WordPress has made it very easy for small businesses to have a website that is easy to update and maintain, but do you know how to optimize your WordPress site so that it has the best chance of appearing at the top of your customers' search results?
The process is similar to optimizing any website, but with a WordPress installation you can customize many of your pages' SEO elements, as well as automating them to cut down on the time it takes to post a new item to your site.
WordPress vs. WordPress.com
Having your blog hosted at WordPress.com limits the changes you can make to your page template. But more importantly, it restricts your SEO. Having your site hosted on WordPress.com only benefits WordPress.com in terms of backlinks generated.
Make sure that from day one you’re in control by hosting your blog on your own domain. That way you get all the credit for backlinks generated and reap the rewards for strengthening the overall reputation of your domain in the search engines.
SEO plugins can be a great way to optimize you site and make blog management much easier.
There are several useful WordPress plugins, so it’s a case of finding the ones that work best for your needs. The ones which stand out for SEO, to name just a couple are:
- All in One SEO
- Broken Link Checker
- SEO Smart Links
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARRP)
- Urban Giraffe Redirection
Stay up-to-date and Avoid Malware Google Alerts
Make sure that you stay up-to-date and check those malware reports in Google Webmaster Tools just to make sure everything is safe.
SEO for WordPress
WordPress is naturally very well set up for SEO, in terms of header optimization, title tags, internal/cross-linking, etc. The plugins, such as All in One SEO, will go a long way toward improving this further.
However, WordPress doesn’t do it all for you. You still need to keywords after all!
Plus, you need to make sure you put effort into optimizing URL structure and internal linking, to make sure your blog is as well optimized as possible.
Great Content = Great SEO
In terms of optimizing each page or post within the main body text, there are again several key areas to focus on, such as including target keyword phrases in headlines and the body of the post.
More importantly, make sure you write for users. SEO is important when running a blog – but I would always sacrifice SEO in favor of writing a post that has the potential to generate attention and go viral.
Links are obviously the most important single ranking factor in SEO, so well-optimized content with no links is still likely to be out-ranked by un-optimized great content with lots of links.
You might get some good “freshness” rankings in the short-term – but as with Google's Panda update, we all know that longer-term quality content will succeed.
'Optimization' at its Best
To really achieve true optimization, your content needs to be great – that’s why the likes of ProBlogger, SEOmoz, etc., will rank for so many long-tail searches. Yes, they use keywords – but more importantly they write great content that attracts thousands of links.
But there are still a few quick wins, too. Use the SEO plugins. Even if you think your site or blog is optimized, look again at its URL structure, the title tags, the use of internal linking, image alt tags, and text formatting.
You could find that, somewhere along the line, you've missed that game-changing SEO technique that could take your page from the middle of page two to the top of page one in the search engine results pages.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericmmartin/2986187518/