Building a site that search engines not only love but positively crave is no easy feat. It takes dedication and it takes time.
But ignore the importance of SEO and you might as well be banging your head against a brick wall. Because without those high search engine rankings? Well, no one’s going to find your site, your content or your hard work.
And what’s the point in that?
That’s why we’ve put together our top 46 SEO tips for WordPress bloggers in 2016. A no nonsense, easy to digest actionable list to help you totally transform your blog, sky rocket your readership and find yourself with those all important rankings that you deserve.
Part 1: Optimize Your Website
- Make your site easy to navigate. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes: is your site easy to navigate? Are you able to determine immediately what your site is all about shortly after visiting your site? Be sure to use your main keywords around your website. For example, if you’re blogging about SEO, let your visitors know that you blog about this topic by adding “SEO” keyword somewhere visible such as your main navigation (e.g. SEO Tips) or welcome/introduction message. Make it obvious! Clear and intuitive navigation will also help search engines determine what you’re about, pushing your rankings forward.
- Keep your content clear. Again, think of your reader. Ensure your content is front and centre, with your most important information (i.e. titles of articles + introductions with your main keywords) above the fold (the part of your site visible without your reader having to scroll).
- Avoid too many ads above the fold. And don’t clutter your site with them! Google prefers ads that don’t get in the user’s way and favours those that are non-intrusive.
- Use www. or non www. Ensure your site is only accessible by one or the other by following the steps in this guide. This is crucial as the consistency helps Google index your site with more clarity.
- Ensure your blog is mobile optimized. With mobile searches now officially surpassing desktop searches in 2016 studies, you’ll be missing out on serious traffic if your blog isn’t designed for mobile. In fact, Google & Bing stated that those websites that are mobile-friendly will rank higher in the mobile search than those that are not. An easy way to ensure this is by choosing a theme that is responsive or mobile friendly. If you want to stay with your existing theme, feel free to hire a developer to give you a hand. Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Here’s a tool (by Google) that will help you find out!
Choose a good hosting provider. Keep in mind that your web host has a huge effect on your search ranking and customer retention. A slow and unresponsive site will be looked at unfavorably by Google, who will lower your rankings. Similarly, visitors are unlikely to stick around a site that takes decades to load. Feel free to check out this post for web hosting reviews.
Part 2: Speed Up Your Website
- Keep your homepage speedy. Display excerpts instead of full posts, reduce the number of posts featured on the homepage and remove unnecessary or inactive plugins or widgets.
- Install a caching plugin. Caching pulls together all the elements on a webpage (that slow down loading speeds) into a temporary storage section of your hard drive… also known as a cache. The benefit of this is that it will enable to site to load much quicker on your reader’s browser the next time they visit. The W3 Total Cache plugin will automatically set this up for you.
- Optimize all images for quicker loading speed. Images that are too bulky will drastically slow down your site speed as it struggles to load them. You can auto resize them using WP Smush or EWWW image optimizer to reduce them.
- Use LazyLoad on your images. LazyLoad only displays images above the fold, so that when the reader scrolls further down the page the other images begin to load. This puts less strain on your web page to immediately load all your content.
- Compress your pages with GZIP. Pages full of high quality content (i.e. videos and images) tend to be larger (over 100kb) and, as a result, slower to load. Speed up their download time by compressing your pages together using Gzip. Compressing your pages helps you to create a more reliable, faster data transfer throughout your site. Install W3 Total Cache and you can enable this instantly through their configuration page.
Part 3: Get Link Love
- Create great content. If you want people to link to your content, then it goes without saying that you need to deliver amazing content. That means unique, well-constructed and brimming with personality.
- Guest post on credible sites. Not only will this automatically put your content in front of a brand new audience from a site with a high and powerful readership, but high levels of inbound links (linkbacks to your site from other websites) are also a reliable way of boosting your search engine rankings.
- Build relationships with people in your niche. Links from sites within your niche, or pages related to your content, are seriously beneficial for rankings. Relevancy matters, so collaborate (such as guest posting + joining interviews) with related sites.
- Steal your competitor’s links. Find out who is linking to your competitor and build a strategy based on how you can earn a linkback with them. You can start by approaching them to ask for a collaboration such as guest posting, sharing relevant an infographic or even a useful article that they can link to in exchange for linking to your own website. SEMrush can definitely help you collect that data. For more ways on how to build backlinks, you might find this post helpful.
- Regularly check your link profile. Your link profile is simply a collection of all the sites currently linking to your site. By running a backlink analysis, you can see all of these in one place. Get rid of any suspicious or unnatural looking links as low level (or automated) links tend to be penalized by Google.
Part 4: Optimize your content
- Make full use of keywords. Keywords help Google directly relate searches to the content on your site… so make use of them as appropriately as possible. As well as in your blog post content, include them in text links, and even your domain name (when relevant!).
- Use keywords early on. Ideally, in your first 100 words. This will help Google immediately know what your page is about when correlating it with user searches.
- Don’t overuse keywords. Whilst it’s important that you make use of keywords throughout your content, don’t overuse them. Keyword littering is looked at unfavorably by search engines as well as readers, so let them fall into the natural flow of your writing.
- Use keywords on your images. Put your main keywords on ALT attribute within your images. You’re using ALT attribute to describe your images, and this will help the search engines to easily read your content, thus boosting your search rankings.
- Create unique content. The more content you can offer, the higher your search rankings will be. Why? Search engines prefer NEW content, so make adding unique and fresh information to your site a priority.
- Use LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords. These are words that are related to your main keyword. They help differentiate homonyms in search queries (same words with different meanings) and should come out automatically in your writing.
- Use multimedia. Images, videos, audio, etc. makes your content more engaging…and as a result, more shareable and linkable!
- Use internal links. This points readers to other parts of your site, encouraging a flow through your content and lowering bounce rate: two critical user interaction ranking factors. For example, you’re writing a new content about SEO, you can link another old content that is related to SEO within your content, or vice versa.
- Install Yoast SEO plugin. Use this plugin to optimize content keywords and your meta keywords (meta title & description). It will tell you when you go over the number of characters required and elements you need to fix. Your title tags should be between 50-60 characters while your meta description should be between 150-160 characters.
- Keep URLS short and keyword rich. According to Google, the first 3-5 words in a URL are given more weight when it comes to ranking…so try to put your keywords nearer to the front when possible. Here’s a good tutorial on how you can make your post URLs SEO friendly.
- Longer content is key. SerpIQ research suggested that longer content tends to rank significantly higher on Google’s first page. Aim for 1000 – 2000 words, but remember: it isn’t just about quantity, it’s quality too!
- Check title competition. Do a Google search for allintitle: “your keyword” to see the number of pages currently containing your target keyword in the title. If the titles follow a similar format, edit yours so it offers something different.
- Steal your competitors' keywords. List your main competitors and use a keyword tool to determine what keywords they’re using that help them rank higher in search engines. Start a strategy to determine how you can rank higher using a certain keyword in search engines.
Part 5: Social Media
Social media is now a crucial tool in expanding your brand potential: it’s an immediate way to put your work in front of new (and large) audiences. Not only does it direct more people towards your website (through promotion) but it also helps build your backlink catalogue, magnifies your brand and is seen as a factor by Google for search rankings. Maximize its potential through this simple steps:
- Grow your followers. Your total number of organic followers on social media has impact on your rankings according to a report by Forbes. Build your following through unique and consistent content and genuine engagement and interaction. Find some top tips here.
- Encourage inbound links. Social media is another tool by which to gain those all important inbound links. By sharing your posts across your social media channels, followers may be inclined to share across their own. Make use of popular hashtags to reach out to users who might not already be following you.
- Increase brand awareness. A report by Dogulin Digital recently stated that a strong presence on social media helps build your brand reputation, leading to increased engagement and more branded searches on Google. The more branded searches you receive; the greater search visibility you are going to receive across the board (i.e. in non-branded searches).
- Make sharing easy. Install social sharing buttons at the end of every post so that your readers can share your content automatically and with ease, encouraging more external inbound links. SumoMe will make this a walk in the park for you.
- Show social proof. By displaying your social share counts at the end of your posts, further shares will be encouraged as your readers will see your work as noteworthy and prominent content.
- Measure your performance. Check out the analytics functions on your various social channels to see what posts are gaining the most engagement and blog referral rate, the best times of day to post and whether paid ads have a worthwhile impact on your follower count.
Part 6: Other WordPress Tips
- Create a site map. Sitemaps make it easier for Google to find your pages. Yoast SEO plugin can help you create a sitemap. Once you’re done, submit them to Google, Bing, Yahoo + other search engines.
- Use Google Webmaster Tools. This tool can help support your rankings by providing search analytics reports (to show you the keywords with the highest number of impressions) so that you can be sure to include them on the relevant pages, checking regularly for (and fixing!) any site errors and sitemaps to ensure that all pages on your site can be found by search engines with ease.
- Check stats through Google Analytics. Follow changes in traffic and popular posts so that you can react accordingly. You should also always look to make your content more appealing to visitors by fixing broken links and updating any information whenever necessary.
- Find popular content and improve it. If you know an article in your niche has been popular, then why not make it even better? Rework the content with a fresh spin and reach out to those who originally shared the content pointing them to your own.
- PROMOTE! Spend as much time promoting your content as you do writing it. That means putting your efforts into your social media marketing, email direct marketing and any PR you can gain. Remember, more publicity = more chances of earning backlinks = higher search rankings.
- Keep an eye on broken links. They are bad for user experience and SEO. Do regular checks of your website and social media to check all links are active and working. Although this plugin is super old, it still works! I use Permalink Finder on all my WordPress sites to make sure there is no more broken pages. To check external broken links, this post may help.
- Moderate comments. Check for spam comments and remove immediately. The Spam Remover plugin will do this for you automatically.
- Educate yourself. There are countless SEO blogs and articles online giving you a deeper insight into the world of SEO. Factor in time to read up on the factors that go into a successful SEO campaign.
- Stay on top of changes. Leading on from this, pay attention to any updates. The online world is a constantly changing and growing industry… don’t let it run ahead of you!
Do you have any additional suggestions? Please add them in the comments!