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SEO basics for WordPress – part one

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We thought it would be useful to write a couple of blogs outlining some SEO basics for WordPress.

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems out there and one that we regularly use to develop websites for our clients.

Even if you outsource your SEO to an agency, we believe it’s good for clients to understand some of the basics and we’re happy to share these tips to set you on your way.

The basics

Before diving in, it’s important to understand the basis of SEO and how Google orders its search results.

Google uses an algorithm to grade websites. This algorithm evaluates your website in terms of SEO and ranks websites in the search results accordingly. In this system, they send out what are referred to as “spiders” to “crawl” your site and look for indicators of good SEO including backlinks, the age of your domain, number of visitors, content updates, and more.

Optimising your site for SEO is a way to ensure that the spiders find what they are looking for and report good things back to Google, which will result in better rankings and make it easier for users to find your content. There is a science to doing this well and it takes time to develop enough knowledge to be good at it.

That being said, there is a ton of information out there and it can be overwhelming when you are starting out. So I wanted to take this opportunity to outline ten things that I believe are key to a solid SEO strategy in two blog posts. So here’s the first five:

  1. Get your own domain
    Access to your own domain and hosting is key to getting started with blogging. Anyone who is serious about blogging and writing SEO content should look at this first. Sites offering free hosting are not the way to go for legit bloggers, many hosting options these days are low cost and worth the money. Additionally, Google places more clout with websites that seem trustworthy and a good indicator of this is if your website is on its own domain.
  2. Original content rules the internet
    The biggest value that you can provide to your readers is to offer useful content that solves the problems they are searching for. Websites that offer solutions are more likely to get shared within social media and have a better chance of getting ranked in Google. Original content is the place to start if you want to set yourself apart from the thousands of others. Some ideas to ponder are:

    • Photography
      Original and relevant images are much more impactful to your audience. There are many websites that offer information on how to find great images and how to use them strategically in your blogs and websites.
    • Videos
      When you blog about something, offer a video how-to or some other message that is relevant and helpful to your viewer. This will help bring you traffic from YouTube, which can be another good source of traffic if your content is good enough .
    • Podcasts
      Podcasts are becoming more popular every day, especially since they are becoming much easier to access with built in tools for phones and other mobile devices. This is a great arena to spend some time chatting with your audience about a particular subject.
    • Tools and plugins
      If you are able to develop a tool that helps your users and host it on your website, you will rule the Google rankings.

    Basically anything you can do to offer original, helpful tools and content for your readers is going to lead to better rankings and increased sharing.

  3. Develop a network of relevant backlinks

    Backlinks are links that that lead back to your site from another site. Building an army of backlinks will take patience and persistence. There is a difference between legit backlinks and troublesome ones though:

    • Don’t purchase backlinks
      Google does not like it when websites purchase backlinks as they liken this process to voting and one should not be able to pay for votes. In fact, they have shared that this practice when used to increase rankings is a direct violation of their Webmaster guidelines. The consequences from Google can be quite severe, including loss of site rankings for a period of time. This can be difficult to recover from and thus not recommended at all!
    • Backlink sources are important
      The site giving you a backlink is as important as the link itself. Well-established websites with great rankings give the best value in backlinks. In fact, gaining a backlink from a .edu or .gov site will result in a more positive rankings change than several smaller ones. One great way to get backlinks is to give positive reviews of another blog or article. Websites love testimonials and will give full credit when publishing them.
    • Anchor text is important
      Anchor text is the hyperlinked text that rolls back to your website when people click on it. The anchor text should be relevant to the content and keyword usage. A great way to craft an army of relevant backlinks is to write guest posts on other websites with similar interests or audiences. Don’t forget also to backlink to your own content when you are writing. Reference your own material when possible to get your readers deeper into your world and keep their interest.
  4. Keep your site optimised for SEO

    Optimising your site is a key component of strong SEO success. Your site can build trust with Google, which is key to success. Other ideas for optimization include:

    • Cleanly coded
      Your site should be easy to navigate by the viewer, it should read easily and naturally, and be visually appealing.

    • Fast loading
      You just can’t get by these days with a slow loading site, it affects the user experience and will hinder the chance for repeat visits. There are several sites online that will help you gauge the speed of your site and several tools available to help increase your speed if needed.

    • Smooth things out
      Ensure that all of your links are working properly and site navigation is functioning as it should. You can find themes for SEO at several places on the internet; just make sure it is well designed and thoughtful in the details.

  5. Ensure permalink structure

    Permalinks are really important – this is how search engines link to your website and how users gain access to your pages. Make sure that you are using a consistent structure as you can because broken links will hinder your traffic and make you look bad.

So that’s our first five SEO tips. Check back next month for the final five or drop us a line if you have any questions or would like any help optimising your website.

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