SEO

SEO

WordPress Search Engine Optimization service that consists of analyzing your website and applying a successful SEO strategy.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. WordPress SEO can be defined as the process of achieving higher rankings in organic search results of the major search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo while using WordPress as website platform.

Organic search results is the natural, unpaid for free search results that is shown when searching for a specific search phrase in a search engine like Google.

The primary purpose of SEO is to increase website visitors – with effective SEO practices these visitors will be interested in your product as the keywords they searched for that brought them to your website via the organic search results should be keywords your website is optimized for and thus be definitive of what your website is about.

A successful SEO marketing strategy should entail researching how search engines work, what their main ranking factors are and what the keywords are that people are searching for (Google Trends is an excellent tool for keyword research) as it relates to your website content.

SEO considerations can be divided into on-page, off-page and technical factors.

On-Page SEO Factors

On-Page SEO is the factors over which the website owner has direct control, as it is determined by the actual page being optimized and its content. These include:

Content and Keywords

The content of a page is extremely important to search engines for determining its rank as the content should reflect the keywords it is optimized for to substantiate its ranking in the search engine results.

Optimizing the page content for Search Engines would entail deciding on the search phrase keywords the page should rank for in search engine results, for instance if you want a specific page to appear high in search results for the search phrase “cape town garden services” the search phrase “cape town garden services” will be the keywords to optimize that page for.

Unique, quality and relevant content will be given a higher ranking and the more the content explains and informs about the search phrase keywords the page is optimized for the higher the ranking will be.

Keyword stuffing is bad SEO – the keywords should never appear to many times, in a page with 300 words the keyword phrase should appear about 3 to 6 times only. Search engines might see keyword stuffing as an attempt to fool the search algorithm and might not rank the page as high as it otherwise would.

Page title

The title tag is the html meta tag or html title element that defines the page title, the standard html tag looks as follows:

<title>Example Title</title>

The ideal structure would be: Search Phrase Keywords | Brand Name

The page title should not be more than 55 characters and will generally be shown in the browser title bar as well as be used as the heading when shown in search engine results.

Meta description

The meta description is the html meta tag that contains the description of the page that will be shown together with the page title in the search engine results and should be optimized to include your keywords at least once. Use this to create a descriptive summary of your page content and remember this is what a potential website visitor will be reading in the search engine results while deciding on what search result link to click, so make it count.

URL

Your website structure should be reflected in your URL – for example if you have a third level page about Vuvuzelas which is under the second level page “Noisy Instruments” a good URL structure would be http://yourwebsite.com/noisy-intruments/vuvuzelas/ with your home page being the first level or root domain (http://yourwebsite.com/).

WordPress makes this process a breeze with Permalinks which enables you to specify a SEO frienly URL for a page like http://yourwebsite.com/this-is-seo-friendly instead of an id based URL like http://yourwebsite.com/?post=12345.

Image alt tags

Optimizing image alt tags and image file names can increase search engine traffic as well as assist visually impaired website visitors that might be using a screen reader and would otherwise not be able to discern what the image is about. The alt tag should therefore in addition to your keywords contain an actual description of what the image represents.

Headings and sub headings

There should only be one h1 tag per page, and this should be the page or post title. Sub headings should use h2 and h3 tags as this would give search engines an indication of the content structure on the page and also make the content easier to read which would improve its quality.

Internal links

Internal links is links inside your website that links from one page in your website to another page inside your website. These links aid the website visitor with regards to easier navigation and the anchor text is the important SEO consideration as it will tell the search engine what the page it links to is about.

Site Structure

Your site structure is an important consideration that should be developed from the start with SEO in mind as search engines analyzes the site structure thoroughly when crawling your website to get an idea of what your website is about and where to find the most important content. A good structure to keep to is a well balanced pyramid site structure – this is explained in great detail in the brilliant SEO e-book Optimize your WordPress sites by Joost de Valk. In essence this means to have at the top of the pyramid your home page, and to have links from the home page to the second level pages, from there links to the third level etc. As one moves down in the site structure, the number of pages per level will go up. Ideally all levels should be similar in size and similar pages should be grouped together.

Home page SEO

There exists a current debate regarding your website home page and the SEO considerations for it – the one side of the argument stating that the home page should mainly rank for your company / brand name, contain your mission statement and general description with clear call to action links to your second level pages of which each will be optimized for specific search terms – this ties in with the pyramid site structure strategy. The other side of the argument states that your homepage should be optimized for your main search phrase keywords – this could lead to difficulty if you want a second level page optimized for the same keywords as Google and other search engines prefer to rank a page for which the search phrase keywords is only prevalent in a single page per website – it will only rank one of the two – and take the decision out of your hands if it has to choose.

Spelling and grammar

Search engines will decrease your page ranking if the page content has spelling and grammar mistakes as this will detract from the quality of the content.

Off-Page SEO Factors

Off page SEO are search engine ranking factors that are much harder to influence as it is based on elements that are not on the actual website page being optimized. These include:

Inbound links

The most important off-page SEO factor, Google and other search engines give lots of points for links to your website from other websites containing your keywords in the anchor text. The higher the page rank of the website on which the inbound link resides the more points it will score for the page on your website it links to.

Thus in order to achieve good results regarding inbound links you would need to acquire high quality inbound links from other websites. This is not always straightforward as links from related websites is seen as more important and this would normally mean links from competitor websites – a good way of overcoming this is by commenting on the blog posts of related websites with a link back to your website – if the comment adds value to the blog post your comment with the inbound link has a better chance of being approved.

Buying links from link farms is not a good idea and not worth anything anymore as the search engines have been aware for some time now that the practice of selling inbound links is specifically aimed at artificially creating inbound links that are usually not related to the website where the link is from and thus does not add any value.

Social Media

Social Media factors like Facebook likes and shares, Twitter followers and tweets containing the page link and Google+ content recommendations are being considered as more important by search engines when determining a page ranking, which means that Social Media should be utilized as much as possible:

  • Ensure you have Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn pages and accounts for your website and link to them from Social Media icons on your website.
  • Promote your new blog posts and content pages in your social media accounts and ask others to like, share and tweet about it.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO factors relates to the factors which are more technical in nature i.e. these are factors that a non-developer might not be clued up about and without coding knowledge and development experience would not be able to improve on. Some important examples of technical SEO include:

  • Canonical URLs
  • XML Sitemap
  • Html Sitemap
  • Nofollow tags
  • Robots.txt file
  • Check for broken links and redirects
  • Site crawls and indexing
  • Utilization of Google Webmaster Tools
  • Page load time – quicker is better
  • W3C compliant markup
  • Breadcrumbs

WordPress SEO

Search engine optimization is not an exact science and the major search engines keep their ranking algorithms secret for good reason, to ensure pages rank for factors that are conducive to quality and relevant content.

The WordPress platform out of the box has market leading SEO basics but for serious WordPress SEO power the excellent WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin is an essential must have plugin to aid in creating Search Engine Optimized content as well as assisting in dealing with most of the On-Page SEO factors explained above.

When editing content in the WordPress administration panel the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin adds a meta box to the post editor screen which enables you to enter the focus keyword phrase for analysis, edit the SEO title and Meta description while giving an SEO score together with tips on improving the page or post SEO – all on the same post editor screen.

This gives the page or post author the luxury of being able to receive expert instruction regarding the On-Page SEO factors while working on the page content.

The Yoast WordPress SEO plugin also enables non-technical website administrators to improve some technical SEO factors like setting up the XML Sitemap, configuring nofollow tags and enabling breadcrumbs.

Content is king – especially with regards to SEO.

The most important SEO factor is and will remain content – if you write quality, relevant content that the website visitor benefits from reading and is willing to link to you are doing it right – your reward will be higher rankings in search engine results.

If you require professional assistance with your website SEO or have any questions relating to WordPress SEO you can contact me using the contact form.