User:NotAracham/WikiSEO - Improving Search Ranking

From Miraheze Meta, Miraheze's central coordination wiki
New Admin Guide: WikiSEO - Improving Search Rankings
This page serves as an introduction to the WikiSEO extension, its use with various search providers, and advice on submitting XML Sitemaps

There are three perennial questions new administrators ask regarding search results:

  • How can I get my wiki to show up on Google/Bing/Yandex?
  • How can I see how many folks are visiting my site?
  • How can I see how my created content is doing?

All of these questions can be answered through the same extension: WikiSEO!

This guide will walk new administrators through the process of connecting their wikis to other analytics tools and submitting their sitemaps to Google for faster indexing and improved search results.

Setting up WikiSEO with Google Search Console[edit source]

Enabling The Extension[edit source]

While most new wikis now have the extension enabled by default, the administrator should confirm that the extension is enabled by:

  • Navigating to Administration > Manage this Wiki's Extensions > Parser Hooks (or Special:ManageWiki/extensions#mw-section-parserhooks on your wiki)
  • Scrolling to and ensuring WikiSEO is active, otherwise clicking the checkbox to enable it and then clicking Save.
  • Clicking the "Manage available configuration options for this extension" for the WikiSEO entry or navigating to Administration > Manage this Wiki's additional settings > SEO to ensure that the extension is enabled and configurable.

Once you are able to navigate to the configurations page, you may notice that there are several site verification key fields that are currently blank. These fields are how we will be connecting to different search providers in later steps.

There are also some additional options for defining text/images for link previews in search results. While these can be beneficial to enable/disable, we will not be modifying them in the scope of this guide.

Please reach out via the Community noticeboard or Miraheze's official Discord server for additional help if needed.

Setting up Google Search Console[edit source]

If this is your first time using Google Search Console, start by navigating to and perform the following steps:

  • If you are not currently logged in to your Google account, Click 'Start Now' and log in to your account (or create an account if you do not have one)
  • When prompted to choose a property type, put your wiki URL in the text box of the URL Prefix option, then click Continue
  • A message will flash about attempting to verify your property, after which you'll be taken to a screen outlining your options for verifying the property. In this case, we will need to use the HTML tag option.
    • Click to expand the HTML Tag section, click Copy next to the long string starting with "<meta name=...", then click Done.
    • Paste the context into the text editor of your choice, then copy the long string of characters found between content="...", excluding the quote-marks.
    • Navigate back to your wiki, specifically the SEO settings page, and paste the string of characters in the Google Site Verification Key (WikiSEO) text field
    • Save changes, then wait 10-15 minutes as the new tag gets added to all pages on your wiki
    • (Optional) Verify the code was added correctly by pressing F12 on your wiki's main page, expanding the <head>...</head> tags, and looking for the <meta name="google-site-verification" content="..."> tag
  • Return to Google Search Console and refresh the page
  • Click "Already started? finish verification" and then click your wiki's URL you entered earlier.
  • After the verification window re-opens, expand the HTML tag section and click 'Verify'

If everything has gone correctly, your property should now be verified and Google will start indexing your pages and collecting data on your site's visitors.

If you receive an error message but are confident your verification tag is present, not to worry! Try to verify your property again after 30-40 minutes, it can occasionally take some extra time for Google to see the verification tag.

Example Setup Images

Submitting Sitemaps via Google Search Console[edit source]

After your wiki has existed for at least a week, a new option is now available - Sitemaps!

Sitemap files are a representation of the pages on your wiki and the links between them, though they don't contain actual page contents. Submitting these files to a search engine greatly improves the speed at which Google's services can map your site, improving your site's ranking in Google's search results.

To confirm if your sitemaps have generated, navigate to https://<yourwiki>, replacing <yourwiki> with your unique subdomain.

If the sitemap has generated successfully, this URL should load a page like the following, listing out sub-sitemaps for each numbered namespace (main, talk, templates, etc.):

If the page loads as above, you can now submit your sitemap to Google for indexing through the following steps:

  • Navigate back to the Google Search Console
  • Under the Indexing category in the sidebar, click Sitemaps
  • In the "Add a New Sitemap" box, enter sitemap.xml in the free-text area after your verified wiki URL
  • Click Submit

After a brief "submitting sitemap" pop-up, the sitemap should now appear in the section below, with a status of 'in progress' or similar.

It may take several days for Google to fully parse through the sitemap, (and Google may fail to locate it on the first few attempts,) but the Status field for this record will eventually change to Success and list the count of discovered URLS.

Once a link to the sitemap is established, there won't be a need to reddo these steps, Google will automatically re-query sitemaps at regular intervals to pull any newly-added pages.

NOTE: Miraheze Wiki Sitemaps are automatically refreshed weekly on Saturdays, so pages created between refreshes will be included in sitemaps after the next weekly refresh completes

Exploring Google Search Console[edit source]

After your wiki has been verified with Google Search Console, you may notice that many of the options in the lefthand toolbar (performance, pages, etc.) yield an error message like 'awaiting results'. This is not a cause for concern!

It initially takes Google around 3 days to start collecting enough traffic results to start displaying metrics, and it's worth knowing that data displayed is nearly always 1-2 days behind present as a result.

Once you have sufficient data, there are a few key sections in the Console that are highly valuable to know about...

Performance[edit source]

Main Chart[edit source]

An image showing the main performance chart for Google Search Console, with key elements numbered by intended use.

  1. Total Clicks - Count of times a search result for your wiki was clicked to visit a wiki page
  2. Total Impressions - Count of times your wiki appeared in results for a search query
  3. Average CTR - Average Click-through rate, essentially how often an impression (seeing a search result) leads to a click
  4. Average Position - The average location of your wiki vs other links in a search result
  5. Daily information Pane - When hovering over the line chart, shows the numeric value of any selected attributes for the day closest to the mouse cursor
  6. Filter Criteria - Default filter criteria for the chart, click the pencil icon to edit or remove these filters
  7. Add New Filters - Click the '+ New' icon to filter the chart for specific query text, by specific page URLs, Countries, Devices and more
  8. Export - Click the 'export' icon to receive a downloadable copy of chart data in a tabular format, options include Google Sheet, Excel workbook or CSV at time of writing

Main Table[edit source]

An image showing the main table on the performance tab, with key elements numbered by intended use

  1. Queries tab - rankings of search terms that displayed links to your wiki
  2. Pages tab - rankings of individual pages in search results
  3. Countries tab - rankings of Country of Origin search frequency
  4. Devices tab - rankings of mobile/desktop/tablet search frequency
  5. Search Appearance tab - categorization of page results by output type (e.g. did display as an embedded video, a short FAQ, a mobile-friendly page)
  6. Dates tab - Daily sitewide metrics, initially sorted by date.
  7. Additional Filter Criteria - Allows narrowing of main table results based on additional criteria applied to one or more fields (e.g. only show pages with a position ranking less than 5)
  8. Sorting Behavior - click any column name to sort records by that column, clicking the column again swaps between ascending or descending sort (as shown by the arrow).

NOTE: All main table entries and their metrics are impacted by the filter criteria above the main chart, and table entries can be clicked by users to add a new filter criteria based on the selection. New filters added in this way will impact other tabs in the main table and the main chart on Performance.

Pages[edit source]

The primary use of this section is to monitor indexing of wiki pages, as well as identify potential root causes for problem pages.

Clicking a reason for failed indexing in the table below the main chart will take you to a secondary page listing exact URLs for impacted pages.

Links[edit source]

Provides an alternate method of identifying the most linked pages through either external or internal sourcing.

A unique capability on this page is 'top linking sites, which allows you to drill down into where links to your wiki content are getting surfaced on external sites such as reddit and other online forums. Clicking an external source will show you the individual pages that were linked, clicking those pages will show you what external URLs linked to those pages.

Additional Resources[edit source]