If you are thinking about setting up a WordPress site, one of the things which may be on your mind is SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. This is a phrase which is thrown around and used a lot on the internet these days and, although you may see it a lot, you may not know exactly how to go about doing it.
It would be a waste of time to settle on a domain name, pick your favourite theme and buy some fast hosting for WordPress only to end up running a site which isn’t SEO optimised. For any website starting out today in any industry, it is imperative that it is as well-optimised as possible to enable potential customers or clients browsing Google to find you easily. A well-optimised site will rank higher in the results of search engines and make your website much easier to find among the reems and reems of search results pages.
Although setting up a WordPress site is easy – it works right out of the box – properly optimising it for SEO purposes is not. Because SEO is no longer limited to stuffing keywords randomly into text and link building anymore, it is becoming more difficult to do.
With that being said, here are ten simple ways you can improve the SEO of your WordPress blog, website or e-commerce store. Most of the below tips can be done with the use of WordPress plugins, of which there are thousands!
#1: Install a Sitemap
A .xml sitemap is vital for any serious WordPress blog as it enables Google and other search engines to link to all the pages within your site or blog on a sitemap. A .xml sitemap enables these search engines to index your website and its content easily and quickly, allowing your freshest posts to appear in the results of search engines almost instantly.
Sitemaps also enable visitors to find certain content and pages easily. Although sitemaps are not pretty, they are an essential addition to any serious website.
#2: Install an SEO Plugin
There are many different SEO plugins and it is important to choose the right one for your website. SEO plugins make the whole job so much easier and enable you to take care of multiple different SEO-related aspects automatically.
One thing which relates to all SEO plugins on WordPress is the enabling of the rel=”canonical” tag for each page on your blog, which enables search engines to find the original source URLs for any content or pages on your blog or website. This can help to prevent problems with page duplication which can harm your SEO, because Google punishes websites which duplicate their content to try and trick it.
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the sheer number of SEO-related WordPress plugins which you will find, they all perform virtually the same functions and you cannot go wrong so long as you install one which has decent reviews and is regarded as being trustworthy.
#3: Use a Caching Plugin
Caching plugins both make your WordPress site faster and reduce the overall load on your server. A caching plugin is a must and they cache both dynamic and static content to dramatically decrease the loading times for your pages.
Caching plugins help improve SEO because search engines give websites which are faster and load quickly preference over slower sites, so by making your making your website faster, even by just a few fractions of a second, you can dramatically improve its SEO.
#4: Set Up Permalinks
The URLs which link to your webpages and posts are known as permalinksand they are what appear in a browser’s address bar, and they are also used by other websites and search engines to link directly to your website.
WordPress has default settings for permalinks and you can easily change these according to your needs. By navigating to your WordPress settings, you can change these default settings to permalinks which make your website easier to find, for example by changing the default permalink settings for your blog posts to /%postname%/.
#5: Use Google Analytics
This is a free tool offered by Google which enables you to keep track of your site’s traffic. With Google Analytics, you can see information regarding traffic sources, visitor behaviour and many other important analytical information which can help you modify and optimise your website, so it is better able to reach or be found by your target audience.
Google Analytics can also perform a number of different functions, such as locating pages which are displaying 404 errors. It is a comprehensive tool and can make ironing out your site’s bugs a breeze.
#6: Allow Your Content to Be Shared
Social media is as popular as ever before and it is showing no signs of slowing down. Virtually everybody who uses the internet today is active on various social media networks and sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr, amongst many others. Allowing your content to be shared across these channels can drive huge amounts of traffic to your site if it is shared by the right people or in the right places.
Social sharing buttons do not just drive traffic; however, they improve the credibility of your website. Websites which have social media sharing functionality are generally regarded to be more trustworthy and search engines will prioritise these websites over those which do not have social sharing buttons.
Using WordPress is the go-to solution for building modern, responsive and SEO optimised websites. The hardest part of setting up a WordPress site is choosing a hosting provider and getting all the technical stuff out of the way. After this, it is plain sailing and WordPress works right out of the box; you can have a fully functional website up and running in a matter of minutes. By optimising your website for SEO, you can dramatically increase traffic and make your website much easier to find through search engines. There are many more ways you can optimise your website for SEO, though, so search around for more tips if you want to go the whole nine yards!