For a site to be effective in the search engines, you want to make sure you’ve got all the basics covered, starting with the on-site changes and then moving to the off-page parts of SEO. I’m going to show you 5 steps to creating a rock-solid SEO platform for your WordPress site to grow on.
Permalinks & Title Tags
3 of the most important elements for your site structure are:
– Title tag
– Meta description
The <title> attribute is your best chance to tell Google what your site is about. You will find some title’s like “Home” on a website. That is horrible because it says nothing about who you are or what you do.
Think about ‘Home’ or ‘Welcome’ versus this title in Google: ‘Cincinnati SEO Company ABC | SEO, PPC, Email Marketing Services’
Sure, it’s a little bit longer, and might get cut off at the end, but in general you are helping your visitors AND the search engines understand more about you and your content so they can best serve it to people who are searching.
By default wordpress uses IDs to create the URLs of your site, and they aren’t very people friendly.
Bad : yoursite.com/?p=24
Good : yoursite.com/locations/chicago
Meta description is the snippet of text you see under the listing. Sometimes it’s very short or very obscure.
The meta description area is your last chance to entice the visitor to click on your website and select it over all the rest on the page. You can put in reputation words like ‘voted best X’ or offer a deal ‘Offering 50% off on all X’.
You only have a few sentences before it gets chopped off, so be as succinct and clear as possible.
You can see a real word examples of good vs bad Title, URL and Meta Description below for the keyword ‘hiking trail’
Bad example Title tag for SERP:
Bad example URL for SERP:
Good URL, Title and Meta Description for SERP:
The WordPress SEO plugin can help you easily change each of these 3 issues in no time. More on the plugin in step 2.
Once you are set up with good titles and descriptions, you need Google to find and index all your content so it can show it to visitors in the search engine results page (SERP).
We’re going to make sure you have a good robot.txt file and an XML sitemap.
Some of your pages might not have links to them or might be very deep inside your site and the crawlers might not read their content very often.
Joost de Valk, who goes by Yoast, has a great SEO plugin for wordpress called, ironically, ‘WordPress SEO’.
This plugin will help you manage the elements discussed in Step 1 as well as your XML sitemap and robots.txt file.
Robots.txt defines what the search engine spiders can crawl on your website and what they can’t. If they can’t crawl it and read it, technically it shouldn’t show up in the SERPs. Sometimes you don’t want certain things showing up — but you also want to make sure that the stuff you do want to show up, does.
Inside the Indexation area of Joost’s plugin you can select if you want things like your categories and tags archives to be allowed or disallowed. You want to avoid having duplicate content on your website and confusing Google as to which page should rank and which shouldn’t.
WordPress has ways of creating multiple links to the same content and you want to avoid indexing those pages where ever you can.
XML sitemaps is a list of every page on your website in one file that the spiders can read to discover your content more easily. Again, the WordPress SEO plugin will create this for you and automatically add new pages that you create to the file.
Basic Link Opportunities
Once you’re done your on-page optimizations, you need to work on off-page optimization, AKA links.
Links are the basic element of SEO. It can get very complicated once you grow and want to rank for difficult keywords, because not all links are equal.
For example, if your competitor has 50 links and you have 51, that doesn’t mean you will rank higher. However, I’ve never seen someone rank well with 0 links, so they absolutely are vital to success.
Here are some places to start with that you can get links from :
– Good directories, like DMOZ, Yahoo! Directory and business/niche directories.
There are thousands out there and most are garbage. Make sure that by adding your site it would help a real person out by having you in there, not just to try and get some SEO value from it. You want to stay away from spam/crap sites that could hurt your profile.
– Business partners (suppliers, distributors, etc) – ask that they put a link to your site showing that they work with you
– Social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and more will let you create a profile with a link. Sometimes they are nofollow (so you won’t get much SEO benefit) but they get crawled a lot and it will help to discover your content.
– Submit a piece of content to high quality article directories, How-to websites and do a press release. You will be able to define the anchor text linking back to your site which will help you target your keywords.
– Add valuable comments on blogs in your industry/nich that you can contribute to.
Most likely you’ll drive traffic as well, as many people like to read the comments and will click on people they find useful or interesting. Many blogs make their links nofollow, but not all. So you will get some SEO benefit from this. However, do not hire an outsourced firm to write thousands of low-quality comments on blogs like great post! to try and get higher search results.. it doesn’t work.
If you have a local business you can get your company listed in local directories for your city and in sites like Angieslist, YellowPages. Do a search for businesses like yours in your area and find the sites that they already have profiles in.
So say you do all of this work.. how do you know if it did anything? By the traffic and (hopefully) sales of course!
Here are 2 tools we’ll use to monitor traffic and other analytics for the site.
Google Webmaster Tools
Both are free and work really well. They can get complicated, but the basic functionality is easy to understand.
To set up Google Analytics first you’ll need to create an account on the site – google.com/analytics then you can install another plugin by Yoast called Google Analytics for WordPress which makes configuring your site very easy. You’ll just select the profile you created on google.com/analytics from a dropdown inside your wordpress dashboard, and you’re done!
Then you’ll be able to see how much traffic you’re getting, which keywords are sending you traffic and where those people are coming from.
After you’ve set up GA, you’ll want to set up WMT (Google Webmaster Tools).
Google Webmaster Tools is a site that allows you to manage other aspects of your site.
Here is where you can tell Google where your XML sitemaps file is that you created earlier so it can better find your content.
Also you be able to tell it if your site is tarted to a specific language or region and things like if you prefer the www version of your site to be shown or the non-www (example.com or www.example.com) by the way, those are NOT the same thing!
You can spend a lot of time learning these tools to get more value out of them, and I recommend you do.
Using these 5 tactics you will be off to a great start. SEO is a very long term process — the harder the niche & keywords, the longer and harder it will be to rank, but you will get there eventually. Don’t give up!
Focus on putting out great content and be in it for the long haul.