Amazing WordPress SEO Theme
Awesome WordPress SEO Plugin
Amazing WordPress SEO Plugin
Awesome WordPress SEO Theme
Amazing WordPress SEO Theme
Awesome WordPress SEO Plugin
Amazing WordPress SEO Plugin
Interestingly WordPress provides an SEO friendly version of the Search Results Archive links, but doesn’t use them (at least not in their default themes). Since I use the WordPress SEO Theme I develop (the Stallion Responsive Theme) on this site and Stallion Responsive DOES add the SEO friendly permalinks on search results as canonical URLs it made sense to link to the SEO friendly versions above. The Twenty Sixteen theme doesn’t add canonical URLs to search results archives.
Default WordPress search results archive for the WordPress SEO Plugin search:
SEO friendly permalink for the WordPress SEO Plugin search:
The content is identical.
Anyway, I think you’d agree creating a WordPress Post or Page or an archive (Category or Tag) for phrases like “Awesome WordPress SEO Theme”, “Amazing WordPress SEO Theme”, “Awesome WordPress SEO Plugin”, “Amazing WordPress SEO Plugin” and similar longer tail SERPs would look really, really SPAMMY and not worth the effort (not much search engine traffic, not worth creating an article or Category).
However, if a single internal link like the ones above are enough to keep them indexed (it should be) a little more thought into this (a serious SEO strategy rather than an ad hoc example to show you how this works for a plugin tutorial) you could use links from other sites to gain SERPs this way.
If you check the four search results archives above you’ll note the output isn’t what you’d see with a theme like Twenty Sixteen. Stallion Responsive includes an improved search results feature (under “Stallion Theme” > “Layout Options” – “Better Search Excerpt Plugin”) which shows and highlights the keywords searched for in the content.
When the Stallion Responsive Theme Better Search Excerpt is turned off there’s no highlighting and the standard WordPress Post excerpt is shown on search results.
The above is what you’d see with any theme that shows a Post excerpt on search archives: though Stallion Responsive has another option to change the excerpt length (under “Stallion Theme” > “Advanced SEO Options” – “Excerpt Length”). The excerpt is currently set to 120 words on this site, WordPress default is 55 words.
When the Stallion Responsive Theme Better Search Excerpt is turned on the keywords searched for are shown in the excerpt content and highlighted on search results.
The SEO benefit of this is if a search archive is indexed in Google, the phrase searched for is loaded multiple times in the search results content.
In the “Amazing WordPress SEO Plugin” search results there’s only three Posts found, compare the 4 keywords for the better excerpt feature turned on and off.
Better Search Excerpt ON
Amazing is highlighted 3 times
WordPress is highlighted 5 times
SEO is highlighted once
Plugin is highlighted 4 times
Better Search Excerpt OFF
Amazing is shown 0 times
WordPress is shown 5 times
SEO is shown 4 times
Plugin is highlighted 3 times
At the time of writing this tutorial, only 3 Posts used ALL the keywords Amazing, WordPress, SEO, Plugin (this Post will be the 4th) in the Post content. In the Better Search Excerpt ON version the word Amazing is shown (highlighted) for every post listed, but isn’t shown once for the Better Search Excerpt OFF results despite the excerpt including more words (120 vs ~55 for the Better Search Excerpt ON feature).
The highlighted results are far better search engine optimized, they are better optimized than Category and Tag archives which if there was a Category called “Amazing WordPress SEO Plugin” and I put the same 3 Posts in it, they’d show the non-highlighted excerpt: hmm, going to have to look into using this highlighting search concept on Categories, would be an amazing SEO feature to show a unique excerpt for each category a post is listed in.
Stallion Responsive also has a much better title tag output for search results archives.
This is what the Search Results Archives title tags look like in the Stallion Responsive Theme.
WordPress SEO – example.tld/?s=WordPress+SEO
WordPress SEO » Page 2 – example.tld/page/2/?s=WordPress+SEO
WordPress SEO » Page 3 – example.tld/page/3/?s=WordPress+SEO
WordPress SEO » Page 4 – example.tld/page/4/?s=WordPress+SEO
WordPress SEO » Page 5 – example.tld/page/5/?s=WordPress+SEO
Note: Adding the ” – Site Name” part as you see with the Twenty Sixteen theme is a Stallion Responsive theme option (useful if you want a branded site).
Going off on a slight SEO tangent :-)
It’s a shame that in 2016 WordPress Theme developers still use the title tag format–
Post Name – Site Name
Archive Name – Site Name
And the only way to change them is a WordPress SEO Plugin.
Most WordPress sites are NOT branded, the only reason to add the Site Name on every indexed webpage is if you are a big brand name like Amazon, Google, eBay, Nike, Apple etc… so when a searcher sees a result “Post Name – Big Brand” they instantly know it’s a big brand website and you can probably trust it.
Although the title tags are unique, ” » Page 2″, ” » Page 3″ etc… are not SERPs, search engine users do not search for “WordPress SEO Page 2”, “WordPress SEO Page 3” etc…
The content on each Search Results page is a unique combination of posts, but without the unique title tags there’s very little hope of them ranking for any SERPs (only the first search results page will rank).
It therefore makes sense for Stallion Responsive Theme users to set “Index First Search Result Only : Block Paged 2,3,4…” under “Stallion Theme” > “SEO Advanced Options” – “Search Results”.
Also makes sense for sites using other WordPress themes to set the equivalent Stallion WordPress SEO Plugin Not Index option : “Index First Search Result Only : Block Paged 2,3,4…^^” since the Paged Search Result also have almost duplicate Title Tags (see earlier Twenty Sixteen title tags output) : there’s no SEO value in having sets of pages indexed with almost identical title tags like the Stallion Responsive Theme and the Twenty Sixteen Theme Search Results Archives.
Basically all WordPress sites should set “Index First Search Result Only : Block Paged 2,3,4…”.
This will result in only the first page of a Search Results Archive being indexed in Google.