SEO with WordPress

Search Engine Optimization

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It’s not enough to just have a website or to just publish a blog post. One must also consider SEO to really have your website and blog post noticed by others. In this post, we’ll explore not only best SEO practices, but explore best SEO practices within WordPress and include a quick review and demo of two SEO WordPress plugins.

Best SEO Practices

Use of Keywords

Keywords need to be used within the content of the pages, and preferably near the top of the page. Work the use of keywords into the content so it flows naturally and organically. The first paragraph of every page is the most important content as some robots/indexes only search the top part of the page. Also, as mentioned below, include keywords in page titles, filenames, headings, etc.

File Naming

Use keywords in the file names of your web pages and images. For example, if I am naming a web page for a Sports Turf company, I may use the following file name: sports-turf-bluegrass. The same applies for images. Name the images appropriately. The image on the Sports Turf page may have the filename sports-turf-bluegrass.jpg.

Alt tags

Always, always, always make use of the alt tags when adding images to your site. The alt tag provides further description of the image. Not only does it make your site more 508 compliant, it also makes your image ‘searchable’. Search engines can’t ‘read’ images, but they can read alt tags. When adding info to an alt tag, include keywords to describe the image.

Headings

Use H1 tags for the title of the page. This is a general practice within WordPress themes. Use subsequent heading tags to name sections of the page, identifying sections of the page in order of  importance. For example, the main sections of the page will have H2 tags, subsections will have H3 tags, etc.

Inbound Links/Backlinks

Search engines love links to your site. Add links to your site from local community sites. This might include the chamber of commerce, local economic development office, etc. Include your site in directory listings such as dmoz.org, yahoo, etc. For a more complete list of directories see this post, Web Directories…Are They Relevant to SEO? You can also exchange links with suppliers, vendors, clients, etc.

Submit site to search engines

Submit your site, manually, to the top search engines. At a minimum, submit to the top three;

For a more complete list of search engines, visit Wikipedia: List of Search Engines.

Regular Updates to Site

Regular updates to your website attract search engines. Search engines prefer a dynamic site – one that is being consistently updated. Several ideas to foster consistent update:

  • promote events/sales
  • write a blog
  • highlight clients
  • highlight weekly/monthly promotions
  • coupons

Sitemaps

Sitemaps are a way to tell search engines about pages on your site they might not otherwise discover. A sitemap, which is an XML Sitemap, is a list of pages on your website. There are WordPress plugins that will do this for you. One of the more popular ones is Google XML Sitemaps.

WordPress Permalinks

One of the first things to change after installing WordPress is the permalink structure. Permalinks is under the Settings option on the Dashboard. The default permalink is  ?p=<postid>. This results in a URL that looks something like this:
http://domainname.com?p=435.

That URL does nothing for SEO. The recommended permalink setting is  /%postname%/ or something similar. With the postname setting, a URL address will look  like this:
http://domainname.com/best-seo-practices-for-wordpress.

A URL with a page name that includes keywords will perform much better than the default setting.

Meta Tags

On most search engines, it is the page title (often truncated) and the Meta Description tag that are displayed in the results. Even though Google puts less weight on meta tags than what they did previously, meta tags are still important. Emphasis by search engines on meta tags can change overnight as they are constantly changing how they rank pages. Specific meta tags to pay attention to include Description, Keywords, and Title. In WordPress, there are SEO plugins that help us do this for each page and post.

Site Speed

Google now takes into consideration the load speed of websites when building up its results pages. You want to make sure that your site is snappy so you don’t get penalised here. So check that your theme is cleanly coded and your site is hosted on a fast server.

For shared hosting we recommend HostGator while for a really powerful VPS you can’t go wrong with VPS.net. The latter guys are also offering one month for free using the coupon ‘FREEVPS’ if you’re interested in trying them out. I did take up the offer and really enjoyed learning the ins and outs of managing your own VPS. The performance difference compared to shared hosting is also quite noticeable.

SEO Plugins

WordPress SEO plugins help to optimize each page and blog post on your website. These plugins let you set individual keywords, page descriptions, titles, etc. for each page and post on your site. Two of the most common plugins are All In One SEO Pack and WordPress SEO by Yoast.

All In One SEO Pack

This plugin lets you include a Document Title, a Description, and keywords for each post and each page. It’s a great way to make sure each meta tag is set for best optimization. There is a free version and a paid version.

WordPress SEO by Yoast

This plugin is one of the most robust SEO plugins. You can set options for XML sitemaps, breadcrumbs, canonical tags, robots, Google analytics, and more. This plugin is free.

SEO Software

If you want to enjoy the best software + community of SEO experts ready to help you, the best resource is definitely SEOmoz. SEOmoz PRO combines SEO management, social media monitoring, actionable recommendations, and so much more in one easy-to-use platform. Now you can try it free for 30 days, there’s nothing to lose and it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will learn a great deal about SEO even if you just sign up for one month.

Do you have any more SEO tips of your own? Let us know in the comments section below.

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About Carma Leichty

Carma Leichty is a trainer in WordPress and web design. A converted Dreamweaver user, she is crazy about WordPress. She's done websites for the past upteen years and most enjoys helping others promote their Creative Work.

2 Responses

  1. Charlie
    Charlie July 14, 2012 at 21:16 | | Reply

    Im starting a new business building sites based on wordpress and this information is priceless!! Thank you so much!

    1. Jean Galea
      Jean Galea July 18, 2012 at 14:39 | | Reply

      Good luck with your business Charlie!

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