Do-it-Yourself WordPress SEO?
Let me begin by stating that I believe Search Engine Optimization is a vital specialty niche within website development and online marketing. As such, it is best left in the hands of dedicated professionals. And preferably not a “fly-by-night” professional who landed in SEO because it looked like an easy place to start a home-based business. Or a company that does not understand your local market and uses sketchy black hat SEO methods.
Be careful when choosing an SEO company. Make sure they have a proven track record for generating real-world results for clients. And they don’t have to be big companies; there are some great SEO specialists that run home-based businesses!
Ok, that being said, there are a few things you can do to help optimize your website for search engines to find (and promote) more easily. Once you start into some serious online marketing, consider hiring a specialist so you can focus on your business.
SEO is important for website performance because websites that deliver content that is unique, targeted, and authoritative are ranked higher by search engines, which in turn provides better results for website owners. And that means better results for your business.
As you dig deeper into SEO, always keep in mind that your website content should always be directed toward your customers and clients, NOT toward search engines. If you serve your website visitors well and turn them into customers, you will likely rank higher in search engines. But there are a few things you can do to impress search engines.
When starting out with SEO, always use a proven, dedicated SEO plugin like Yoast SEO or All-in-One SEO. These plugins will do just about everything you need to help improve your ranking in search engines. Once you have an SEO plugin installed and set up, there are a few foundational things to consider.
5 Steps to Improving WordPress SEO for your Website
1. Submit Your Website to Search Engines
The first thing you need to do is make sure search engines can find and “index” your website by submitting your website to the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. The nice thing about using an SEO plugin is that the plugin will handle this task for you. If you do not have a plugin, here are the links for each search engine’s submission page: Google | Yahoo | Bing
2. Create Clear Page Titles and Descriptions
Search engines will display your website’s page titles, so be sure to have brief but descriptive titles that accurately reflect the content of the page. If the title does not match the content, your website may be penalized by search engines. Not good.
The page description “meta tag” is simply a sentence or two that accurately describes the page’s content and might be used by search engines when displaying results to a search request. Again, make sure it it is a brief and accurate description of the page’s content.
Every page in your website should contain a unique page title and page description. Doing so will increase the chances of your specific web pages being found when people enter related search terms. A good SEO plugin will help you with both page titles and descriptions. However, do not rely on auto-generated terms; you are better off creating your own titles and descriptions.
3. Use Targeted Keywords
You have likely heard about the importance of using keywords in your web pages in order to rank higher in search engines. There was a time when you could cram as many relevant keywords as you could think of into the keyword meta tag and your page would be ranked better. Those days are long gone.
But keywords are still very important. In fact, most SEO experts agree that one of the best places to start creating better web pages is with keyword research.
Ideally, before you even begin writing a page or blog post, you perform keyword research to discover the key phrases related to your topic that people are actually using to find you in search engines. Once you discover these phrases, use them in a natural way as you write. There are many tips and tools available to help in your keyword research, but one free and easy tool is Google’s Keyword Planner tool.
4. Optimize Your Images
Since search engines cannot see images, make sure you name every image file with descriptive words. For example, “blue-toaster-oven.jpg” is better than “pic01.jpg”.
Remember to use alt tags for images so search engines can relate the description (alternate text) of the image to the content on the page. The alt tag allows you to enter specific keywords that describe the image. The closer the alternate text is to the content on the page, the better your ranking.
5. Create Valuable Content
Creating great content is the best way to make your website perform well. And it’s likely the most difficult. Content that’s valuable for customers and clients, that’s worthy of sharing with others, and that’s intriguing enough to encourage readers to come back for more is not easy. But you have to keep trying.
There’s plenty of great advice on the Internet and in books about creating great content, but here are just a few highlights:
- Write about what you know, in your own voice/style, as clearly targeted to your market as possible.
- Make your content unique, or at least provide a unique way of looking at a popular topic.
- Always keep your keywords in mind, but make sure they fit naturally. Write for people, not search engines.
- Provide external links to other high profile, authoritative websites and internal links to other pages and posts on your own website. This will increase your authority in your field.
- Organize your content as clearly as possible by using headings to help define different subtopics.
- Integrate photos or illustrations as appropriate and use alt tags.
- Encourage readers to share your content via email or social media. If it’s not compelling enough to share, other SEO strategies will not be as effective.
- If you write valuable, informative, shareable content, it will be found much faster in search engines. This will lead to better website performance, providing content that serves your market well.
WordPress SEO is not all rocket science, but it does take time and effort. Once you’re ready to dig deeper into creating great content, there are fantastic resources available. Some are free and some require a bit of an investment. Check out my Resources page for a growing list of the best information on WordPress SEO and maintenance.
Small business owners: What’s your experience with WordPress SEO? Please comment below.
About Steady Digital
We provide a WordPress maintenance plan to ease concerns like:
- Is my website performing at peak performance so visitors get the best experience possible?
- Do I have regular backups of my website in case something happens to my web server?
- What if my website gets hacked?
- How can I get up-to-date, professional training so I can use my website better?
- Who can I trust to do the updates that are beyond my technical or creative abilities?
Tired of trying to maintain your own website? A WordPress maintenance plan might be the solution for you.