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Whether you are a marketing manager working for a brand, a blogger or just simply a writer looking to express your opinion online, WordPress is the most popular and most used content management system (CMS) available online.

What’s appearing with WordPress is the flexibility and an easy to use system with the ability to have a website up and running in just minutes, making it so appealing.

SEO Plugin Installed, Good to Go – You’re Wrong!

SEO doesn’t work like a quick fix plugin, or a set and forget. That’s totally not how SEO works. SEO takes a lot of time and commitment, it’s a continuous process that needs to be interlinked into your marketing efforts.

Unfortunately, there is not any WordPress plugin that will just fix/optimise all your SEO elements on your website.

WordPress doesn’t allow you to add a Meta description, or optimise your title tag for a single page or post. WordPress requires you to install a plugin to allow to you optimise these vital elements of your website. Forgive me if I’m being a little harsh, but setting up your SEO plugin is a great first step but don’t think it stops there.

Ok! So what’s the best WordPress SEO plugin to Use?

There are 2 clear winners when it comes to WordPress SEO plugins, they are Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack. My personal preference is Yoast it seems to have more features and is a better supported plugin.

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SEO Optimised CMS – It’s a myth!

The problem I see with WordPress is that people feel that once its installed and you start blogging, installing a SEO plugin will have you all set and optimised, but unfortunately this is not the case.

Don’t get me wrong WordPress does do a good job with tackling a few on page optimisations like:

  • Removes stop words and special characters from the URL slugs
  • Inserts dashes in the URL to separate words
  • Pings all major Search Engines to notify them that a new post was created
  • Creates a hierarchy of categories and tags
  • Helps you insert ALT tags on images
  • Wraps your post and page titles H1 header tags

WordPress Hosting

Web hosting is not something to compromise on. If you have a great deal of time on your hands to manage backups, restoring your website, upgrades – then get yourself on a shared server or an unmanaged virtual private server. If not, consider a managed hosting plan and work with a company that understands how WordPress works, we use TSO Host. This means you don’t need to worry about performance issues, backing up your website or dealing with upgrades, you can simply focus on running your website!

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WordPress SEO Themes – Good, Bad & Ugly!

There is a large selection of free or paid themes available on WordPress, many themes are harmless and a great choice but there is a lot to look out for when it comes to picking a theme:

  • Does the theme contain spammy links? These links can link you in to a link network which can result in harming your organic visibility within Google. So be warned check over the theme before making the final choice.
  • Read the reviews. There is a large community of WordPress lovers out there that will let you know what they think of the theme where it’s good, bad or anywhere in-between.
  • Is it well supported and updated? The biggest problem with outdated themes (free or paid) is if they are not updated against security vulnerabilities. Millions of hacks take place daily, the best thing to do is check out the latest vulnerabilities which WPScan kindly has listed here – https://wpvulndb.com/
  • Does it follow Google’s best practices and guidelines? You can run some simple checks on the demo site to see how it performs to the tests: PageSpeed Insights and Mobile-Friendly Test.

Adding content to multiple categories

If your content will live on one category you will mostly likely not need to worry about this, but does adding content to multiple categories have a negative impact to your SEO? Not always.

When adding the same article to multiple categories with more than one URL, you will have duplicate content. You can simply resolve this by adding a canonical tag to indicate to search engines what is the preferred URL.

The canonical tag is simply added to the <head> section of the duplicated pages, here is an example of how its best used:

<link href=”https://blog.example.com/marketing/top-seo-wordpress-tips” />

It’s never a guarantee Google will respect this but it will indicate to Google what is duplicate content.

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W3 Total Cache + Content Delivery Network = Ultra Speeds!

W3 Total Cache is one of the most popular caching plugins, I use this plugin on all the WordPress sites I work on, one thing to note it’s not a simple plugin by just ticking all the settings and it works. This does take some time to configure correctly, but the results are great. Instead of me going into great detail in this post about setting it up its best you refer to a great guide by WP Beginner, as this guide goes into great detail.

Moving onto using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to store your Image Files, CSS Files, JavaScript Files then serving these from a server which is closest to your visitor’s location this will increase the website load times. For example, if a visitor from Greenland was visiting your site and your server was in china, that visitor will experience a server time delay. But a CDN resolve this and finds the nearest server to your visitor with in the network and serves the files meaning a better response time!

You should definitely consider a CDN when looking to improve overall performance of your WordPress site, we recommend MaxCDN. If your site is just getting started there are a number of free CDN services you could try before a paid solution.

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Proper use of headings and Meta title tags

Your headline/page title is one of the most vital elements to optimise on your website, this indicates to both your viewers and search engines what your page is all about. When writing your titles there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Keeping your title under 55 characters to ensure it displays correctly in Google SERPs
  • Making sure your title is descriptive and accurate
  • Add your most important keywords at the beginning of your title

If you struggle to come up with good headlines you could look at using some of the following tools:

http://www.impactbnd.com/blog-title-generator/blogabout

http://www.hubspot.com/blog-topic-generator

http://www.portent.com/tools/title-maker

Pretty URL Structures (Permalinks)

When you’re writing your titles for your post or page within WordPress you will notice the Permalink will automatically be applied. This will copy the title you have written into the url. A great thing with WordPress, it will remove stop words (such as “the”, “a”, “and”) from appearing in your URL.

Just be sure to have setup your Permalinks to “Post Name”. This can be easily done in Settings > Permalinks. This feature ensures your posts URLs automatically become your page title.

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Optimise Those Images

It’s highly recommended that you optimise your images. This allows search engines to discover your images and display them within image search results. When adding images to your posts and pages on your WordPress site you will be presented with a number of fields to fill in:

Name

Name your images descriptively, it’s so easy to bulk upload lots of product images with your default camera names, but it’s a good habit to get into early on as it will only save you the headache in the future!

A good way to think about image names is by thinking about how your visitors would search for what’s in the image, then you can come up with a naming pattern.

Here is a few examples:

  • Sky Blue Polo Shirt
  • Men’s Sky Blue Polo Shirt
  • Crew Polo Shirt for Men

Title

This attribute is to give a title for your image, the text entered in this field is displayed when you hover over the image. Similar to your image name – try not to use the exact same name used, maybe alternate between 2 of the suggestions you come up with.

Alt Tag

This has 2 purposes – it’s for when the image cannot load for some reason, or the user is using a screen reader. Googles bots cannot visually see the images, they use the ALT tag to understand the context of the image. So make sure you don’t leave this field blank and correctly apply an alt tag that explains the image using the same technique as above (Don’t stuff it with keywords, it simply doesn’t work).

Caption

Image captions are not always needed, but in some cases like when doing screenshots in a tutorial, Captions can help readers understand the image in more detail.

Description

Use this filed to describe what your image is about in more detail. Don’t be shy!

So just to recap some simple rules to follow when using the filling in the Meta fields for images:

  • Be descriptive when naming your images
  • Use the ALT tag wisely, if you sell products then state product details in the alt tag (serial numbers, model numbers etc..)
  • Don’t keyword stuff!

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404 Pages no more!

It can be a difficult task finding and tracking broken links and 404 errors. Let’s be honest, it can be the most annoying thing for when your browsing a website and you hit a 404 page! Search engines operate the same way – they don’t like 404 pages, it’s not a great user experience!

A great feature within Google Analytics plugin by Yoast is that it tracks 404 error pages and tags them for you and places them into your analytics. These can be found by going to Behaviour > Site Content > Content Drilldown and then search for “404.html”, this will show you more details about your 404 error.

2 things it highlights:

  • The 404 URL – you can view where the error is in the URL
  • Where the link is placed / where the referral came from to the 404 page. This is so you can fix the URL on that page.

Another way to track 404 errors and deal with redirects is using a plugin called redirection, a great plugin that’s very easy to use!

Automatic Generated XML Sitemaps

There is a number of plugins you can use to generate your XML sitemaps like Google XML Sitemaps or XML Sitemap to name a few. But I love the feature that Yoast offers to generate your XML sitemap for you. All you need to do is enable this within your Yoast settings and click save and it’s all done. Sometimes I have ran into a few issues with this not working, 9 times out of 10 its usually a conflict in plugins, but Yoast has put together a list of common errors and fixes.

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Internal Links

Linking to other related and resourceful content on your website indicates to search engines your site has great value. Best practice is to try to interlink up to 3 – 4 relevant content using correct anchor text.

There is a number of ways you can help improve interlinking by using the following methods:

Use Categories and Tags

What are categories and tags and what’s the difference between them?

One way to think of categories and tags is by thinking of your blog like a book. Categories act like a chapter and tags are like the index. If you look over the chapters of a book you would gauge what the books about and what it would cover. You would also feel if the author of that book removed or edited a chapter you would see that it would make a pretty big impact to the book. Indexes are a large list of specific topics and mentions in the book. Adding and removing topics or mentions from the index wouldn’t affect the structure of the book.

A large number of WordPress users don’t know how to use categories and tags correctly, and these people are missing out on some lovely SEO juice and overall better user experience.

Categories and tags are used to create the skeleton of your website, the main purpose is to help visitors navigate around your website content, plus it will also benefit your SEO.

One way it will benefit is internal linking, this will guide search engine crawlers to discover related content by checking the anchor text of your tags and categories that is assigned to your content.

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How Breadcrumbs Affect your SEO and How to Optimise Them.

Breadcrumb navigation improves your user experience and impacts your SEO greatly!

Having breadcrumbs installed on your site improves your user experience, helping them understand your site structure by offering a much simpler and faster way of navigating through your site. They also offer users easy access to higher level pages to find similar pages to what they are viewing, this will then have great impact to user site metrics like bounce rate, time on site, page views.

Breadcrumbs are highly favoured by search engines providing them with a logical route to inner pages within your site.

  • They help point keywords to certain pages indicating to search engines what they are about and how the other pages are inter-related.
  • Don’t forget to apply Schema to your breadcrumbs, this will help search engines understand they are looking at breadcrumbs. Note not all that apply schema markup to your breadcrumbs will have this appear in SERPS, but never the less don’t let that put you off.
  • Breadcrumbs provide additional benefits of helping apply internal linking with contextual related pages.

Now we understand how breadcrumbs are beneficial to your users and how they impact your SEO, let’s look at how we can apply them to your WordPress site. Now as always there is a few ways on how to apply breadcrumbs to your site but the best way I find is using Yoast.

Using Yoast to apply breadcrumbs to your WordPress theme is very easy to do, simply go to your SEO settings > Advanced > Breadcrumbs enable the breadcrumbs feature. Look over the settings and make changes where needed, once you’re happy with the settings you need to apply the breadcrumb code to your theme:

<?php if ( function_exists(‘yoast_breadcrumb’) )

{yoast_breadcrumb(‘<p id=”breadcrumbs”>’,'</p>’);} ?>

A common place where I apply this code to is at the bottom of your header.php file. Now you will just need to apply some styling to the widget to get it to fit in nicely with your theme.

Related Articles – Yet another related post plugin

A great little plugin that scans through your content and uses a number of ways to look for similar/related posts. You can change the plugin settings to how you want them but standard setup of the plugin will add the related content to the end of each blog post automatically.

Using YARPP will apply the same benefits of the other methods offer but helps advertise related post content to the viewer offering them to stay on your site for longer, plus keeping older content that would be buried due to age now has a chance to continue to be read.

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WordPress Popular Posts

Another great plugin that helps you showcase your most popular content on your site. By offering your most popular content to your viewers will encourage them to continue to look click-through your site.

Like always once you’re happy with the settings all you need do is apply the widget to where ever you want it to be displayed. Common areas for this to be displayed is on the sidebar of your site or at the bottom of a page/post.

Conclusion

So in summary WordPress offers a great platform to getting your website online fast, but simply installing a plugin doesn’t mean your website is search engine optimised nor does it mean user experience is good, but using the correct plugins and setting them up correctly to your sites needs it can offer a great platform to optimising your sites SEO and user experience.

I know I mention Yoast plugin a number of times within my post but this is a matter of opinion and what I have found that works for me and the sites I work on. Plus I don’t like to have multiple plugins that do each individual thing as this can cause a multitude of problems, plus can cut down on site performance.

If you want more insight in gaining search visibility for your WordPress website, talk to our team at Trusted Media today.

Dean Lynn

Dean Lynn

Dean is the Founder of Trusted Media and has over fifteen years experience of commercial business marketing. If you ever meet Dean, you'll quickly realise how honest and straight to the point he is; something his clients love about his marketing approach. When Dean's not at Trusted Media providing marketing consultancy to clients, he can be found at home with his daughter, who loves creating (breaking) things. Dean never sits still, enjoys eating food (part-time #instafoodie), and finds his happy place in the kitchen baking or in the garden.

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