How to SEO WordPress

The pillars of a website marketing strategy

Everyone likes to show their pillars of success, so here are ours on SEO

The basics – how does a search engine work?

Well, it’s not really basic…extremely complex is an understatement. Here is googles explanation. Once we understand how search works, then we can come up with a SEO implementation plan, in our case for WordPress CMS as that is the main platform we use. But in all honestly, the platform is somewhat irrelevant as most of the real value in SEO is done outside the platform, outside of the website even. Mostly, the most significant part is the sites authority which is determined by rankings, popularity, links and authentication.

How to SEO the WordPress CMS

This how to SEO WordPress guide is a detailed list of our SEO service. You can have a read to compare us and other SEO providers or use it to SEO your own site. Free tools are available on-line although some premium tools (which we also use) are easier and more productive.  In addition to this guide, have a read of our top 10 SEO tips and tricks.

The most important instruction you must adhere to is, Design your site for users (not search engines) and perform SEO in a natural way (slowly and with branding campaigns). If you design for search engines or buy popularity too quickly, your website will fall into the spam category and be treated as such.

With hundreds of million of websites on the internet as of 2013, so many designs to suit almost everyone’s taste. Our general style matches mainstream presentation format, that is conservative and elegant. Sure, we can add fanciful graphics and photos to make a site stand out, but you will find most people want an easy to use intuitive site they can use often rather than something impressive but less functional. Something familiar to their way of thinking. If you look around you will find the big companies use functional designs instead of wooing their audience.

We all would rather live in luxury than a slum, so seeing beauty is a natural subconscious reaction which makes us comfortable and want to stay on the site. Creative artists may say expressing and being unique is the key, but the vast majority of our population react more positively to something they are at ease with rather than taking them out of their comfort zone. That’s where a SEO WordPress CMS theme comes into its own.

Simplicity is the key to information transfer, that’s what you are trying to achieve; to get your message across to the reader. Basic business presentations are essentially three dot points, that is, break everything down to simple important sentences that speak volumes, and use graphics to emphasize your main points.

Check our home page, how much text can you see? How many separate links? Even this page you are currently on has vast amounts of information cleverly hidden in tabs. The reader sees only what they are interested in with not too many headings. It allows them control of what they see/read; one step at a time.  A huge page of text like a blog would turn most people back to the search engine results (this also causes rankings to fall).  Large pages are not so good, better to break them up into smaller niches. Balloons, boxes, tables and graphics all make for easier reading.

Easy eye candy/formatting refers to the brains interpretation of reality. If something is within a persons desired comfort zone, the brain sends a signal to accept it. With website design we try to please the majority of our target market. It’s impossible to please everyone, so we take the middle path and present pages which offend the less people and help to keep readers on-site (ie. neutral colours), that is keep them interested graphically. The content is up to you, but the layout of the website design also plays a part. Your idea, the technology, our skill and your content must work together in a Symbian relationship.

Often the differences between successful websites and those not are very minor. A little tweak here and there can make a great difference. Search engines understand graphics but not so much text embedded within them, they grade your site by coding standards and presentation quality.

Font-family selection and font size selected is crucial for your target market. If you want a site designed for mobiles, the formatting and content will be different to a website designed for desktops. If you want both, then must compromise. If elderly people are your target, bigger fonts are needed. If younger, then more stylish.

We someone surfs your site they look at the main heading, graphics and then content (if the other two appeal to them). Before reading the content they see formatting. If its difficult to read, looks complicated or tired – they will leave. Short paragraphs broken up with {read more} tabs, or covered over several pages. Highlight key words or points you want to get across. Use bullet points, numbering, tables, anything to make the text organized, look structured and informative.

The SEO pillars of success

No how-to explanation is complete without pillars supporting the foundation and providing a platform on which to build. WordPress itself is a pillar, a platform which allows almost total customisation. Fortunately, we can use themes and plugins for most of the work avoiding time-consuming and thus expensive  programming.

Pillar 1 – Competitive research or analysis

We use keyword-spy and visual keyword tools to examine all the pages of a competitors website, especially the homepage and major products/services. But looking at the marketing mix and how/where inbound links connect the site with more authoritative companies, we get a good picture of what needs to be done in our website to be better (or at not too inferior) to the competition. If you want to compete with Samsung for smart-phones, being better may take some doing. But to compete with a local dentist is not difficult. The principle here is to ensure we are driving with a clear map and not blindfolded. We know our destination, how long it will take and the costs involved. Sure the final route may be different, but the destination is the same.

Pillar 2 – Keyword research and selection

Based on which package is selected and what theme is chosen, we get an idea of how many pages to work with in the WordPress CMS. From that, determine which unique product or service will be marketed and how to SEO it for WordPress. Once we know , we research the best keyword phrase to achieve the highest conversion rate. We do not go for the most popular as they are too competitive, we look for niche, unique, moderate volume but achievable targets for your vicinity. Ideal solution would be to divide our overall target hit-rate by the number of products to focus on. For each, come up with a strategy and test the market for optimal results.

If the market is too competitive using Google, we may opt to select Bing/Yahoo first; building a solid foundation before tackling Google. It depends on the industry and product type. Using the free adwords tool you can very quickly see which keywords or phrases people search for. Drill down your subject area until you find a good phrase. The longer the tail the better, than means the longer the phrase. For example, we use Website Design Sunshine Coast as one of our keywords; if we were to use website design only, we would not rank highly for ages. Sure fewer people search for long-tail results, but those that do are your target market and more relevant.

Pillar 3 – Web design and technology

For pillar 3 in our how to SEO WordPress page, please see our how to build a website section.

Pillar 4 – Original quality, searchable content

There’s theory and there’s practice. The theory goes small players like us must write original content, often and relevant to the sites theme. In practice however, the big players have automated robots that scan the net for new stories, ground-breaking news, etc and .. write articles in seconds. Saves having journalists and authors, thus saving money.

Search engines cannot do much about it since the robots write like humans and turn a copy into an original article. The moral of the story, well if they can do it so can you! First find a few sites which are content rich on your subject, then copy the elements you like best into a word document. Then rewrite it or rephrase it in your own words. It must be done so the search engine cannot find duplicated paragraphs in the content. Changing just a few words here and there ain’t going to cut it!

The best is if you read articles then close the page and rewrite it in your own words and concepts always keeping the keyword-theme in mind; second best is to be a temporary robot. Search engines like new content instead of revised old pages/posts. Each page/post should be at least 300 words of good quality relevant content, 500-900 is optimal. Its better to have a few well written pages than many short ones which offer no value to the reader and makes the search engine think you are a spammer. If a page is short and has minimal value, do not allow search engines to index it. There is no hard and fast rules about how many pages a website should be as your users will decide that. If they feel the site lacks breadth and depth, they will leave and not return. A 15 page website may only have 5 pages of real good quality, which may be enough.

Want to test your documents readability? Check here for a test using the Flesch–Kincaid readability test.

Another aspect of content are photos and images. Be warned, if you use duplicated images the search engines know because an image has a fingerprint or pattern. Images are wonderful it laden with your keywords and match your theme. You can generate lots of traffic from people doing image searches. Make sure all the ALT meta fields are filled.

Pillar 5 – Performance and a good user experience

After the page is completed, we must test its load time. If must get at least a B+ in performance metrics. Part of this process is to optimise images, use caches and minify the transmission of text all without the user knowing whats going on in the background. Search engines just love it when a person clicks, and the response is immediate. If there is a delay, that a cause for concern since the page will be demoted due to a poor user experience. If page-load time is too long, its best to split the page into multiple or reduce the size of whatever is taking too long.

There are a million and one search engine optimisation plug-ins for WordPress. You do not need all of them, in fact, even though WordPress can do everything. If you make it do everything, you are finished. SEO does not like complicated, long pages. Plug-ins add code (called Java and CSS) all over the place. The general rule is try to have less than 10-15 plug-ins which add code to your pages. You can have any number that help your site, like backups, editors etc. But not those that want to make an on-line presence. If you install Jetpack, be real careful. Options like “Sharing”, where it loads all the social networks to each and every page will kill your site’s performance.

For caching, we recommend the following (this is for shared-hosting); W3 super cache, db cache reloaded fix, cloudflare, wp-minify & wp-smushit). Use asynchronous Java to delay loading scripts, even google analytics does that now. Use this tool to test your site’s performance, for page speed, anything less than an “A” is not good.

Pillar 6 – Social media and verification

This pillar in our how to SEO WordPress page has been discussed in our social media section and also tips for wordpress. For WordPress, we suggest using the WordPress-SEO plug-in, it really helps to integrate many of your social media accounts. Your website must be registered as validated by google, bing, alexa, yahoo, ask, etc. and all  major relevant social media. Bookmark the site using Delicious & Stumpleupon. These are all free and invaluable. Check out our social media service for business for additional information.

Pillar 7 – Inbound links, forums and paid back-links

This pillar in our how to SEO WordPress page has been discussed in our SEO tips page, and also visit our section our link-building.

Pillar 8 – Paid advertising and promotions

This pillar in our how to SEO WordPress page has been discussed already in our SEO tips page. Also, you can have a look at our PPC on-line marketing campaign for more information.

Pillar 9 – Monitor, review and revise

The most complicated part of how to SEO is probably this section because you will need to understand many metrics and tools such as Google analytics once you’ve registered as the web-master.

As the website runs we need to collect statistical data, especially which pages are visited, for how long, where they came from and did they click anything. We need a background of demography, browser type, platform type, location, access time and anything else which can help us target the market segment most interested in our product. Reports are essential, otherwise its like driving in the night with no lights.