October 14, 2016 - Posted in Informative
Today we’d like to touch on the subject of SEO–Search Engine Optimization–which basically means tweaking various parts of your web site to get ranked higher in free (versus paid, or PPC [Pay Per Click]) search engine rankings. About 30% of our business is devoted to SEO, and it seems that more and more clients are asking about it when it comes time to discuss the terms of their project.
You don’t necessarily have to go to a firm like Brothers Design to achieve better rankings though–there are many things that the average website owner can do on their own, without a lot of time, previous knowledge/experience, or effort on their part.
We’ll delve into the best SEO techniques for those of you with a WordPress-based website in particular. WordPress is a CMS, or Content Management System, that makes it easy to edit and extend the capabilities of your blog or website (most of our clients’ sites have been created in WordPress as of late). Because of this flexibility, many of the more menial SEO tasks can be dealt with with a few clicks of the mouse, through the installation of various (free) modules called plug-ins.
But before you start installing plug-ins, make sure the basic WordPress settings are correct. Make sure your ping list/Update Settings (Settings > Writing) is updated with the latest ping services (to notify search engines when you update your site)–just copy and paste from this commonly used list. Also, make sure your Permalinks are set to be search friendly (Settings > Permalinks > Custom Structure–select ‘Post Name’).
All-in-One SEO Pack is the most easy to use plug-in available for WordPress SEO, and I’ve been using and recommending it for years. Simply install it, go to the settings page, enable it, and type in your descriptive site title (up to 70 characters), site description (up to 160 characters), and a few keywords. There are other settings as well, but those are the main ones that you have to worry about. Once setup it will provide search-friendly URL’s across the entire site, using your blog name along with each individual post or page title.
The Google XML Sitemaps plug-in will automatically create a sitemap for all of the major search engines, submit it to each, and update it automatically at a set interval. A sitemap tell the search engines what pages are in your site and how to search them.
There used to be plug-ins that would allow you to create and edit robots.txt files in your WordPress installation, but nowadays this is not needed. Robots.txt tells search engines what files and directories of your website installation to index in their results, and which to ignore. You can also redirect one page/site to another through editing this file. Follow the link to go to a Yoast page that is updated with current best-practices for your WordPress robots.txt file.
Although this plug-in doesn’t affect your search engine rankings in any way, it does provide an easy way to keep up-to-date with your current visitor count and where they’re all coming from (frequently searched terms, referring sites, etc.). Just install it, link with your free Google Analytics account through the settings page, and an easy to read panel will be installed on your WordPress dashboard.
This plug-in can do everything that all three of the above plug-ins can do, in one package. So why not just install this and be done with it? Well, because it is a bit overwhelming to setup for first timers (although some sites make this easier by providing settings files that you can download from them, then upload to your Yoast plug-in installation). This is one of those plug-ins that would best be setup by a firm like us, to prevent potential negative effects to your site’s search rankings.
Just install these few plug-ins and you’ll be well on your way to better search results in no time.
But remember: these are just the basics–a lot more goes into Search Engine Optimization than just installing a few plug-ins.
Of course, you can always contact us for all of your more advanced SEO needs.