Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for WordPress
WordPress by itself does a pretty good job of SEO but to make it even better – follow the practices below to the best of your ability or as it makes sense.
Not all suggestions will work for all sites.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and User Experience don’t always want the same thing. When it comes to a decision on SEO vs. User Experience – always side with a positive User Experience. The traffic doesn’t mean anything if the user is taken to a page that doesn’t help them out. A lot of times this shows up when trying to increase keyword frequency in a page if the keyword is a longer tail key phrase made up of 3-5 words.
Install Google Analytics and set up monthly overview reports to be sent to you via email (no need to login – get monthly reports of traffic, etc). If SEO is important to your business – you will want to monitor this.
Signup for Google Webmaster Tools and authenticate the site – Webmaster Tools is a great diagnostic tool from Google that will alert you of any potential issues with the search engines like crawl errors, excessive 404 errors, etc.
Register with Bing’s webmaster tools as well but doesn’t worry about spending much time there – we just want them to know you are there.
Add the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast – Hands down the best SEO plugin we’ve used on WordPress in a handful of years.
When working with the Yoast plugin – your SEO is scored on a page/post basis using traffic signals, red, yellow and green lights. Aim for mostly green with a few yellow (some pages just really can’t be optimized like contact pages, directions pages, etc)
Make sure the architecture of the site and the site structure tags are used properly. Some themes will put H1 tags on the logo, rather we want H1 tags to be used on the actual page titles, H2’s and H3’s to follow in order of importance. Anything beyond H3 probably won’t be necessary – adding this much content on one page will negatively impact user experience.
For page titles, descriptions, headlines, etc. Make sure you use keywords and try to get them “up and to the left” – meaning up higher on the page and closer to the left side of the page (beginning of a headline instead of at the end)
Unless you are a national brand – Do not let the title of your site be your company name – many times people aren’t looking for your company name (if they are they already know about you) – many times they are typing in keywords related to a problem they are currently experiencing.
Not Great: “ABC Plumbing – Commercial and Residential Plumbing”
Better: “Commercial Plumbing Repair and Residential Plumbing Repair by ABC Plumbing”
We still get the name in there for branding but the most important element of the title is now “Commercial Plumbing Repair” and “Residential Plumbing Repair” which are more likely the keywords that people will search on.
Make sure images are optimized for display on the web – proper resolution and proper size. Page speed is one of the things that the Search Engines look at in terms of ranking. To check your page speed go here => http://www.webpagetest.org
Add “ALT” tags to images and make sure you include the keywords for that specific page in the ALT tag
When creating categories for your blog posts (even if they are used to display non-blog data) use keywords as categories or subcategories if possible
For pages and posts – add social media sharing options where appropriate. For example: on a blog post that you wrote – great place for a social sharing button, on your “Terms & Conditions” page – not so much.
Add testimonials wherever possible to increase social proof. Text based testimonials are good, Text testimonials with a headshot are better, video testimonials are the best.
Encourage clients to leave reviews for you on apps like: Yelp, Google, Angies List, whatever. Yelp and Google seem to get the most play in Google Search Results.
Anytime you are posting content on sites other that you own website (Facebook, twitter, you tube, guest blog posts, etc) – keep the keywords rules in mind – USE THEM, keep them at the front of headlines, use them in descriptions, etc. You never know when and how this information will get indexed.
Shareability is a huge factor in search engine optimization (SEO). The best way to increase shareability is to put in a little extra effort and create really great content that people will want to share. If you ask often enough – people will share your stuff as a favor. We want the content to be so good that we don’t need to ask.
Contrary to popular belief – Backlinks are still good to have and will positively affect your SEO. Whether it’s PR, guest posts, news stories about you, etc – Make sure all of this exposure includes a link to your website.
Claim local listings on sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook and keep the updated. You can use a service like Yext or Moz Local to keep them all updated and in sync easily.
Make sure your website is mobile friendly. It can be a mobile app, a standalone mobile site or a responsive design but more and more traffic is coming from mobile sources (phones, tablets, etc) so a good site is one that can offer a positive user experience regardless of device.
Now it’s Your turn! Use the comments box below and let me know about your favorite SEO tip.