Here you are going to learn some most common SEO factors inside and outside of a WordPress site. If you understand and learn these factors then, hopefully, of course, you will do better in your WordPress site SEO.
Table of Contents
SEO Factors Outside WordPress
We're mostly going to focus on the technical aspects of SEO within WordPress, but there are some technical aspects outside of WordPress, and to really optimize your site, you want to make sure that everything is accounted for.
The first factor is speed. Search engines might penalize you based on your website's speed because they know that it is a poor user experience. The slower your website, the more people will become frustrated and leave. If your website takes longer than three seconds, you'll likely lose 25% of your traffic. People don't like slow websites, so search engines will tend to show faster websites.
There are a few things you can do here. The first is to get good hosting for your website. If you have budget hosting that's five to $10 a month, you might be running on a slow server, and no matter how you optimize other parts of your website, you'll always have a slow site. So, make sure that you aren't using budget hosting. The speed of your site can vary wildly depending on how you configure it. But knowing you have good infrastructure, behind the scenes, sets yourself up for success, more than optimizing your site on a slow server, where you'll never make progress.
Another factor is security. Search engines are now giving boosts to sites that run everything through SSL. If you can add a security certificate to your site you can get a small boost from letsencrypt.org.
With Let's Encrypt becoming more popular most website hosts are now offering free SSL certificates and it usually only takes a few button clicks. You should absolutely run your site over SSL at this point. Some browsers, like Chrome, will tell users they're on an insecure site, so you'll start to lose traffic just for not being secure.
By the time you launch, you should have an SSL certificate. There are a ton of other ranking factors, many of which, offer tiny benefits, like the age of a domain, or how long that domain has been active, but usually, elements like this, aren't worth spending too much time on. They have so little value, I would rather spend time writing good content and getting links, which can be much more useful to ranking well.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Most days I check one of my favorite websites around lunchtime. I like to see the news, articles, and comments. And while I love the site, every time I click a link to open a new tab, there's so much stuff on that page from ads to polls to widgets, that it slows down my browser. So much so that I actually can't do anything. I'm forced to sit there for a second or two while my browser gets a massive amount of data from the server. Processing speeds and broadband speeds have increased, but we're adding so many features to our sites, that there's still a ton of data, which makes websites slow, especially on mobile. Google has done some research and 53% of people will leave a site that fails to load in three seconds. That's why Google is backing an open-source project called AMP, which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. Think of it as a subset of HTML, where it restricts the very slow things from being sent to your browser. Some websites have seen a four times speed increase by using AMP. And that speed does all sorts of amazing things like increase e-commerce conversions.
Now AMP isn't a requirement, and you don't have to do it, but Google has always preferred speed. And if your website is slow, they'll ding you in the ratings. If you want to maximize your SEO, you should look into using AMP. And for the most part, configuring your site for AMP is as simple as installing a plug-in and tweaking a few settings, so it's definitely worth doing.
Here are some other SEO factors outside of WordPress you should look at.
There are a lot of factors with SEO. A lot of it has to do with your content such as whether or not your message is unique or compelling. Search engines like Google can tell if someone bounces off of your website if the content isn't useful.
Structure of the content
The structure of your content can also be a big factor. If you have poor tags or categories, search engines will have a hard time understanding the structure of your site and they might point users to the wrong page.
Your content is also important because writing good content is one of the main ways of getting links and links are very important for SEO. You can think of a link like a vote for your site and the more votes you get, the better off you are. So if you make an invaluable tool or post, you could get a lot of links which will be very helpful for your SEO.
Throughout our next posts, we're going to focus on the technical aspects of SEO. That means making sure that every page has a page title, a meta description, and microdata. Once everything is set up, it only takes a few minutes to optimize a page or blog post and that optimization will tell search engines everything they need to know. This will make sure that you're ranked as highly as possible.
SEO Factors Inside WordPress
Before we start talking about specific WordPress plugins, there are a couple things that we can change that will make a huge difference to our SEO.
If you notice, the URL for our “About page” is our domain name dot net, question mark, page ID equals five. We can make that a lot nicer, by our domain name dot net slash about.
Let's do that in WordPress. In the admin of our site, I'll go down to Settings->Permalinks, and then I'll go ahead and select Post name.
So now it'll look something like this. So for our About page, it'll be slash about. You can select any of these, except for Plain, and it should work pretty nicely. I'll click Save. Let's go back to our About page and we'll refresh this. And now it is slash about.
Search engines prefer easy-to-read URLs like this, so this is the first setting that you should change when you're optimizing any site.
Some best practices
Now, I want to leave you with some best practices.
The first is you should always use hyphens to differentiate the words, which WordPress does by default. The second best practice is to remove any erroneous keywords, characters, and stop words. In this case, I can get rid of the ampersand. I can get rid of the apostrophe, and now I have a much cleaner URL. Except, I don't think we're done yet.
The next best practice is to keep your permalinks as short as possible. Now when we look at this permalink, Brad's Favorite is really erroneous to the meat of the content, which is that golden fluffy cornbread. These are the keywords that really matter in this article that I'm publishing. So in this case, the ideal slug is golden-fluffy-cornbread. So as you go to create your content, which has a hand in your overall WordPress site architecture, it's important that you pay particular attention to how you're creating those permalinks and how you're keeping them short and concise, removing those unnecessary words, and always using hyphens.
Another setting that we can change, and part of any SEO strategy, will likely be writing content, and content in WordPress can be grouped by categories and tags.
I'll go to our Post, here, and I'll scroll down to one of our recipes, pumpkin pie. And you can see, under categories, it's listed as a recipe, and under tags, it's also listed as a recipe. Both of these taxonomies can be crawled by search engines, meaning that there is a page on my site that shows all of the posts in the category recipes, and, there's a page on my site that shows all of the posts with the tag recipe.
Google, and other search engines, won't know which one to send users to, so you'll get some users that'll go to the category page for recipes, and some users that'll go to the tag page for recipes. Your analytics won't look impressive since your users are being divided into two different pages, and it'll be twice as much work to optimize your landing pages.
Make this easy, for Google and yourself, and don't have any crossover between categories and tags. In this case, recipes as a category make sense to me so I'll remove the tag recipe, and I can actually go into the tags menu and delete it entirely.
Under Posts, I'll go down to Tags. I'll scroll down to Recipe and I can delete this entirely from the other two remaining posts.
There's no hard and fast rule for categories and tags. Some sites exclusively use tags, some will only use categories and many use a combination of both. As long as there isn't crossover, where you have a category and tag with similar or identical names you should be good to go.