If you’re about to start building your first WordPress website, or have one under construction already, then keep on reading! We’ll be going through some of the easiest SEO tactics for improving the ranking of your WordPress website.
More and more small businesses and individuals are cutting costs and creating their own websites on WordPress, the thing is if this is not your natural environment, SEO techniques might not be on top of your list of to-do’s.
The tactics for meeting the requirements of the Google search algorithms are not general knowledge for the average Joe. But whether your main objective is online reputation management, or appearing regularly on the first page of your core search terms. SEO is what you will need to get there.
Why is SEO Important?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the tactic used to increase the search placement of a website on search engines. For this article we will be concentrating on Google, and the tactics that you can use to ensure your website is within the favourable conditions required by them when ranking sites.
Getting your website to rank on the first page of Google for specific search terms is the goal for any business owner that wants to be ahead of the online competition. There are countless variables that could have an impact on your ranking such as search terms used, what theme your site uses, your industry, current digital footprint, and whether you trade on a local, national, or international level, and many more.
Luckily there are options that you can do yourself with minimal technical knowledge that will put your website in the best position possible, before the need arises to approach a developer for the more technical aspects of SEO and web development. Read on to find out more.
Use A Clean WordPress Template For Speed
WordPress is the most widely used web development platform and it has a multitude of page builders, and pre built websites available to purchase. It is often easy to think that purchasing a pre built website is going to be the most cost effective way to get your business up and running online. This is not always the case.
In the long run pre built websites can be problematic when it comes to your website speed, and technical issues that can arise when being crawled by Google. The issue is that many pre-build websites have a design flaw. They are made to appease a wide audience with many different functionalities embedded in the same template. This leads to chunks of unnecessary code and plugins that can lead to slow loading times and readability issues.
Always do your research before buying a pre-build WordPress website, and if possible look at using clean templates such as Astra Theme, or Hello Theme from Elementor. The chances are you will most likely change your end site a lot from the main template, so use a base theme that is free from excess code and ready to be built on.
Make it a priority to use only templates that are mobile friendly, mobile users can account for up to 90% of users visiting a website and having a template that has lower than average responsiveness to mobile devices is a ranking and audience killer.
Google Page Speed Insights
Red, Amber, or Green! Where do you rank within Googles traffic light system for website speed? Page Speed Insights by Google is a free developer website that lets you check the performance of your website on both desktop and Mobile.
You receive useful feedback on how you could improve performance, areas that need attention, and other general recommendations.
Some of these recommendations would need support from a WordPress developer, but they can be resolved with some free plugins, although caution should be taken when altering any code within your WordPress website theme.
Basic Keyword Research
Before the copy is drafted for your website it makes sense to know what keywords you are going to target. These are going to be the words, questions, and phrases that your target audience are likely to use when searching for information related to your products or services on a search engine.
Keywords must be used with intent, and simply filling your blog or service pages repeatedly with different search phrases and words will not get you the success you are looking for.
Use Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free service that allows even the most amateur web developer to add a site map and troubleshoot any errors that could impact how well Google reads your site data. Adding your site is super easy and this can be done with just your website URL.
If you want to verify your domain then some editing in your web hosts DNS servers will be needed.
Create A Site Map
A site map contains overview of your website and enhances the ability for search engines to find your site and crawl the information within it. This can instantly benefit the placement of your search engine results.
It is possible to upload your site map to Google Search Console in the form of an XML document, using the sitemap function in Yoast SEO, or by using a site map generator.
No technical knowledge is needed in order to produce and upload an XML sitemap. This should be done at the same time as setting up the rest of your Google ecosystem and Google Search Console.
Check out this video on how to add your WordPress site to Google Search Console.
Get Yoast SEO For Content Direction
Yoast SEO is a popular plugin available for use on WordPress websites available as a free download, or paid version at $89.00 a year.
What Yoast SEO excels at is enabling you to easily create a sitemap, guiding your meta data, and content structure for blog posts and pages. This is especially useful for beginners who need guidance with SEO best practice.
If you are new to managing your own SEO, this the perfect tool to start drilling SEO habits into your content creation. The free version gives you ample feedback for bringing your content up to a higher standard, with enough features to feel it is making a difference.
Optimise Your Images
The larger an image is, the more time it will take to load when a visitor hits a landing page. This is also a negative ranking signal for Google that takes into consideration how long pages to load on both mobile and desktop devices.
If your website is image heavy this could slow down the loading speed of your site, and a slow loading website isn’t going to encourage users to stick around. The good news is there are solutions.
Plugins such as SMUSH can reduce your images sizes considerably without loss of quality, and many have features that enable ‘Lazy Loading’ of images to give users a more fluid browsing experience.
Checkout this article on how to optimise the images on your WordPress website.
It is always recommended to do this before launching your website, changing Permalinks after launch can cause problems with Google crawl bots.
Transport Layer Security (TLS) formerly known as Secure Socket Layering (SSL) is a priority for Google when it comes to determining whether a website is safe to send traffic to. If your site is not deemed secure, naturally you will not rank as highly compared to competitors with TLS/SSL enabled.
Enabling TLS/SSL is often as easy as logging into the service are of your domain host and activating this through your dashboard. Some domain providers may charge for this service, and offer slightly different versions.
Once TLS/SSL is activated you will notice that your domain name changes from HTTP:// to HTTPS:// with a padlock appearing next to your URL.
Use Easy To Read URL’s
When it comes to structuring your website URL’s it is proven to make things as simple as possible. You are trying to kill two birds with one stone here. Satisfying your audience that they have located what they are looking for, and telling Google you have something useful.
Having a URL like this https://socialdog.co.uk/post.php?post=1778&action=wordpress28287826262 does nothing positive should it appear in a search result, and could be deemed an untrustworthy link by a potential customer. It may also not rank as highly had it been structured better.
Using something more descriptive such as https://socialdog.co.uk/how-to-build-online-reputation immediately tells someone in a search result what the article is about, and appears to be more trustworthy on first appearances.
Keep Updating Your Website and Content
SEO does not provide immediate results and it is not uncommon for your site to not rank consistently for a good few months. Preparing your site pre launch is the best method for implementing a majority of your SEO. But any of these solutions can be used at any time to give your website the best chance of competing with your competitors. SEO can heavily rely on your ability to keep your website content updated.