SEO. What is that?
It’s search engine optimization which means making your website easy for Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines to find your site and show it on the results page. There are millions of websites out there, so Google (and all of the other engines) had to develop an algorithm to sort through all of them so they can to show their users the best results for their web searches. Now the algorithm is secret and changes constantly, but there are some generally known components that you can leverage to get your site found by your customers.
What can I do?
1. Install a SEO Plugin
First, in less you want to spend a good portion of every week researching the latest SEO trends (umm, nobody), then I recommend downloading the free Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. It walks you through putting in the important information in each page to optimize your site and will create a lot of the pieces that you need.
2. Enable Your Sitemap File
If you are using Yoast SEO, be sure that the sitemap feature is enabled. Most of the things you need will already be defaulted, so you will likely not need to make any changes. Click XML Sitemap to check it out.
3. Submit Your Sitemap File
The Yoast SEO plugin will create a sitemap.xml file for you, but it is up to you submit to Google, Bing and others to announce to them you exist. Google is by far the most important and most used search engine, so let’s start with them.
- Go to Google Seach Console and create your account if you haven’t been there before and add your website as a property.
- After selecting your website, click Crawl in the left navigation and then Sitemaps.
- Click ADD/TEST SITEMAP red button on the right.
- Insert the url of your sitemap, which if you are using Yoast SEO, it will be using your website url and add /sitemap_index.xml at the end. So an example would be http://fairytechmother.com/sitemap_index.xml. If you are using another SEO plugin, your link is likely /sitemap.xml, so an example would be http://fairytechmother.com/sitemap.xml.
- Click Test it to be sure that it is working for you.
- Click Submit.
For Bing and Yandex sitemap submissions, check out the Yoast blog post on submitting.
4. Add Title and ALT Tags to Your Images
Google and all of the other search engines don’t use real-life people to scan the millions of sites (that would be crazy), so they are being scanned by other computers and they can’t “see” the images you put on your site. The only way for them to identify what is in the image is for you to put descriptions in your title and alt tags.
To add these tags to your existing images, go to your Media Library.
Then select an image, which will then show you attachment details where you can add your title and alt information.
If you have a lot of images, this might get tedious, so turn on some music and get going and don’t forget to add these tags as you add new images in the future.
5. Optimize Your Images
While we are on images, let’s take a look at optimizing your images (making the file size small, but still look good) to improve your site’s speed. Your site’s speed is believed to be part of that Google algorithm, so the faster the better.
To do this, I recommend, the plugin WP-Smush. It will optimize your current images and any future ones you upload. This can take off a lot of bloat from your images and can help your website to fly.
6. Use Heading Tags
Heading tags, <h1>, <h2> and <h3> tags help Google to know the hierarchy and importance of your content on the page. These headings and subheadings should contain keywords that you want to highlight. H1 tags should be the page or post title and then use H2 and H3 heading tags to divide up your content. It also makes it easier for humans to scan as well.
7. Be Mobile-Friendly
The number of people that visit websites on their phones or tablets is rapidly growing and could easily be at least 30% of your visitors. Most WordPress themes these days are responsive (the layout of the site responds to the size of the screen), but be sure to check out your site on your phone and tablet and ask your family and friends to do the same. If your site isn’t responsive, then it’s time to change themes.
8. Link to Your Content and High-Quality Sites
Search engines like to see links, but this doesn’t mean using nefarious link farms or trading links. Link back to your pages and older posts in your stuff and link to popular websites when it makes sense.
9. Share Your Content on Social and Make It Easy to Share
Kind of along the same lines as linking to high-quality sites, adding links to your site on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others adds more traffic and it also makes you look more legit with search engines. I love Buffer for managing your social media streams and the Monarch plugin for social share buttons.
10. Write Great Content!
If you were to ask Google how to rank #1 on its search engine, Mr. Google would tell you to create great content. Longer blog posts that keep your visitors on your site and gets shared, links to other pages on your site to show engagement and updating your site consistently will all go a long way towards appeasing the Google gods.