Carrying on with our ongoing WordPress series, we will now be covering Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for WordPress. If you have not read the previous parts of the series, WordPress Security and Post-Installation WordPress Optimization, please take a look.
SEO for WordPress is no rocket science. Unfortunately, owing to the prevalent misinformation on the internet, a lot of myths have been propagated about WordPress and search engines. This can also be attributed to the fact that WP does not come with native SEO solutions by default — Drupal and concrete5, for instance, can generate sitemaps and add meta data to your content without using any external plugin or addon. In WP, you do not have that luxury.
With that said, WordPress is a good software for SEO purposes, and as you shall soon see, fine-tuning it for search engines is pretty simple.
WordPress Optimization Part 3: SEO For WordPress
First, a note on WordPress SEO plugins.
SEO for WordPress: Useful Plugins
Considering the fact that SEO is a rather important aspect of any website, there is no shortage of plugins for search engine optimization. However, you must be cautious and not install way too many WordPress plugins just for SEO. instead, you should look for gigantic plugins that can perform multiple tasks with ease.
For instance, rather than having three separate WP plugins each for adding meta data to posts, generating sitemaps, and adding data for social profiles, you should try to install one plugin that does all of the above.
Yoast SEO is by far the most popular plugin in its league. Alternatively, you can also install All in One SEO. If neither of these two work for you, The SEO Framework is another decent plugin, albeit with a steeper learning curve.
You need to use any one of the above plugins at a time, not all three. Now, the measures and steps mentioned below can all be accomplished using any of the above-mentioned plugins. Yet, at times, a specialized plugin might be needed and I will mention that separately.
A sitemap provides information about your site’s content to search engines. It offers details about your new posts and pages, and as and when you update your site, the sitemap is updated too.
All of the major SEO plugins, including the ones mentioned above, can automatically generate sitemaps within minutes. While there might be an urge to install a special sitemap generation plugin, you do not really need that for all practical purposes.
Add Metadata to Your Content
By metadata, we mean how your site will look in search results. You need to specify meta description, title as well as focus keyword for all of your posts.
You should try to ensure your focus keyword or phrase appears in the post’s URL as well as title and content. Also, there are word limits in place so you need to ensure your meta description is to the point and precise.
Add Alt Tags to Images
An alt tag is the text that is shown when the image cannot be displayed. Back in the day when internet was still a luxury, alt tags were used if the web browser did not support images. However, now there is no web browser that won’t support images, so alt tags seem to have lost their real purpose.
Yet, they continue to be of supreme importance. Search engines read alt tags to determine the nature of image and its relevance for a given search term. Thus, if you are posting an image of coffee cups, you should have an alt tag “coffee cups” for that image.
Adding alt tags in WordPress can be done without any plugins. While there are plugins to do the job automatically, they are not always accurate and you should consider doing it manually for all your images.
Use Services for Mobile Users
Google offers a service called Accelerated Mobile Project or AMP, that shows in-result content to mobile users. As such, if a user searches for a keyword using the Google mobile app, and the website in question supports AMP, the page is loaded instantly. Read more here.
Similarly, Facebook too has a service called Instant Articles, wherein websites supporting Instant Articles load instantly rather than invoking the mobile web browser. Learn more here.
You can implement AMP on your site using this plugin, and Instant Articles using this one. Just install and activate, and you’re good. Or you can tweak the appearance to showcase your logo and widgets, etc.
Social proof refers to the manner in which your social networking profiles reflect your prowess on your site. This can be visible, most obviously, in the number of shares and tweets that your content earns.
Having a social sharing plugin that displays share count for each post or custom post type is all you need to reflect your social proof. There are numerous social sharing plugins out there, and you can search for any popular one in the repository. Bear in mind, social proof is directly linked to your domain name, and if you ever change the domain structure (say, www to non-www or http to https) you might end up losing all your share counts.
Focus on Your Content
All said and done, it is your content that matters when it comes to SEO. if your content is below par, any SEO strategy will not work.
Here are a few ideas for improving the quality of your content:
- Try to offer longer posts. Any post below 300 words is not really ranked in search results.
- Make sure you add images in each post with relevant alt tags.
- Specify a focus keyword that you are targeting the post for, and try to use the keyword in headings, permalink, page title, etc.
- Linking to authority sites as well as relevant content on your website is good.
- If you are adding sponsored links, make sure they are nofollow.
So there you go, some useful tips for having better SEO for WordPress.
However, one key consideration remains: Google and all other search engines tend to take a website’s speed into consideration when determining its page rank. As such, you need to have a web host that can deliver fast performance. Once again, caching plugins and other performance tweaks do help, but if your web hosting provider is slow, your website will suffer badly.
Lastly, SSL has recently become a ranking factor for Google. It is still a minor consideration, but you should try to use SSL wherever possible. Again, opt for a web hosting provider that can give you free SSLs in the form of Let’s Encrypt or COMODO AutoSSL via cPanel. VeeroTech offers both AutoSSL and Let’s Encrypt. Check out the WordPress hosting plans here.
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