Looking to increase website traffic?
Step 2 – Optimize
Now that you are on your way to publishing great content, we need to focus on making sure that people can find it organically on search engines! In this step, we are going to be talking about what to do to make your blog posts rank higher in the search engines.
Now let’s increase traffic to your website by optimizing your content for the search engines.
In a nutshell, search engines have “robots” that go out and scan the Web for Web pages. When the robots come to your site, they start “indexing” your pages. Basically, they are taking a snapshot of each of your pages and looking at different factors.
Their primary goal is to figure out what each page is about and what it is related to. Once they have scanned the page and made their conclusion, they index your page in their database. Now, when someone does a search, the search engine goes into the database and returns what they think is the most relevant pages for that search phrase.
The pages are listed in order of what the search engine has determined is the most relevant content to the user. This is referred to as “SERP”, Search Engine Results Page.
Your goal is to get higher in the SERP by making it easier for the search engines to know what your page is about and how relevant it is to a topic.
In time, the robots will come back and look for changes to your pages and re-index them.
There are a few steps we need to focus on first.
- Step 1: We need to tell the search engine robots that your pages exist and guide them through what pages we want them to index.
- Step 2: We need to make sure that we have optimized your post so that the search engines know what your pages are about.
The plugin that we recommend to accomplish this on your WordPress website is the Yoast SEO plugin.
To install this plugin, follow the simple steps below:
- You will want login to your website and go to “Plugins”
- Click “Add New”
- Then search for Yoast SEO
- Click install, and then activate.
Setting up the Yoast SEO Plugin.
Now that you have the plugin installed we are going to walk through setting up the Yoast SEO plugin.
In this screen, you are going to see the different content types that are available on your site. Each site is different because different WordPress themes and plugins come with different content types.
We are going to turn off all the content types that don’t make sense for the search engines to index. For example, Sliders will not be a content type you see, we don’t want the search engines indexing each of your sliders. Instead, we want the search engine to index the page that the slider is on.
To be safe, we are going to turn everything off except for Pages and Posts.
To do this we are going to go down the list and set all the purple toggles to No; EXCEPT for Page and Post, leave those set to Yes.
Then click Save Changes.
In this tab, we are going to do the same exact thing as we did in the previous tab. We are going to turn all the Yes and No toggles to No; EXCEPT for the Categories, which we will leave set to Yes.
Then click Save Changes.
In this tab, we are going to Disable the Author Archives, unless you have multiple authors contributing to your blog.
Below that is the Date archives. We are going to disable the Date archives.
The reason we are disabling these options is to reduce the amount of duplicate content. Google does not like duplicate content, and when these are turned on, it creates duplicate content. Say it one more time with me…What does Google dislike? Duplicate content!
Then click Save Changes.
Submitting a sitemap to Google.
Now we are going to submit your Sitemap to Google. A sitemap is a document that tells the search engines what to index, and it gets uploaded to your Google Webmaster Tools account.
The first thing we’ll need to do is create a Google Webmasters Tools account. To do this click on this link: https://www.google.com/webmasters/
You will need to sign in with a Google account if you don’t have one you can simply create a new account. Just remember to save the email address and password you used to create the account for later.
Enter your full domain name and play close attention to the http or https because it makes a difference.
If you go to your website and it runs under https then be sure to use that. You’ll know by looking in the address bar in your browser or if there is a lock in the address bar of your browser when you navigate to your website.
After you enter your domain name click on the Add A Property button.
Now go back to the Webmasters Tool and click Verify. You should receive a success message.
Now that the site is verified we are going to upload the sitemap from your site to your new Google property.
To do this we are going to need to get the URL of your sitemap. The Yoast SEO plugin automatically creates it for you based on your previous selections. You can find it by opening your website in a browser and adding /sitemap_index.xml to the end of your URL. For example: www.your-domain.com/sitemap_index.xml
This will open up the sitemap screen.
Now click on the Add a Sitemap button and paste in the URL part that you just copied.
Then click the Submit button.
That’s it! We are done with the sitemap and Webmaster Tools!
Optimizing individual pages and posts.
All of the basic settings are set for your SEO plugin, the Webmasters Tools are set up, and your Sitemap is uploaded. Do you feel accomplished or what?!
The next step is to go into the main pages of your website and start optimizing them for the proper search phrases.
To do this we are going to start with the homepage.
This is where we are going to set the meta tags for the title and description. These are the 2 elements that Google displays in their search results.
The title is the blue bold headline, and the description is the paragraph text that you see in Google’s search results.
The goal here is to naturally add the topical keywords into these two areas.
In this example, the site belongs to a dentist office in Paradise Valley, AZ.
Because this is a location-based business, we are going to start with the main keyword phrase Paradise Valley Family Dentist.
Now I’m going to do the same thing for the description by putting the keyword at the beginning of the description and then filling in the rest.
The description text is the verbiage people are going to read when deciding to click on your search result. You want your keyword in there but more importantly, you want it to read as naturally as possible and also be enticing for people to click on.
Here is an example of a good description.
Below the Description text box, there is the Focused Keyword box. This is a tool you can use to see how well your page is optimized for that particular keyword. Once you put your keyword phrase in and update the page it will give you feedback on things to improve and tell you how well the on-site SEO factors are set up.
Don’t stress out if the result indicator does not turn green. Just think of this as a single tool in the toolbox to help you improve your on-site SEO.
Spending extra time trying to get the indicator green will not necessarily mean you are going to improve your rankings dramatically.
Once you refresh your page, you’ll see the indicator that I’m talking about.
In this case, we did end up getting the indicator to turn green, but that does not always happen.
Once you’ve completed this step you can scroll down to find an analysis.
This is where the plugin will give you suggestions on how you can improve your page’s on-site SEO.
Now you can go on to complete this same step on all of your main website pages and more importantly your blog posts and lead pages. As you create new blog posts or pages, make it a habit to complete this step when you publish it.
That is the main setup and how to use the Yoast SEO plugin and will be 95% of what you do to optimize your pages & posts.
Additional SEO Considerations.
There are a few more items that you are going to want to pay attention to as you create new blog posts or lead pages on your WordPress website.
Images – We know images are important to add to your blog post because it entices the reader and helps breaks up the content so that it easier to consume. As you add images, you should consider the size of the image and also adding keywords to the image metadata.
Google looks at page loading speed when deciding which results to show, so optimizing the size of your images before you add them to your post is going to go along way.
If you want to check your sites loading speed, you can use these free online tools:
Google Page loading Speed Tester – https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Pingdom – https://tools.pingdom.com
Also, here is a video I put together on How to optimize your images without losing quality that provides some quick tips.
You can enter your keywords into these fields to help Google better understand the context of your content that they are accompanying.
The key thing to note here is you only want one H1 tag on your blog post or landing page. Google looks at the heading tags to get an idea of what your content is about and the topic of your page or post. It looks at the heading tags in a hierarchy to determine importance. So, your H1 tag is your most important and it would be wise to have your keyword in the H1 heading.
As you create your page or post, you can control the headings by using the drop-down in the top left of the content editor.
One thing to be cautious of is some WordPress themes will automatically add your post’s title as an H1 heading on your blog post. So if you go and add an H1 heading yourself, then you would now have two H1 headings… And you don’t want that.
You can do a check to see if your theme is automatically adding an H1 heading to your post by using this free heading checker tool: https://www.seoreviewtools.com/html-headings-checker/