If you looked at SEO basics in the previous post and checked out some of the SEO tools and resources for small business owners in this post as well you might be wondering how to get started and what are the most important SEO tasks you need to tackle first.
So today I’d like to share with you a list of the 7 steps you need to take first for on-page SEO in your WordPress business website.
Just a reminder: on-page SEO refers to optimisation techniques that you implement on your actual website, so that your website becomes more SEO-friendly for Google (and other search engines) to index and understand.
Step 1. Use correct Headers structure.
When you are writing a report in Word, you use headers and sub-headers to separate your content, make it easier to understand and help the reader to navigate through the report.
Same principle applies to your webpages. You need to use HTML headers (these are the H1, H2 and so on tags) which you can also get in your Visual Editor interface in WordPress.
H1 is the most important header on the page, then H2 and so one – you get the idea 🙂
And when Google is indexing your website it’s looking for those headers to tell it what the page is about. So the key is to use headers on your pages, especially H1 and H2, and to include keywords and key phrases into these headers.
Don’t overuse headers through or they will lose their power: for example, you would only have one H1 header on the page, a few H2, a few more H3 etc. But don’t make all 10+ headers on the page as H1.
Step 2. Set up ALT and Title tags for images.
When you are adding images to your pages and blog posts, make sure you set up ALT and TITLE tags for each of them.
Good news – you don’t need to know any HTML or coding to use these tags. WordPress gives you the interface to set them up every time you load a new image to your Media Gallery. Just look at the image on the left.
You can use online tools to check your pages to see if there are any images without ALT tags:
So you can use any of those tools to run your pages through and see what images are still missing ALT tags. You might also find some WordPress theme images that still need tags, or your social media icons!
Step 3. Fix your permalink structure.
Permalinks are how people locate your blog and its internal posts and pages. They are made up of a root and an extension.
For example, on this post I have:
It is very important to have a good permalink structure, and not the default one that uses /?p=123 (post number = 123).
You can change your permalinks in WordPress by going to Settings > Permalinks. The best option to have is just the post name.
Once you’ve researched what keywords you are trying to rank for, you can then shorten your permalinks or change them to match those keywords. For example, have a guess what key words I was trying to rank for in this post?
Be careful however – if you change any old permalinks that might already have other sites linking to, it’s best to first install a Redirection plugin. This plugin will keep track of every time a post or page link has been changed, and it will create a record in its table of redirections – so when a visitor follows the old link, they will automatically get taken to the new link. And no 404-not found pages will be shown!
Step 4. Install a sitemap.
A Sitemap gives a full map of all your posts, pages and archives in a way that search engines understand and can follow. And the good news – it’s very easy to get one for your website.
There are several plugins you can use:
- WordPress SEO by Yoast (also does other SEO optimisation for your website – see below) – that’s the one I use for this website,
- All in One SEO Pack
- Google XML Sitemaps – just the sitemaps plugin.
These plugins will automatically generate the sitemap for you at regular intervals and then submit it to Google, Bing, etc. So this is a “set and forget” type of SEO technique you can implement today.
Step 5. Use SEO plugins.
There are plenty of WordPress plugins out there that you can install to get some help with your on-page SEO.
These plugins help you to set up META tags for pages and posts -Title, Description. You can decide which pages shouldn’t be indexed and included in the sitemap. You can also create custom description for the post when it gets shared on social media – rather than a social media website just getting some random part of the post to go with link.
The one I love and use most of all if WordPress SEO by Yoast. But if you like or have had great success with another plugin, just let me know in comments!
Step 6. Add social sharing buttons.
Adding social sharing buttons for your posts and pages prompts sharing, which improves the distribution or your content across social media platforms and Internet overall. Sharing can also help expose your content to new audiences.
Getting your content shared increases the number of mentions and links to your sites. The quicker your content is found by search engines, the sooner it shows up in the index. Finally, Google takes into account the number of social shares your posts receive in their rankings – and if your posts are popular on social media and are shared a lot, your site will be classed as more valuable.
A tip here is to make your share buttons obvious, but not disruptive or distracting.
My favourite social sharing plugins for WordPress are DiggDigg and Flare. They support all popular social networks, plus the sharing bar isn’t stuck at the top or at the bottom, but moves down with the reader along the post.
If you switch on “share counts,” they can help convey further trust, authority and popularity of an article for your audience. However if your website is new and doesn’t get any sharing yet, it’s best to just have the buttons without zeros which will have a negative effect on your infrequent readers.
As well as adding social sharing buttons, don’t forget to add your own social media accounts in the header, footer or sidebar of the website. This will help your visitors connect with you on social networks and follow you there to get notifications of new posts and offers.
Step 7. Install a caching plugin to speed up your website.
Having a fast website is important for SEO. If you site is slow to load, robots might not be able to view it properly. If your readers can’t load your posts and pages, they might give up and go to another site. Google will then record this as a “bounce”. The less your bounce rate it, the better it is for your website.
Caching plugins create copies of your WordPress website that are loaded instead of querying the database each time – therefore they are loaded faster. Also some plugins use a gzip technique – so your pages reach the visitor in compressed form, which speeds them up even further.
Some plugins you can try to improve your website loading speed:
Over to you
Which plugins and SEO tools do you use on your website? What’s been working well for you? Share your tips below in comments!
If you’ve not done any optimisation of your WordPress website, or if you’ve missed any of the steps, I challenge you this week to set aside some time and just get it done!
Don’t forget to share this post with your friends so that they can benefit from easy and actionable SEO advice too!