WordPress makes it easy to boost your site’s traffic by optimizing your site for search engines (SEO). If you recently launched a site on WordPress, it’s important to know which SEO strategies you should implement first, and which ones you can delay or do without.
We reached out four of our agency partners for their advice, and asked them, “what’s the best SEO tip you can give to a new WordPress site owner?” Their responses were filled with great insights, so we decided to share their tips with our readers. We hope you find their advice informative.
One misconception I hear fairly often is that it doesn’t matter how nice a managed WordPress website looks or how people get the information they need from a site, as long as the information is there. False. If your site is hard to use with broken buttons or hard to navigate menus, you’re not going to get too far with your rating. SEOs, in a sense, are recommendations from users and other sites that have proven their placement with search engines through great user experiences. When thinking about the traffic you’re working to drive to your site, you need to think of it as a storefront.
For example, if you walk passed two restaurants with identical menus but one is nearly empty, poorly lit and a mess while the other has a line out the door and a fantastic ambiance, which would you choose? The same concept goes for your website. There are bound to be other sites with similar content that are currently active, that are likely trying to build their business model like you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re a local service, a nationwide provider of a good, or a worldwide consulting agency, you need to give people a reason to STAY on your site once they have walked through the virtual door that is your site’s link in the search results.
The most important part of any SEO campaign is to pick the right keywords for the product or business. There are several great tools available such as the Google Keyword Planner Tool within AdWords, WordTracker, and Ahrefs Keywords Explorer. Using these tools provides accurate data on the volume of searches for a particular keyword and how many other websites are competing for that keyword.
Focus content on the keywords selected for the campaign. Meta-tags are no longer a major ranking factor, so I focus my attention on injecting Schema into each page. Schema is microdata that makes it easier for search engines to spider the information on your web pages more efficiently so the search engines will serve relevant results to users based on the search queries. I use a WordPress plugin to inject the Schema.
Lastly, be realistic about the keywords you choose. For example, if a company has a one thousand dollar a month budget for SEO they should not pick the keyword “diamond ring” to optimize. The competition will be next to impossible to overcome with a small budget. Instead, try a long-tail keyword such as “diamond rings for sale in St. Louis”. Once a complete keyword list is established, I like to run searches on those keywords in Google. Complete each search by scrolling to the bottom of the search result page on Google and locate the “searches related to the keyword phrase.” Grab the list of related searches for each keyword. This technique will generate even more keyword possibilities for the campaign.
When launching your site, it’s important to take the time to complete the SEO “101” basics. The most beautiful website will get lost in the sea of search engine result pages (SERPs) without basic SEO practices to keep it afloat. Although new SEO articles are constantly published with new strategies, it’s important to cover the basics before exploring all up and coming SEO features. Here are a few best practices that your site should include:
- Use intuitive page titles to draw new visitors to your website. Proper Page Titles will also help the search crawlers determine the relevancy of your page in relation to the search query presented. Limit page titles to less than 70 characters to avoid being cut off in the SERPs.
- Page Descriptions are key to how your web page will appear in the SERPs. This is your page’s first impression to the searcher so be sure it incorporates target keywords and falls under 160 characters for the same reason as above.
- Do not skip out on alt text for graphics and images. Alt text remains one of the continuously underutilized items for SEO. Image alt text and captions should include your relevant keywords (that describe your graphic or image) because they are still a factor to crawlers when determining page rankings.
Page titles, descriptions and alt texts & captions are only three of the SEO best practices you should be following. Ensuring you have these items will help your ranking on SERPs and bring you that much closer to your target audience.
We often say that creating a new website without a plan to bring traffic to it is like producing a fantastic TV commercial and not buying any airtime. Without a guide to follow, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds and spend a lot of time doing work that provides little to no value. Making checklists for our tasks ensures that we follow a process. Here are 4 items from our current WordPress SEO checklist:
- Install Google Analytics. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. Set up goals for desirable outcomes so you can track things that have an impact on your bottom line.
- Check for broken links and 404 errors. If your site is a redesign of an existing site, make sure to redirect the high-performing pages from your old site to your new site. We use Screaming Frog to generate a report on the status of all URLS. Redirect high-traffic pages from your old site to the equivalent pages on your new site.
- Add your website to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Set up alerts for any technical aspects that affect your search traffic. You will also be able to see how your site is performing in search at the page and keyword level.
- Make sure you do not have any URLs you have blocked from search engines during development. Yes, we’ve done this!