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23

Dec

Using WordPress for Effective SEO

Social Media is fast becoming the chosen method of driving high volumes of qualified traffic to your website, but you should never forget the one vital aspect of maintaining a steady stream of visitors… SEO.

Building a website that is SEO friendly can be quite a task, but thankfully for those considering a new web design project SEO can be made pretty simple by making use of the outstanding CMS that is WordPress.

WordPress is an Open Source platform that allows you total flexibility in the overall output of your site, both in terms of design and content. The easy process of selecting and installing plugins combined with high-quality features already included within the platform makes a WordPress based site a great tool to significantly improve your on-site SEO.

Here are a few great tips for using WordPress to significantly grow your SEO results in a matter of weeks:

Navigation is Key

Your navigation is essential to the success of your website. It needs to be quick, easy and confusion free. The navigation of your site should link to relevant content and information, and should never be broken or point to pages that don’t yet have any content.

If a page doesn’t yet have any content then do not feature it within your navigation, and do not re-direct a navigational link to another page as a holding page.

If your navigation structure is over-crowded or poorly laid out then both your visitors and the search engine bots will be put off.

Tag Images

Modern web searches use more than just text to determine results. Images and Videos now play an increasingly important role in influencing search listings.

It is important to use images sparingly on your website design, and when they are used they should be of a reasonable size in terms of the kb they use. They should have a title tag that describes the content each image represents and should hold a very strong relation to the text that the image supports.

You should also use an alternate text tag and where possible a description tag.

Maintain a Sitemap

Many sites fail to include a sitemap. There are two kinds of sitemap to think about – a sitemap for visitors and a sitemap for search engine bots.

If you feel that your site does not require a sitemap for your visitors then you should as a minimum include a sitemap for search engines, entitled sitemap.xml.

This sitemap file is used by search engine bots to understand the layout of the site and all of the content that is associated with the site. Maintaining an accurate sitemap can significantly increase the speed of which your site is indexed on key search engines and also ensures that those search listings are as accurate as possible.

You can install the Google XML Sitemap plugin for WordPress that completely automates the process for you and is easy to set up.

Customising Permalinks

Stay clear of using URL’s that look like www.yourdomainname.co.uk/?pageid=50 because just like us humans, search engine bots do not recognise this kind of information, making it useless.

Instead, use the simple built-in feature that WordPress offers to customize the output of your URL’s. Go to Settings > Permalinks, then change it to suit your requirements. We generally use the day and title setting as this gives both human visitors and search engine pots an exact description of what the content is about and when it was published.

A good example is www.knavesmireit.co.uk/2012/12/22/the-web-doesnt-stop-for-christmas.

Internal Linking

Linking keywords within your website content to other pages and posts relevant to those keywords achieves a number of results. Not only does it allow search engine bots a simple way to discover additional content on your website, it also re-enforces the relevance of the content on those pages and posts.

It also encourages your visitors to click on these internal links, discover other content and encourage an increase in engagement.

You can either maintain these links yourself, or alternatively you can install the SEP Smart Links plugin that will automate the process based on the settings you specify.

Use Valid XHTML Mark-up

A poorly coded site can stop search engine bots visiting and crawling your website completely.

By using the W3C Validator you can better understand how good (or bad) your sites code is, and it will provide suggestions for making corrections.

Reduce Your Load Speed

Key search engines such as Google now uses the load speed of your web pages to help determine the authority of your site, thus affecting your overall search ranking.

You should constantly strive to reduce the load speed of each page and post of your site, of which there are a number of things you can do.

You can start by ensuring that your web host is trusted and reliable. Think about installing a caching plugin for sites that don’t change on a daily basis, such as W3 Total Cache plugin. Only use the necessary plugins and widgets. Don’t publish large volumes of text on one page, but instead spread them over two or three posts that are all interlinked. And finally, as previously mentioned, use images and video sparingly and ensure that the lowest possible file size is used without sacrificing the quality of the media.

Summary

Since the rise and domination of social media many have predicted SEO to be a dying art form, but whether you choose to believe it or not SEO does in fact remain as the dominant factor of designing and maintaining a successful website.

The aim of every website should be to provide relevant and informative information on it’s specific chosen subject(s), and as such the SEO techniques describes here actually help to re-enforce that aim.

SEO is not the minefield that it once was, and is actually a fairly simple thing to do well, but the fact remains that great SEO results are achieved through thorough planning and rigorous implementation.

Great results cannot be achieved overnight, which is where many webmasters fail, because they expect to see significant results overnight. Instead, your SEO program should in fact look to span between six and twelve months before you can expect to see any real measurable results.

Great SEO results can only be achieved by providing quality content that is unique, reliable and highly relevant to a given subject. That content needs to be located on a trustworthy and reliable website, and that can only be achieved through the selection of a great web host and the use of a domain name that has some history behind it (the longer a domain has been registered the more trust the domain collects).

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