Today's post about WordPress SEO is by guest author Dave Johnson.
A few years ago, SEO had a bad reputation. This was due to hundreds of black hat industry practitioners who promised to get sites to the top of search rankings by gaming Google's Page Rank system. These days, good SEO practices are all the rage and vital to any webmaster who wants to stand out in the sea of sites online.
Let's begin by understanding SEO. SEO is the practice of building a site that's easily found and browsed by humans as well as crawled by search engines. In contemporary Internet parlance, it's about building a site that Google loves.
So, let's take a look at some of the things you must do for your WordPress blog to climb up Google's search result pages in your niche/industry.
Choose your niche carefully
This is one of the basic things you should do before anything else. Targeting the right niche is of essence. Many new blog owners make the cardinal mistake of getting into a niche that's either, too competitive or, has a minimal audience. Starting a blog in a niche that's too competitive means that it will take you forever to get any meaningful ranking for any of your keywords. You will find established players have dominated all the major search terms. On the other end of the spectrum, choosing a niche that's too narrow leads to difficulty getting a sizable audience. Your niche should have moderate to low competition and, you must ascertain that there is a reasonable interest in the topics you want to write about. To identify a viable niche, make use of keyword research tools such as Google's Keyword Planner and Google Trends. It will take you a bit of time to identify an exploitable niche but, from an SEO perspective, it is definitely worth the effort.
Use an SEO plugin
One of the great things about WordPress is that there is a plugin to do just about anything. I think the only type of plugin that hasn't been developed is one that can write articles for you! But, with advancements in artificial intelligence, you can be sure this is the future. To ensure you are sticking to all the SEO rules when writing posts, install an SEO plugin. There are several great options, just search the plugin directory. A good plugin will allow you to tweak your titles, title tags, meta descriptions and blog content to ensure you have used the targeted keyword in the right ratio.
Write great headlines
Research has demonstrated that great headlines have a better click through rate in search engine result pages. This is because humans have an affinity to click on what whets their appetite. In fact, a great headline can trump a lower ranking on the same result page. So, take your time before posting. Think about what would interest your audience. A word of caution though; do not deceive people into clicking your links. What your headline promises must actually exist on the post.
Good backlinks used to be easy to acquire a few years ago. But, Google did a number on content farms where most bloggers used to get backlinks. There are few ways to get good backlinks these days. The first is to write guest posts at other blogs and ask the blog owner to allow you to link back to your site. The second is to participate in online communities where you assist people solve WordPress and/or blogging problems and hope that they will follow your blog. Gaining blog readers, followers or subscribers has the potential to increase your backlinks once your posts are shared. The third reason is creating content. More on this third point below.
Create great content
If there ever was a panacea for SEO, I would say it is great content. Great content trumps all other SEO tactics. I have seen sites with horrible SEO but people keep visiting the site in droves to consume the content. And, once people discover you have great content, it spreads like wildfire. It no longer matters what Google thinks; once people love your site, they will share it on social media, via email, via SMS and even word of mouth. Google will have no option but to love it as well! So, put all your effort into creating great content and all other things will fall into place.
These are all important ways to build a blog that Google will love. Once you implement these recommendations, keep track of them with an analytics tool such as Google Analytics so that you see how the changes affect your traffic and search ranking. Once you identify the tactics that work, rinse and repeat and you will be well on your way to blogging success.