SEO (search engine optimization) is confusing to the average blogger. Some have heard the term, but many still don’t know what it even means. Nonetheless, most bloggers know or have been told that it needs to be carefully integrated into every aspect of their writing and website. Unfortunately, most bloggers feel lost when it comes to actual tactical implementation. To make matters worse, SEO forums are littered with terrible information from self-proclaimed “experts” that are further adding to this confusion. So, what’s a blogger to do?
Let’s start by defining what SEO means. SEO, or search engine optimization, simply put, is the art of improving your website’s organic search traffic. Due to the rise of blogging as a way to make money online and build visibility, credibility, and authority, competition for search engine visibility is heating up faster than ever. As a result, being SEO-conscious has never been more important and plays a major role in driving quality traffic to your website.
While there are myriad techniques and strategies that require extensive work, there are several ways to get an SEO boost with minimal effort if your website is on WordPress (which I highly recommend).
In fact, the WordPress platform has plenty of SEO plugins that do most of the work while increasing visibility in search engines. Most of these plugins are created by experienced developers that understand the fundamentals of ranking well and have integrated the necessary features for success. Here are some of the more helpful SEO plugins that are available.
This is one of the best ways to get started, and is perfect for those with minimal experience. Once activated, this plugin will quickly help to improve visibility by automatically optimizing the title of each post. In addition to the normal WordPress tags, it offers additional tagging to help search engines find content with greater ease. It also has the option to alter the title and description that appears in search engines for a higher level of control. Some other features include:
- Google Analytics support
- Ability to override META keywords and descriptions
- Nonce security
If you’re new to SEO plugins, the All in One SEO Pack is relatively easy to learn. After getting the hang of it, it’s possible to fine-tune each post for maximum effectiveness. There’s even a support forum in case there are any issues.
When someone finds a page through search engine results, there’s a good chance that they will be interested in similar content on the website. This plugin capitalizes on this fact by automatically displaying related posts at the bottom of each article. It accomplishes this by using a customizable algorithm to scan tags, content and titles.
This is beneficial because it often leads to visitors exploring more content, resulting in more overall page views and a lower bounce rate. Consequently, this often results in higher conversion rates, increased social media followers, and increased sales. The best part is that it doesn’t require any effort on your part. After it’s been activated, it takes care of everything on its own.
Due to the new social media obsession and the way the people share content via networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, along with the progressing integration of social media with SEO, it’s important to encourage social sharing and make it convenient. Like traditional backlinks, social shares help search engines figure out what content people are enjoying, which results in higher search engine rankings for that content. While the exact impact of social signals is still somewhat unclear, it’s clear that it has a beneficial impact on rankings.
The Twitter Facebook Social Share plugin is helpful because it’s one of the most straightforward and easy-to-use plugins. All that’s required is installation and activation, and it automatically places social share buttons at the top or bottom of each post. Currently, it allows visitors to post content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Stumbleupon.
This plugin is similar to the All in One SEO Pack, but is a bit more sophisticated. One of its key features is the snippet preview that displays what a post will look like in search engine results. This is advantageous because the title can be changed if it’s too short or too long. If the META description (a basic element of SEO that’s often used by search engines to figure out what a page is about) is out of place in relation to the context, this plugin will let you know. By optimizing these aspects of each post, it’s usually possible to maximize click through rates and bring in more traffic.
If you’re sick of being outranked by sites that duplicate your content, this plugin can help by including a link to your RSS feed that points to the original article. WordPress SEO also utilizes comprehensive XML sitemaps (another behind-the-scenes SEO element that is largely invisible to humans but is very important for helping search engines index your website).
My favorite feature of WordPress SEO by Yoast is its ability to seamlessly set up Google Authorship markup on your website, enabling your author avatar to display next to your pages in search results. This improves click-through rate (the percentage of searchers that actually click your website in the search results), increasing organic search traffic.
It’s no secret that mobile devices are extremely popular. More and more people are using them every day to access the Internet and stay in touch. For this reason, it’s never been more important to have a website that’s mobile friendly. Otherwise, it’s easy to lose out on valuable traffic that may end up going elsewhere because of a negative mobile experience.
Rather than going to all the trouble of creating an alternate mobile website or spending big money on responsive web design, UppSite takes a WordPress site and turns it into an HTML 5 app. From there, visitors can view it on the mobile device of their choice including an iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and tablet. This provides a seamless viewing experience with fast loading pages and simple navigation.
Furthermore, responsive design is detected by Google and rewarded with better search rankings for users performing the search on a mobile device. As mobile becomes the new mainstream, this will become more and more essential for business websites to capitalize on mobile search traffic.
This plugin operates on the same premise as WordPress SEO by Yoast’s XML sitemap, but is used to optimize pictures. It works by creating a sitemap of any image URLs that are incorporated into each post. Doing so is important because search engines don’t always pick up on images and they may not be discovered. By installing this simple plugin, your images will be indexed and more likely to appear in Google’s image search results, giving your website the opportunity to rank and receive more organic search traffic.
Just like the sitemap for images, this plugin takes SEO one step further and helps search engines find videos embedded in posts. Whenever there is a link to a video on YouTube, Vimeo or any other site, it will add it to the sitemap.
This indexation of multimedia content will allow your website more opportunities to rank in search engines.
Another factor that’s important in the eyes of search engines is page loading speed. The faster the better, and sites that take too long to load can suffer ranking drops as a result. We live in a fast-paced world where people want their information quickly and without complication. In most cases, the average Internet user will wait a maximum of 5 seconds for a page to load before they leave. Consequently, it’s important that a WordPress site is able to load completely in the shortest time possible.
The WP Super Cache plugin is designed to generate static HTML files from a WordPress site instead of processing bulkier PHP scripts. This results in a significantly shorter download time and overall better performance. Visitors won’t have to wait as long for the site to load and can explore with greater ease.
Faster page load time will result in better search engine rankings as well.
Keeping track of which keywords are receiving traffic and identifying visitor patterns is vital for long-term success. Otherwise, it’s like blindly throwing arrows and hoping that one hits the target. That’s why this plugin is a goldmine of valuable information, and is ideal for determining which content is getting found and what adjustments need to be made. After syncing up Google Analytics for WordPress with your website, this plugin will display up-to-date data concerning a variety of factors. This includes visitor demographic, location, language, entry pages, bounce rate, etc.
More importantly, it shows how much traffic coming via search engines and the specific numbers. It also creates a list of which keywords are receiving the most searches. This is helpful for choosing keywords in the future and can optimize your entire SEO campaign.
You now know everything you need to know about SEO plugins to get started with your SEO-integration initiative. Simply install these plugins, configure them, and then publish lots of excellent content on your blog. You’ll be racing ahead of the competition in no time, while enjoying more visitors, readers, and subscribers.