Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the procedure of improving traffic ratings to your website through organic search engines such as Yahoo!, Google & Bing. The higher your page ranks within search term results, the more likely online users are to visit your page. SEO can target different kinds of search and can depend on a number of factors including location, images, content & URL’s. A fully optimised website can make a true difference to the number of visitors to your site. Although there are no loopholes or back alleys to immediate success, these tips can be a great starting point to understanding how to optimise your WordPress website.

If your website is built on WordPress, you may find a few of these tips helpful, here at Creative Steam, we have listed our top ten tips on how to keep your website traffic up with these optimisation points.

1. Meta data

Meta descriptions for each post, page or category are the explanation & the introduction and can really help your website out in terms of rankings – if they’re used properly. It is structured information that describes and locates what an online user is trying to find. Once you’ve carried out some strategic keyword research, you can implement these in to your title tag, meta description and meta keywords section of your WordPress site, once this is done.. it could really improve your search engine positions. The meta description may just be the very first thing that a user reads, so make it enticing, short and sweet.

2. Sitemaps are critical

A Sitemap is an XML document that allows a webmaster to inform search engines about URLs on a website that are available to crawl. Sitemaps can be updated regularly to inform search engines of any URL changes and to crawl the website with an intelligent approach.

The following are highly recommended:

XML Sitemap

Video Sitemap

Image Sitemap

Google News Sitemap (if you’re a news site)

Installing these are simple, various plugins can be used. Once you have them, simply submit them to Bing & Google Webmaster Tools.

3. Content will always be the best form of optimisation

Highly unique content will always come above other pointers for SEO. Ideally, your text will contain researched key phrases and highlight the overall theme of the page in the best way and will be completely distinctive to your website. Content should always be understandable and readable and text should be written primarily for visits and not just for search engines. Make your site stand out, although you don’t want to bore your online visitors with too much text, it is still great for SEO if you can be descriptive as possible on a webpage or post.

4. Set up readable / pretty permalinks

If you cannot tell what a page or post is about from the URL, neither can Google. This is bad for optimisation, and WordPress offers a default setting for your new pages or posts – but you shouldn’t use it.

A messy URL gives no clue as to what your page or post is actually related to. The search engine will not be able to understand this, thankfully WordPress has made it easy to choose a new permalink structure that will produce SEO friendly links. This means you will be able to have a URL with chosen keywords and a link that will be readable to online users and to search engines.

5. Categories & tags

Often, people will publish both categories and tags on a WordPress website. If both of these URL structures are being indexed by Google, duplicate content issues can arise which causes search engines to not know how/what to rank first. Unless your tags and categories are completely different, it is recommended to use one or the other

6. You’re always better off with WordPress themes and plugins designed with SEO in mind

A clean code and website that is up to date with the most recent SEO practices is the key to a successful WordPress website. Important factors to consider are –

Canonical URLs and the correct usage of them

Proper use of headings and meta data

Open graph meta tag integration to enhance social media sharing

A clean structure that uses valid HTML

Remember – code and speed are very important factors of a website! There are many plugins that can really make your life easier when it comes to optimising your website on WordPress. Although be careful not to overuse plugins as this can slow things down. Deactivate and delete any unnecessary plugins and stick to the ones that are truly helping your site and question if a plugin is absolutely compulsory before the installation.

7. Don’t underestimate the importance of image files / use image alt text

Search engines don’t just rank your website in terms of content, images need to be optimised too for the purpose of Google images, and it also helps crawlers to read what’s on your site. Adding in image alt text and implementing actual keywords relating to your particular image. Thinking of a good name for your image file rather than DSP0J.jpg can help Google determine what your page is about. This provides better usability and accessibility.

8. Use correct heading tags

When it comes to good SEO practices, using correct H tags is a good place to start. You are able to choose from H1’s through to H6’s to use for your website – and using them in the correct places is essential. For example; the H1 tag should always be used to head the title of the page – it should be the main factor and introduction to the page to represent it accurately. Once the H1 is in place, you can follow by using Heading 2 tags and additional sub headings of H3’s and H4’s etc.

9. Do not keyword stuff your content

Keywords are an important part of SEO and should be carefully thought out. They help you to define what you’re writing about and ultimately help Google understand the theme of your website, post or page. Using them with caution is what’s important, as using the same word or phrase in a post continuously can do more harm than good as Google will be able to see that your content is not natural or built for online users. Use keywords, but only where they fit – they should appear in your Meta data, headings and content, but in a natural way. Google’s main priority is about pleasing people – not robots and this is something to always keep in mind. Don’t force it, remember to optimise images with keywords where appropriate and help validate your post topic by including your keywords in the Meta description.

10. Check 404’s

Check 404’s and fix them easily through WordPress plugins. You always want people to find the appropriate pages for your website and a high number of 404’s is bad news for search engines.