Once you have completed the initial setup of your WordPress site and having the right setting in place for optimal SEO, the following should be considered to help increase Organic Search Traffic:
Please note anywhere you use specific numbers, those figures can change as search engine algorithms change.
Research Content and Keywords
To increase search engine traffic it is important to do in depth research. This step should not be overlooked, because search engines like Google expect to see quality, original content and expertises. Without doing the right research in the beginning it is much more difficult to rank and rank well. Take time to research or hire an SEO professional such as myself or my team to research the following:
- Your competitor’s top ranking pages – Look at their most top ranking pages. Take note of the numbers or words on the page, how many references, or citations and the level of expert who wrote the article. Try to plan how your articles can compete with your competitors’ articles by giving your readers more value. Can you get better authors, can you give better references? Can you write more in depth on the topic then what is already on the web?
- Your competitor’s keywords – Use keyword research tools or to find keyword phrases that are searched often on the subject you will be writing about.
Content Structure and SEO
The structure of the post is equally important as much as the research. Taking the keyword phrases that were discovered from the research phase and incorporating them in your content correctly is imperative along with making sure the following is done.
- Post Title should be kept around or under 60 Characters. Avoid long titles.
- Content needs to be written around keyword phrases. Make sure the keyword phrase is in the: title, first paragraph, last paragraph, Title Tag and Meta Description
- The post should be 600 words or more. Studies show articles with 2400 words or more rank better than 300 to 1000 word articles. See article from Yoast – Word count and SEO: how long should a blog post or page be?
- All posts need to be only in one category.
- Each post should have a unique Title Tag that is 70 characters or shorter.
- Each post should have a unique Meta Description that is 320 characters or shorter.
- Each image in the post should be named as a keyword and have Alt Texted filled out for each image. Make sure each image name and Alt Texted is unique. Alt Text should be 125 characters or less.
- Make sure the URL Slug has your keyword phrase in it, Slug isn’t too long, keep it around 2 to 5 words all lowercase. The entire url should be no more than 120 characters. Ideally keep it around 75 characters.
Quality Musts to Improve SEO
- The post needs to be original content. Avoid scraping or cut and pasting content from other sites and posting it.
- The post needs to be better then what is already out there on the internet on the topic. The author should ask themselves “Does this article give more value and better then what is already published on the web”
Quality Should Do (But Not a Must) for Better SEO
- The post should have a human author with a bio and social media profile to represent they know the topic they are writing about
- References, give content more credit and clout. Add credits, references and citations where applicable to backup any numbers, figures, content or research.
Further SEO Best Practices
Site Speed and Images Size
Always find the best image sizes for your WordPress Theme and layout. Never upload a photo in full size. For example it is bad practice to take a photo with your camera or phone and upload it directly to WordPress. The better practice is after you take a photo with a camera or phone, download it to a computer and use a program, app or website such as Photoshop, Canva, or Stencil to reduce the image size.
Naming Images for SEO
- When naming images make sure they are a keyword. Avoid naming images with ambiguous letters or numbers. For example if you are writing an article about “content writing” and the image for the article is named IMAGE7.jpg this be poorly named a better practiced would be naming the image content-writing.jpg
- Always use dashes (-) not underscores (_) when naming images. For example if we are writing an article about “blogging tips ” it be bad to use bloggingtips.jpg or blogging_tips.jpg the correct way would be blogging-tips.jpg
If your post is about a video make sure to add content to the post, not just embed the video. Make an introduction paragraph which has a few keywords in it describing what the viewers will see in the video and then embedded the video. After the video, write a few paragraphs going into detail about the video.
It is always better to embed your own videos from your Youtube channel then embedding a Youtube video from another source.
Linking and SEO
Linking should be done to help the reader find relevant information. However when doing so, it is best to do it smartly by linking keywords to further content. To improve search engine rankings it is better to link to “keywords” then words like “here” or “more info”. For example if your article is about “small business marketing” it would be better to make a link that says “For more marketing tips visit Small Business Marketing Guide” linking the wording Small Business Marketing Guide. Rather than “For more small business marketing tips go HERE” and linking the word HERE.
What is Alt Text (Alternative Text) and Where Do I find it
Alt Text helps search engines and blind people understand further what the page is about. The best practice is to create an Alt Text for each image, using your keywords in it when possible. to help search engines better understand your pages content and hopefully rank your site higher in search results. In WordPress you will find the Alt Text as follows:
What is Title Tag Where do I find it
If a page doesn’t have a title, or the title tag is empty, Google and other search engines will decide on their own what content to show on the results page. Thus if the page ranks on Google for a keyword, and someone sees it in Google’s results for their search, they may not want to click on it simply because it says something absolutely not appealing.
No site owner or team would want this, because in this case you cannot control what people see on Google when they find your page. Therefore, every time you are creating a webpage, don’t forget to add a meaningful title that would attract people.
In the photo below the Title Tag has a red box around it. Adding or editing the Title Tag can be done in Yoast. To do this in Yoast the Title Tag is called SEO Title. You can find it by clicking “Edit Snippet” in the Yoast SEO section which you will find below where you add the body of the article.
What is a Meta Description and Where Do I Find Them?
Meta descriptions help rankings and are important snippets people see in search results. In the photo below it is the meta description is shown in the red box:
When writing a meta description , it should “sell” the webpage to the searcher and encourage him to click through.
If the meta description is empty, search engines will themselves decide what to include in a snippet. Most often it’ll be the first sentence on the page that makes sense to them. As a result, such snippets may be unappealing and irrelevant. Therefore it is important to fill meta descriptions in manually.
I would also avoid presuming Yoast is auto-filling the meta descriptions. It is better to add them in manually to each post.
Avoiding Diluting Tags
Post Tags should be used to link related posts. For optimal SEO do keyword research, and add tags that are keywords with high volume searches.
Avoid Separate Categories for Each Authors
While operating multi-author WordPress websites, some site admins make specific categories for each author. This is not necessary and can cause duplicate content penalties because WordPress already has an author categorization system. When an author publishes a new post on a WordPress site with their name, their name is displayed on that page. Furthermore there is a nice archiving feature which can be turned on and off.
Avoid Singular and Plural Categories & Tags
When you publish content, you often seem confused whether you should use the singular or plural form of categories and tags. You face such issues quite often, especially when two tags use the same word- one in singular form and other in plural form. For example- A “WordPress Theme” and or “WordPress Themes”. Don’t get confused as you are not required to use both forms at one time. Based on your needs, you may select either singular or plural form of categories and tags without feeling any hesitation.
Avoid Duplicating Categories and Tags
As categories and tags are used to help people find the exact content easily and quickly, you should not use a category and a tag on your website with the same name.
For example: If you have a category with “Tree WordPress Themes”, you should not use a tag with the same name. It will cause the duplication issue and will confuse search engines as to which page they should display in results against the user’s term.
Don’t Use Too Many WordPress Tags
Using too many tags could affect the usability and accessibility of your site. While it is not clear how many tags are enough to use in a single blog post, you should be aware that each tag you create will generate a separate archive page on your site.
So, if you have a huge amount of blog posts, then it is better to compress the tags that link at least 2 to 3 posts. You just need to be consistent while using tags for your posts.
Further Reading and References on Google Search Engine Optimization
I would encourage your website design, content strategy and content writing team to read and become familiar with the following documents released by google:
Another enlightening article taking a difficult subject (at least for me) and making it seem simple. Thank you, Joanna.