When you’re starting out on your website, it can be difficult knowing what’s needed to improve your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as there can be a lot of challenges. There’s a lot of things that you will need to learn at the beginning which can make it difficult for you to even differentiate between tasks that should be implemented straight away and those that can be implemented later, which creates one big confusing mess.
There’s a lot of information on the web about SEO and how to do it, but the issue is that if you’re new to WordPress and SEO, then you don’t have a clue where to start and what path you should follow.
All you know is that you’re looking to increase traffic to your website and conversions as fast as possible but you’re not entirely sure how the different SEO principles and best practices are applied to a WordPress site.
What we have for you is a five-step process that you should follow to ensure that you know how to approach SEO and which are the best practices to implement straight away.
- Choose an SEO friendly theme
If you’re using an SEO friendly theme, it makes it much easier to improve your ranking whereas if you use one that isn’t SEO friendly, it’s not impossible, but very difficult.
A lot of people don’t have a clue where to start when it comes to a WordPress theme that is search engine friendly or they just ignore this, which is a huge mistake.
Now how do you select an SEO friendly theme, well it must have these following features:
Mobile friendly – Especially nowadays, you must have a mobile-friendly website considering more people are now using their mobiles to browse the internet than desktop. If your WordPress theme isn’t responsive, it might be time for a website redesign.
Developer friendly – You need to remember that once it’s created, that’s not it, WordPress sites are never static. There will be numerous cases where you will have to make changes and there are WordPress themes that help developers perform the needed changes faster than others. Check for a custom page builder when buying a theme.
It loads fast – We’ve all clicked onto a website and its load time is that bad we’ve clicked off it before its even loaded. Don’t be one of those websites. Google rewards fast loading websites by giving them a small ranking boost. A theme that uses optimised code along with a great caching plugin will be the perfect combination for a fast loading website.
On-page SEO optimised – When choosing a WordPress theme, your concern should be to make sure that it’s compatible with any basic on-page SEO concepts.
- Choose an SEO friendly hosting provider
There’s a lot of times that hosting providers can indirectly affect your SEO efforts without even realising it.
Sometimes hosting providers add restrictions in the robot.txt file of a website to block any bots from accessing the website’s full content, limit the number of times a website is crawled or add delays to the crawl rate which all have an impact on your SEO.
There’s a lot of good hosting providers out there, so do your research and ask other business owners who they use to host their website. Find smaller web hosting companies that provide excellent customer service instead of going with large corporations that like to throttle your website.
- Your website has to be secure
Websites that don’t have strong protection get hacked and are then loaded with malicious code which ultimately adds outgoing links to bad reputation websites or takes your website users to a different website altogether. In most cases, the owners of the websites don’t even know that this is happening because hackers use clever ways to hack into a website and add the code that is visible under certain conditions.
What happens to your website if this occurs? Well your ranking drops pretty hard and it will be removed from Google search until you take the appropriate action required to get rid of the malware, only then can you submit for a reconsideration request.
As well as all this you need to be using an SSL, Google gives a slight ranking boost for websites using an SSL and it’s become the default online.
- Check your technical SEO
Technical SEO is a term used to describe the settings that you need to configure on your website to improve the indexing of your website and ensure that there is nothing technical that prevents search engine bots from accessing your content.
There’s a number of practices you may want to check:
- Are search engines able to access your website or is the robot.txt file blocking them?
- Did you set a preferred domain in WordPress and Google Search Console?
- Have you optimised your XML Sitemap and submitted it to Google and Bing?
- Are you using 301/302 redirects correctly?
- Are there any broken links in your content?
- Is your website configured so it accepts both https:// and https://www. requests? Does the http:// version redirect to the https:// version?
- Do you use an SSL?
- Is there any crawl or 404 errors reported in Google search console?
Don’t be scared of the word technical, you don’t have to be a technical guru to handle these issues!
- Optimise your on-page SEO
Once all of the technical SEO stuff is done, you can then concentrate on your on-page SEO. As implied by on-page SEO, you need to optimise the page itself so it ranks better.
You need to ensure that the title of the page is optimised as it’s the first real signal that you can send to users/search engines and describe them in less than 60 characters what the page is about.
You need to ensure that your keywords blend nicely into the title and aren’t just stuffed into it for the sake of it. Keyword stuffing would look something like this Make money online/ Making easy money/ Make money with AdSense. There’s no need for all of that.
Meta descriptions can be selected by Google to appear in the search results so it has to be descriptive and interesting enough to encourage users to click and visit your website. This has no direct benefit to your rankings however it can increase the click-through rate which does have a slight effect.
Another on-page SEO element is the H1 tag on your website. You need to ensure that there is only one h1 tag on the page. You need to ensure that you hold the value your H1 tag around the same as your title.
Finally, internal links should be inserted on-page directing readers to other parts of your website that will help them find out more about areas they may be interested in.
You should keep your internal links short and only add them when it’s natural, don’t try and squeeze them in somewhere otherwise your content won’t flow.
It sounds complicated at first and we understand why people want to put this off, but it’s a lot easier than you think. Once you know what to do, your website becomes well optimised and your ranking will hopefully increase, which will mean more traffic. We have a fantastic video that explains some of the best free SEO tools you can use alongside these WordPress SEO practices that can help boost your rankings!
What you need to remember is to not go overboard ‘optimising’ your website for search engines and optimise it for people. Make it easy to use with all the information the person needs and you’ll get much better results.