I get it, SEO is confusing… You may not even know what it is, or you may just know that your website needs it, but aren’t sure where to begin. The truth is, there are some really simple things you can start doing today to get your SEO in shape and start ranking better in search engine results.
So first of all, what is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s the practice of continuously updating and optimizing the content and code on a website in order to rank better in search engines, like Google or Bing. Search engines gather information about content on the web by “crawling” through sites. Then, it organizes and ranks content in order to provide users with what they believe to be the most relevant search results. Search engines like Google take a lot of things into account for this – your website’s legitimacy (which can be affected by things like how long it has been around and how many other websites link to it), the searcher’s intent (which considers why the user is searching for a specific keyword), relevancy (how closely your content matches with search terms), and more! It can be a lot to take in, but just know this – your SEO is never done! It’s something you need to constantly work on and improve, and stay up to date with. But don’t worry, these tips will help set a solid SEO foundation for your website and start ranking on the search engines!
Install the YoastSEO Plugin
YoastSEO is hands down the most user-friendly and widely respected plugin for managing your SEO directly in your WordPress dashboard. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of it, and it can automatically generate your sitemap, which is an important file search engines look for to properly “index” your site. Search for and install YoastSEO right from the plugin directory, and once activated, you can go through the Configuration Wizard to walk through the setup, asking questions about your website name, what it’s used for, your social media links, and more to get your started on the right foot.
Get to Know Your Keywords
Keywords are the terms people search for when they’re looking for your services or information. Since this is what people are searching for, it’s important to consider what keywords you want to show up for and include them in your content, page titles, and more. For example, I may want to show up for keywords like “branding” “logo design” or even “SEO for WordPress,” so I’m sure to include those terms throughout my site wherever it’s relevant and helpful for someone that may be looking for those things.
Use Smart URLs for Your Posts and Pages
Here’s a tip every WordPress website should implement right away to get their URLs in order for search! From your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > Permalinks, and make sure “Post Name” is selected. This makes pretty URLs from your post or page names, instead of just random numbers and letters. Search engines can read this as they’re crawling your site, so it’s important for this to make sense! In order for this to really help, you also need to make sure your posts and pages have titles that include keywords and accurately describe the content they include. Something specific like “6 Steps to Planning the Perfect Bachelorette Party” is much easier to match up with what someone may be searching for than something cutesy like “Win the Day With the Perfect Bach Bash.”
Make Sure All of Your Pages Have SEO Meta Data
Once you install YoastSEO, you’ll see that an extra box appears at the bottom of all your posts and pages now for meta data. Meta data is the coding that’s embedded on a page to tell the search engines some important key details about your page content, like the page’s title and description. There are lots of options here, but these two items are the must-haves! Make sure your page titles and descriptions are accurate and keyword inclusive, and fall into the “green” category for length – this means it’s not too long that it gets cut short in the search results, or too short that it doesn’t provide enough information. Make sure your page title is descriptive of your page and your business – this is more than just what shows at the top of the page! It’s what shows up in the search result and in the browser tabs, and often includes more detailed information. For example, a good meta title for a restaurant’s About page may be something like “Contact Los Tacos | Mexican Restaurant | New Orleans, LA” – describing what the page is for, but also what the business and location are.
Include Headlines and Internal Links In Your Content Blocks
Another easy thing that really helps with SEO is making sure to break up your content with header tags and include internal links in your content. Header tags (H1-H6) are available in your WordPress edit block, and are not just to make your page look pretty! They help with legibility, but also tell the search engines the “order” of importance for the content on the page. For example, H1 is typically reserved for the page title because it’s the most important thing on the page, then H2 may be a header on the page, and H3 a sub-header with a little less importance. Linking to other content within your website also tells Google that you are a legitimate source of information in your field, and your website is not just a random assortment of content! So if you mention your favorite meatball recipe in a post, and you have another post about that recipe, you should link to it so Google knows you know your meatballs!
BONUS: Make Sure Blogs Have Shareable Social Images
One of the really neat features in YoastSEO is that you can set different images, titles and descriptions to show up when your page is shared on social media channels like Facebook or Twitter (more options are available in the premium version).
Looking for some help with your website? I help small to medium sized businesses establish a presence online and connect with their audience – from branding and websites to social media and digital marketing. Whether you want some DIY guidance or just want to hand it over, let’s chat!