6 Ways to improve your WordPress Website SEO
So you’ve got your shiny new website up and live, and now you want to focus on getting more visibility and leads. Your site may look beautiful, but it means nothing if no one is able to find it. Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo wont take any notice of how pretty your site is, all they are interested in are page title, alt tags, keywords, page descriptions and your content structure.
Understanding how these work, and structuring your website properly can be the difference between being successful, or losing out on valuable leads.
What exactly is SEO and why is it so important?
Search Engine Optimisation is simply the term to describe the process search engines use to improve the quality of the results shown in searches. The idea is to get as high a ranking as possible, ideally on the first page of results, to gain the most visitors as possible. This is achieved either naturally, or by paying to appear at the top of the search results. Getting on the first page of results organically (i.e. not by paying) can take time, but ensuring the following checklist is followed, you’ll be well on your way to getting the best ranking possible!
1. Write good structured, quality content
It’s no longer all about throwing in hundreds of keywords at random on a page in the hopes that Google may think they’re relevant. Google has got smart and recognises good quality, and more importantly, unique content. If your content has been written properly, all the relevant keywords will be contained in the copy, and this is what Google likes. Write for your visitors, not for search engines.
Google is also very hot on well structured content. Your headers should be clearly defined in hierarchical order, with the <h1> content containing the title of the content. This is the content Google sees as the most important, therefore make it count. Sub-headings should be defined as <h2>, <h3>, <h4> etc, in order of importance. All paragraph text should be just that, paragraph text. You can read more about how to write good quality content in my blog post.
2. Make sure your images have good quality names
Google not only crawls through the content on your site, it also looks at image names and will determine the relevance of these to calculate the ranking of your website. If your image is for a product in your shop, i.e. a pair of trainers, rather than calling the image img1194.jpg which has absolutely no relevance to the product itself, use words which your visitors may be using to find this particular product, i.e. womens-running-trainers.jpg or include the actual product number. In addition to this, don’t forget to add the alt tag to add a description of the image which will provide additional optimisation.
3. Update your permalink to include your keywords
WordPress offers a variety of permalink options, but the one by far best for SEO is “post name”. This option will then use the title of your post or page to build the link, so that the keywords used in the title are part of the link itself. One thing to remember however, is that only the first four words in the link are relevant, so name your pages wisely and make those first four words count.
4. Use a good SEO optimised theme
Most WordPress themes are written with good SEO optimised code as standard, however a lot of themes available are still very bloated with unnecessary code, and this makes it harder for search engines to properly crawl and find your key content. If a search engine cannot see your key content easily, it wont view your site as relevant in search results. When choosing a theme, make sure you spend some time research into themes which are clean, use well structured code, and are fast. Not only is this good for SEO, but it’s also good for user experience.
5. Create and submit a sitemap.xml
A sitemap.xml file isn’t a sitemap in the conventional sense whereby visitors can see a list of all the pages on your website, it is a file that tells search engines which pages are on your website. This helps search engines to quickly index your content as it’s being told exactly what pages are there without having to go and look.
Creating a sitemap.xml is really easy and there are many free plugin’s available which will create and update your sitemap.xml file for you.
6. Use the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress
Yoast is by far the best SEO plugin you can find for WordPress, and it’s completely free. It will guide you through everything to do with SEO for every page and post you create. It scores each of your pages and posts and suggests ways of improving by providing information on how your content should be structured, what is missing on the page and what is possibly going to cause a problem. It also shows you how your website will show in search results, so you can easily edit the title and description and instantly see how it’ll appear to a visitor, and tweak as necessary.
The list goes on …
There are many ways you can continue to improve your SEO, much of it happens organically as you gain visibility in general and more people find out about your website, but if you stick to the tips in this article you’ll be well on your way to having a top ranking website. Good luck!