Do you know what all major religions in the world have in common? They have their rules and commandments written in a holy book. In any case, blindly following the rules can be a mistake. First of all, it is essential to apply the most important of all rules, common sense! Second, it’s important to have a sense of the time and context in which those books were written. Nothing happens by accident. Just like content optimization for search engines, the famous SEO.
Some people think SEO as a sort of religion. It isn’t. SEO ‘rules’ aren’t written in stone. Google (and other search engines) change the algorithms from time to time, and people change behavior.
In fact, SEO is quite elementary and straightforward.
Your main goal should be to produce great content (or transcript video or audio content) that checks one or more of the following:
- Informative and valuable;
- Easy to read;
- Based on stories;
- Write to humans.
If you follow these elements and didn’t disallow Google and other search engines from scanning your site (if you did, this post isn’t for you), you can rely on bot’s finding your content. Just don’t expect to be in a few days. It may take a while. It may also require some work to avoid easy to make mistakes, that can cause some problems in your site relationship with search engines. Let’s see what should be your priorities.
Use noindex for archives and tags
Verify what Google is crawling on your site. On their search page type SITE:domain.com (input your domain) to see what pages are being crawled. The number should be similar to the sum of your posts and pages. Probably the number will be higher. Some time ago I checked my website and found more that 1500 results. Way more than my roughly 500 posts and pages. If Google is indexing additional pages, such as archives and tags, make a deep analysis to that. Google might see it as duplicate content. Google will never penalize a site for having archive pages that publish and point to the same content. But the algorithm can make a bad judgment and send the person to another page than the one you prefer.
Prevent that to happen using Yoast SEO plugin. Use noindex for archives and tags.
Categories are another story. Nevertheless, don’t go wild when categorizing your post. Use one or two categories. A usual problem is when a site has duplicate tags and categories. That’s when you have “Test” as a category and “Test” as a tag. If you do, that’s a headache to Google. Which one should be ranked first?
So, you don’t want to disturb Google. Avoid categories and tags repetition.
The same goes for single or plural. Choose “Test” or “Tests” and stick with that word.
Use Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools)
When launching your website, you must do two things:
- Insert Google Analytics tracking code
- Register your site on Google Search Console
If your site is running for some time and you didn’t do both or one of them, do it immediately after reading this post.
Google Search Console will tell you everything Google sees on your site. You can use it to find and fix errors, like 404 pages, broken links or server problems.
It’s very easy to install and use. Try to make a visit every week or two time a month and check for warnings.
You can upload a sitemap to Search Console, helping Google work with your site.
Don’t forget to use your Analytics to get insights about your site traffic.
Optimize your permalink structure
After installing WordPress on your site, you must set up settings. Don’t skip permalinks. Change it on day one.
Get rid of the ugly domain/?p=123.
Use a custom structure, if you will, or domain.com/postname. I don’t see a reason to use the date in the permalink. Unless you’re a news website, and even in that case, I think it’s better to rethink your policy.
If you didn’t make that change and your site is running with strange permalinks, you can change your structure, but you have to work hard to do 301 redirect links on old posts.
A little bit later use Google Search Console to check if everything is working.
Use a good post structure
Check if your page title converts correctly for the URL and is shown as a heading 1 in the top of the page. The page title should be in the URL and enclosed in h1 tags. Use descriptive names in images. Use also:
- Heading 2: for separate sections;
- Bullet points: like this one;
- Numbered lists;
Don’t forget to choose wisely your keywords, the title, alternative text and a description for the images. Don’t be afraid to use captions every time it’s necessary.
Interlink your posts
Use links to connect posts related to the same subject. It is excellent to have a nice internal link structure connecting articles about the same topic or with related touch points.
Search engines love that, but the main point is that people have references to follow up on, after reading your article.
Don’t forget to refresh articles that, with time, get outdated. From time to time update those posts with new information and re-post them on social media.
Every business must rethink their online presence, making it more dynamic, more social and mobile in order to capture the attention as well as the spending in this current crowded market. We don’t have all the answers, but we have a lot of experience working with businesses and a lot of advice to give on how to level up your website. If you are interested in seeing how you can improve, drop us a line and we’ll follow up.