Our friends at MarketGoo have some useful tips to share on optimizing WordPress for search engines. Here, Larissa Murillo lays out the basics for understanding WordPress and its powerful SEO capabilities.
This year, one of your goals might be to work more on your website and increase your site’s traffic and rankings on search engines. One of the best ways to do this is through SEO — this article will go into detail on some super essential WordPress SEO tips to help your content rank better on search engines.
WordPress SEO: Getting Started
If you’re not very familiar with search engine optimization (SEO for short), that’s ok. It might take a while to get the hang of it, but once you do, you’ll find that it all makes sense and is not very hard to keep up with.
To get started, let’s not get too complicated and focus on three things: auditing your site, installing a plugin, and taking note of best practices.
Start by Auditing Your WordPress Site
If you don’t have the budget to hire someone to do an SEO audit for you, you can use a mix of free tools to get the job done. We like these particular ones:
Website Grader – Hubspot has this basic tool that gives you a general overview of what you’re doing well on your site from a marketing perspective.
monitorbacklinks.com – This tool tells you which sites are linking to you and how good the links are, among other things. Use this tool to check out your competitors’ links and see which ones you’d like to obtain for yourself. (If your site is new or you haven’t really worked on it nor generated content, it’s likely you will have none or very few sites linking to you.)
MarketGoo – Get a free website report for details on how your website is doing in SEO-important areas such as mobile, links, traffic received, etc. You can also get a free trial of the full-feature version and access to detailed recommendations for improvement generated specifically for your website.
Pick a Plugin
Now that you have an idea of what exactly you have to start working on, it’s time to install a plugin! Luckily you’re on WordPress which means you can find a plugin for practically anything, and SEO is no exception. There are two main SEO plugins for WordPress sites: Yoast and All In One SEO Pack.
They both offer exceptional functionality and are easy to use, so it comes down to personal preference. Once you’ve decided on which one you’d like to install, go to “Add New Plugin” from your WordPress site’s dashboard and search for it there.
You will have to activate it and set it up which might be a little time consuming to figure out how to use either plugin. An introduction to Yoast is here (along with advanced tips) and first steps for the All in One are here.
A good beginner tip is to familiarize yourself with the concept of a focus keyword. This is the keyword or key phrase you want that specific page or blog post on your site to rank for (so when people search for that word or phrase, they find you).
The Big Picture: WordPress SEO Best Practices
Once you have an SEO plugin, it can be tempting to think you’ve got everything taken care of. SEO isn’t something you just ‘install’ and then forget about. It’s an ongoing process that you should consider part of your website marketing efforts.
While plugins are great for helping you optimize your page and blog posts, it’s only one component of the bigger picture. Aside from technical SEO, you have to consistently create quality content and actively promote it, make sure your site is optimized for mobile, and focus on getting quality sites to link back to you. Luckily, WordPress is quite search engine friendly from the get-go, and by following these best practices, you will make sure you’re on the right track.
Images are one way you can take advantage of people searching for your keywords. Take a look at this WP Engine video on how to make sure your images are helping your website get more traffic.
Length of your content
Make sure your articles have no less than 300 words. While research has shown that longer content seems to perform better in terms of traffic and engagement, the most important thing is for it to be useful and relevant. Don’t make it long just because you think it has to be long.
Link to your other content
If you are continuously creating content, by linking to your other posts you are further cementing your expertise and encouraging readers to stay on your site and stay engaged.
While you don’t have to create a brand page on every single social platform out there, odds are you will at least be active on one (the one that is most frequented by your target audience). Make sure you not only engage with followers through social media but also share your site’s content frequently and comment on industry and customer content as well. Check out some of these social media plugins to help you do this more efficiently.
Frequency of your Content
While there are no set rules, the more you post content, the more visits you will get. Aim for at least four posts a month and see how gradually your traffic increases.
When you write your content, make use of headers such as H2 instead of just making the headlines and paragraph subtitles. Sub-headers also help to break content up, making your content more readable and user-friendly.
Keeping your site secure can also have SEO benefits, and is a change which doesn’t call for a lot of time or resources on your end but will make a definite difference. Check out more information about why it’s necessary here.
Watch out for duplicate content coming from tags and categories. This is a common problem, but as such there are well-identified solutions. Read more about it here.
With these tips in mind, you’re now on your way to becoming a WordPress SEO wizard!
About the Author
Larissa Murillo is the Marketing Manager at MarketGoo, an SEO and website marketing application for businesses looking to optimize their websites for search engines.