Once upon a time, SEO was all about adding heaps of keywords to content and getting as many links from other sites as possible. But things have come a long way since. Google rolled out algorithm updates, one after the other, to improve web experience for users. Other search engines followed suit.
In such a volatile landscape, where rules change by the minute, how do you make sure that your WordPress site stays at the top of the search results? Check out the best practices that can help you score in the SEO-scape this year.
Choose compatible themes and plugins
The best thing about WordPress is that you can create a site in a jiffy! Just make sure that the theme and plugins you choose have clean and valid HTML. This way your site will be SEO-ready as soon as it’s up and running.
If your site doesn’t load right on all devices, including mobile ones such as Smartphone and tablets, you are losing out a chunk of your target audience. It also decreases your click-through rate, and results in loss of precious SEO points.
Search engines are aiming to build a secure web experience. And while HTTPS isn’t a necessity yet, it may become so in the near future. Stay ahead of the masses and transfer your HTTP site to HTTPS to secure your web properties.
Boost page load speed
The average user has an attention span of 4 seconds. If your site doesn’t load in 4 seconds, they will just move on. Utilize the right methods, such as using best hosting, clearing out trash, removing old plugins, to enhance its speed.
Content is still king
Creating unique and useful content is of foremost importance to make your site popular among your human visitors as well as search engine spiders. Vary it to keep things interesting. And don’t forget to be regular about updating content.
Conduct keyword research
You cannot be at the top of a search page of a generic term, such as ‘pencil’, unless you’re Wikipedia. But using long-tailed derivative keywords can boost your rankings. And to do it, you need to focus your efforts on them.
You can read few of our tips for keyword research in our SEO for plumbers guide.
Optimized images can enhance human traffic, boost social mentions, and help earn SEO points. Just make sure they are appropriate, unique, engaging, and have the right name and alt tags. Videos can add to user experience and give your rankings a push too.
Create right URLs
When your posts have appropriate URLs, it’s much easier to remember for users and to index for search engines. And it’s easy to do too; just go to Permalinks in the Settings tab and choose ‘post name’ or ‘month and name’ to do it.
Construct a sitemap
A map of your site is useful for your human visitors as well as for search engines. You need to connect it to your 404 Error Page. And submit it to search engines with Google Webmaster Tools too.
Submit to search engines
Search engines search and index your site. But you’ll make things easier, if you submit it manually. For Google, use the Webmasters Tools or Add URL page. For Bing and Yahoo, use its Site Submission Page.
Don’t forget local SEO
If yours is just an online business, you don’t need to bother about that. But if you have a physical presence, you need to add your location to content and metadata. Also, claim your Google My Business page.
Link building is still important, when done right
Getting links from authoritative sites or high-quality sites in your niche or industry still earns you major brownie points. But getting loads of links from irrelevant or spammy sites will only land you in trouble.
Put social media to use
Social mentions put you ahead of the game when it comes to SEO. Whenever someone likes, shares, pins, stumbles, or engages with your content, search engines take it into account.
Keep an eye on competition
What is your competitor doing that you aren’t? Where is your competitor falling back? How can you utilize their drawback to your advantage? Strategize your SEO efforts to attain success.
Most importantly, keep experimenting
No SEO tactic can be useful forever. What works today may yield opposite results sometime in the future. You need to experiment with ideas to learn what works and what doesn’t. Add and alter your strategy to stay ahead.