WordPress sites are some of the most popular options for small business owners because of their affordability and ease of use. Thankfully, they’re also set up to be highly functional in the context of an SEO program. Under the right conditions, WordPress sites can earn a powerful domain authority and rank high on search engines.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions and bits of ambiguous information that prevent business owners from getting all they can get out of the platform. These are 10 of the most common questions I’ve seen:
While WordPress sites are designed to be compatible with search engine optimization, that doesn’t mean they come optimized as a package deal. SEO is never a one-time process, and just setting up your WordPress site with a plugin isn’t nearly enough to get you ranked. The platform is search engine friendly, meaning it’s structured to be easily crawled by search engines and to be compatible with many plugins, but manual work is still required to get your site ranked.
Again, there’s no such thing as a once-and-done SEO strategy. Using an SEO plugin for your WordPress site is advisable, but simply installing it isn’t going to get the job done. If you want to rank, you’ll need to select a good SEO plugin and work with an experienced SEO specialist (either in the form of an in-house hire or an outside agency) to optimize your site and put an ongoing strategy in place.
There are dozens of SEO plugins available, and not all of them are equal. The All in One SEO Pack is by far the most popular thanks to its functionality and ease of use. However, you may want additional plugins that are related to specific SEO tasks, such as one related to content or social syndication. If you’re looking for new plugins, be sure to take a look at their popularity, user ratings, support level, and the presence of a community surrounding them.
Google Analytics is an essential product if you’re interested in marketing your site. It’s going to give you detailed insights on your traffic patterns and user behavior over time, and can tell you how effective your SEO strategy has been. To install Google Analytics, first set up an Analytics account with Google, then claim your unique Analytics code, copy it, and paste it into your theme’s header.php, immediately following the <body> tag. You can also use a simple plugin to get the job done.
If your site is running slow, your domain authority might suffer. The faster your site is, the higher you’re going to rank and the happier your users are going to be. Clean up your WordPress site by deleting any unnecessary plugins and making sure your caching plugin is installed properly. You can also disable trackbacks and delete any unwanted information—like meta data in images or old blog drafts—to speed your site up.
There are countless hosting solutions available. If you have the money, time, and expertise to handle everything internally, a virtual private server (VPS) is the best way to go. Otherwise, hosting your site with WordPressyourself is usually the best option. Their fees are minimal, and they take care of practically everything.
Most themes are perfectly fine for SEO, but some themes, particularly free ones, can have negative SEO qualities. For example, some themes exist as part of a spam-based link network, which will hurt your domain authority. Others are not mobile-friendly or quick-loading, or they in some other way violate Google’s best practices for web user experience.
Some users wish to host their blog on a separate domain, but it’s actually better if you have your blog as part of your main domain. Using a subdomain, like blog.example.com, is a bad idea because it can draw away the authority of your core domain; using an extension like example.com/blog is superior.
This is more of a question for ongoing SEO strategy than it is for WordPress sites specifically, but it’s still important to answer. One of WordPress’s greatest benefits is its content management system, which makes it easy for you to draft and publish articles and information. Generally, the more often you update your site the better—as long as you’re posting high-quality information. If you’re just getting started, once a week is a minimum. If you have the resources, try posting several times a week.
WordPress widgets cannot directly help your SEO campaign. Since they usually duplicate content across your site (through sidebars or headers), they can actually be harmful. However, there are certain types of widgets that can peripherally improve your SEO efforts; for example, media plugins can allow your users to upload images and videos directly, and social media plugins can allow users to share your content with their online networks.
WordPress gives you the perfect platform to create a great SEO structure, but don’t be fooled; you’ll still need to pour effort into your strategy before you start seeing any tangible results. Find plugins to improve your customer experience, commit yourself to a solid ongoing content strategy, and constantly reevaluate your strategy to make sure you adhere to best practices.