WordPress and SEO – these two terms are gradually taking over the Internet in the context of an era when optimization, rank-based profit, and written content are growing in an insane popularity.
WordPress might just be one of the most suitable tools for content creation through the incredible set of options it provides and through the option of sating all (or most) of your SEO needs.
Where do you begin when you’re trying to find the right way to climb the ranks?
What is SEO?
The first step to anything is to understand what you’re about to do.
SEO is an acronym for the term “search engine optimization” and it pretty much refers to the page and row number your website will land on during a Google, Bing, or Yahoo! Internet search.
SEO is all about competition and all about people each trying to find the best, cost-free ways to ensure that their website will be the first option that shows up when you type something in the search bar.
Why does this matter?
Forget all statistics and charts. Psychologically speaking, we are all more inclined to click on the very first link that we see.
How many of us actually go beyond Google’s third page in our search for the most appropriate results for our search?
The higher the rank the bigger the profit and the bigger the influx of visitors clicking on your site.
Keywords & Keyphrases
Keywords and keyphrases are the foundation of your SEO optimization.
Long story short, in order to be able to make your website climb the ladder and rank higher in search engines, you need to appease the automated filtration algorithm that’s responsible for this sorting.
When you type in “best cupcake flavors,” Google will try to stamp to the front page the articles that it thinks best represents what you searched for.
In some instances, you might be surprised to find among the top five results a website with a page that actually has nothing to do with cupcake flavors.
This is because they’ve “cheated” the system by optimizing for SEO well enough to make Google unable to ignore them.
Alternatively, plenty of topic-appropriate websites get sorted in the dark abyss of Google’s two-digit pages simply because they didn’t get under its radar.
The best way to get under the radar is to best use keywords and keyphrases to your advantage.
Hundreds of Best Cupcake Flavors
Assuming you have an SEO plugin incorporated in your WordPress (which you obviously should, given the nature of the article), you won’t really have trouble locating the field that specifically requests you to name your keyword.
In the case of our theoretical cupcake flavor-related article, “best cupcake flavors” is the keyword in talk. What do you do with it, then?
Use it as many times as possible in the body of the text, keeping a fair ratio and a minimal density. Usually, for every 1,000 words, you will need your keyword to appear around 6-7 times.
The keyword also needs to be present in the title, the URL, and the meta description. In other words, it’s a pretty big deal.
Choosing the best keywords
How would changing the keyword to “most tastefully pleasing cupcake flavors” affect the ranking of your article? In theory, you might be tempted to say that the likelihood of your website topping the search results will decrease, but that really isn’t the case.
Try to think about it like a situation when a fan is frantically tweeting Justin Bieber during a Q&A. He has a huge following behind him and because of that, your messages are getting buried under an enormous pile of other tweets.
The situation is different if you attempt the same thing with an indie band member with less that 100k followers, for example. The very rarity of your keyword might be the catalyst that catapults the website among the first results.
Any keyword that shows over 75,000 results when typed in a search bar is a competitive keyword and you’ll be forced to battle other websites making use of it.
Title, Slug, Description
The title is the most important part of a website and the determinant factor of whether someone will or won’t click on the provided link. The page slug refers to the page’s URL, which is typically just like the title unless it needs a little bit of tweaking.
The description is where you need to summarize the content that the Internet browser is going to view and this is a time when you should let your marketing skills kick in.
All three have in common the fact that there is a minimum and maximum character number that needs to be respected in order for the search engines to take it into consideration.
The SEO packs installed in WordPress do a good job at letting you know just how much is too much.
However, only the Yoast SEO Plugin tells you how little is too little. The All in One Pack only comes with a maximum.
You can find several websites that can calculate for you how attractive your title is. Aside from being catchy, it needs to contain the keyword.
Preferably, it should be located at the beginning and you should avoid using stop words. These are the little “as” and “to” and “or” and “of” connection words that will only end up making it harder for the search engine to rank your website.
In other words, your page title should be “Best Cupcake Flavors You Can Ever Have” and not “Best of the Cupcake Flavors You Can Ever Have.”
The permalink or the URL of your page is also important both for stylistic and practical reasons. You should try keeping the URL as short as possible and as expressive as you can.
Include the keyword with the same guidelines we’ve mentioned in the case of the title. Whether you want to include categories in your permalink or not is optional.
Search engines also filter based on images, not just text. Any page or article of yours should contain at least one image, which needs to be put plenty of thought into.
For starters, make the images practical. Nobody likes a picture that takes five billion years to load and that slows down the computer. To avoid this, choose JPG format images, keep their size under 700px, and try to use programs that can shrink their size.
The other important aspect is the SEO stylization itself. WordPress gives you fields to input information: title, alt text, caption, and description. Ideally, all of them should be filled in and with relevant information at it too.
If you have an image of Jaime Oliver smiling with a banana muffin in his hand, title it “Jaime-Oliver-Muffin” and describe it just like I did. Make sure to add the keyword to the alt text field.
All of this will ensure that Google will display your pictures on the Google Images search, which in turn will link to your website.
Interlinking or link-building is a great way to increase your traffic and SEO rating through a ghost partnership with other websites (with say “partnership” pretty lightly).
Simply link to other websites in your article, ideally websites with high authority – that are ranking pretty high up on the front page. Likewise, you can promote your own content and link to some of the other pages on your website.
A good way to promote yourself and grow the authority of your website is through guest posts. Read the guidelines, brew an idea, and interlink with a few high-authority links and a link to one of your own pages.
Something not often mentioned is the importance of a search engine optimized theme. What this means is that you should try sticking to a theme that doesn’t use a lot of coding for its design and styling options.
Google usually filters through the coding itself to search for relevant content. The more code you have, the smaller your keyword density will be, which will only end up damaging the authority growth for your website.
WWW VS Non-WWW
Long gone are the days when typing “www” before any URL was a must. Nowadays, you can reach a website by choosing to completely ignore both the “www” and the “http://” bit of the permalink.
However, WordPress doesn’t really see it that way. There are instances in which only either of the www and non-www website versions are available.
WordPress takes care of this by automatically redirecting to the right source, but the big problem is the type of redirect. The 302 redirect type basically tells Google that this whole situation is temporary, when it’s not.
You need to let Google know to stop considering the null alternative so it can direct all the attention and traffic to the good website. To do this, you’ll need to convert to a 301 redirect, which you can learn how to do here.
This guide barely scratches the surface of all the possibilities provided by WordPress in the world of SEO, but it makes for a pretty solid starting point.
Nothing here guarantees that your website will be the first result to show up – it’s a pretty difficult achievement, either way. But learning the way of SEO is a steady learning process.
Amanda Wilks is a Digital Marketing specialist and a Contributing Editor at JOB APPLICATION CENTER. She has a great interest in everything related to digital marketing, personal and corporate branding, and social media.