SEO Tips for WordPress Beginners
You’ve picked out a domain name. You’ve written up a content plan. You’ve tweeted up a frenzy about your new WordPress site, but you’re still not getting the traffic your content deserves. If this is you, then it’s likely that your site’s SEO is not up to scratch.
SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ and essentially determines the point at which your website appears on search pages such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. A high search ranking is seen as a mark of approval by most web-users. Generally, the higher a site appears in a list of search results, the more people are likely to visit it.
You don’t have to go it alone into the world of SEO. There are plenty of WordPress-ready plugins available and ready to use that will make the whole process a lot more accessible. Two that we’d recommend would be AllinoneSEO and Yoast, but there are plenty more to explore beyond that, depending on your needs and price point.
Above all, content is the best SEO you can ask for. If you’re producing high quality, relevant and regular content then your rank will rise. Never think that you can compensate for mediocre content with amazing technical SEO. Put your content first and the clicks will follow.
If your website is new, decide now what you want your keywords to be and make sure that they appear regularly throughout your site. You want them to appear in your titles, URLs and within your content headers/text as well. Do beware of keyword stuffing though; this is bad practice and can get you a penalty as well as reducing the quality of your content. Aim for a keyword density of around 2% maximum and mix it up with similar phrases.
If your website has been established for some time now, it’s a good idea to check what the key search terms are that bring people to your site. If they appear to be relevant to what you’re writing about, just adopt those keywords. If, however, you’re getting visits from search terms that are completely unrelated to your topic, consider changing your content so that it attracts the visitors you do want.
To put this in context, consider this example: A carpenter wants to advertise their business so they build a website. However, in the blog section of the website all they do is write about the materials they use. Their posts will then attract other carpenters and enthusiasts because their keywords are for the materials, rather than the product itself.
Most SEO plugins will make it possible for you to make individual modifications to your blog posts to improve your SEO. The primary modification you may want to make will be your post’s SEO title. SEO titles follow quite a rigid structure, often looking something like this:
Keyword – Enticement – Brand
Put simply, you should always place your keyword at the beginning of the title for optimum SEO. The middle should then serve to entice the reader, encouraging them to click on the link. Finally, you should place your brand at the end, this ensures that people will notice when your website comes up in different searches and begin to identify you as a producer of quality content. So, for example, here’s how you might lay out this blog post for SEO:
SEO Tips For WordPress – Getting Started – My Social Agency
Your individual posts also feature ‘meta descriptions’. These essentially make up the little snippet of information seen under a page title when it shows up in a search engine.
Some SEO plugins may auto-fill the meta description with the first paragraph of a blog post. You want to avoid that as much as possible. First paragraphs are often introductory and won’t tell people much about the content itself. Instead you should ideally handwrite the meta description for all of your content, to not only include your keywords, but also provide a good idea of what the page is discussing.
Headers and sub headers
Headers help the search engines with their indexing by giving a better idea of what’s going on in an article. WordPress makes it very easy for you to label your sub headers and therefore point them out to the search engine crawl to show that they’re important. These sub headers should include keywords, just like your post title, but make sure they’re varied as well. What’s great about sub headers is that as well as influencing SEO, they also improve readability, so you have double the reason to make sure they’re present in all your posts.
SEO is not just about your website. It’s also about your relationship with other websites on the same topic. If you can associate your website with the work of other websites in similar areas, you’re more likely to be indexed higher in search results. This can feel unusual to some people, as if they’re linking to their competitors, but it does much less harm than good.
By linking to related, popular websites that are seen as an authority in your area, you tar yourself with that same brush. So again, if you’re a carpenter, you may not want to link to someone who’s in direct competition to you, but if there’s a great resource or shop that people respect and visit often, it’s a good idea to work a link to their site into your own.
Also feel free to link between your own pages. Don’t go crazy, but if you write about something that nicely ties in with a previous post, it’s a good idea to link them together and create a relationship for the search engines to find.
Something that’s often overlooked is the XML sitemap. The sitemap makes it much easier for search engines to index your site, and if you want decent SEO this shouldn’t be overlooked. There are a lot of plugins that offer to set up an XML sitemap for you, but the aforementioned AllinoneSEO has site mapping included in it’s free offering, so we recommend using that.
SEO Never Sleeps
SEO is a fascinating and constantly changing field, and as a website owner you need to make sure that you’re always on top of it. Sometimes the changes might be minute, sometimes they can be massive, but if you manage to stay on top of these changes, then you’re in a much better position to see your website shoot up the search rankings and reap the benefits of a larger readership.
Of course, if you have the budget, then it’s always best to invest in professional services to get the optimum benefits from SEO. As well as being a constantly evolving field, it can also get very complex, but these tips should get you off to a flying start if you are developing a personal blog or small business site.