You’ve heard the term “SEO” or “search engine optimization” but you’re not sure about what is search engine optimization, how it works and why it matters.
WordPress is used by millions of people right around the world to setup websites for a variety of applications. While it’s popular because it’s easy to get up and running and use, it still requires proper optimization in order to really improve your overall search engine rankings.
What is search engine optimization ?
According to Wikipedia, SEO is “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results”
Here’s my go at it:
SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing your online content so that a search engine likes to show it as a top result for searches of a certain keyword.
This guide will give WordPress beginners a basic overview of what is search engine optimization or WordPress SEO to help your website get found online.
How SEO Really Works?
Lots of marketers make the mistake of seeing SEO only as a source of free traffic. It’s true, free traffic is the end result, but it’s not how SEO works.
The real purpose of SEO (search engine optimization) is to help people who are looking for you find you. To do that, you have to match the content on your website to what people are trying to find. SEO is the magic you have to work on your article, in order to make Google very likely to include your article as one of the top results whenever someone searches for that keyword.
So if you want SEO to work for you, you need to make sure your goals match the goals of your visitors. It’s not about traffic. It’s about figuring out what you want and then optimizing for keywords that bring in visitors who want the same things.
See Also: Best Ways To Increase Your Blog Traffic
What are the main terms of the Search Engine Optimization?
For simplicity though search engine optimization can be broken down into 2 main terms:
On Page SEO
Keywords are like a compass for your SEO campaigns: they tell you where to go and whether or not you’re making progress.
They also help you figure out the thoughts, fears, and desires of your target market (as your Analytics stats will tell you, people type their inner-most thoughts into Google’s little search bar).
Since you ideally want to include your targeted keyword in your post’s headline and throughout the article, you need to choose your keyword before starting to write.
Use of keywords – Google has gotten smarter over the years. While you should of course use your keyword throughout your content, jamming your keyword into your text as much as possible will hurt your rankings, rather than improve them.
Focus Keyword Phrases
Keyword phrases are specialized phrases which are used to optimize your pages to send more traffic to them. Key phrases are used as the core key phrase that your page will be searched for and ranked for. Think about what you want your site to be found for.
Focusing on keywords and phrases in these areas and implementing it in the Yoast SEO Focus Keyword section can help to boost your WordPress website’s overall visibility to both users and search engines. Keyword research will be cover in more detail below.
There are a variety of ways we can do this effectively:
- Using keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, SEMrush and Searchmetrics Keyword Analysis tool to find popular keywords and phrases that aren’t hyper-competitive.
- Analyzing your website analytics to find out which keywords are already generating traffic and sales. You can use this data to find new, related keywords, or to build additional content based on these terms.
- Looking at your competitors’ top-ranking pages to determine which keywords they’re targeting
- Focusing on long-tail keywords as natural language search becomes more popular and pervasive.
Title tags: Write a unique title tag for every page and post. Use the keywords or key phrases found in the keyword discovery part of the checklist. Limit title tag length to 60 characters. Consider appending your brand or company name at the end of your title tag to increase brand awareness.
Meta descriptions: Again, using your chosen keywords and phrases, write a short description describing your page or post. Keep it under 155 characters, and make it enticing so that viewers will click through from the search engine results page to your content. A short call-to-action, such as “click here” or “read more” often helps.
Permalink structure: It’s best to include your keyword, phrase, or a variation of it in the URL of your page whenever possible.
Headings: Proper use of headings tags lets search engines know what your web page is about. Be sure to include at least one H1 tag related to your topic, and use the other heading styles (H2, H3, etc.) if it makes sense to do so.
Images: Include at least one image in your content, and use your keyword or its variation as the alt tag. It can also be beneficial to name the file of your image as your keyword or phrase before uploading.
Content & length: Aim for content over 500 words, and ideally closer to the 1000-word range. However, if you can say what you need to say in 400 words, then stick with that. Don’t force your content and fill it with fluff. Quality is always better than quantity. When creating content, focus on providing comprehensive coverage of your topic, rather than writing shorter content that only brushes the surface of your topic.
Proof and relevant terms: These are terms that support and ‘prove’ relevance to the main topic of your content. Using them indicates to Google and to your readers that you’re comprehensively covering the topic. Proof terms are words and phrases that essentially must be used for a particular topic; for instance, ‘search’ will almost always be used when writing about (what is search engine optimization). Relevant terms, on the other hand, are words that are often used alongside a primary keyword in order to provide holistic coverage of the topic. When discussing ‘SEO’, relevant words might be ‘Google’, ‘Panda’ or ‘rankings’.
Keywords within content: Keywords should still be incorporate into your content; especially in the title, header and sub-headers, introduction paragraph, and conclusion paragraph. Overall, according to the Search-metrics report, top-ranking pages saw an increase in the total number of keywords used in the body of the text; however, this did not apply to the very highest-ranking pages. Continue to use your desired keywords throughout your content.
Internal links: Links are maybe the most important part of SEO. The more websites that link to your website, the higher your web pages will rank.
The reason links have a high value in SEO (search engine optimization) is that it is easy for anyone to do research, modify their content, or create content, but is hard to convince hundreds or thousands of websites to link to you. In the eyes of a search engine, the more trustworthy, non-spammy sites are linking to you, the more authority you must have on the topic.
Before we get into how to build links, here are some things you need to know. In general:
- Links within content are more effective than links in a sidebar or footer
- Links from related sites are better than links from non-relevant sites
- Anchor text plays the most important role in link building. If you want to rank for “blue widget” then you want the anchor text of the link to be “blue widget”.
Use of header and meta-tags: 99% of top 10 pages had a meta-description, and 80% used an H1 tag. While the meta-description won’t necessarily help your content rank higher, it does act as a sort of ‘ad copy’ in the search engine results (SERPs). As much as possible, ensure your H1 tags and descriptions are unique and accurately describe the main topic of your page.
Off Page SEO
Off page, SEO refers to techniques that can be used to improve the position of a website in the search engine results page (SERPs). Many people associate off-page SEO with link building but it is not only that. In general, off Page SEO has to do with promotion methods – beyond website design –for the purpose of ranking a website higher in the search results.
Unlike On- page SEO, off-page SEO refers to activities outside the boundaries of the web page. The most important are:
- Link Building
- Social Media
- Social bookmarking
We will look at these in detail below but first, let me explain the importance and benefits of off-page SEO.
See More: Best Off Page SEO Techniques
Why is Off-Page SEO important?
Search engines have been trying for decades to find a way to return the best results to the searcher. To do that, they take into account the on-site SEO factors (described above), some other quality factors and off-page SEO.
Off page, SEO gives them a very good indication on how the World (other websites and users) perceive the particular website. A website that is useful is more likely to have references (links) from other websites; it is more likely to have mentioned on social media (Facebook likes, tweets, Pins, +1’s etc.) and it is more likely to be bookmarked and shared among communities of like-minded users.
Link building is the most popular off-Page SEO method. Basically, by building external links to your website, you are trying to gather as many ‘votes’ as you can so that you can bypass your competitors and rank higher. For example, if someone likes this article and references it from his/her website or blog, then this is like telling search engines that this page has good information.
Over the years webmasters were trying to build links to their websites so that they rank higher and they ‘invented’ a number of ways to increase link count.
Here are a few ways you can increase your link count:
Social media – getting on sites like Digg or StumbleUpon don’t just drive a ton of traffic. The increase in visibility also improves your chances of getting a link to.
Directories – There are many directories on the web. Take the time to submit your website to the ones that compliment your content.
The top 100 – If you want to rank for a specific keyword, the best links you can get are from sites that already rank in the top 100 search results for that keyword. Granted, some of the sites that rank for the term you are trying to rank for are your competitors, so they will not link to you, but some will not be your competition and you can always shoot them a nice email asking them to link to you.
Forums – Many forums allow you to create signatures, in which you can link back to your website. As long as those links are not no-followed, they will help with your rankings.
Competition – The easiest way to get links is to see who links to your competition and write them an email telling them the benefits of your website compared to your competition. Roughly, 5% of the websites your email will also add your link.
Dead links – There are billions of links on the web, so expect a good portion of those links to die over time. Web sites go down and many of the links pointing to that website are still active. If you email those websites informing them of the dead link, and that your content is similar, there is a good chance they will replace the dead link to one going to your website.
I hope, now you are now aware about what is search engine optimization. As wordpress is a great option to use when setting up a website. By understanding the basics of WordPress you have a higher chance of creating a website that is optimized for users that can also rank well in search engines. If you want to share your WordPress SEO tips, we’d love to hear from you below.