My SEO chops kind of came hand-in-hand with my WordPress chops. I learned them both at the same time and so, they have been growing along together. That started back in 2006, and today, I love WordPress more than ever.
My company builds websites for people, among other services we offer, and I always recommend WordPress, no matter what type of site it is and no matter what niche the site is about. You can make the WordPress platform as complicated as you want to make it or as simple. Plus, it’s great for SEO because it is well structured and the RSS feed assures that spiders will see your amazing content with no hassles.
Today, great content is also what SEO is about.
I’m not talking about WordPress.com, though, so don’t be confused. WordPress.com is a hosted blog solution and it’s nowhere near as customizable as the WordPress software on your own hosting account. Yes, the .com option is a great solution for people who just like to write, but for business… it won’t work at all.
WordPress.com bans commercialism of any kind, even affiliate links. You can get away with it for a while, maybe, but if do something that WordPress or another of its users doesn’t like and reports you, WordPress can shut you down like a bank vault door that you'll never get into again, and everything you’ve created will be gone, gone, gone for.ever! Don’t take that chance.
Install your own WordPress software on your own hosting account. Not only can you post anything you like, but your own WordPress blog on your own server also means you can customize the software to work any way you want it to, with plugins. I always say that if you want to do something with WordPress, there’s probably a plugin for it. You just have to look.
What I like best is that you can boost your SEO advantage, just by having some of the available plugins, and in fact, you can do it with 5 plugins alone.
Installing a plugin is easy, too. After you have installed the WordPress platform, just go into your WordPress dashboard, click Plugins, then Add New, and search for these titles. WordPress will install them for you, so it’s a no-brainer. Here’s the list:
#1 WordPress SEO by Yoast
If you’re still using All-in-One SEO Pack, I understand. It’s like that warm snuggly blanket you carried around until it fell apart when you were a kid. Heck, I used the plugin myself.
But I’m a fickle blogger. WordPress SEO by Yoast (WPSEO) came along and my head snapped back. It was just love at first sight.
I know, you’re asking, “Why?”
First, it’s just more comprehensive. You can achieve a lot more with WPSEO. It’s built not just to help you make your posts more SEO friendly, but it helps you with things like sitemaps, robots.txt, and it will tell your blog not to double index your author posts, if you’re the only one writing in your blog.
But there’s so much more!
You can customize how your feed appears or make edits to your robots.txt file right from the blog. You also get to customize the SEO for every post you make. WPSEO will analyze your title, description, keyword density, and tell you if your image ALT tag is bare. If you pass the SEO test, you get a green light. If not, you can go to an analysis tab and find out what you’re not doing that you should be doing or what you’re doing that might land your page in the Google Garbage bin.
My only advice here is to remember that Google doesn’t want things to be too perfect anymore. So, if you’re over-optimizing for every single thing you can, that could be a yellow alert for spiders that you might be trying to manipulate search results. You don’t want that, even on ONE page of your website.
For example, one of the attributes that Yoast’s plugin tests for is header tags. If you have none, you get a yellow light on the analysis page. Here’s what I think: If you have a good reason to use a header tag fine. If not, that’s something that you can do without. Use your own good judgment.
This plugin was actually created by Joost van der Valk, a very smart guy from Holland, who probably got tired of people pronouncing his name as “Juiced,” and made his company name “Yoast.” We Americans can butcher any language, given half the chance, eh?
But enough about WordPress SEO by Yoast. Let’s move on to...
#2 AuthorSure from DIY Webmastery
One of the big things that Google is using to rank your pages now is your author status. Do you produce relevant, engaging content, or are you just spamming the Web? If you’re spamming, give up. You’re already dead and just don’t know it yet. Get a new name and start over.
But if you’re writing quality content, you need to show Google who you are and what you write about. That’s where claiming your Author status with Google comes in. There’s a bit of code that you need to add to an author page and placement of your Google profile button and well... it can be pretty complicated, if you’re not a technological genius. I mean, it can be done, but AuthorSure is one really easy way to do it if you’re working with WordPress.
When you download the plugin, be sure to sign up for the online video tutorials from Russell Jamieson. He does a great job of walking you through the Authorship process step-by-step. Then, when Google is ready (yes, attaining author status is still at Google’s discretion, but set it up now so you’re ready), you will start to see your smiling face appear right next to your article or post. Even better, there’s a link to more results that lead to other articles or posts that you’ve written on the topic and a link to your Google Plus profile, too.
Google is taking this authorship thing pretty seriously, and you should, too.
#3 Jetpack by WordPress.com
Here is where I’m going to lose some of you, so let me repeat. WordPress.org (the open source software that you can download free and install on your own hosting account) and WordPress.com (a hosted blog solution) are two different things.
Still with me?
But... There is a way that you can make them work together that is really smart. Jetpack is a multi-tasking plugin. It does a whole list of things for you, but what makes it SEO friendly is that it helps you to get social juice and it will make your blog mobile ready, too.
Jetpack allows you to add important social buttons to your pages so that people can click and share, but one of its newest and best features, in my opinion, is that it will turn your blog into a clean mobile site, too. Both of these things are important as Google notices everything you do online now, which is kind of creepy, but well… it’s the cyberverse we live in.
But Jetpack isn’t just about SEO. It really does much more:
- Keeps stats on the number of visitors to your website, where they came from, and what they typed in to get to your pages. Google doesn’t even give you this anymore, unless you’re an AdWords customer or are lucky enough that people searching for your site are logged into Google. Those results are the dreaded “not provided” you see when you are looking for the keywords people typed in to get to your site. Jetpack helps give you some of those back.
- Streamlines your comments box so that spammers are less likely to bother with you, since they can’t add a URL. I still love Disqus, but it doesn’t play well with one of my themes. If this is true for you, Jetpack is another way to go. It also allows people to subscribe to your updates and to comments made on them.
- Checks your spelling and grammar, which Google is also about these days. They’re trying to clean up the Web and the days, and I applaud that effort. Bad writing and misspellings are coming to an end. Never send a post out until you’re sure it’s 100% correct.
- Much more, including making your blog part of the WordPress.com community, which is great for traffic and sociability. Just get the plugin. You’ll see what I mean.
Spiders tend to get whiney when one of your pages is missing. If you’re like any other blogger, you have written posts you’d rather not have written or posts about things that are no longer true online. Or, you may want to change your permalink structure, or for whatever reason, you’ve decided to NOT make a page found.
Redirection is the answer. You tell the plugin which page you discarded or moved, and what type of redirect it is. (It will usually be permanent or a 301 redirect.) Then, you plugin in the address for the new page or send traffic to a random page.
This is great! Spiders won’t be confused, won’t wet the bed, and all is right in your SEO world.
#5 WP Smush.it
Back in 2010, Google made a rather quiet algorithm change called “Caffeine,” and it measures the speed of your page. The faster your page loads, the better off you are in terms of search. Spiders don’t like hanging around while they could be over at another site spinning webs.
Smush.it is great, if you use lots of images on your blog (and who doesn’t.) It condenses those images so that their file sizes are really small. You can use Smush.it on images one-by-one, or you can get Smush.it to condense all of the images in your blog at once. (If you have many images, this can take a while, but it works great.) This really helps your pages to load faster because some of us are still uploading right to the blog from the scanner or smart phone. BAD, bad blogger! If that’s YOU, you most definitely NEED this plugin right now!
In fact, you need all of them. Making your blog or website as SEO friendly as it can possibly be will give you a real advantage over the people who just don’t pay attention to these things. How silly is that?