Search Engine Optimization. The forbidden words. Many treat these words as frightening as if they are swear words or something similar. Thankfully, as long as you stay within the rules, SEO will make your blog stronger and increase your traffic. Sadly, if you are using the Free version of WordPress, there are only a few things you can do to increase your SEO. We’ll be covering those today. If you are using the Business plan of WordPress, then there are literally thousands of things you can do to increase your SEO. If you want a total guide to using the Business plan on WordPress, read Rohit Palit’s stuff, found here. His guide will be much more extensive than this one. Disclaimer: I have based several of the following points off of the points given in his article. They are, however, in my own words.
Now, sadly for we WordPress users, SEO goes much further today then Keywords and Backlinks, although those do help. There are thousands of components to Google’s SEO Algorithm. Thus, no website will ever be completely perfect. The best thing we can do is try to cover a few algorithm requirements and wait for Google to bump us up.
Search Engine Optimization will increase your chances of being found by Google surfers. Every time Google bumps you up, your chances of being found increase. Of course, if you are found, this means extra traffic. Because of this, no blogger should ignore SEO for long. If you’ve had a blog for more than six months, and you haven’t given a thought to SEO, now’s the time to start. In order to increase your SEO, follow these steps below.
- Make sure that you allow Search Engines to index your blog. On WordPress Settings, click General, scroll down, and make sure that there is a check next to “Public”, directly under privacy. This will ensure that your site is visible to all, bringing in as much traffic as is possible.
- Make sure that you don’t use the same tags as categories. If you, like me, use categories in your blog posts, make sure that any tag you use is different from the individual category. For example: If you were writing a blog post about chickens, and you categorized it under the “chickens” category, make sure to not use “chickens” as a tag. Instead, try something like “poultry” or “roosters”. Categories should be broad, while your tags should be more specific.
- Block ALL spam comments. I’ve been amazed at how many bloggers fail to do this. Often, they fail to realize the implications of this mistake. By refusing to block spammers and spam comments, you are allowing them to advertise their websites and products for free on your website. Which, by the way, is illegal. So, to avoid this, go to Discussion under WordPress Settings. Then, make sure that all of the “Default Article Settings” are enabled and the first option under “Comments” is enabled. Then, scroll down to “Before a comment appears” and make sure the second option is enabled. Under “Comment Moderation”, make sure that the box with a number on it reads “1”. That way, if anybody encloses any links on your post, the spam bot will automatically hold it for moderation. Now, here comes the tricky part. Under “Comment Moderation”, you have the option to input any swear words or euphemisms that you wish, but remember: these comments will be deleted, not held for moderation. So, be sure that any words you put into that box are seriously bad words. Personally, I added all swear words in English, and then left it alone.
- Link to your old posts. As I’ve said before, at the end of every post, make sure you include at least one link to an older post, be it a Related post, a Featured post, or whatever else you want. Not only will this help Google index your newer sites, but it will also bring traffic back to your older posts.
- Link frequently to your “golden” content. If you have a specific article that you feel deserves more attention, include links to that article more often then others. If I post an article that I believe is absolutely golden, I will “feature” it, ensuring that it’s the first post to appear on my Blog page. Then, in every following post (until I take it down) I include a link to the “Featured Post”. This will redirect some traffic back towards the post, giving it more attention and popularity.
- Make sure that your posts are optimized for WordPress. Every picture should be, originally, 1,200 by 800 pixels. Then, as you upload the image, name it properly, add the correct description, and add the right tags in the Alt Description box. This will help Google index the images faster and will increase your SEO faster.
- Allow Social Media shares. When on WordPress Tools, click Marketing, Sharing Buttons, and enable every button that WordPress allows you to. Then, click “edit More buttons” to compress the share buttons into a manageable “More” button. Then, make sure that the “Reblog” and “Like” buttons are enabled. Trust me, you want those to be active. They will give you a sense of how popular your posts are. Finally, make sure that every single checkbox below “Options” is checked.
- Reduce the length of your Post URLs. For example, the default URL of this post would have been https://elishamcfarland.com/2019/10/17/the-beginners-guide-to-wordpress-seo. Instead, I shortened it to https://elishamcfarland.com/2019/10/17/wordpress-seo. That link is much more manageable and easier to remember. In reducing the size of your URLs, you make your site look far more professional and make it easier for Search Engines to Index your post.
- Improve your content quality. Instead of 500-word posts, try to do 1,000-word posts. As you saw in my last WordPress post, every post you do should be as long as possible. Attempt to pass the 1,000-word mark in every post. But, instead of filling the post with empty, pointless content, write quality content that people will actually want to read.
- Try to go viral. Now, going viral does not mean that you’ll get 1,000,000 views on your post. Viral simply means a massive increase in traffic. If, at the beginning, you were only receiving 50 views per post, but then you suddenly receive 200, your post has “gone viral”, at least in your standards, and those are all that matter for now. As of right now, I have only had two posts “go viral”. Target popular topics and write with the intention of having bloggers Reblog your work. If you can say, without a doubt, that your post is good enough for others to share it, then you know it has the possibility of going viral.
- Blog frequently. I cannot stress the importance of frequent blogging. The more often that you add content to your post, the higher it will go on Google. Aim to post at least three times a week. Previously, I posted one to three times a week. Then, a few months ago, I decided to up the ante and post five times a week. Instantly, my traffic skyrocketed.
Alright, that’s all for now. If you’ve gone through that checklist and can successfully say that you have done all of those tips, then you are ready to go. Given a few months, your SEO will increase. Of course, if you are using the Business plan, the results will be far more drastic. But, for we poor bloggers with no money, we need to settle for these steps.
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