February 27, 2015
Nearly 1 out of every 4 of the world’s most dominant websites are housed on the WordPress platform. WordPress is a widely embraced content management system because of its magical simplicity. But don’t make the mistake of assuming WordPress automatically considers SEO best practices for your website. SEO is not built in to WordPress itself. Since Google has banished any black-hat tactics, there are no loopholes to be found in optimizing a WordPress site. There are, however, a bevy of easy to install solutions.
Best SEO practices for WordPress are rather simple to achieve; all it takes is a little elbow grease and access to the right templates and tools. Whether you already have a WordPress site set up and are not seeing the results that you had hoped for, or just getting started with a brand new website, the following tips will put you well on your way to attaining elevated SEO rankings.
How to Make WordPress SEO Friendly
Simply switching to WordPress is not going to be an SEO cure all, as there is not a single CMS in the world that is pre search engine optimized. What WordPress does offer is a solid foundation that can be built up with just a few adjustments. Installing additional plugins is easy and necessary to introduce SEO best practices.
All in One SEO Pack and WordPress SEO by Yoast are by far the most popular plugins for increasing organic search results. At the same time, it can also be hugely beneficial to install an analytics tracking plugin as well, such as Google Analyticator Pro, widening your scope of the bigger picture. But no matter what plugins you install, before pulling the trigger, find out if the plugin is compatible with any other technology on your site. Most are, but some can introduce technical issues, so a little homework is required. Research the popularity of the plugin too, and browse consumer reviews to ensure you are utilizing a tool with positive feedback.
Be Sure WordPress Themes Are Not Damaging Your SEO
One of the many added benefits of using WordPress is the availability of a vast array of free themes. But for every yin there is always a yang; meaning that some of these themes can in fact harm your SEO if used improperly or overloaded. Make sure that you are selecting a theme that has SEO already built in and always run a quality check on the demo site to ensure that the page is mobile friendly and meets Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, otherwise you run the risk of not showing up in SERPs.
Also, adding too many plugins to a site can potentially slow it to a crawl, and since loading speed is a factor for ranking, be careful to not overburden your site. Additionally, do not use WordPress’s default setting for URL’s as they tend to be quite chaotic, messy, and not Google bot-friendly. WordPress makes it simple to select a new permalink structure that will be far more beneficial for SEO – make that your first line of SEO attack.
Boost Your SEO with WordPress Widgets
There are hundreds of WordPress widgets, and many focus squarely on improving SEO. Remember, don’t go widget crazy; be highly selective about which you choose to install, and it’s really true that less is more. Set up only those that have obvious, immediate, intrinsic value. Don’t clutter up the page with useless information. Instead stay focused on relevant topics and try to sway the user to view other pieces of content on your site, as well as increase engagement. Some great examples for this would be:
- Outbrain places your best content at the bottom of other articles. Outbrain is one of the leading “related content” widgets and claims to generate 15 billion page views per month. It’s a snazzy way to keep people engaged on your site.
- Shareaholic not only inspires social sharing but also features recommendations & related content which inspires users to remain on your site for longer periods of time.
- Simple Share Buttons Adder is also another great way to get content shared across platforms. What sets this widget aside is how lightweight and simplistic the design is.
Tips for Posting Great Content
Above all else, the most important process in boosting a website’s SEO is to regularly produce and publish great content. What exactly constitutes great content? Pieces that are unique, helpful to the user, and highly shareable.
To increase a particular piece of content’s share-ability, add images and videos that directly relate to the subject at hand. Images and videos can also be optimized by adding a title, caption, alt text, and description. Adding the alt text is rather important since Google bots do crawl any alt text that is entered, so write something that is relevant to the picture or post. This is most certainly not throw away text.
Using WordPress as a platform is a powerful and easy way to generate rockstar SEO results, but you have to do your homework and set things up properly. Installing just one of these tools or widgets can streamline and automate the process, and help you enable excellent SEO practices the moment you launch (or re-launch) your website.
Are you operating a site through WordPress? What other tactics have you found crucial in your search for SEO gold?
Digital producer, online marketer, community manager, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney-Brown has been managing cross-functional teams for online businesses since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, community management, social networks, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and spiritual counselor. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.