Five SEO tips to improve your WordPress website

Showing up on Google search results is important to gaining more business and establishing a brand. For this reason, we’ve put together a list of some SEO tips to help on that journey.

These tips will be focused on websites that run on the WordPress content management system. If you aren’t sure if your website uses WordPress, find out here: http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/

It’s WordPress? Cool. Carry on…

1. Focus on long tail keywords

A keyword is a term that signifies what a particular piece of content is about. For example, the keyword on this page can be “SEO”. People searching for “SEO” on Google or Bing will come across content that is about search engine optimization.

However, the keyword, “SEO”, is too simple, and too broad.

Searching for SEO on Google

There are over 498 MILLION results for “SEO”

There’s a ton of competition for that particular keyword. It’s also very likely that the search results will be a mixture of “what is SEO”, “SEO services”, and other random pages regarding SEO.

In order to improve our chances of having web pages show up on search, we need to enter an area with lower competition. This is where we attempt to use more than one keyword. In this case, we can try long tail keywords. Instead of “SEO”, we can try “business owner SEO tips”.

Searching for “business owner SEO tips” returns only 12.9 million search results as shown below.

Searching for Business owner SEO tips

We can also see that the pages being shared are more specific. They cover SEO tips for small businesses.

This is the type of search we want to show up in.

Now, identifying the long tail keywords we want to use is a good first step. The next is to write content that uses the long tail keywords.

Some good practices include:

  • Adding the long tail keywords to the title of the page
  • Using the long tail keywords several times
  • Modifying the page slug to include the long tail keywords
  • Using the long tail keywords in the alt text (see step #2)

We use the Yoast SEO plugin to help us check our work for SEO improvement opportunities.

2. Optimize your image “alt text”

Every time we add images to a page, we’re doing it to keep the attention of the page visitor.

However, simply adding a website without editing the alt text of images limits the potential reach of the company.

Do an image search of “REN Marketing” on Google and you’ll notice that many of our images are at the top of the search. This is because each image has been optimized with specific alt tags for when people look up our company.

tip for search results

Steps to add alt text to images:

  1. While on the WordPress dashboard, click “Pages” or “Posts”
  2. Select “Add new”
  3. In a page or post, click on “Add Media”
  4. Choose an image, or upload one
  5. In the box on the right hand side, add your keywords in the “Alt Text” area (see image below) 
  6. Insert the image and save the work

That’s it. Do this for EVERY image.

3. Get an SSL certificate

They go for as low as $70/year on GoDaddy. They are generally easy to install. SSL’s or Secure Socket Layers encrypt the communication between server and website visitor whenever any data is transferred.

Here’s how a website URL looks like because of an SSL:

REN Marketing SSL HTTPS

Apart from keeping data private, SSL’s are a MUST-have for SEO reasons. In fact, Google tends to prefer websites that load under HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure), which are those with SSL’s.

Steps to get an SSL:

  1. Buy one from a hosting provider (they’re usually installed with the click of a button)
  2. Give it a few days to load all pages under HTTPS (note: large websites can take longer)
  3. After a few days, go to each page and check that the green lock reads SECURE for each page (I recommend using Chrome for this task)
  4. If all pages load under HTTPS and show the green lock with SECURE, you’re all set though follow the steps on the next SEO tip to help Google find these HTTPS pages

Content doesn’t all load under HTTPS? Read this.

4. Create and submit a sitemap

Search engines don’t immediately know what’s on a website. If we fail to inform them of what’s on our website, they won’t be able to showcase our web pages when someone searches for related terms online.

We need to provide them with a map of our website. We need a sitemap.

Sitemap example

Image of the REN Marketing Sitemap

Steps to create a sitemap:

  1. On the WordPress dashboard, click on “Plugins”
  2. Next to the “Plugins” title, click on “Add New”
  3. Search for the “Yoast” plugin
  4. Click on “Install Now”
  5. Then, click on “Activate”
  6. Navigate to the settings for Yoast and click on “XML Sitemaps”
  7. Check that XML sitemap functionality is enabled
  8. Click on “XML Sitemap” under “Your XML Sitemap”
XML sitemap enabled

Note: if the sitemap doesn’t show, disable XML sitemap functionality and then enable it

That’s it, we’ve create a sitemap.

Now, the last thing we need to do is submit this sitemap to Google and Bing. To do this, we’ll need to create accounts in the following:

Steps to submit a sitemap to Google:

  1. Click on “Add a Property”
  2. Add the website URL (Let’s start with our HTTPS URL i.e. https://ren.marketing)
  3. Follow any of the options to verify ownership of the website domain
  4. Once verified, click on the property that was just added
  5. Click on “Sitemaps”
  6. Click on “Add/Test Sitemap”
  7. Add your website sitemap (Note: To obtain your sitemap URL, navigate to the Yoast SEO page on your WordPress dashboard. Click on “XML Sitemaps”. Under the title Your XML Sitemap, click on “XML Sitemap”. Copy the slug after the “/”. Paste it in Google Webmasters.)

    Sitemap example

    Example of the slug we need to copy.

  8. Click “Submit”

Great. Now, we need to repeat steps 1-3 for the other variations of the website URL. For example, we’d need to repeat the steps for:

  • https://ren.marketing
  • https://ren.marketing
  • https://ren.marketing

Optional but recommended: while looking at your property, you’re able to click on “Site Settings” to set your preferred domain.

Our preferred domain

Selecting a preferred domain.

That’s it. Now all we need to do is wait for Google’s bot to read our sitemap and visit the pages on our website.

Steps to submit a sitemap to Bing:

  1. Within the “My Sites” area, add a website URL (i.e. https://ren.marketing)Bing Webmaster Add a Site
  2. Select “Add”
  3. Add the whole URL for the page containing the Sitemap (Note: To obtain your sitemap URL, navigate to the Yoast SEO page on your WordPress dashboard. Click on “XML Sitemaps”. Under the title Your XML Sitemap, click on “XML Sitemap”. Copy the entire URL. Paste it in Bing Webmaster.)Adding sitemap to Bing Webmaster
  4. Click “Add”
  5. Follow any of the options to verify ownership of the website domain
  6. Once verified, we’re done.

We don’t need to repeat any of the steps since Bing doesn’t require us to submit each URL variation.

Now, we wait a few days or weeks until Bing starts displaying our site.

5. The last of the SEO tips: content creation

Millions of blog posts are created each day. With all of the competition to rank for specific keywords, having 1 or 2 blog posts in total won’t help you much. You need to have your brand out there, in multiple places. To do this, continuously share high quality content that is relevant to your industry and which is within your area of expertise.

Think about it. If you manage a car rental company and have blog posts for tourists interested in renting cars in Miami, your website has an advantage in search over other websites that haven’t shared anything online. The more blog posts you have out there, the greater your chances of showing up when someone searches for Miami car rental related terms.

Take note though, that the content needs to be valuable and engaging.

Some guidelines for creating good content include:

  • Write a headline that grabs the readers attention
  • Don’t just add text, add images and videos
  • Compress your media to make the website load quicker
  • Always have a call to action (i.e. subscribe for more, read this other article, etc.)

Obviously, we’ll have to discuss what high quality means. We will, in a future post.

Always aim to keep website visitors engaged. The longer they stay on a page, the greater the chance that search engines consider the content to be of high quality and therefore, give it a boost in search results.

Next Steps

We hope that these SEO tips help you improve your standing in search results.

If done right, your clients won’t be looking like this when they search for your company online…

via GIPHY

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