In day 7 of 7 days of WordPress we look at the topic of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). We cover some details on what SEO is, and how to get started with SEO for your new site so you can be found via search engines such as Google.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically its the process of structuring your content so that you can rank well with search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) to get FREE organic traffic to your site. Sounds good right? It is. Many users create a site, and it never gets found because they ignore to do the basics of SEO.
Thankfully WordPress is one of the best platforms, if not the easiest platform available to easily implement an SEO strategy. SEO doesn’t just help you create better sites for search bots, it also helps you think more about user experience and allows you to create a better structured site. Check out the next section to learn the basics of WordPress SEO.
The Basics of WordPress SEO
In the following section we cover the basic fundamentals of SEO for your WordPress site.
WordPress has the option to hide your site from search engines. On occasions this may be turned on by accident. If your site isn’t being indexed, the first thing you’ll want to check is the visibility settings.
Go to the WordPress admin area, then go to Settings > Reading, and for Search Engine Visibility, make sure the box in unticked.
SEO Friendly URL’s
Having SEO friendly URL’s is important, it allows you to have descriptive URL structures that are human and easily understandable.
Thankfully WordPress makes this job easy, to set your URL’s up correctly, go to Settings > Permalinks, and then choose “Post Name”:
This will change your pages and posts from simple ID’s to readable URL’s.
Image optimization is very important for the web. It helps search engines find your images by relevant keywords, as well as keeps your website loading fast. You should consider the following items when optimizing images for web:
- Giving your images a descriptive and relevant file name and description
- Image View Size – make sure to size the image according to its use, don’t use 2000px wide images for featured images that will be displayed at 300px wide.
- Image File Size in KB – image size in terms of memory is very important, make sure that your images are optimized and saved for web. You can read more on how to optimize your images for web here.
- Alt and Title Text – Make sure the alt text includes your SEO keyword and relates to / describes the images. This can be done after image upload to the media library. Whilst it takes some time, it is important and can really make your SEO stronger.
If you would like to learn more about image optimization for SEO and the web, check out the following articles:
Content is king, or at least that’s what we’re told. Optimized content is king. If you want to rank highly in Google you’ll want to create quality content that your users actually want to read. It should bring value to them. Check out our article on how to blog like a pro.
There are also some technical elements that are very important when structuring your content for SEO, these are:
- Using descriptive page and post titles. If the user clicks your link, will they find what they are after and what you promised them through your title?
- Use your target focus keyword in the first and last paragraph of blog posts. The focus keyword (or search term) is the sentence or word you think users are Googling to find your content. For example it could be “best photography gear”. Remember the keyword should relate to the content of that page or post. And you shouldn’t be using the same target focus keyword on all your pages and posts.
- Don’t over use your focus keywords within your post. Keyword density should be between 2-3% within the post and don’t stuff keywords (i.e. adding too many keywords without thought).
- Using the correct page or post structure – use the built in options from WordPress to structure pages and posts using relevant heading tags, and creating a structure that makes sense. It is recommended to use an H2 and H3 title tag at least once within the post (if relevant). These are known as semantic tags, which make it easier for Google to understand page and post structure. Learn more about heading tags from the WordPress Codex.
- Interlink the content. The great example of Interlinking is Wikipedia. Most good theme providers will offer ways to interlink content. For example with Flothemes we offer the option to include related posts, add pagination and create various call to actions on all pages and posts.
Yoast SEO Plugin
With WordPress SEO optimization can be made very easy when using plug-ins. We recommend using Yoast SEO, it provides a simple user interface, with extensive documentation available online on how to use the plug-in.
We highly recommend using Yoast to enhance your site’s SEO.
We’ve created a handy guide on how you can use Yoast SEO plugin to optimize your WordPress content. To summarize it, make sure to add proper title tags, meta descriptions and focus keywords as those will be important for Google when understanding your content.
Improving Site Speed
Page speed is one of the factors that Google takes into consideration when ranking a site. A faster loading site leads to better user experience and therefore it increases your chances of being found by search engines. Whilst that is a focus on SEO, loading times also effect user engagement and accessibility, so making sure that you have the best hosting provider to load your site is vital, especially if you have a large mobile audience. Also of key importance is image optimization, that we’ve already mentioned above.
You can view our article on page speed optimization here. If you need more help with optimizing your site speed, and would rather have a professional team do it for you, check out our Site Speed Optimization services here.
User Optimization and Backlinks
Making it easy for your users to share your posts, and follow your articles can be an important way of getting user interaction. It also increases your chances of users sharing your articles. When they share your articles they are effectively creating backlinks, i.e. external links back into your site, increasing site traffic and popularity.
Use SSL for your Site
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a way to encrypt all data that is being shared between a user and your site. Google has indicated that they will be giving preference to people with SSL connections. When SSL is enabled on your site, your domain with them becomes HTTPS, and you’ll get a green lock showing in your address bar, making your website more trust worthy.
Not sure how to implement an SSL, check out our SSL implementation service where we can help you get your site secured with SSL.
Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools
Creating a good SEO strategy is one thing, tracking the results is another. You’ll want to make sure to sign up for tools such as Google Analytics and Google Webmaster to really understand how your content is performing.
Learn how to sign up to Google Analytics here.
Learn how to sign up to Google Webmaster tools (Search Console) here.
You can add your Google Analytics tracking code to your site via a plugin, or it can be directly added via your theme settings. Popular plugins include:
Google Analytics for WordPress
Insert Headers and Footers – with this plugin, make sure to add it to the header section for all pages.
Once added you’ll start to see results being tracked via Google Analytics and with some data you’ll be able to make better decisions about how to improve your site and content.
Day 7 covers a quick overview of SEO optimization, however as previously mentioned, the above list is not exhaustible and you as a user should take some time to consider the best methods of SEO optimization for your site.
Below you will see a list of resources that we recommend, some of the guides are very extensive and will give you a greater understanding of how to maximize your SEO potential.
Resources for SEO
Interested in learning more about SEO? Check out some handy guides below.