Over the internet, you will find hundreds of discussions, debating whether the SEO is dead or not. As I understand most of the things, I think those who say, SEO is dead, never understood a bit of it!
SEO is a technical thing, and so does a Search Engine, say Google!
As long as Google is going to rely on codes to judge the ranking of a blog post, there will be bugs to manipulate those rankings.
Don’t take it on the negative side. There are both white and black (add ‘hat’) SEO techniques and today, we will be discussing them here.
In past five years, Google has done remarkable progress in machine learning and have implemented a lot of their findings into the search engine itself.
What it does mean is that the rankings are now calculated intelligently, rather than using just codes and scorecards.
For all SEO experts out there who were always on the White-Hat side, this has been a good thing. But, for the Black-Hat ones, it has been a hell of a journey.
People have their rankings and markets they earlier used to dominate. The third term, Grey-Hat still exists and works in some cases!
Do you want to discuss this term thoroughly? Let me know in the comment section, as we can have a detailed discussion which will clear a lot of things for both of us!
Best WordPress SEO Guide
Right now, let’s focus on the guide. Yes, the best WordPress SEO guide!
The default WordPress installation is a powerful recipe, but it lacks almost, every important SEO tool or element. This is why we’ve to take care of the SEO part either manually or via third-party plugins.
Let me just break everything into small headings so that you can simply follow them.
1Overall Page Speed or Performance
The time a webpage takes to load completely in a web browser is termed as its Performance and for the best results, it should be as low as possible.
As per the standards set by Google, an average page speed of a webpage should be below 2 seconds. If it’s going beyond that, then you need to work on optimizing the webpage.
In most of the cases, the plugins and theme used with the WordPress installation are the culprits behind heavy load.
So, the first lesson to learn is to use premium or quality free theme, which is lightweight and keep the number of active plugins to a minimum.
Within the content, make sure you’re not adding a lot of videos or images from other servers as it will increase the number of HTTP requests, which will increase the page load speed.
In modern days, performance is a crucial ranking factor, and thus, part of the SEO checklist!
2Using an SEO Plugin
Earlier, the fight between All in One SEO and Yoast SEO plugin was stiff. But, the way Yoast SEO plugin has advanced in terms of everything related to SEO has helped them win the race.
Go ahead and ask in any community and most of the marketers are going to recommend you to go with Yoast SEO plugin. Of course, there are a few alternatives to it, but this one is free!
An SEO plugin adds the missing elements to the WordPress core, like handling the no-follow tags, archive, indexing of certain pages, manipulating the title, description, and keyword tags, etc.
So, this is the second thing you need to do. Install Yoast SEO plugin and set it up!
3Google Webmaster Tool
It’s an official tool using which you can control certain factors related to SEO of your website.
Like, you can remove a particular page from Google’s index (the ones no longer live on the website).
You can even recommend the links that can be used for Sitelinks. You can see the number of external and internal links to a particular page or the homepage itself. And, so on!
It is very important for a website to be listed inside Google Webmaster tool, as using the available tools, you can have a bit of control over the ranking, or at least, indexing!
4Title and Sub-Headings
The title is the important part as it’s the first thing a user see in the search engine listing. If it’s not attractive, you can forget about getting clicks as expected.
It’s another area where the primary keyword or subject of the post should be fit in.
Earlier, we used to add two or even three keywords in the title and it used to rank at better positions. These days, adding the primary keyword and then trying to make the title look unique, is the best practice.
Other than the title, sub-headings inside the content needs to be used. You can add the primary keyword in one of the sub-headings (H2, H3, H4), and related long tail keywords in other ones.
Never overdo the keyword stuffing as it will add negative marks to the overall scorecard.
5Optimizing the Images
Without images, a blog post looks boring!
But, adding heavy images can slow down a page which will again affect the overall ranking.
So, compress an image before uploading it to the blog. You can use tools like ShrinkPictures or simply reduce its resolution using Paint or Image Viewer of Mac.
Before uploading a pic, make sure you rename it. Try and add a name which defines the image and this is another area where you can include the primary keyword.
6What’s Keyword Density?
The number of times a primary keyword is part of the complete content is what Keyword Density is.
The debate over the exact percentage is never going to end, as it varies with the case.
As per my experience, 2% should be the maximum keyword density one should aim for. Usually, I try to keep it around 1% and use related long tail keywords.
If you’ve published a post which is related to this newer one, then go ahead and interlink it. Interlinking not only helps in bringing down the Bounce Rate, but it brings a lot of hidden fruits.
Google and other search engines, favors the interlinking when done with the right intention.
The same rule is applied to the source mentioning. If there is a related post published over another website with authority, then adding that as a source is a good practice.
If you’re not sure about the authority of the external site, then simply add a ‘nofollow’ tag and no harm will be done!
8Link Building – Off Page SEO
For an authority blog, there is no need to make links manually. You need to focus on content quality and other blogs will start linking automatically.
But, for short term blogs, you can experiment with different techniques of making links, manually or via software.
As per Google’s guidelines, making links manually is not a good practice and algorithm updates like Penguin are specifically developed to target such blogs.
So, you need to understand pros and cons, properly before making a move!
Permalinks in WordPress is a tool where you control how the URLs are going to look at the website.
For a news website, you should add the title, year, month, and post ID to the permalink.
For a website sharing universal facts, which has nothing to do with the date, you should keep the title and post ID in the permalink.
Avoid using stop words. There is a setting in Yoast SEO plugin which can take care of it, but you should always cross-check a permalink before hitting the Publish button.
Again, these are just examples of best practices followed by experts. You’ve rights to experiment!
Over to You
Following these steps, one can rank a new blog post and even outrank the competitors. It all depends on the niche, competition for the keyword and how well you’ve optimized the blog post for these factors.
There is no sure-fire way by which you can achieve expected results. Internet Marketing, and particularly this SEO was always an experiment and it will always remain one.
So, keep on trying different flavors of this same recipe and see which one works in your favor.