SEO For WordPress
A Backgrounder on SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It’s an all-encompassing term, and quite honestly, a very big and vast field. However, in a nutshell, SEO refers to the process of optimizing a website with the aim or purpose of getting ‘organic’ or free traffic on it through search engines, such as Google, to name one.
WordPress and SEO
While WordPress is an excellent Content Management System (CMS) particularly in terms of being SEO-friendly, it is still very important to optimize WordPress-powered websites and blogs for search engine traffic, organic visitors, improving on-page metrics such as conversion rates and CTR’s as well as improving the overall user experience.
In my experience, WordPress is easily one of the most search engine-friendly website-creation platforms. Statistics show that WordPress-powered websites tend to do better than their competitors when it comes to search engine rankings (SERP or Search Engine Rankings Page) and the ability to get organic traffic.
Having said that, SEO on WordPress isn’t something that will happen itself. While SEO For WordPress is said to be set-up just perfectly for SEO and rankings right out-of-the-box, it is, at the end of the day, merely a tool that facilitates the process or makes it easier for website owners and developers to optimize and rank their websites.
How exactly can WordPress website owners can go about optimizing their websites or blogs is precisely what we’re going to be looking at in this post. I will only touch upon the basics here but watch this space for detailed posts on each of the points mentioned in this post.
How to Optimize WordPress Websites for SEO
Briefly speaking, here are some of the important and essential things to consider (in no particular order) when it comes to optimizing WordPress websites and blogs for Google, Bing as well as other search engines:
1. Fresh, Quality Content
If there’s one thing Google and other search engines love, it’s fresh, high-quality content! You may have heard the phrase ‘Content is King,’ and let me tell you that it’s every bit as true as people say it is! If you’re consistently and regularly updating your website with high-quality, relevant, fresh, uncopied content – content that is actually valuable to your target market.
2. Meta Information
Meta information refers to the meta titles, meta tags (more or less redundant now), and meta descriptions. These are the snippets of information that you see on a search engine results page. These can be easily configured using WordPress SEO plugins such as Yoast SEO.
Keywords are important, as they let search engines know which terms, phrases, or keywords are valuable or important to you, and ones they should rank your website for. The process of keyword optimization is a three-part process:
1.Identifying essential keywords – or those which are relevant and valuable to your website, your brand, and/or your business. These are keywords that you want to rank for in search engines.
2.Prioritizing keywords in terms of importance.
3.Incorporating these keywords in different parts of your website – such as the copy (content), tags, categories, pages, ALT attribute of images, as well as other places on your website as naturally as possible.
Caution should be exercised when it comes to keyword over-optimization though, particularly refraining from a practice known as keyword stuffing.
Navigation remains an important and essential part of WordPress SEO. Your website should ideally be well-structured in terms of navigation – it should be easy to browse and navigate through, and it should be split into different parts (ideally through the use of different pages or categories), each with their own set of valuable keywords, but incorporating the primary keyword(s) as well. Not only does this help rank the website better, a properly-structured and set-up website also provides users with a better experience.
Typically refers to:
- Internal links: links pointing towards other parts of your website, such as other posts or pages.
- External links: links pointing towards other websites on the internet.
There’s a list of do’s and don’ts and best-practices to follow when it comes to links, which we will touch upon in detail.
6. Images and Media
Believe it or not, media on your website, such as images (in particular) and videos need to be optimized for search engines as well. This is essential in order to be able to get traffic through the likes of Google Image Search, for instance, as well as for the convenience of human visitors. Search engines cannot ‘see’ images like a human can, for obvious reasons.
Therefore to rank an image, you need to tell search engines what to rank it for. This is accomplished through the use of the ALT attribute, which can easily be edited in WordPress but clicking the image. Search engines will then be able to rank the image properly. In addition, adding captions and descriptions to each image (and incorporating important keywords in each of these fields) is also advisable for SEO for wordpress.
7. Tags, Pages, and Categories
WordPress allows users to easily set up pages and categories, as well as add and manage tags through the WordPress Dashboard. You can add names, slugs, and descriptions for each of these, and it is highly recommended to add valuable keywords to the text in these fields here.
8. Social Integration
Search engines, especially Google, love social authority. If you’re getting traffic from social mediums and social networking websites such as Facebook, Google+ (obviously), Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and co, Google will see this as a sign of your authority, and as a result rank you better.
This is one of the reasons why social media has become too popular. It is a free medium that people are using to build backlinks, get the word out, and get more traffic on their websites and blogs. And the more the traffic, the better your SERP rankings will be!
9. Optimizing for Mobile Traffic
Mobile traffic is on the up, as more and more people are accessing the internet, as well as content and information online through cellphones, tablet PCs, iPhones, and iPads. It is therefore essential to optimize your WordPress-powered website for mobile traffic.
We have spoken about responsive themes on this blog numerous times (for instance in this post on Things to Consider when Choosing a WordPress Theme for Your Website), and using such themes for your website is just one way to make sure that it is optimized and run smoothly.
10. Misc Stuff
Includes, but is not limited to things like:
- Setting up Permalinks
- Submitting XML sitemaps
- Google+ Authorship
- Comment management
Adherence to Google’s Policies/Following Best Practices
SEO is terrific… so long as safe SEO is practiced. Google has already drawn the line and defined the limits of what’s safe and what isn’t as far as SEO is concerned. But Google also makes it a habit to change the limits at whim. Things such as over-optimization and Google’s periodic algorithm updates in particular remain a concern.
One should also be able to differentiate between white-hat (legit) and black-hat (illegal) SEO practices.
As long as you follow the widely-accepted best-practices, you should be alright.
This post was merely written to serve as an introduction to WordPress SEO – a checklist of things to consider when it comes to optimizing your WordPress website. I plan on doing detailed posts on each of these points, picking each up, dissecting them, and speaking about the best-practices involved in each on this blog, so watch this space.