WordPress is the most popular CMS, or content management system, on the entire planet. In fact, approximately half of all sites that use a content management system use WordPress.
It’s is easy to use, highly customizable, and extremely versatile. This is largely due to the numerous themes and plugins that are available for customers to use.
If you are interested in building a new website, WordPress is an excellent choice. But, everything that glitters isn’t gold. For instance, there’s a false rumor that alleges that a WordPress hosted site is automatically SEO friendly. But, the truth is, if you want to create a search optimized site, the responsibility falls on you.
Interested in learning how you can maximize your search engine visibility? Keep reading for a few strategies that will improve your site’s SEO.
1. WordPress and SEO
As stated earlier, WordPress is not an SEO solution in itself. But the beauty is that WordPress hosted sites don’t require extensive customization or coding. That is to say, it’s relatively easy to create an SEO friendly site using the WordPress platform.
Another advantage of using WordPress is its technical beauty. But, it’s important to note that these technical attributes are only as good as the theme that you choose for your site. Thankfully, most themes are mobile-friendly, are of sound technical structure, and have no need for excessive coding.
Still, there are several important factors, concerning SEO, that you must consider. For example:
• Load time plays a major role in search engine algorithms. But, when you first get your WordPress site, it will probably load slowly. Using plugins like W3 Total Cache and WPSuper Cache will help your site load faster.
• The default permalink settings that WordPress uses aren’t optimized either. So, it’s on you to modify your permalink structure to make the URLs in your site search-friendly. Instead of using the default permalink structure, try something that is more readable, this will make it more search friendly as well. If you already own a WordPress site, changing your permalinks is a little trickier. Plunging ahead, without taking the necessary precautions, will modify your existing URLS. This will result in 404 errors and a dramatic loss of rankings and traffic. Thus, if you want to change the permalink structure of an existing site, you will first have to put proper 301 redirects in place.
• WordPress doesn’t automatically make XML sitemaps, which is a critical component of effective SEO.
• WordPress automatically creates external links when a visitor opens a link on your page. So, in order for users to look at the new page or website that the link opens, they will have to navigate off of the original page. Putting it simply, this may make you lose a customer, reader, or user.
2. SEO and Your WordPress Theme
One of the reasons for WordPress’ popularity is the large selection of themes that users can choose from. They allow you to create a stunning website in just a couple of minutes. Plus, many themes are available for free.
When it comes to SEO, things are a little different. There are a lot of themes that are allegedly search optimized, but this isn’t the complete truth. The best way to make your site SEO friendly site is by providing high quality content that will be of interest to your target demographic.
So, before you choose your theme, there are a number of things that you must take into consideration. Some of them include:
• Schema Markup: The data from Schema.org is very important so, it’s in your best interest to pick a theme that supports input from schema.
• Speed: As mentioned earlier, speed is an important part of SEO so, make sure that you choose a theme that loads quickly
• Responsive: Because of Google’s mobile algorithm, your site must be mobile-friendly and have built-in responsive capabilities
• Lightweight Code: Coding mistakes or unnecessary coding can slow your site down and, thus, decrease its SEO capabilities. You may have to pay for a quality theme with a streamlined code, but the investment is worth it.
• HTML5: The majority of new themes are created in HTML5, which is excellent for SEO purposed. But, those that have more than one H1 tags on a page should be avoided.
StudioPress’s Genesis framework is an excellent thematic choice because of its amazing SEO functionality and performance. In fact, this is the theme that most SEO professionals and WordPress experts use.
3. An SEO Plugin Doesn’t Guarantee That Your Site Will Be Optimized
Did you know that SEO plugins don’t optimize your site? They only provide the ability for you to do SEO. Plugins are very popular because they allow you to easily customize, modify, or enhance a part of your site. They eliminate the need for users to have development knowledge or access code files. All you have to do is tell the plugin what to do and it’s done.
The same can be said for SEO plugins. For example, if your plugin says that it can optimize the meta descriptions on your site, this doesn’t eliminate the human component. That is, you still have to write the meta description. So, if your meta description isn’t up to snuff, having an SEO plugin won’t help much.
Still, SEO plugins are quite useful. For example, the Yoast plugin features a wide array of SEO tools and has the safest and cleanest code on the market. Other beneficial features include:
• Automatically generated XML sitemaps
• Sends reminders to help you remember to optimize your headers, content, meta description, and titles for search
• Provides search friendly navigation and an excellent user experience
Once you have a quality SEO plugin in your possession, there’s no need for another one that serves the same purpose. But, it’s OK to use additional plugins for compressing and caching.
4. You Are in Complete Control of Your SEO
If you are interested in creating an SEO optimized site, the responsibility falls on your hands, it’s not just about picking the right theme or installing the right plugins. These tools are just part of your arsenal. These four tips will help you get started:
• Content is King: The most important factor in all highly ranked websites is the content. So, it’s in your best interest to create as much content as you can and place it on every page of the site.
• Add even more content: After optimizing the main pages on your site, it’s important to add even more high quality content i.e. tutorials, guides, videos, blog articles, and evergreen pages. Your best option here is long form content i.e. pages or articles with over 1,000 words. This is because long form content has a ton of SEO power and will help your site rank faster. In other words, this type of content can help attract more traffic to your site quicker than its shorter counterpart.
• Minimize your use of plugins: Although these tools are helpful, they can slow your site down. So, it’s best to use only a few for their specific purposes. Honestly, the amount of plugins that you use isn’t the issue, rather the problem revolves around what they are doing. For instance, if the plugin that you’ve selected loads remote requests, database queries, styles, scripts, and other complex operations, it will dramatically reduce your site speed. Since, you may not know exactly what tasks your plugins are responsible for, it’s best to keep their numbers to a minimum.
• Learn more about SEO: The best advantage you can give to yourself is to learn as much about SEO as you can. This information will provide you with tactics that will make your site more SEO friendly.
The Bottom Line
Using WordPress doesn’t guarantee a top-ranked site. You will have to learn some SEO, pick and modify a quality SEO plugin, and create great content to make your site more SEO friendly.