How to Maximize Your WordPress Site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you own a business, you’ve heard the term Search Engine Optimization. You’ve been told you need SEO, and you want SEO, but OMG WTF is SEO?
SEO is the process of optimizing your website to increase the quantity and quality of traffic from search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. With SEO, you’ll show up higher on customers’ search results, resulting in increased traffic, better user engagement, and ultimately higher conversions and revenue.
Basically, Search Engine Optimization is the secret sauce that will get your business noticed online. But don’t worry, it’s not as mysterious as you might think. Here are variety of simple, effective techniques that can maximize your website’s SEO:
Set your budget — even if it’s $0.
At Colorful Creative, we have a few larger clients that can afford to pay for monthly SEO. If you really want to be the #1 result on Google and have a big ROI (return on investment), hire a fantastic SEO team you can trust like our partners, Hammerseed. (link to them)
But many of our clients have a very small or non-existent budget for SEO (we’re looking at you, non-profits)! The good news is that by following some best practices, you can increase your website’s visibility, drive more organic traffic, and improve your online reputation. Dedicating just an hour or two a month will make a big difference! So, keep reading for some DIY SEO tips.
Choose a descriptive and keyword-rich domain name.
Your domain name is one of the first things search engines see when they crawl your site. So, choose a domain name that accurately represents your business and includes your target keywords. Also, keep in mind that the extensions .com or .org are typically favored by search engines.
Does that mean you can’t use your business name if it doesn’t have special keyword? No, you can still use it! But it never hurts to buy up a bunch of inexpensive domain names that relate to your business. For example, our business website is colorfulcreativeagency.com — but we also own many other domains like brandingcharlottenc.com, graphicdesigncharlotteNC.com, graphicdesignercharlotteNC and many others all that point to our website.
Optimize your website for speed.
People have the attention span of goldfish online. If your site takes longer than a second to load, they’ll bounce. So, website load speed is an important factor for both user experience and search engine optimization.
You can speed up your website’s load time by optimizing images (see #4!), using a caching plugin, or another speed optimizing plugin. (And make sure your plugins and WordPress version are up-to-date!) Often, a great hosting company can change everything about how your website loads and functions. We partner with DeliveryPath (link) for hosting and domain services, and they increase load speed in many ways, including daily updates, regular plugin checks, and weekly optimizations.
Optimize your images.
Images can really slow down your website’s load speed, which can negatively impact your SEO. Optimize your images by compressing them, using descriptive and keyword-rich file names, and including alt tags. To create an alt tag or “Alternative text” on an image in WordPress, start in your media library and select an image. You’ll see boxes you can fill in for each image to help boost SEO, including “alternative text” which are your alt tags, captions, and descriptions. These are especially important to complete if you’re looking to be more ADA compliant.
Use relevant and keyword-rich tags.
Tags help search engines understand the structure and content of your page, so they know your site is exactly what your customers are searching for. Use relevant tags, such as header tags (H1, H2, H3), meta descriptions, and alt tags, to optimize your content for search engines. Where can you find those things? On any given page, you can select any text and change it to Heading 1 (H1) or another heading in a drop-down menu. Those header tags help structure your content and make it easier for search engines to understand the content hierarchy. For meta descriptions, you can use a free plugin like Yoast SEO (we use this on all of our websites), and there is a section for you to fill in keyphrases, meta descriptions, and other content.
Use Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Google Search Console and Google Analytics are free tools that provide valuable insights into your website’s performance and visibility. Use these tools to monitor your website’s search engine performance and make informed decisions to improve your SEO efforts. You can also see the search terms that are bringing customers to your website. If you see a page is ranking higher than others, pay attention to the content and the keywords there and find ways to duplicate those efforts in other areas of your site.
Use a mobile-friendly design.
Mobile devices are where it’s at right now! If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website design, you are losing customers. Make sure to use responsive design to ensure that your website is optimized for all screen sizes. WordPress builders are really helpful with this because you can view your design on multiple screen sizes before you publish a page.
Keep your website up-to-date.
Search engines favor websites that are regularly updated with fresh and relevant content. Keep your website up-to-date by regularly publishing new content and updating your existing content. This doesn’t mean you have to add banners or redo your homepage often! Adding content to a blog, a news feed, or resources page is an easy way to keep content fresh. And if you have a section on your homepage that features your newest articles, then your homepage is automatically refreshed on a regular basis! Another way to increase SEO is to create keyword-heavy landing pages that are full of links. Even if these landing pages aren’t linked on your main site, they’ll still boost your SEO.
Create quality content.
While adding a higher quantity of content is beneficial, you also need to focus on creating high-quality content that’s useful and informative for your target audience. Think about your perfect customer and what they’re looking for, then create content that speaks to them and their needs. It’s important to use relevant keywords and phrases throughout your content, but avoid “keyword stuffing.” Search engines are getting better at recognizing the excessive use of filler keywords, so be sure to write your content like a normal human. Another best practice on your site is also to keep your content easy-to-read—most experts recommend an 8th-grade leading level—and keep your sentences varied in length but tending towards shorter sentences.
Use internal linking.
Incorporate relevant text links throughout your website content to direct your clients to other areas of your site. Internal linking helps visitors navigate your site and distributes page authority. Linking to other relevant pages on your site will also help search engines understand the relationships between your pages.
Use social media.
Don’t sleep on your social media platforms. Promote your website and share every blog you post across your platforms, linking back to your website. And don’t be shy! This is your business you’re promoting, so join some groups and share content that’s relevant to them. But don’t spam them. People hate that, and you don’t want them to be turned off by your business. For example, if you design websites, don’t go in a local mom’s group and promote your business there. Instead, join the local chamber pages, business groups, or niche business groups and promote your blogs on those sites.
Build high-quality backlinks.
Having reputable sources link to your website can improve your website’s authority and visibility in search engines. Focus on building high-quality backlinks from credible websites, rather than quantity. One surefire way to improve your backlinks is to increase your PR by sending material out to media sources to repost or link back to your website. You can also send a request out to your partners and ask them to link back to you on their websites.
Now, go ahead and give your website the SEO boost it needs to succeed online. Even if you put a few of these tips to work on your site, you’re making progress! And if you need more SEO support, you know where to find us.
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