There are countless reasons that WordPress is currently the most popular content management system. Using WordPress, you can easily, and within minutes, set up a sharp-looking and fully hosted website from its collection of templates: a happier option compared to creating your own site from the ground using coding and self-hosting.
There are many SEO techniques, guides and tutorials, but as with all things related to Google, these can become obsolete very fast as Google changes its ranking algorithms close to 500 times a year! Successful SEO is based on improving user experience by increasing the usability and functionality of your site. Sites that are easily accessible and navigable are appealing to users, and hence are rewarded with high rankings on Google SERPs.
In the following paragraphs, we will discuss the pillars of great SEO for WordPress sites, and how to apply them to set yourself apart from the competition this year and even beyond.
No SEO technique, trick or tactic will ever work unless it is founded on creation of high-quality, value-adding and entertaining content. Google has been consistently raising the bar on what it considers to be good content, thanks to its complex and ever-changing ranking algorithm that weighs hundreds of factors before ranking any single page.
Good content is the rock upon which every other online marketing strategy is based. Your social media campaign should only highlight high-quality content, for instance. In time, you will reap the fruits through repeat traffic, virality on social media and incoming links from high-authority sites – all factors that work together to improve site SEO.
In creating content, one thing is key: write for your human readers, not search engines. Even if Google ranks your content highly because it has all the right indicators, people won’t stay to read articles that sound forced and robotic. In time, search engines will recognize that users are unsatisfied with your content, leading to a decline in your ranking on SERPs.
The beauty of using a content management system such as WordPress is the ease that comes with updating content on these sites. Because of this, you have no reason to hold back from regularly updating your site with meaningful content. Create an editorial calendar for each month – even longer if you can. Detail what topics you will cover in each piece of content and how often you will be publishing. This way, you can always conclude your articles with teasers about upcoming content and hence keep your readers keening for more.
If you regularly update your site with original and high-value long form content, pretty soon you will see the results in SERPs. Remember to put just as much diligence into sharing your content on social media, because what good is great content hidden away from the world? Google values freshness as one of its ranking factors, hence in time, you will attract organic traffic and improve your ROI from your site.
3. Article length
Google considers long form content more valuable than shorter content. The reason is obvious: longer articles provide more details that will address a searcher’s query more comprehensively.
That being said, avoid rambling on and on just to fill up a certain limit because that’s what SEOs recommend. Far better it is to have concise and impeccably written information in 500 words on a subject, rather than filling 1500 words with the same amount of information, wasting readers’ time and tiring them out in the process.
Ultimately, it is far better to have a longer, concise piece of content addressing a specific need than to have a shorter one. Include images, videos, charts and other helpful features to enable your readers understand the information being shared, and you’ll have search engines preferring your content over others’ on the same topic.
If you find yourself struggling to find enough words to fill a certain post, then maybe you’ve picked the wrong subject or you need to do a little more research.
The famous advertiser David Ogilvy once said: “once you have written your headline, you have spent eight cents out of your dollar”. This is because for every one person who reads your article, five more read the headline. Your headlines must be concise without being meaningless and/or obscure.
Keep your headlines under 55 characters and they will be properly displayed on Google SERPs 95 percent of the time. As a blogger, capturing your audience largely depends on your choice of headline. Start with the most important idea e.g. your target keyword for those articles.
However, the best headlines are those which have some “emotive pull” on the audience. Use emotionally charged adjectives like “electrifying”, “unbelievable” and “incredible” or communicate an idea so bold your audience has no choice but to read your article. It’s one thing to say “5 Ways to improve your SEO” and quite another to say “5 easy techniques to increase your website traffic by 300% in just 30 days”. However, be careful not to oversell or make false promises.
5. Evergreen content
The world moves fast and for most topics, information shared today could be obsolete just months from the date of publication. This is why your editorial calendar should include at least one evergreen piece of content every week – more is always better. Evergreen content is that content which does not age and remains relevant even years after it is published.
This is especially difficult for bloggers who focus on news. News features are great in that they can deliver huge amounts of traffic, shares and leads within a short time. This traffic is however short-lived, and contingent on your ability to update your news regularly and accurately.
Evergreen content can however rank for much longer, attracting a smaller crowd of readers but over longer periods of time. If you’re looking to share evergreen content, the following are good starting points to inform your choices:
- Case studies – carrying out research or experiments on various topics within your niche and publishing the findings
- How-to posts – detailed descriptions and/or tutorials to enable a layperson accomplish various tasks. These don’t have to be in textual form only: images and videos are especially useful for this.
- Lists and tips – everybody loves lists and tips. However, you should go over the content regularly to update any obsolete tips as time goes by.
- Reports – based on facts, reports are fertile ground for linking, just like case studies. While time-bound, they can certainly be useful long after the experiment was done
- Definitions and explanations – of never-changing concepts and fact-based research topics.
Even if you have the best SEO plugins or tools, there is no substitute for high quality content, which should be based on the above ideas. Plugins in WordPress should only work as complementary to an already solid SEO effort, and fill in the blanks you cannot see on your own.