While many people think that WordPress is SEO friendly by default, there are a number of steps required to maximise your WordPress SEO opportunities.
We take a look at WordPress SEO best practices to help your website and web pages rank on Google Search Results Pages (SERPs).
1 – Tags and Categories in WordPress
When adding your blog content on your WordPress site, you will notice a textbox for categories and underneath this, a text box for tags, in the bottom right hand column of your web page.
Categories enable you to organize your blogs into topic groups, while tags can be used as keywords to denote certain specific aspects and content relating to your chosen topic. So, for example, while music may be a category, tags will be more specific and detailed such as #HipHop; #LilWayne, #Drake.
Tags and categories increase UX (user experience) of your website. Users can also easily browse your site which means that search engine bots can access your web pages too.
2 – Internal Linking
Each page of your website is assigned a score according to Google’s assessment of the authority of your page. This is achieved by linking from blogs and pages – both within your site (interlinking) and from other websites (backlinking).
Interlinking is achieved with links within your site, guiding your reader to your other web pages, while backlinks according to searchmetrics definition are “links from outside domains that point to pages on your domain; essentially linking back from their domain to yours”
Links point to the authority of a page, playing a role in optimizing your web page for ranking on the SERPs.
3 – Increase efficient indexing of site content
Using a .xml sitemap plugin provides a XML document with instructions to search engine bots on how and where to crawl on the site. The .xml site map is a template of the website’s content, listing all of the essential pages of a website. This increases accessibility for the bots to crawl web page content and index the site content more efficiently.
A good plugin for WordPress which notifies all major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com, about the new content every time you create a post is Google XML Sitemaps by Arne Brachhold.
4 – Highlighting content within your site
Creating a link from a concept in your blog to a blog or content which deals with the subject, establishes the concept word (or words) as anchor text whose link enables you to point search engines to other pages deep within the structure of the site.
Interlinking highlights a post or content on your site, emphasizing its importance. Using this concept as anchor text strategically points a search engine in the direction of the link, indicating to search engines that a particular post has significance or leading the search bot deeper into the site.
5 – Integrate social media sharing buttons in your post
Using social media as a SEO strategy is one of those hotly contested SEO subjects. Having said that, using social media sharing icons can help optimize search engine rankings because of their role in creating links back to your website as more people link to it. However, according to Search Engine Journal that although having high social media interaction and signals usually pairs with high ranking, it serves as a correlation, an interdependence rather than a direct ranking factor.
Search Engine Journal, explains this as follows: “We know links are one of the top Google ranking factors. Google has said that social media shares don’t count as individual links. But there most likely is correlation here.
If you create good content, it will most likely be popular on social media, and people are probably going to like it and link [to it] — which does boost your rankings.
This would seem to be that what impacts ranking is influenced by the number of links which increases as a result of the quality of the content, with social media serving as the channel for showcasing this content and its link.
Another point to keep in mind, courtesy of Kissmetrics is the SEO significance of social media for other search engines. “Bing, which is the second most-used search engine, has been crystal clear about how their algorithm incorporates social signals into their search results, and, unlike Google, they haven’t flip-flopped on the issue. With its market share steadily growing, companies would be wise to include Bing in their SEO strategies.”
6 – Use summaries of content to avoid duplication
In order to avoid the full content of pages being duplicated across webpages such as the home page, category archive, date archive etc. you need to present your content as a summary rather than duplicated across various pages of the website. This can be done by going to the ‘Settings’ tab in the WordPress sidebar, selecting ‘Reading’ and then ‘Summary.’
This will prevent duplicate content which negatively affects SEO. It also prevents the problem of having full articles which can slow down the loading of the archive pages.
7 – Using images to optimize WordPress SEO
Optimise your images by using the WordPress feature which allows you to add title and alt tags when you upload an image. Alt tags provide the opportunity to describe your image. This provides additional information for search engines, strengthening your content and improve accessibility of information on your website. Additionally, if the image doesn’t load properly, the text can serve as a place marker as a description of the image. Moreover, screen readers for visually impaired users can read this description.
8 – Maintain the Security and Safety of Your WordPress Site
Increase the security of your WordPress site by using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). As defined by Digicert , SSL is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client—typically a web server (website) and a browser, or a mail server and a mail client (e.g., Outlook). SSL allows sensitive information such as credit card numbers, login credentials and other sensitive information to be transmitted securely.
This can be achieved with a plugin such as Really Simple SSL by Rogier Lankhorst. The plugin automatically detects your settings and configures your website to run over https. To keep it lightweight, the options are kept to a minimum. The entire site will move to SSL.
This adds an additional security layer to your WordPress site shown by a padlock sign in the browser’s address bar, protecting user’s information especially if you have an e-commerce site.
Wrapping it up
WordPress SEO can play a key role in driving traffic to your website through ranking on a SERP. Using these WordPress SEO tips, will bring more visitors to your website, increasing your brand presence on the internet while providing your with the opportunity of converting visitors into leads which help build and grow your business.