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:
”http://www.examplecomputershop.com/laptop-repair-shop-hounslow” than to have something looking like this ”http://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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