SEO and your WordPress Website
When we are tasked with building a new website or redesigning an old one, a common question we receive is, “What about SEO?” SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is very much an all-encompassing, umbrella term for what is going to make your website appear as high as possible in search engine results (mostly, Google).
A site built using WordPress has an inherent advantage due to the platforms popularity and SEO friendly structure, those sites tend to rank higher in search engine results. However, to make your site climb even higher, here are some tips and techniques we have found and implemented on the sites we’ve built over the years.
DISCLAIMER: None of these things is guaranteed to get your site on the first page of Google. There are many, ever changing factors that go into how Google ranks their results. If someone guarantees they can get you into the top 3 or on the first page, run fast and run far.
Install Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that allows you to manage the bare essentials of good search engine optimization practices, such as page titles, meta descriptions, and keywords. Google has certain parameters for these items and Yoast allows you to easily make sure your website is adhering to them. Yoast will direct you to have the correct character length and will point out if a focus keyword is included. A focus keyword is exactly what it sounds like; if there is a particular word or phrase that the page highlights, then that keyword should appear in the content, title and description.
Use Google’s tools – they’re free!
Google has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to productivity tools, both for personal and business use. You probably find it difficult to go a day (or in some of our cases, a couple of hours) without using Google Search, Maps, or YouTube, not to mention Gmail, Calendar, Chrome, or any Android device. In the digital business world, the following tools are the most helpful for getting a leg up on improving your SEO:
This allows you to track your website traffic. It displays how many visitors you receive, how they found you, how long they stayed on the site, and how often they clicked on certain things. This is a very robust tool with a plethora of options for customizing your data.
This allows you to dive into the world of paid advertising. PPC (pay-per-click), gives you a prominent placement on Google’s first page of search results by evaluating the quality of your ad copy, amount of your bid, and quality of your designated landing page. This tool also gives many options for tracking and customization.
Webmaster Tools/Search Console
Once your site is launched, this tool gives you the capability to submit a sitemap to Google to tell them exactly which pages should be indexed by the search engine crawlers. This is very valuable when switching website platforms because as your page URLs change, those links may no longer work and could drop your site in the rankings.
This is part of the Google My Business platform, as well as Google+. As a consumer, you have the ability to leave reviews for businesses you’ve visited and give a 1-5 star rating. As a business, you can receive reviews from your customers and respond. Asking for reviews from your customers is the first step, and while the possibility of a bad review is out there, how you respond can often make you look even better when all is said and done.
Competitive Analysis tool
While your website content and activity is obviously the most important aspect for improving your SEO, it never hurts to take a look at the competitive landscape around you. Chances are, you have a competing business somewhere very close to you, and it is possible they rank above you in a Google search. How can you tell? Try one of these:
SEM Rush or SpyFu
SEM Rush and SpyFu, these services allow you to research and download lists of keywords. Find out which keywords you are being found with as well as which keywords your competitors are being found but you are not. Knowing these keywords opens up a multitude of new opportunities for content writing, paid advertising, and social media engagement!
Alexa (no, not that one!) provides a world website ranking, which is a fun tool to see where certain sites rank. In a more practical business application, it allows you to compare your traffic estimations with those of your competitors. It also provides audience demographics, which helps determine your target market (or whether you’re hitting said target) and can help generate content ideas.
One very important yet extremely overlooked aspect of SEO is how your business is listed across the internet. Google’s algorithm is constantly changing, but one thing that never goes out of style is a company’s NAPU Name, Address, Phone number, and URL. Consistency (and correctness) of these items provides a solid base for your website ranking, and then as you continue to generate content, your ranking will climb from there.
Be social and generate content!
Many people are social butterflies when it comes to their personal lives, but then clam up when it comes time to talk about their business online. Social media and blogging shows the personality of a business, and lets you reach customers on a human level. This is particularly important for small businesses, as one wants to reach potential customers by any means necessary.
These two handy tools allow you to post to multiple social media networks at one time. Save time by not having to open Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ individually to share an update. Buffer allows you to link five profiles and Hootsuite allows you to link three for free. For a small monthly fee, both will allow 10 profiles and unlimited posts.
Be a resource, share your knowledge
The best way to be found under a certain search term is to generate content that contains that word or phrase. It’s awfully hard to be found in a search for a keyword when it doesn’t appear anywhere on your site! Blogging is a great way to accomplish this quickly and easily, with the added benefit of offering your expertise to potential customers. When they see that you are knowledgeable and can answer their questions, the chances for a conversion in your favor go way up. Share your blog posts on your social media channels and you won’t have to worry about what to post that day!
Again, these things are not guaranteed to get your website to appear on the first page of Google, but working in concert, they give you the best chance to get there.