I highly recommend that all small businesses use WordPress for their Website. Even if you have no plans to blog, a WordPress website gives you control of your content so you can keep it fresh and relevant to your target audience. The following are a few tips that will help you get visibility in the search engines.
Make your permalinks prettyThis is an easy setting but one I’ve seen overlooked on many, many WordPress sites. The default setting is http://yourdomain.com/?p=123. How useful is that? If you leave your permalinks set this way, you lose all the value of those keywords that you used in the title of your post or page. Instead, select the custom option and set the format to /%postname%/ or /%category%/%postname%/. Add the category if you have been strategic with naming your categories using your main keywords. Otherwise, use just the post name and make sure you use keywords in their titles.
Set privacy to allow search engines to index the site
By default, WordPress installs with the privacy setting set to disallow search engine indexing. If you look at the source code of your page, you will see <meta name=’robots’ content=’noindex,nofollow’ />. This is a good thing while you are developing the site, but when you go live, make sure you go to “Settings/Privacy” in your WordPress dashboard and set your blog visibility to “I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Bing, Technorati) and archivers“. Otherwise, your site won’t get indexed. Also, make sure your robots.txt file isn’t set to block the search engine bots.
Verify your site in Google, Yahoo and Bing
The search engines give you a way to verify site ownership so you can gather useful information. On Google, you use Webmaster Tools. On Yahoo, you use Yahoo Site Explorer. On Bing, you use the Bing Webmaster Center. All three verify your site using a verification metatag in your header file. Once your site is verified you can point all three towards your XML sitemap to help with the indexing. Install the Google (XML) Sitemap plugin and activate it. This plugin generates a sitemap that supports all the major search engines. Once you have set this up, all three of these search engines will provide a wealth of information on your site, such as keywords used to find your site, incoming links to pages, broken links and other information useful to figuring out how you are doing and making your Website more accessible to the search engine bots. This data in combination with Google Analytics should give you enough information to optimize your site.
Add SEO to your Pages
Using WordPress for your website platform also gives you control of your major SEO components: title and description through the All-in-One SEO Pack. You can also set up your keyword metatag specifically for each page for completeness, but most search engines do not use it in its page ranking algorithm so it’s really up to you if you put a few choice keywords on each page. My recommendation is focus on the title, description, content and the anchor text for your links, using the appropriate keywords for each page on your site. Remember that search engines consider each page independently and will index the page based on the content it finds only on that page.
Not sure where to find your best keyword? Try the Google AdWords External Keywood tool or the Google Search-based Keyword Tool. Once you get your big list, select the top 10 keywords for your business and start using them in all of your marketing materials.
Add Relevant Tags your Posts
WordPress enables you to tag your post with focused keyword phrases so that the search engines can index them more effectively. Don’t confuse Tags with categories. Categories are your file cabinet draw where you file a document under one particular topic. Tags allow you to describe your post in more specific terms that help people find your information. By properly tagging your posts with relevant keywords, you help people find and cross reference your post with others. Stick to just a few tags, however, as too many tags will dilute their effect.
Some final tips:
- If you had a website and converted it to WordPress, install the Redirection plugin and map all your old URLs to the new ones in WordPress. Not doing this will mean you lose any page rank that you may have from the old site.
- When you insert images, be sure to write good alt tags for images and think about the names of the files before you upload them to help search engines index your images (note that the search engines now have a specific image search feature).
If you use WordPress, review your site now to be sure you are following these tips and helping your website become more popular. And let me know what SEO techniques you use to help you be found on the web.