BBetter search engine optimization is arguably the number one objective of any website unless you plan on paying for every visit through paid campaign. To gain more organic visits with your SEO, you need to follow a set of rules that Google has finessed over the years. These rules are designed in Google’s words to match user intent in visiting your site in the first place and rewarding substantive original content published by you.
So let me start by highlighing some of the Do’s and Dont’s of SEO before you spend time adjusting your search engine optimisation.
Spend the time and do research on keywords that your want to rank for on your site. Google Keyword Planner is the de facto tool for this as it is Googles own creation. To use it, you will need to setup a Google Ad account and go through the motions of creating an ad even if your not ready to pay for an ad yet. It will auto suggest keywords based on your input and what users are actually searching for and give you a breakdown on search volume and how competitive they are when measured against your competitors.
At this point I would create a separate word or excel document and start copying the keywords of interest in to it. I would also look at typing some of these words into a normal Google search and see what the search engine auto suggests. I would also look at semrush.com and start to do an analysis of your competitors sites and what they are ranking for.
At the end of the exercise, you should have a list of over 20 keywords which can be used across your site and included in any copy that you publish on your site.
All of your images should have descriptive alt tags set on your site. This can be done manually at the time of image upload or using a plugin like BIALTY which is a bit more broad in it’s use. The alt tags description should ideally have your target keywords and support the content on the page it’s published. Google only indexes 125 characters or 16 words on average of your alt tags, everything else is ignored.
Yoast is probably the best known SEO plugin and comes in a free and paid version. The free version is sufficient for beginners and allows you to use it’s wizard to setup and index your site (sitemap.xml) which google uses to map your site. Yoast is handy in that it appears on the backend of each page and post giving you guidance on page title, meta description, keyword use and more. The caveat here though, is that you must take time to read the guidance from Yoast themselves as it can be a bit overwhelming to try and wing it and realise later that your efforts made no difference in ranking.
Image size is probably the biggest influencer on page load time which will directly effect your SEO particularly on mobile devices. There’s an art to getting this right in terms of reducing image size without losing too much quality but there are general rules of thumb. Use newer compression formats such as webp if your saving an image in photoshop (photoshop plugin required). Save image files with a max 2000 px width dimension (more than enough for the screen width of most websites). Use an image compression plugin in wordpress such as Smush to further compress images at the time of media library upload.
I usually use two versions of an image when working with cover images which are 2000×1200(desktop) and 1200×800 (mobile). Cover images are important to get right as they are rendered 1st when a web page is loaded.
Search Console Errors:
If your a webmaster then you will have used Google Search Console. Within this tool, there is a section for errors which tells site owners about any errors encountered on the site. Typical ones relate to dead links, elements being too close together and pages that were blocked some way from being indexed. It’s very important to address these as your whole site maybe impacted and excluded from indexing and therefore not being found.
Measure Site Speed:
Be sure to address site speed problems by using at least two measurement tools like pingdom and gtmetrix. They will grade your site load time and any issues that maybe slowing it down such as images, font loading, css, js etc. Often plugins such as WP-Rocket, w3 Cache or Autoptimise can improve load times.
Google penalises all sorts of activities which it sees as deceptive or unethical. Things like hidden text, sneaky redirects to other pages, images layered on top of other images, spammy type content and content scraped from other sites to name but a few. In otherwards, much like tax evasion, the authorities have wised over time to all the tricks so you’ll likely get caught out.
There are however more newbie type dont’s that need to be addressed which I’ll cover here.
You might be tempted to put two dozen instances of your preferred keyword on each page on your site but it likely wont work. Google and humans will see this as unnatural and not yield a positive result.
Don’t use the same keyword combination on multiple pages on your site. You dont want internal pages competing against each other for search enging ranking.
Control Your Plugin Bloat:
Newbies often make the mistake of installing a boatload of plugins in an effort to try an test out new things, but in the process they go unused, are not deleted and slow down the site. Keep your plugins to a minimum and use a tool like sweep to clean up your site backend regularly
Don’t Overlook Security:
Many people will not realise the direct link from Security to SEO but the reality is very different. If your site gets hacked it will likely very quickly get blocklisted by Google and you will be removed in short order from SERP. As they say, prevention is better than the cure so implement a tool like Wordfence to manage your security. It includes features such as two factor authentication which I highly recommend you turn on.
While Im on the topic of security, backing up your site through your site hosting plan is also recommended. If your site is hacked or impacted by a technical issue, it’s your only real recourse.
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