Many would argue that an organic approach to SEO doesn’t work anymore and that the only option left is paid SEO. Even though a lot has changed over the years, there are still many bootstrap companies investing hard in organic search and getting a lot of success.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is critical in growing your company, so we’ll provide you some tips on how to increase your traffic and most importantly, be better or beat out your competition.
What Is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is a set of practices and techniques that are used to increase the rank of a website in major search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. There are two aspects of SEO you need to work on – the technical part and the branding part, and they’re equally important.
Before you work on improving the SEO of your website, you need to ensure it’s blazing fast, high-quality and ‘responsive’, i.e. optimized for all devices.
Alright, let’s get to it! Here are some SEO tips for your WordPress website!
When you initially install WordPress, it’s technically already optimized for SEO. Still, we recommend installing a specialized SEO plugin as it gives you more control over what search engines see pick up from your website. We recommend one of the most popular SEO plugins – Yoast SEO as it has tons of tools to use and works very well with WordPress.
Because it’s so commonly used, Yoast is often synonymous with ‘SEO’ in the WordPress community.
Yoast SEO is quite popular, and it has over 5 million installations with 25000+ 5 star ratings, so it’s well known in the community. This plugin supports page and keyword analysis, breadcrumbs, can automatically generate XML sitemaps, allows you to add social and schema markup, and more.
Please note that this plugin enables you to perform SEO operations and provides recommendations, but doesn’t do SEO out of the box for you.
Configure Visitor-Friendly Permalinks
Out of the box, WordPress’ URL structure are a bit weird as they generate in a day/name format when you publish a page.
Most search engines like titles and keywords in the URL directly, but shorter URLs will always have an advantage over longer URLs.
WordPress doesn’t do this automatically, so you should go in and edit URLs once you publish pages.
You should use the “Post name” permalink option in WordPress settings as it retains to the post name in the URL but in a clean structure.
Once you do that, your post URL will look like this:
To change this option, go to Settings > Permalinks, select the Post name option, and click the Save Changes button.
Please note that if you’re doing this on a popular website – all old posts will have the new post structure, so old links won’t work anymore. In this case, ensure to redirect all old posts to the new URLs using change permalink helper plugin.
Short URLs = Good For SEO
Search engines prefer websites that are clean, well organized, and utilize good structure, including short URLs.
WordPress automatically generates a URL for the post based on the title. To edit the post URL, click the Edit button below the title window:
Both Google and readers like high-quality, long-form content, so stick to this and try to avoid publishing short content in high volumes (unless you’re a news website).
According to recent research, the new minimum is 2000 words per article to stay relevant. As you can see, Skystra follows this practice as well.
As a general rule, you want to keep your content premium, rich, and varied. It does take much more work, but your website SEO will love you for it.
The extra effort is worth it so roll up your sleeves and start typing!
Never publish a post just to add more content to your website, and always have a focus keywords around which you base your post content.
The key is focus, don’t go crazy on the keywords either putting in buzz words every few sentences, readers will get turned off and ‘premium’ wouldn’t really apply anymore.
Keywords are critical, even though SEO practices change, and it is possible to write engaging content with best SEO practices in mind.
The Yoast SEO plugin will help you with this as it has a component that analyzes your focus keyword.
Here’s an example:
As you can see, the plugin provides suggestions to improve the focus keyword density and other essential SEO elements for your article.
It’s also important to have your focus keywords in the first paragraph of your article. This is super important!
Since Google crawls content from top to bottom, if it finds focus keyword in the first paragraph – it can increase chances to consider your article as more connected to the topic.
Want to get to the top of those search results without dumping a bunch of money into paid search? This is one way you can.
Title tags aren’t essential, but can provide an edge over your competition in some cases.
It could be beneficial to place your focus keyword at the beginning of the title of your post.
For example, if your focus keyword is “best business tips,” the title of your post could be “Best Business Tips in 2019”.
Yoast SEO plugin will provide you an option to configure the title tag manually by using a snippet editor tool:
Please note that Google imposes a viewable limit in pixels, but Yoast SEO plugin uses characters (which is a close enough approximation), so try not to go over 65 characters, or your title might not be presented in full on search engines.
Additionally, title tags could improve your CTR (clickthrough rate), you can use the Title Experiments plugin to test changes and see what works title tags work best.
www or non-www domain?
Using www in your domain was standard in the old days, so most people still have a habit of setting up their website with the www prefix.
However, there are absolutely no SEO benefits in using the www prefix in your domain, so it essentially boils down to personal preference. In our opinion, if your domain is short – go with the non-www option, and if your domain is longer, you can include www to please older audiences.
In any case, you can set up redirects so each of these can be accessible at the same time. Actually, we recommend you do it so your website is accessible in both versions.
Headers in your content are relevant as Google Crawler (bot) checks HTML header tags to know the hierarchy of importance in your post. The best practice is to have one H1 tag per post, and then multiple H2 and H3 tags spread throughout content as needed.
Also, make sure to include your focus keyword in H1 tag, and use variations of keywords in other headers, but don’t abuse it as headers are used to split and organize your content, so it’s easier to read.
You can create a header via the dropdown menu in the Classic or Gutenberg editors.
Image Alternative Text
ALT text is used by Google to determine how related an image is to the content inserted around it. It can also be used by specialized software for visually impaired people.
This tip is crucial, and you should always add ALT text to your images – if you haven’t so far, go back and add ALT text to all your images.
This is how alt text looks in default HTML:
<img src="test.jpg" alt="image description" title="image title"/>
With WordPress, you can easily add ALT text by clicking your uploaded image > click the pencil icon to edit it > add text to the Alternative Text field:
dofollow or nofollow links
There are two types of links that we use, and by default – every link on WordPress is created as a dofollow link. These are also called backlinks, and when Google crawls a website – it tracks the link between yours and a third-party website and adds to the SEO score.
nofollow links notify Google that it shouldn’t follow these links and that it should ignore them. They’re equally important as nofollow links can still generate traffic.
If you’re not a news website, publishing long-form high-quality content less frequently is much better than publishing short content often. Quality is key!
Both Google and visitors appreciate long-form content more, and it has been proven that it wins in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). The latest research shows that the new minimum is 2000 words per article. That averages out to about a 20-25 minutes for the average reader.
The added benefit of long-form content is that apart from a focus keyword ranking – you’ll also start ranking for a lot of long-tail keyword variations, and often traffic from long-tail keywords can even dwarf your focus keyword traffic.
Proper Image Names
Believe it or not, but image names are equally as important when it comes to proper SEO practices. Here are some tips:
- Try to include your focus keyword, at least on your featured image, if possible.
- Rename your images to actual words that match your content (we know, we know, it’s extra work) before uploading them.
- Make sure to always use hyphens between words in the image file names. Google sees files with hyphens as specific words, so you want to use hyphens, for example – business-tips.jpg.
Affiliate links are used for tracking commissions or referrals, and Google isn’t fond of them, as we have data that suggests some websites were punished for using these. To avoid this, make sure to always set affiliate links to nofollow. You can do this by using the Pretty Links plugin.
This plugin enables you to create short affiliate links and set a nofollow attribute to them. Additionally, it will add a 301 redirect so you can have data on how many clicks have been generated on each link.
These links point from one post or page on your website, to another post or page on your website. You need to use these links to lead to relevant content in another area of your website, or if you need to link to your landing page.
These links are dofollow so they will help the SEO of your website, establish the hierarchy of the structure of your website, and they mostly make visitors spend more time on your site.
We recommend adding at least 3 to 5 interlinks to every post or page you write. Keep people circulating in content funnels!
Backlinks are still one of the most critical aspects of SEO. Backlinks help pass the link juice between websites and show when there is a relevant website that has similar information.
And you definitely want a lot of juice with SEO!
This link juice helps with the search engine ranking of the article/post and improves the domain authority.
It’s very beneficial when a high domain authority website links to your content and vice versa. You can use Ahrefs, which is an excellent tool to overview your backlink profile as it will provide you information on a total number of backlinks to your website, organic keywords, the number of referring domains, etc.
It also has a notifications feature, so each time someone links to your website – you will receive a notification.
It is a paid solution though, keep that in mind. Depending on how important the backline data is for you, the investment makes sense or not.
Sitemaps are used by search engines to understand the layout, structure, and hierarchy of your website better.
If you don’t use a sitemap, bots will still crawl your site, but we recommend generating a sitemap as you’ll get more data about your website, and your post may end up as a Google Sitelink.
The Yoast SEO plugin can create a sitemap for you, if you go to SEO > General and make sure that the XML sitemaps option is enabled.
Once completed, verify that the sitemap exists via the following URL: https://yourdomain.com/test/sitemap_index.xml (replace yourdomain.com with your own domain).
Once completed, submit the newly created sitemap to Google Search Console by going to the Crawl section > Sitemaps > Add/Test Sitemap. Input the URL of your sitemap file, which you configured previously, and click the Submit button.
Additionally, you can go ahead and submit your sitemap to Bing and Yandex webmaster tools as well.
Change Crawl Rate
Once you publish your content, Google will automatically decide how often it will crawl your website, and it can range from minutes to hours or days. However, there’s a trick which enables you to force the crawl of the new content instantly.
To do this, login to Google Search Console, and under the Crawl section, click Fetch as Google option and input the URL, then click the Fetch button. Once completed, click the Request Indexing button, and the new URL should be instantly indexed in the search engine.
To do the same in Bing Webmaster Tools, click the Submit URLs button in Configure My Site section, input the new URL, and click the Submit button.
Google confirmed that having an SSL certificate enabled on your website affects your SEO ranking, so it’s essential to use it on your website.
Skystra provides free SSL certificates that you can activate with the click of a button, so make sure to take advantage of it.
If you’re using WordPress you can login into to your AccountCenter client area, click on your WordPress service, then click the Access WordPress button. Click the pencil icon next to the desired website, and then click the SSL button to activate the option.
Markups exist to provide additional data about your website to search engines, so it can then pass on the additional information to visitors.
If you’ve seen stars next to reviews in SERPs – these are the direct result of schema markup. To test if your WordPress theme has schema markup enabled, head to Google Structured Data Testing Tool, and ensure that you have no errors detected and there’s content in the right frame of the page:
If your WordPress theme doesn’t offer schema markup by default, you can add it with the Schema plugin.
Social markup helps provide additional information to social networks once your content is shared on them via thumbnails. Luckily, the Yoast SEO plugin supports these, so you can easily add them via Social menu under each of your post/pages:
Negative SEO happens when someone sends a ton of bad backlinks to your website. These are almost always related to the sensitive topic such as Viagra, Cialis, or other pharmacy items. In case that happens, you can’t revert the backlinks you’ve got, but you can use Google’s Disavow tool, which will help you create a list of domains Google should ignore.
Even though backlinks from social networks are nofollow, they still generate a lot of traffic, so make sure to claim them immediately. Apart from SERPs, this also helps with your branding and visibility. To find which names are available across all social networks, you can use the Namechk tool.
Image Attachment Pages
Each time you upload a new image to your WordPress post or page – it creates a separate attachment page. Google may index these pages, and if someone lands an image attachment page – all they’ll see is the image in question, not the content of the post itself., This will likely result in a visitor leaving your website. Yoast SEO to the rescue again!
Head to the SEO option in your WordPress Dashboard > Search Appearance > Media tab, and enable Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself option.
Google isn’t fond of broken links, so you need to make sure to clean those up at all times. Go to the Google Search Console > Crawl section > Crawl Errors option, and check for “not found” errors. Then, you can click each of the errors and see where the broken URL is located. You shouldn’t use WordPress plugins to check this as they will likely affect the performance of your website, but we can recommend a free online tool such as Online Broken Link Checker as it works pretty well.
A responsive website is paramount not only because you want your visitors to view your website on mobile and tablet correctly, but because Google is going towards mobile-first indexing as well.
Soon, it is likely that mobile will take priority over the traditional desktop options when it comes to indexing, so make sure to have a responsive website ready to go.
You can use Google’s tool to check if your site is mobile friendly.
One of the best analytics and traffic reports services can help you audit your SEO practices, so make sure to set up a free account and then link it with your Google Search Console. Find property settings for your domain, and click the Search Console Settings, and it will walk you through the process of linking them up.
Once completed, you will find an additional section under your account where you’ll be able to see search queries and the best landing pages. We recommend keeping an eye on the Organic Search option under the Acquisition section, as it will display all traffic from Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.
We realize that this long list can be overwhelming. Still, SEO is a critical aspect of both online and traditional businesses as it can affect your traffic and traffic means sales, so we tried to be as thorough as possible.
As a business, we know sales is the lifeline of any success, so we hope these SEO tips help you increase your sales.