In this article, we will be covering a few basic tips and simple steps to help achieve better results with SEO for WordPress Sites. The guidelines are intended to be used in conjunction with some of the previous Top 10 SEO Tips article and several other basic rules which will be covered in the coming articles.
Before we jump to some of the technical steps of how to optimize a WordPress website, let’s first set our sights on the target. We shall assume you are computer shop that sells PCs, laptops, printers as well as computer peripherals and you are based Hounslow, London, UK. It’s important to first research the targeted readership which will sometimes include a location as in this example. A computer shop in a London suberb will be hoping to get people who live in the area or surrounding areas through its doors to buy or fix a computer. In the case of this example business website, knowing what location, product and services it needs to be optimizing for is the key element on the road to SEO success.
Now, that we have set our sights on the target with the product and its location we are focused on, let’s rapidly cover some needed SEO copywriting tips. These steps will make sure your optimization work will not go in vain for not complimenting it with some good, rich content.
Starting with the homepage of the site, it would be ideal if you make its ‘Meta Title’ look something like this:
Notice how the nature of business and location has been placed at the start of the ‘Meta Title’? This is an important step as it emphasizes the importance of those words for search engines. Once a page with this title is spidered, the bot will see those words as the most relevant to what the site must be about. Straight after those major keywords that we have included in the title to explain ‘What’ and ‘Where’ we are, let’s move on. The products have been strategically placed focusing on the main products and services a computer shop would mostly be providing.
Next comes the ‘Meta Description Tag’, which contains the most important aspects of the business. The same as the title, the emphasis has been placed on the type of business, location, products and services.
The most important thing to do now as far as valuable SEO content is concerned on the site is to wrap up all what we have done so far and include the text we have used. Use all what has been placed in the ‘Meta Title’ and ‘Meta Description’ in the body text of the site. The text should be part of quality content and flow seamlessly in the middle of all the other content on the frontpage and not just placed because it has to be there. Don’t forget, you are writing for a human and not trying to manipulate the wiser search engines.
1. Permalink Structure
Once you have installed WordPress, the urls/slugs are not going to look very pretty or have any SEO value. The reason you should change this straight away is for having search engine friendly urls. As far as your human readers are concerned too, It’s far better to have a clean url that looks something like this:
”https://www.examplecomputershop.com/laptop-repair-shop-hounslow” than to have something looking like this ”https://www.examplecomputershop.com/?p=123” which doesn’t mean anything and doesn’t particularly look very cool.
To activate the search engine friendly urls in WordPress, go to Dashboard >> Settings >> Permalinks and select the ‘Post name’ option and hit the ‘Save changes’ button.
2. Image Alt Text
Uploading images to a website is a great way of making the content look more attractive. There is another good way of strategically using images for SEO and not just for aesthetics. When uploading each image via the WordPress media library, look in the right side of the window to find the ”Title” and the ”Alt Text” fields. The ideal thing to place in those fields would be a few descriptive words to explain what each image contains. Using our above example, you should give each image and give it a unique description, one that includes the words we have previously focused on such as ‘Computer Shop Hounslow’.
Try to give each uploaded image a variation of those target keywords without stuffing those words in and not making sense. The reason for this is that whatever is entered in those fields is seen by both human visitors to your site as well as search engine bots and neither will be too pleased with nonsensical use of wording.
3. Image SEO Name
The naming of images also plays an important role in driving more traffic to your site. Always use proper image names before uploading them to your site. Let’s use our ‘Computer Shop’ example and give an image file name something like ”computer-shop-hounslow.png”. What we have done back there was to use the target keyword again in our image name. What this does is to actually give a site more presence in search results with the image also appearing from the site. As the phrase goes ‘A picture is worth a thousand words‘ and this is the exact effect having a picture appearing in the results would have for your site, you should get more visitors.
Imagine somebody is looking for a new PC and they happen to be sifting through the jungle of text and link results. They then see an attractive picture of the PC you have on sale appearing among the results. It’s not always the case, but it’s possible somebody would be curious to find the site the image came from. The main reason for using SEO image names is that search engines also read image names and would therefore consider your site as containing relevant content for the searched keywords.
Since Google has introduced its new image search UI, you will find some experts deprioritizing image SEO. What we have covered is more geared towards the actual search result pages and having images appearing on them instead of driving traffic from people using Google’s image search itself, so image naming is still considered important.
4. Lock Site During Development
So you have installed WordPress, activated the theme of your choice and started to work on the new website. What will happen very soon after is that Google and other search engines will detect the new site and their bots will start spidering it. What you have lost is the fast initial crawling of new sites which at times could be within hours of launch.
There are two ways around this and the one I prefer is to use the hosting c-panel to password-protect the site’s directory. In WordPress, there is a setting you can use which will do the same thing and stop search engines from spidering your site. To activate this option, go to Dashboard >> Settings >> Reading and find the ‘Search Engine Visibility” option and put a check in ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’ then hit the ‘Save Changes’ button.
Once you have completed working on the site, don’t forget to reverse this setting so the site gets visited by those bots and spidered for indexing.
5. Using Sitemaps
One of the great things about using WordPress for building websites is the fact that there is a plugin for almost anything you need to do. One of those things you should consider doing is to install a sitemap plugin’ even if the theme you are using has some sitemap features.
Most of the good sitemap plugins will almost always come with many options for example which pages should be included in the sitemap, include category pages or not, priority settings for pages as well as which pages to be excluded from the sitemap if wish to omit any form the sitemap. These plugins normally activate with the recommended settings but it wouldn’t hurt if you explore those settings so you would at least know what’s happening with the sitemap. Once you are familiar with the plugin, you can tweak some of its settings to suit your site’s content stucture for better SEO results.
6. SEO Plugins
The use of a good SEO plugin when working with optimizing a WordPress site is truly of paramount importance. Although there are probably loads of great ones out there, when it comes to optimization, it’s best to stick to the trodden tracks and use what seems to be the tried and tested plugins out there.
Once an SEO plugin has been decided upon, spend a little time to study its settings as it will prove invaluable with your SEO strategy. Knowing what each of the settings mean and what effects they have on the site will surely help you adjust your content to match and compliment those settings for optimal search engine results.
These plugins come with recommended settings, so unless you are sure what you are doing, it’s best to leave the settings unchanged.
Two of those SEO plugins that seem to shine and be the most popular with a large number of users are the WordPress SEO by Yoast and the All in One SEO Pack plugins. Using a plugin for SEO will take out a lot of hard work one would otherwise have to do if it were done manually.
Please make your own mind up about whichever plugin you use and not necessarily from these two. Do think very carefully about which one you choose because it will be your site’s best friend and if it’s a bad plugin, it can potentially prove to be your worst SEO enemy.
7. Category Descriptions
The category descriptions should not be ignored but rather utilize them as valuable extra steps to optimize a WordPress site. As a new category is created, try to spend at least a few minutes to think about what the category is mostly about and fill in its description field accordingly.
An informative category description not only helps you have rich content for search engines, it will also serve as a good source of information for your visitors. Categories play an important role especially if you have loads of them in the case if you were building a business portal using the Club NorCal Business Directory. Imagine you have over a thousand business categories and all of them get indexed by Google and other search engines.
8. Internal Linking
Using internal links around a website is a great way to inform Google and other search engines what your pages are about. When linking internally, do use a reasonable amount of them but not excessively as not to send those spider bots into an endless loop around your site.
A good way to use internal linking is to actually include what the page is about in the hyper link as in the example here had we been using internal linking to point to a page about the Smackwagon Design Membership Templates.
9. Speed Matters
Keeping your site fast-loading and quick to access and navigate around will certainly help your optimization efforts as slow sites are not very popular with visitors. Google also considers a slow site as bad user experience and will punish sites that are slow in the search results.
The WP Smush It plugin will reduce you image sizes and help the site’s speed. Another good way to speed up your WordPress site is to install a plugin like WP Super Cache which generates static html files from a dynamic WordPress site. After an html file has been generated the webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.
One more important tip to speed up your site is to check all the image sizes before uploading them with the ‘Media Library’. Do not upload any images that are of original dimension which are larger than they need to be on the website.
There is no reason to upload a 2000px wide image when the gallery stage is only 600px for example. Not only would this slow your site down, but it’s also wasting the hosting storage quota in case you are on a limited size hosting package. Also check that your image resolution is no more than 72dpi as that’s all it needs to be at for website display.
There are of course many other ways to speed up your WordPress site but these will certainly require a separate article to list some of the best ways.
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The purpose of having a website, I am sure you’ll agree is so that people can actually find you on the internet. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the way you help search engines find your site and serve it in the results to people entering keywords for whatever your site is about. With these Top 10 SEO tips your website’s ranking on search engines should improve with certain keywords which are crucial for driving more traffic to your site.
In this article we will cover the basic Top 10 SEO tips that will help your site do better when it comes to SEO as far as content and traffic are concerned. I have written this article in plain English so it can help as many people as possible without going into the small details that wouldn’t be of any good for somebody who is just trying to run a business and needs their site to do better.
1. Website Content
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Content is king’ when you are searching for any information about SEO on the net? It just happens that it’s an important strategy when it comes to any site that’s trying to do better in the search engine results. With the continuing trend in Google’s algorithms to look for original, original quality content, this should never be underestimated or ignored. Quality content does not mean good spelling or grammar either, it means content which is as informative to the visitor as possible.
The basic rule about writing high quality content is to always think of what the page you are creating is about and stay focused on the topic. Let’s say you are a hotelier and you are writing a page about one of your new services which your hotel will offer for example, a new online booking service. In this case you should stay as close to the topic of ‘online booking service’ as possible and concentrating your content on just that. Staying focused on the topic means, you do not start talking about how wonderful your hotel is and how it has wonderful views from the rooms in a thousand words and only mention the ‘online hotel booking service’ once or twice in content.
You can write about how this new online booking service to explain how it works, the benefits of using it to stay at your hotel and so on. You can of course briefly talk about what the guests will enjoy at your hotel when they book online and provide hyperlinks to pages which specifically talk about the hotel itself.
The above example and content writing tips can be applied to almost any other type of business or topic that your site is focusing on. Writing original quality content is not hard to do if you start with the right frame of mind which targets people not search engines. Always compile your content with a human reader in mind and never write to manipulate Google’s algorithms or signals because it simply doesn’t work any more, even when it did it didn’t work very well in your favour
Just think if your site contains low-quality content and just so happens to have made it to the 1st position in the Google search results. Visitors find it, click on the link in the results to visit it, they arrive to find nothing informative enough on your site or content that grabs them . The chances are, they will simply hit the back button and surf away from your site, never to return. What’s happened back there? for one thing you’ve lost a potential sale and will add another bounce to your site’s bounce rate.
In brief, always write good quality content that is written for a human to read and when writing, ask yourself, would you bookmark the page? does it contain what you were looking for? would you need to hit the back button to look for a better result. It’s hard work but once you start getting more sales or traffic, you will be glad you’ve spent the extra time on content writing.
2. Keywords & Keyphrases
When choosing the keywords for a particular page on your site, always do your research first. This means finding out what your competitors are appearing in the search results with and not what you think is the ‘magic’ keyword. The easy way to do this without spending money on software or using any online services is to run a search on Google itself. Once you have found the keyword/keyphrase that is mostly used, focus on it and include it in the content at least 3-4 times. You need to also include it in your page’s Meta title, Meta description and Meta keywords if you still want to use them.
3. Website Design
Any website design is crucial to SEO as it will determine how visitors will behave and feel like once they land on your site. A badly designed site that is cluttered, has a bad colour scheme and hard to navigate around is more likely to make the visitor hit the back button to get out of there as soon as possible. Good quality website design is also important when it comes to SEO as far as the size of the pages. Filling your site with none-optimized images and an excessive number of them will only make your site bring up red flags for the Google bot. As a rule, heavy and slow loading sites are considered to be a bad user experience when it comes to how Google views your website. With much of the emphasis being based on user experience when it comes to the Google’s algorithms, a badly designed site will do less better in the results.Here is a good free online tool called Pingdom which will help you analyze your site’s loading time and content.
Always think how a user would feel when they are made to wait a whole minute or close for your site to load and only to find they’ve been waiting for a cluttered site. Make your site’s navigation as simple and clear as possible. Avoid forcing the visitor to make an excessive amount of clicks to reach the information they were looking for in the first place. It’s fair to say that if you frustrate your visitors with navigation that’s intentionally designed to force them to pass by content they were not looking for, they will leave your site.
4. Text & Styling
Include the important keywords and keyphrases you are targeting as close as possible to the beginning of your articles and make them bold maybe two or three times. The use of heading tags is also important because they are a way that a search engine spider checks to see if your keyword is included in a page’s heading for example. This is how a search engine will verify the relevancy of what your title is about and if your keyword is included in the page’s Meta title, Meta description and in the h1 tag, it would consider your page as being a successful match and yield it in the results.There are of course other h tags which go down to h6 with the h1 being the most important and h6 the least important. It’s worth mentioning that when using the tags, use them on your content in the same order they come without skipping any. So if you have a heading and you’ve wrapped it in the h1 tag, your next use of the tags should be the h2 and so on. This is a sign that your page’s content is well structured and organized for the visitor.
Keep your site nice and uncluttered avoiding the use of too many colors and the point for this is that once the visitor comes to your site, you want them to feel like staying. The last thing you want is for a larger percentage of your visitors to hit the back button, this is bad news for your SEO. Sites with a high bounce rate will be considered as a bad result served in the search and will suffer when they are served less in the results. A badly designed site will basically loose you traffic.
The importance of good linking methods will prove invaluable when it comes to SEO and this means traffic. A site that has good hyperlinks that points its visitors to the correct page in the least number of links will keep the visitor for longer. Anchor links as they are also known as are great for SEO when you include your keyword in them too for example, ‘Book Limousine Online’ as the hyperlink which will take the visitor to your ‘Book Limousine Online’ page. Include hyper links of your most important pages somewhere on the frontpage of your site and preferably with the exact keyword as it appears elsewhere for example in the Meta title, Meta description and of course the content of that page you are linking to.
6. Tools & Analytics
Install Google Analytics to track how your site’s traffic is performing in the search results. This will help you optimize your site further if you are seeing keywords you had hoped to achieve better results with aren’t doing as well as you had hoped they would. Google Analytics will also help you find out a lot of information about how well your site’s keywords are being found and it will also give you some idea about what keywords people are finding you under.
Get yourself an account with Google Webmaster Tools which will help assess how your site is doing and help you to be informed of any trouble areas on the site. Having a Google Webmaster Tools account is also important for submitting sitemaps as you can analyze how Google is seeing your sitemap and you can also resubmit a sitemap for faster indexing after changes. Another great thing about having this account with Google is that let’s say your site is focused on serving the UK, you can actually tell Google that your site is mainly for people in the UK. The next time you run a search on google.uk for a keyword on your site, you will see the results are better than if you had searched for the same on google.com.
For more control over your SEO, I recommend you install the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin which is one of the best tools for helping you improve your SEO. The Yoast plugin will also allow you to test how your page will be assessed by Google and point you in the right direction of how to fix wrong things.
7. Social media
As social media sites are widely used by a huge number of people around the world, it’s crucial your business website has a profile on as many of them as possible. It’s not a must to have an account with every social media site out there but you could of course focus your efforts on the top 3 main players which are Facebook, Twitter and Google plus. By actively using these sites, not only will you be getting more traffic to your site through your online presence, you will also achieve better SEO results when it comes to the social signals.
8. Meta Tags
Meta Tags are important because they tell Google and other search engines what your site is about in a few short words or sentences. You have the Title and Description Meta tags which are the two important ones you should concentrate on. Try to place your keyword/phrase in both of those Meta tags as this will help your pages being found in the results. Be careful not to put the keyword in those tags when it’s not also included in your content, it will not work and may actually be harmful to your site’s ranking. The keywords Meta Tag is not considered to hold any value when it comes to Google but some search engines still use it and it wouldn’t do your site any harm if you do.
9. Video Content
Try to produce short, good quality and informative videos about your business products or services which would help drive you traffic back to your site. As you may have noticed, you will sometimes see some videos from Youtube in the Google search results. This will improve your SEO for sure as more people visit your site.
10. Engaging visitors
Once you have done all the SEO in the world to be found in the search results, what happens when a visitors comes to your site? When a person makes it to your site, is your content good enough to keep them engaged? Is your site offering them something they were looking for? Would they come back to your site?
The above may not sound much to do with SEO but it has a lot to do with it because good content is where we started at the top of this article. So once you get a visitor, do your best to offer them content that would engage them and make them stay longer on your site. Provide good quality content which can include, videos, a blog, a forum, competitions, surveys or basically anything that they would find interesting and informative or entertaining.
What’s to come?
In the coming articles we will cover more things in detail for example, how to effectively use Meta tags, how to use rich snippets, speeding your site for better SEO and many more aspects of search engine optimization.I hope you have found these Top 10 SEO tips useful. Please feel free to share any SEO tips of your own or those that you have found to work best for you.