Day 7 – Search Engine Optimization
Optimizing your WordPress SEO is vital to start building long term stable traffic from search engines. It’s almost vital for the success of your blog.
If you’re serious about blogging and increasing your traffic, you need to take note of and apply SEO best practices.
In this final lesson I’ll share the best SEO tips for WordPress to improve your blogs SEO score and get you more organic search traffic.
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimization.
It is a strategy used to rank higher in search engines to get more organic search traffic to your website.
It’s not about tricking Google or gaming the system, you’ll always be found out and pay the consequences in the long run. Instead, it’s about formatting so that search engines can best understand your content, creating great value and using themes and plugins that help make this happen.
When people search for answers, if your content is SEO optimized it will appear higher in the rankings. This is SEO, and this is how you get those extra clicks to your website.
Keyword research for articles
Many beginners just guess what topics their audience may be searching for. A shot in the dark and hope the arrow sticks.
You don’t have to do this.
Using keyword research you can access real data to discover what terms users are typing into search engines, and plan your blogs content strategy around it.
You can go further and use this research technique to not just create content, but your products and services as well.
Put simply… Give people what they want!
There are many keyword research tools available (both free and paid) to find word and phrases to target in your content and aim to rank well for them in search engines.
Optimizing your posts and pages for SEO
Beginners often make the mistake of thinking they can install an SEO plugin and their job is complete; this is far from the case. SEO is an ongoing process that requires effort in order to get the best results.
All the best SEO plugins allow you to add a title, description, tags and primary keyword to every post and page, and I highly recommend you take full advantage of this on all existing pages and all new ones.
To do this, simply scroll down to the SEO section at the bottom of the post and page content.
Creating SEO friendly URLs
SEO friendly URLs contain words that clearly relate to the content on the page. They’re easily readable by humans and by search engines alike.
Doesn’t make much sense to anyone.
Is both readable by a user and easily shows a search engines what the page is about.
You can change your permalink structure in WordPress by going to Settings > Permalinks.
Select the post name option and save.
That’s half the job, now always make sure your page and post titles are a clear reflection of your content.
Most search engines assign each page on your website a rating (page authority).
The recipe for this differs and is often kept secret, however one of the most common and powerful signals are links. This is why I always recommend linking to your own related content in your blog posts.
The keywords being related content as any content you link to should be helpful and seamlessly linkable in your page.
Interlinking to 2 or 3 of your other posts is a great target to try and reach.
This will keep readers on your site for longer, increase pageviews, and improve your overall SEO score for each post and page and your blog as a whole.
Using categories and tags
WordPress allows you to sort your blog posts into categories and tags. This makes it easier to organise your content into topics, and helps your readers find the content they’re interested in.
These same categories and tags are used by search engines to get a broader picture of the content on your site.
Categories and tags may seem like the same thing, however they serve different purposes.
Categories are just broad descriptions of your content to group related posts together. This helps organise your sites structure and group content for readers.
Tags on the other hand are specific keywords that describe the content of specific articles.
For example, if you run a car blog and are writing an articles about mufflers on a Nissan Skyline, your tags could be:
While your category can be more broader like:
- Car components
Using both effectively will make it easier for readers to search and discover your content, and when it’s easy for readers its easy for search engines too.
HTTPS is a technology that encrypts web connections between your browser and server to create a secure connection. It does this over SSL (Secure Sockets Later) that adds an additional layer of security to your WordPress site.
Google ranks websites using SSL higher than websites that are unsecured, so you better be using it if you want to rank highly in search results. You can tell if your website is using SSL by if you see a padlock sign in your browsers address bar.
All top WordPress hosts offer free SSL certificates using Let’s Encrypt.
And if you want to run an online store within WordPress or process transactions you have to be using it.
Optimizing site speed and performance
Research has embarrassingly proven that the average human attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish.
This means within mere seconds of coming to your webpage a user has decided if they’re going to stay or leave.
In short, your webpage better be loading quickly. If not, goodbye.
Google recognises this too and ranks faster loading websites higher to give the best experience to their users.
The importance of website security
If Google spots any malware on your website, you’re going to be blacklisted. This means you won’t show up on any search results, period.
Each week Google blacklists thousands and you really don’t want to be one of them. You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste from not running good security software.
This is why the security of your WordPress site is of the upmost priority.
Sucuri is a great option to protect your website from attacks.