WordCamp Austin 2014 will be in April, final location and dates TBA soon. It will be a two day event this year for $40, and we will have an online option for those who can’t attend in person. We are still looking for people who are interested in coordinating different aspects of the program. Join our Facebook group for updates and contact us at austin @ wordcamp.org to volunteer!
by Robert Neu @rob_neu
One mistake some people make is trying to manage search engine optimization before the site has been built out. Best advice: work on your site and create good content and then worry about your SEO and Google rankings.
Be careful if you hire an SEO consultant – some will use automated spam tools, spammy backlinks, and things like that. Robert recommends that you contact previous clients to make sure you get what you’re paying for.
Basic installation of Yoast’s SEO plugin
Why this plugin? You want someone who knows how to rank sites – and Yoast has a solid track record on how to do this. In Robert’s experience, this plugin has out-performed all others he’s tried. This plugin also provides live feedback on how well you are optimizing your content.
- Go to Plugins tab > Add New
- Search for WordPress SEO by Yoast
- Install and activate
- If you see a warning “blocking access to robots” which will happen if you have your site set to no-index. If this is an active site you will need to correct this in your Settings > Reading to allow search engines to index the site.
- Make sure your permalinks are set and working correctly. Clicking on this will take you to your Permalinks setting, and the “Post name” setting is usually what you want.
- You can use the Yoast plugin to claim your Webmaster tools. Google Webmaster is a good idea to claim so that you can submit a sitemap to Google and Google will crawl your site sooner. (Bing and Alexa are less important.)
How Yoast works in your admin Dashboard
In your pages and posts listing, you will get a SEO indicator. Ideally you want green lights all the way down. You will need to edit each post with content in the new SEO metabox below the post editor.
Page title, Meta Description, and Focus Keyword
The Focus Keyword field works a lot like the way Google works. You start typing in a phrase and you will see suggestions pop up that might help you refine your keyword. Once you have updated the SEO content, you will need to update the post or page. At that point you will see feedback in the posts/pages list. You are wanting to optimize for one keyword or phrase for each piece of content. More keywords will water down your results.
Your focus keyword should also feature in your first paragraph of the article. You don’t need to mention it over and over – that is not the case any more.
You need to have a unique page title and a unique meta description. The meta description isn’t important for ranking so much as it is to get people to click on your link. There’s no point in keyword stuffing here, but instead to write a description that sells the content and makes people interested in reading more. Your title is important for SEO. You want to put the keyword phrase as close to the beginning as possible, but also make a reasonable title.
Meta keywords are not used by Google. You can ignore them if you want.
Article Heading: the title of the post or the page in the post editor. It’s a great idea to repeat the focus keyword here
Permalink/Page URL: ideally you will want to have the keyword phrase here as well.
Page Analysis tab: will provide a breakdown on what you still need to do to optimize your content, listed in priority order.
Body Content: The content that matters the most to Google will be your body content. Sidebars, footers, sliders are all also important for SEO but considered secondary to the body content.
Multiple topics: If your content covers several topics, it should all be focused on a single concept/phrase/keyword. If that isn’t easily done, your content may not be focused enough.
Home page, category page, etc.: The home page is special. Tailor a phrase for your home page that applies to all of your content and a focus keyword that works for the content as a whole. For home pages without text or content other than images – that’s something to address.
Pay Per Click pages: Generally should be set to no-index because those can hurt your SEO.
General SEO strategies
- You don’t want your entire site indexed in Google.
- Use good alt texts and image names. Use keywords where relevant.
- Try to get brand names, artist names into the posts and image names/alt tags
- Don’t add the same keyword for a gallery of images; mention keyword on a couple. Instead just make sure all images have names and alt tags that have relevance for the images themselves.
- For existing pages and posts
- Image attachment pages generally are not useful for SEO and should be no-indexed
- Major theme companies are good at building in good SEO practices. Robert recommends StudioPress, iThemes, WooThemes. They also generally have good support. (You can get yourself in trouble with Theme Forest.)
- Custom post types: if you are trying to rank custom post types, and if that content is important, ideallyyou would not want query strings attached to those pages and they should have clean permalinks.
- Use a dash (hyphen) to separate keywords in image titles, URLs, etc.
Settings within Yoast
- Use the WordPress “Help” tab for descriptions for different settings
- Meta settings: good to set archives to no-index; may wish to check several other options here as well
- Home – you can modify your home page URL structure and you can add a page description
- Post types: will vary; this tab will set the default for each page if you don’t set something separate for individual pages
- Attachment pages – best to no-index them
- Do not no-index posts and pages!
- Taxonomies: categories and tags oh my! Great for helping people find content on your site but not an SEO tool! Keep them tight and focused. For most sites keep categories under 10 and group your site into semantic categories that make sense for your site.
- Tag pages are watering down the quality of your site because they will have tons of duplicate content; no-index them! If people do find your site through one of those pages, they aren’t going to have a good idea of your site or a good call to action. Same thing for category pages in most cases.
- Format pages: no-index
- No-index or even disable author and date archive pages because they can create duplicate content.
- Add Open Graph meta data so correct data from your site is shared on FB
- Add Twitter username if you use Twitter
- Google+ is showing thumbnails of contributors to high value sites but not everyone. You can set the admin as the G+ profile but they will need to have a Google+ profile added in the WordPress profile page. If your thumbnail appears it can improve your click-through rate considerably.
- Remove media, taxonomies and any pages you have disabled in your other settings
- strip category base
- enforce trailing space – can be good for click tracking, canonical URLS but can cause issues with plugins
- wouldn’t mess with much
- Canonical settings – usually just leave with default settings
- Breadcrumbs can be good for users and Google crawlers, but if your theme doesn’t support them, you may need to modify your theme’s template files
- Yoast adds additional markup here
- You usually don’t need to change much
- By default – no-follow