Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short is the process of increasing a brand’s online visibility with search engines.
An intricate, strategic and long-term process, making a website display favorably for search engines such as Google and Bing takes time and patience. Adding to this, websites need to retain a high level of usability and readability in order to be favorable with internet users.
Search engines are essentially robots that are instructed to search the internet for responses to questions, as posed by internet users in their search entry boxes. Search engines will crawl the entire contents of a website so that they are able to understand exactly what the website is, does and, if relevant sells, in order to display the best web page result during a search.
While SEO in its entirety is an interwoven process that links and overlaps between countless disciples, WordPress users can take charge of their website and make use of a number of plugins to assist them in making their websites search engine friendly.
In the following blog post, we’ll explain a number of core principles relating to SEO, and we’ll also share three of the best SEO plugins for WordPress.
If you’re brand new to the WordPress interface, we recommend reading our blog post How to Install a WordPress Plugin (Step by Step Guide for Beginners) which not only gives a plugin installation tutorial, but also explains what a plugin is, how it can function and what that difference is between free and paid plugins.
Three Things to Keep in Mind When Creating an SEO Strategy
SEO is an ongoing game, one that requires time, dedication and constant attention and revision. Algorithms change, and when they do, strategies must adapt to suit them.
Below are a number of core principles that are fundamental to SEO and an SEO strategy.
The Technical Side Of SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is basically the process of trying to get your website to rank in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo and so on.
As well as the acute focus on content, keywords, links and so on, there is a fundamental technical side to SEO that often gets pushed to the wayside. There are a number of core aspects and elements that, if not tended to correctly, can have a negative effect on your website’s rankings and overall performance.
A search engine may deem any of the following as a ‘problem’:
- A slow website is frustrating for the user. Search engines are aware that speed is key, so a website that loads just a few seconds longer than others may lose rankings to a competitor site. *
- An unclear navigational structure or lack of well thought out site architecture may confuse a site visitors. Search engines may deem websites that don’t have a clear framework as an unfavorable, thus decreasing their rankings.
- Websites that lack page titles, metadata and well written, keyword optimized copy and content will have a hard time being recognized by search engines. Without a significant volume of quality content, search engines will find it difficult to ascertain exactly what a website is about, and in turn, will not offer the website favorable rankings.
* Website speed and performance is vital, not just for search engines and SEO, but for the site visitor and user experience. There are a plethora of factors that come into play with regard to site speed, and practically all of them can easily be managed. To read more about website performance, we recommend reading an earlier post, How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website.
Why Content is Important for SEO
The copy or content present on your website is the readable on-page text that site viewers and search engines will see. Whether a page or post, the content on a website will contain a number of keywords that will either relate to the brand, business, product, service, or similar.
In order to strive for a high SEO ranking, it’s important to pay attention to the content on your website. Search engines view WordPress pages and posts as identical so keep the following in mind when writing web copy as well as planning a content marketing (blogging) strategy:
- Structure your content well and include unique page titles. Make sure that the page titles are relevant and that they describe the page accurately.
- Include a service page on your site that properly articulates the services that you offer.
- Include keyword optimized headings and subheadings for pieces of content, and assign heading tags (h1 – h6) for each. Not only does this improve the user experience of the site but it also helps search engines understand your website’s offering better.
- Enter original metadata – meta titles, meta descriptions and focus keywords) on each page or post. The three SEO plugins mentioned below will assist with this.
An important point to note regarding SEO is that you’d want to entice the search engine to come back and revisit your website. Once the site is launched, consider beginning content marketing by publishing fresh and unique content in the form of a blog, covering specific topics, issues, ideas relating to your brand, industry or specialization.
By publishing new content on a regular basis, such as in the form of a blog feed, you’ll be increasing the freshness of your site, thus giving the search engine a reason to return to your website and crawl new content. This process, one which takes time and patience, will help begin giving you a better chance at ranking favourably with search engines.
How Links Play a Part in SEO
Links both to and from your website play a role in an SEO strategy. There are two aspects to links:
- Internal links. To some degree, you, as the webmaster, have some control over these links. Here, you’re able to leverage your website by writing fresh blog content and linking back to relevant pages on your website. Technically, this is called a cross-link. When a search engine crawls the new blog post, they’ll see that you’re linking to the services page, and they’ll be enticed to follow the cross-link to see how the content relates. This process helps your website have its old page referenced in new contexts.
- External links. External links are links back to your website. As links play a role in influencing the algorithm to higher your websites SEO ranking, building an external link strategy is essentially about trying to get other websites on the internet to link back to your website. A backlink from a high ranking and reputable website will bring more favor to your website than a link from a lesser site, so the aim of the game when it comes to external link strategies is to focus on the quality of your site’s content, and also, the quality thereof in order to gain backlinks from authoritative websites that endorse your website as viable and credible in some way.
Top 3 SEO Plugins for WordPress
Thanks to a number of incredible plugins, WordPress webmasters are able to help their websites display as optimally as possible to search engines. Below is a list of the top three SEO plugins for WordPress that’ll help you make sure your website is in tip-top shape.
The most popular WordPress plugin for SEO purposes, Yoast SEO offers a collection of features, each geared to help WordPress web users set their site up for SEO success. As well as adding SEO titles, meta descriptions, meta keywords and social sharing information on a per post basis, Yoast SEO also allows the user to add sitemaps, Open Graph data and Twitter Cards. An easy to use plugin that is extremely user friendly especially for beginners.
One of the main features of Yoast SEO is the ‘traffic light’ system that offers a plethora of tips to make one’s page content more appealing for search engines. While these suggestions should be taken as just that, suggestions, and not gospel, some users may find themselves overwhelmed at the process of trying to strive for all green lights.
All In One SEO Pack
With similar functionalities to Yoast SEO, the All in One SEO Pack plugin is another extremely popular SEO plugin. With a more streamlined and less cluttered interface, All in One SEO Pack is minimalistic in form and function in comparison to Yoast SEO.
Incredibly powerful, All in One SEO Pack allows users to set page titles, meta descriptions and social share information, and too, ships with Sitemap support, support for custom post types and can easily be integrated with Google Analytics. All in One SEO Pack allows users to set global settings for a default SEO structure. For the pages and posts on the website that is not manually changed, will default to the settings specified in the global settings.
Lightweight and powerful, the SEO Framework plugin is a great tool to use. A newer plugin compared to Yoast SEO or All in One Pack, SEO Framework is highly rated by those who have just begun their SEO journey and who are looking for the bare minimum, nuts and bolts, of functionality for their sites.
Placed in the sidebar of the page and post editor, the plugin is easy to access and use. The plugin does a great job of assisting with SEO performance by configuring meta titles and descriptions, offering assistance with basic schema and social meta information and more. SEO Framework also helps to generate a sitemap that can be submitted to various webmaster tools. Offering a swift and streamlined experience, the SEO Framework plugin is highly intuitive and easy to use.
The SEO Framework plugin is available as a free download from the WordPress repository.
You only need one SEO plugin on your WordPress website so the choice of the matter generally comes down to how you’d like to work.
- Yoast SEO is great for beginners who may want some guidance in the content writing process. The traffic light system can become distracting so if you opt for Yoast SEO, don’t let the chase for the green lights compromise your writing quality. Yoast SEO also loves to send notifications in the plugin. This may be a pro for some or an irritation for others.
- All in One SEO Pack is far less intrusive than Yoast SEO so if you’re looking for something powerful that is far less distracting then opt for All in One SEO Pack.
- If you’d like to try the new kid on the block, opt for SEO Framework, and enjoy using a simple, to-the-point plugin with a great interface.
We want to hear from you!
Have you used one of the three plugins mentioned above? If yes, what has your experience been? If you’re employing an SEO strategy, what are some of the things you’ve learnt along the way? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below, we love receiving your feedback!
Thanks for reading!