I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed on the MasonWorld Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast with Mark Mason where we discussed a number of internet marketing topics. I’ve listened to his podcast since it began, so it was a great experience being a guest and getting to share numerous strategies that I’ve used over the years. If you’ve arrived here after hearing that podcast, then welcome! If you haven’t heard the podcast yet, here is part 1 and part 2 of the interview.
During the podcast, I provided 23 WordPress SEO tips that I currently implement and personally recommend. The following is a rundown of the items I mentioned along with links to each plugin, framework, website, etc that was discussed. There is nothing “black hat” or “questionable” in these tips…just solid, legit things to implement and consider when creating a wordpress website. I know this list may leave out details, so please feel free to ask questions in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to clarify anything for you!
- Register with Google Webmaster tools. This should be one of the first things you do when setting up a website to get a clear picture of how Google sees your website.
- Register Google Analytics. It’s free and fantastic…get it!
- Install a wordpress plugin specifically for Google Analytics. I use and suggest the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin by Yoast.
- Install a plugin that will automatically create and submit updated XML sitemaps for your website. I use and suggest Google XML Sitemaps by Arne Brachhold.
- Use a premium framework with built-in SEO such as The Thesis Theme for WordPress or the Genesis framework (both affiliate links). I personally use the Genesis framework on my projects and can vouch for it. The reason to use a premium WordPress theme is that professional designers/developers/SEO’s have already done the hard part and made a solid framework that is optimized and ready to go. It saves time and headaches and is better than most people can do on their own.
- If for some reasons you choose not to go with a premium wordpress framework, at least install a plugin such as the fairly simple All in One SEO Pack or the more advanced WordPress SEO by Yoast to handle the SEO of page titles, descriptions, noindex, nofollow, etc much better than WordPress does out of the box.
- Make sure urls are canonical…non-www URLs should redirect to their www version or vice-versa depending on which you choose. New versions of wordpress do this automatically, so just make sure your URLs are redirecting properly.
- Optimize page title tags – Page titles should have keywords, but make them *interesting*. The name of your website/brand should only be used if branding is important…people will act on actionable keywords rather than brand names, especially if they don’t know the brand.
- Use noodp noydir tags in your header…some themes such as Genesis have this option built in. If your website is indexed in the Open Directory or Yahoo! directory, these tags keep search engines from using your site title as the title listed in search results and will instead use the page titles that you have specified.
- Meta descriptions should be informative, but actionable…make people want to click…think of a book where the description on the back makes you want to buy it.
- I use meta keywords…why not?
- Change permalink structure from default date format. I use a custom permalink with my sites /%category%/%postname%/ but many suggest /%postname%/. If you change this on an existing site, make sure your old permalink urls 301 redirect to the new ones.
- h1 should be site name on homepage…post title on post pages…category title on category pages…etc
- h2 is good for sub-headings within posts
- Use images throughout website and name the images with keywords…use alt tags with keywords…use the images as links with keywords in the title element of the link. Make sure, though, the keywords are related to the actual picture and you’re not just spamming keywords in irrelevant images.
- Optimize images for speed and only use rich media such as flash if absolutely necessary (or not at all…). Mark suggested WP Smush.it, which does a great job of optimizing images.
- Give attention to anchor text throughout site and interlink articles together with keywords where appropriate.
- Do keyword research before naming categories & tags! The words you choose affect anchor text, content, url structures, etc…VERY important
- Create a site-wide widget on your sidebar to link to most important articles…give them the most “authority” as possible.
- Create STRONG, QUALITY, STICKY content…keep users from hitting the back button when they land on your site! Embedded video helps users stick.
- Google’s secret sauce is FRESHNESS, STICKINESS, SOCIALNESS…keep quality content FRESH, STICKY, AND SOCIAL. Update your website regularly, make it engaging so that users stay on the page/site after they reach it from a search result, and create content that people would want to share. Simply adding share buttons isn’t enough…give them a reason to share your website.
- Microdata & Author tags for rich snippets are being used more and more by search engines. Find a way to utilize the info provided at http://schema.org/
Whew! Hopefully there was a nugget or two in those 23 WordPress SEO tips for you to implement on your website(s). I’ve seen great success when utilizing those steps along with quality content and some sort of unique value proposition. If you have a solid, optimized foundation then everything else you do will fall into place making it more likely to rank better in search engines. Just remember, keep your content fresh, sticky, and social!
At the end of the podcast, we mentioned possibly doing another one where we talk about competitive backlinking strategies, which would walk through steps on how to acquire many links that your competitors have. If you’d like to hear those strategies, let me know in the comments section below!