Out-of-the-box, WordPress has a lot of SEO (search engine optimization) friendly options that can help your website. Things like, reader-friendly permalinks, and the optimization option to allow quick load speeds. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
Let’s start with the basics
We all know (or we all should know by now) that WordPress is a content management system (CMS). This allows you to manage content on your website more easily. It’s a layer above the code on the website, and depending on how it set up, allows someone who doesn’t understand programming to be able to manage their own website. Now granted, a lot of people (read: amateur web designers) don’t utilize WordPress in the right way. This leads to a misunderstanding about WordPress in general. I hear opinions all the time about how people do not like WordPress. The reason for this is, someone set it up incorrectly in the past the now they think that all WordPress websites function like the horrible spaghetti nightmare they experienced in the past.
Like any tool, there is a right way to use it, and a wrong way.
What does this have to do with SEO?
Let’s talk about how WordPress can help boost the SEO of your website. If you don’t already have a website on WordPress, now’s the time to consider that. If you do, all the items below can be acted on immediately.
Let’s get into it!
Website Page Speed
You may or may not realize this, but search engines do consider the speed of a website in their search algorithm. Meaning, if your website is slow, they don’t want to show it in the search results. They want to show fast websites. Reason? If all the search results are filled with slow websites, eventually, you’ll stop going to that search engine. You need to make sure your website is both optimized and using the latest technology, like a content delivery network (CDN) in order to provide the quickest experience for your visitors. It takes a unique skill set, to take a beautiful image and video driven website to become optimized for speed. It is possible and we do it all the time.
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. Images are generally the heaviest items on your website. Meaning, they take up the most space and take the most time to download for your visitors. If you take a photo on your phone or your DSLR, you don’t want to add that full resolution photo to your website. You want to use only the size that’s needed for the area where it’ll be placed, and that’s it. You’ll also want to optimize each image. There are a variety of tools that can help you do this. These tools basically take out all the extra data that don’t really help the image visually appear any better online. They can also decrease the quality as an option (a balancing act). All of this adds up to a website that is lighter and faster for your visitors.
SSL Certificate (HTTPS)
Another factor search engine ranking factor, is an SSL certificate. You need to have an SSL not only installed on your server, but also configured correctly to serve all of your website content securely to your visitors. An SSL certificate also secures all transmissions that happen on your website. When a visitor sends you a message through your contact form, that information is secure.
An XML sitemap provides all the pages that exist on your website to the search engines. It allows the search engines to quickly understand the architecture of your website and all the pages that exist on your website. You don’t want search engines to try to figure this out themselves. They might miss a page if you haven’t linked to it anywhere else. The great thing about WordPress, is that there are many plug-ins that will do this automatically. Back in the “old days,” this is something you had to create by hand and manually update as pages were added to the website. Glad those days are gone.
A robots.txt file let’s search engines robots (they scan your website periodically) understand where they can and cannot go. Basically, this limits the ability of the bots to scan your entire server. In theory, this can help better manage traffic from these bots. This is one of those low hanging fruits, again that can be accomplished with WordPress easily and automatically.
Mobile-Friendly / Responsive Web Design
This is another item that search engines look at. They want to see that your website is mobile friendly. Often, you’ll hear people call this “responsive web design.” This simply means that your website responds differently depending on the device that is viewing the website. For example, your website might look entirely different on a mobile phone vs. a TV.
Not too long ago, it was very common to open your phone, load a website and everything looked small. You had to zoom and pan around just to read the text. This is no longer acceptable by the search engines, and even more importantly, your customers.
The point is, make sure that your website is easy to use on all devices. Otherwise, your search results won’t be as great as your competitor who does have a mobile friendly website.
Have you ever seen a URL like this? domainname.com/p=123? This is not a reader-friendly permalink. It’s confusing. domainname.com/page-title is reader-friendly.
Search engines place a higher emphasis on readable URL’s as another helpful way for visitors to decipher the search results. Lucky for you, this is a simple setting in WordPress. Google it.
Linking Strategy / Backlinks
One of the biggest things you can do for your website is implement a link building strategy. You need other websites to link to your website. These links indicate a certain level of trust and the search engines measure this. For example, if you’re a good business and have been around for a while, you should have a lot of referring customers, right? The same thing is true on the Internet. If you provide a valuable service or product, then other websites should link to your website.
Post Great Content
Last but not least, you have to post great content. If your website full of a bunch of garbage that’s not helping anyone, why would a search engine show it in the results? At the end of the day, your website needs to provide valuable information to help people solve their problems. Whatever those problems are. Search engines can measure this based on a lot of factors. Rather than trying to think about how you can “trick” the search engines, focus on good content. You want to have a blog or articles area on your website where you are constantly adding content.
Here’s a real-world example that can help you understand this point:
Let’s say you walk into a home improvement store and ask an employee for help. You have a couple questions about a project that you’re working on and need guidance. The employee looks at you, points to a tool, and says “I think that’ll help you.” Great. The employee did his job, and you got your answer.
Now let’s look at how that employee could’ve done a better job:
Imagine, that employee started asking you question after question trying to understand what it is that you want to accomplish. Once they understand your situation, they provide a couple options/scenarios and ask what you think about each. You really like the first option that they proposed, and you let them know. They then walk you throughout the store as you pick out each tool and supply that you’ll need for your project. At the end, you have everything you need, and you feel entirely confident that you can complete this project.
Treat your content like the employee did in the second example. Go above and beyond and help your visitors find the solution to their problem and you can’t go wrong. If you haven’t figured this out by now (in life or business), it’s all about helping people.
If you’re going to remember any tips from this post, make it this one.
We Can Help You
I hope you liked these SEO tips. When you work with us a Graticle, these are only some tips that we accomplish while maximizing the SEO benefits of your website. We have a lot more up our sleeve (ask about our free website review).
Give us a call (360) 450-3711 and let us help improve the SEO of your WordPress website.