WordPress is probably the most widely used blogging / CMS platform out today for a variety of reasons. Number one is probably the ease of use a close second is that it’s mostly free. If you run a website on WordPress and aren’t being found in search engines, the Yoast plugin provides easy SEO for WordPress. Yoast is really nothing special development wise. That is to say it’s not some revolutionary new algorithm or technology. What it is and what it does well is guide the average person through the process of Search Engine Optimization. Here’s a quickstart intro for you…
SEO has become something of a pariah over the past couple years. This is largely because there was a cottage industry built around backlinking. Several companies developed deep (and mostly shady) back channels for links that helped people’s sites pop. The problem was that these sites weren’t always the best content to answer the users search – so Google killed the part of its algorithm that weighted those types of backlinks heavily… and chaos ensued.
The good news is SEO is simple. Make good content and tell the engines what your pages are about. If you do this and people like your page you will win the organic search game.
What Yoast does for WordPress users is simplify the process of making an SEO’ed content post. Rather than continue to type though, let’s walk you through the process I went through while optimizing this very post here!! (*CUE TWILIGHT ZONE MUSIC*)
This seems like a no brainer, but write your article first. It’s much easier to SEO a piece of content that’s already been created. You’ll see why in the next step.
Once you install Yoast, you will see it in a panel below the edit screen in your posts. After you have created your article you should think about what a person searching for this type of content would type into Google. In the case of this article I chose “SEO for WordPress” but you can go with something more simple or more specific than that, I could’ve used something like – the best tool when doing SEO for WordPress, or Need quick SEO for WordPress?. SEO would be a good shorter, broader choice as another example. However, the more broadly you target the less chance you have of dominating that search term, so try to be specific and creative.
The next step is to take a look at the rating that Yoast gives you right away. In my case it’s green light because I’ve been doing this for years and chose a keyword I know was repeated everywhere in my content and header. Take a look at this… the next step is a bit more involved.
My traffic light score in Yoast is now a yellow light. It’s not terrible but it’s not fantastic either. There are a few things I can now do to improve my SEO for WordPress articles and get Yoast to give me the green light again.
Underneath the field where you write your focus keyword is a list of items Yoast relates to the SEO of your page and scores you on. As you can see I scored well on things like the amount of characters in the page title, coming up with a new and original focus keyword for my blog, creating easy to read copy, etc. But I also lost points for having no meta description and not using my focus keyword in the first paragraph of my article. My next step is to go back to my article and make adjustments based on the recommendations that Yoast has given. Let’s do that and see what we get.
Finally you will want to write a quick meta description that repeats your keyword. In my case that keyword was SEO for WordPress, so the sample image shows you how I created a statement that used this keyword but also helps to describe what the post is about. Just stuffing a keyword into text that is out of context will actually hurt your rankings, so don’t do that.
Think of the meta description as kind of a “preview” or byline of your content that a Google (or Bing) user will see in their search results. Google is focused on creating a good user experience so the more you do to help aid this process the better you will rank.
That’s our quick start guide for the Yoast SEO plugin. If you need more advice on effective SEO for WordPress we recommend you read the full Yoast tutorial on their website here.
Ok ok, this may be preaching to the choir… By now most people are aware of the importance of having their own website that represents their business and gives them the ability to showcase their brand. However, a lot of small business owners are willing to sacrifice their overall brand in the name of saving a little bit of money up front. At the end of the day though, it’s worth seeking out the right firm or designer and spending within reason to create an online presence that clearly and professionally represents your business.
With Google Analytics & Search Console you have access to incredible analytics and data that you can use to make informed decisions. Google gives these services away for free and part of “best practices” is having them installed on your site and taking advantge of them.
Google analytics tags on your site allow you track a myriad of important metrics on your site? What are metrics you ask? Metrics are data points about your users. For example, one metric on your site is the “Time on site” metric. How long are users on your site? How sticky is it? Google analytics not only shows you how long people stay on your site on average, you can break it down page by page and even see user flow through your site. This is incredibly powerful, for it allows you to find points of interest or points of user drop off and optimize your site. If you see that a particular page that a customer should be spending a lot of time on has a low time on site, you can begin to make adjustments to the page to improve this metric. This is just one example of the many different ways Analytics can help you improve your online presence and overall business.
Formerly known as “Webmaster Tools” Google Search Console shows you what keyword terms are producing impressions and clicks in organic search. For those who are foreign to this world, impressions are “views” or how many times a user searching a particular keyword sees your website. Clicks are pretty self explanatory. Search Console is powerful because it shows you where users are finding you and knowing this can help you to better present yourself and take full advantage of organic and free traffic.
This is something that marketers understand well “KISS” – Keep It Stupid Simple – is the marketers mantra. The easier it is for a customer to get into your site, find what they want and buy it, the more success you will have. Maybe you’re not selling products – if that’s the case you should still consider what your “conversion event” is. Maybe it’s a mailing list subscriber, maybe it’s a Twitter follower, maybe it’s a play on your video. Whatever the case, you want the path to this action to be as simple and uncluttered as possible.
If you’re a modern business you need to have a phone number, address and email address visible on your site. If you don’t, you look shady. Plain and simple – the people who win the most business are the ones who have a degree of transparency. If you look like you are trying to hide yourself it does not bode well for business. Additionally, Google uses “maps” signals to help rank pages in their search. If you are a listed business seeking walk in customers – it is absolutely mandatory you have a visible address and a map listing. It will help with your overall SEO and make you visible in business directories as well.
By the most recent estimates I’ve seen – 60% of your website visitors are going to be on mobile devices. That’s just the direction things are going. Everyone is connected and has a sweet pocket computer. If you do not have a website that looks clean and professional on these devices you are losing MORE THAN HALF of your potential customers. Let that sink in – at Apex we actually begin with a mobile design before we even consider desktop. That’s just the way things are heading.
This might be the most important factor of all… and also it ties back to #2. What are you trying to accomplish here? If your goal is to get people to come to your restaurant and buy taco’s make sure everything about your website points to how amazing your taco’s are and how to get to your location! Embed videos of customers describing the deep sense of fulfillment they have after consuming your taco’s. Flash your address and map listing in the sidebar of every page. Link to sites that contain favorable reviews of your taco’s. You get the idea. If you just throw a page up with your logo and address you’re going to reap what you sow. It’s basically like listing your company in a phonebook at that point. But if you build a site that speaks to why what you’re doing is better than your competitors and engage with your prospective customers through social media you will see growth in your customer base.
These are only 5 small things you can do easily through your website but there are a ton of other reasons that small businesses should invest into having a professional, well thought out website that truly speaks to their business goals.