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Search Engine Optimization for Wordpress

SEO or Search Engine Optimization has changed beyond recognition from the early noughties.

In Ye olden days - you simply shoved millions of keywords in the keyword meta tag to get oodles of traffic. Nowadays if you try any under hand techniques not only will they not work but the search engines (and when we talk about search engines - we mean Google) will actually ban your website.

Since the early days Google has consistently been tinkering with its algorithm and every time they give it a funky sounding name - some choice names that were used for updates were / are:

  • Panda
  • Penguin
  • Venice
  • Caffeine
  • Vince
  • Dewey
  • Buffy
  • Jagger
  • Bourbon
  • Florida (the biggest update that changed the face of SEO)

We used the word "are" because Google is still using Panda and Penguin by constantly tweaking them!

The good and bad thing about Wordpress is that there are lots of tools to use to make sure your page is well produced to get the best results it can possibly get in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). The bad thing is that it can take more time to create good quality pages - which is usually the case about anything in life.

Hence the reason why so many SEO companies have sprung up over the past 10 years. No doubt if you have a business that you've been running - you will have been approached several times from these companies already.

Okay so let's just focus on Wordpress sites for now as most sites tend to be created using this tool these days. This site is created using good old fashioned HTML - sites load faster using HTML as the server doesn't need to process the pages - but that is another story.

The first thing you should do assuming you are going to buy a Wordpress Theme is to buy one which is optimized for WordPress.

What this means is the Theme creator / author has used clean code to create the theme. Okay so assuming you've purchased or got a free Wordpress theme with clean code what can you do as best practice to give your website the best chances of being on the first page of Google

Speed is of the essence

One of the factors that Google likes are web pages which load quickly - if your webpages are loading slowly then take a look at how you can speed up your wordpress website.

Use Permalinks

When you first install Wordpress it uses the default settings - one of the very first things you should do is head to your settings and select Permalinks to give you something like the following image:

permalinks

A Permalink is the structure your URLs produce when you publish a new page or post. WordPress has a default setting for this, but you shouldn't use it.

So if you stuck with the default permalink which would make your pages look something like:

Bad Permalink: www.yoursite.com/?p=123

In the above screenshot you can see for our Funky Kitsch website we have used the post name permalink structure so we get pages like:

http://funkykitsch.co.uk/autumn-fabrics/

We decided to use this as opposed to the month day one as that one makes the URL longer and also introduces numbers which can make your site look old if you are linking to articles from 2008 for example. So using this structure makes it readable (understandable), short and SEO friendly as it contains keywords in the URL. If you create thousands of posts you might start having the same name - which is an impossibility as you cannot have 2 seperate pages with the same URL...that is the reason why a lot of people will also choose the month and day setting in order to make the URL's unique.

Content is King

As always after you have got round all the technical shenanigans and made everything present and correct on that battlefront - it is crucial that the content of your pages is of good quality.

So what is deemed in Google's eyes as good quality is the n next question you need to ask yourself?

Clearly unique content - something which isn't found anywhere else on the web - if we are talking about written articles - there is no point usually in copying and pasting articles you find elsewhere on the web in order to get high on the SERP's.

Creating written content is the best way to get more people to your site. Some of you will be saying that you only have products on your site...well if that is the case make sure that the products have as long a description as you can create. You can also create pages with unique reviews of the product, have instructions on how to use the product or/and different ways of using the product.

Also try to create articles in your blog (what you haven't got a blog?) that are related to the products you sell - but make sure they are readable, informative and interesting to real people - not just to the Google bots.

Add unique pictures or screenshots in your articles - by doing this people can easily share the page on sites like pinterest.

Videos are another way of getting your messages across which people can easily link to in YouTube.

Good Headings

Your most important headings should use H1 tags...these are the biggest so therefore most important.

The H1 tag should leave nothing to the imagination - it should tell you what the page is all about.

As you progress thrugh the page use H2 and H3 tags to make the content easy to read.

Optimize Your Photos and images

Did you know the images you use in your posts can be optimized for SEO?

When you add a picture to your post, you have these areas to add details about the photo/image:

  • Title
  • Caption
  • Alt
  • Description

The most important area you want to focus on is the Alt tag. Bots that crawl your web page don't actually see the photo that your human viewers do. However, they do see the Alt text that you enter. Therefore, be sure to write something that directly relates to the photo and post. Alt tags are also required for valid HTML.

Make sure any images you use are the correct size for the page - if you are going to make the image 300x300 pixels don't use a 2000x2000 sized image and use HTML code to make it smaller as the server will have to process the 2000x2000 image which will obviously take longer. Usually though in Wordpress whenever you upload an image to Wordpress it runs a process of optimizing the images for you - so thankfully most of the time you don't have to worry about this once you have set this up within your Wordpress theme settings.

Use Links and Anchor Text Correctly

Whenever you add a link to your well crafted articles - make sure you do it right - we already have a comprehensive article on weblinks.

Keywords

It's really important when selecting keywords or phrases that you use keywords or phrases that people are generally looking for - but make sure you don't over stuff your articles with too many - it is then clear that you are using this as a technique purely to get traffic for these keywords and or phrases. You will get penalised for keyword stuffing - so don't do it. As a general rule don't put more than 5% of your page full of the same keyword.

Remember your content should read easily - don't just create for the bots.

Google Webmaster Tools

You should add your site in the Google webmaster tools - this equates to having your sites pages being listed in a google sitemap.

Using Wordpress plugins

Before you go crazy and download,install and activate a gazillion plugins - remember that these also slow your website down...so only use the ones that are going to make a real difference to your Wordpress website.

We suggest that you use the following plugins

Wordpress SEO

Tthis will help guide you with each of your pages - the downside is - you have lots to fill in for each page if you are going to do it religiously.

wordpress by yoast

If you are serious about your Wordpress website and have the time to properly use this tool then it is a must. You can see by the page analysis there is fantastic information it gives you about your well crafted pages:

As well as helping you create the individual pages of your site and getting them all optimised it will also help create an XML sitemap which you can link too in your Google webmaster tools.

WP-Optimize

This will clean up your database so that your Wordpress site runs faster.

Caching Plugins

There are loads to choose from - These plugins can help speed up your website by creating the pages in advance rather than on the fly by your server.

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