By now most of us WordPress users know that SEO stands for search engine optimization. We understand that search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing read web pages and rank them based on certain algorithms. These algorithms, which are extremely complex, are the moving target we try to understand as WordPress website owners.
At a high-level we understand that SEO can be broken down into three different parts.
If you don't know by now, SEO is important because most of the traffic to WordPress websites come via search engine results. If your website does not rank well with search engines then you will have a hard time increasing traffic to your website.
It is also really important that all WordPress website owners continually work to make their website search engine friendly. The landscape of the Internet is constantly changing so in order to stay relevant you need to ensure your website is using best practices and has up-to-date content.
Advanced SEO can get very technical, however there are a few fundamentals you can learn and take action on almost immediately with your WordPress website.
You don't need a developer or a in-depth technical background to accomplish the basics outlined below. If you are already using WordPress, then these techniques will be easy.
The first basic step you can take is to make sure that the information on the general settings page of your WordPress website is correct. This includes the tagline of the website, the website language, the website time zone, and everything else on the page.
These simple settings help create an identity for your website that search engines can use.
WordPress actually has a setting to discourage search engines from indexing your website. This is available and intended to be used when you are initially set it up your website. So it is good to doublecheck that your search engine visibility setting is properly set.
Navigate to the Reading section of your admin settings. When you scroll down you should find a search engine visibility setting. Double check it's value and save any changes.
URL formats that clearly express the content of the page and are easy to read, are great for SEO. Some examples of optimize URL formats are:
Just by looking at the URL you can determine what the page content is focused around. Some poorly formatted URLS are:
Notice how much harder it is to determine what the page contact must be based off of these URLs. Although search engine algorithms are very complex they still work best with explicit, easy to read content.
In order to change the URLs for your WordPress website you need to navigate to the permalink settings with in the admin dashboard. By default the setting is selected to use the Plain option. We recommend that you change it to the Post name option. This will give you user-friendly URLs.
It is important to note when you change the setting in terms of the life time of your WordPress website. If you just created your website then go ahead and make this change. However if your website has been running for months or even years, then don't make this change. By then search engines have already begun indexing all of your pages, so making this change at this time will only diminish your website's index and rank.
If your website has been running for a long time and you still want to make this change then hire a professional to make sure all of the redirects are in place.
Another change you might be able to implement without a developer is converting your site to HTTPS. Using a SSL certificate not only adds security to your website, it also add trust. HTTPS protect users against man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks. Hackers use a technique like this to steal your customers sensitive information.
Implementing HTTPS, by using a SSL certificate, secures any data transmitted between your web server and the browser being used by a user interacting with your website.
In most modern browsers a padlock (sometimes green) will be displayed on a secure site that uses HTTPS with a valid SSL certificate. This simple visual cue gives confidence to your users that their data is safe.
Search engines recognize the basic security level of a website. A website is going to rank better if it uses HTTPS vs just HTTP.
There's a lot more that you can do with SEO, however it begins to get more technical and more advanced as you go on. The basic steps mentioned above can help get your WordPress website headed in the right direction.
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