0Wordpress LogoThe WordPress Guide

Part 2: Attracting Traffic

2.1 Search Engine Optimisation

Make your site more attract­ive to search engines

2.1.1 The “wordpress SEO” plugin by yoast

This is by far the best and most com­pre­hens­ive SEO tool I’ve used. There are also extens­ive and really thor­ough art­icles on Yoast explain­ing all the SEO options. It will take some time to fig­ure it out, but its time very well spent.

2.1.2 Create your own images

A sur­pris­ingly large num­ber of your incom­ing search res­ults can come from image searches, and hav­ing images on your site is bene­fi­cial for oth­er reas­ons too (see sec­tion 1.4.9). Cre­at­ing your own images makes them more likely to be clicked on as you’re the only site with that image. Cre­ate large images and let word­press auto­mat­ic­ally cre­ate res­ized images for dis­play on your pages. You can link the res­ized images to the ori­gin­als so the search engine crawl­ers will index the full size images.

There are 3 com­mon image formats cur­rently sup­por­ted by web browsers: JPEG, GIF and PNG.  There is also a format known as SVG which has poten­tial but this is not yet widely sup­por­ted by browsers or word­press.  GIF is no longer very com­mon as PNG provides the same fea­tures with smal­ler file sizes in a roy­alty-free format.  Where pos­sible we recom­mend using PNG images.  JPEG images are excel­lent for highly com­plex images like pho­to­graphs, but the jpeg format uses lossy com­pres­sion as stand­ard so image qual­ity is not guar­an­teed.  For icons, logos and sim­pler images the PNG format is super­i­or.  It doesn’t use lossy com­pres­sion so image qual­ity is guar­an­teed, it sup­ports trans­par­ent back­grounds, and it often res­ults in the smal­lest file sizes.  For more inform­a­tion about image size effi­ciency see sec­tion 3.1.7.

2.1.3 Use videos

If you’re explain­ing how to do some­thing, con­sider cre­at­ing a video tutori­al. Put the tutori­al on your own You­Tube chan­nel and link it with your post. This can really help to illus­trate what it is that you’re try­ing to explain, and of course, it will bring in traffic from video searches and You­Tube.

2.1.4 Provide image information

This is import­ant for access­ib­il­ity as much as any­thing. You really should com­plete the alt text, descrip­tion and title for your images. This is good prac­tice for the visu­ally impaired and the search engines like it. Simple as that.

2.1.5 Reduce duplicated content

Search Engines really don’t like lots of duplic­ated con­tent. We show the first part of each art­icle on the front page, but on the archives we show the excerpt. The excerpt is dif­fer­ent from the first part of the post so the archives don’t duplic­ate the homepage or the art­icle itself. Whilst the archives do duplic­ate each oth­er to some extent, the level of duplic­a­tion is reduced by dif­fer­ent art­icles appear­ing on each archive.

2.1.6 Disable some of the archives

This is anoth­er way to reduce duplic­ated con­tent. Hav­ing lots of dif­fer­ent types of archive increases duplic­ate con­tent and it’s con­fus­ing for read­ers too. We have dis­abled the date archives and post-type archives and only use cat­egory, tag and author archives. The search page is also a kind of archive of course, so take that into account. If you retain sev­er­al archives, con­sider using your robots.txt (or the yoast SEO plu­gin) to pre­vent index­a­tion of some of them. We have dis­abled index­a­tion of the tag archives for example.

2.1.7 Use headings

Search­ing engines like keywords in head­ing tags. So will your read­ers. It will also help you, the author. Writ­ing an art­icle of this length would have been con­fus­ing if I hadn’t used head­ings! The head­ings also made it easi­er to refer read­ers to oth­er related parts of the art­icle.

2.1.8 Get listed on the DMOZ

All the main search engines give some weight to being lis­ted on the DMOZ. It isn’t neces­sar­ily very easy to get lis­ted, but if you can the pay-off is well worth it.

2.1.9 Configure appropriate permalinks

Hav­ing key words from the art­icle title in the page address is good, hav­ing them diluted by dates, cat­egory names etc is not. I recom­mend using just %page­name% as your permalinks. Unless you are likely to have mul­tiple posts with the same title there is no dis­ad­vant­age to using this simple struc­ture. In earli­er ver­sions of word­press this had per­form­ance issues, but this has been fixed in word­press 3.3. Redu­cing the length of the address of art­icles also reduces the chance that e-mailed links will get broken by a line wrap (see 2.2.4).

2.1.10 Use breadcrumbs

You’ll notice at the top of all our pages we have a line which starts “you are here”. These “bread­crumbs” make it instantly vis­ible where you are on our site. They also provide an easy to use sys­tem to nav­ig­ate around the site. Both your read­ers and search engines will find nav­ig­at­ing your site easi­er if you use bread­crumbs.

2.1.11 Provide microdata

Using microdata prop­erly will help to get your site lis­ted for spe­cif­ic con­tent types — e.g. reviews, recipes, etc. You can also user microdata to include author inform­a­tion which shows up in google search res­ults, and increase the like­li­hood your link will get clicked on. There is anec­dot­al evid­ence that these will also improve your pager­ank dir­ectly. You can use the rich snip­pets test­ing tool (see sec­tion 1.1.6) to check your code.

2.1.12 Don’t be tempted to “cheat”

There are lots of ways of try­ing to arti­fi­cially increase your SEO. My advice is to avoid any that are clearly try­ing to trick the sys­tem. Soon­er or later your tech­nique will get spot­ted and you will be dumped into the “google black hole”. It’s not eth­ic­al, and in the longer term, it won’t work. Invest your time mak­ing your site bet­ter for your read­ers and you’ll reap the rewards.

2.1.13 Buy your domain for a long period

I don’t know for cer­tain, but I’ve heard from vari­ous sources that google will rank you high­er if your domain has been registered for a long time. Unless you don’t plan to keep your site going, it’s worth going for a longer regis­tra­tion if you can afford it. 10 years would be excel­lent.

2.1.14 Use a robots.txt

The Yoast SEO plu­gin will do this for you, but if you don’t use it, you should cre­ate one. A detailed art­icle on SixRe­vi­sions provides more details.

2.1.15 Create xml sitemaps

Again — the Yoast SEO plu­gin will do this for you, but if you don’t use it, you should cre­ate a sitemap.xml. Sub­mit your sitemap to google web­mas­ter tools (see sec­tion 1.3.3). Again SixRe­vi­sions provide more details.

2.1.16 Consider a trademark

OK, this isn’t very cheap. But like a long domain regis­tra­tion, hav­ing a TM registered is rumoured to give a sig­ni­fic­ant boost to google’s rank­ing of your site. If you’re a busi­ness this is likely to be of more interest than a smal­ler scale oper­a­tion.

2.1.17 Create a dublin.rdf

See the guide on SixRe­vi­sions

2.1.18 Create a OpenSearch.xml

See the guide on SixRe­vi­sions

2.1.19 Google’s new ranking system

I’ve added this at the bot­tom to make you aware of it, even though almost all of the tips on this art­icle address these issues. Google fre­quently update their rank­ing algorithms, and in Spring 2011 they intro­duced a new sys­tem. The algorithm is increas­ingly intel­li­gent and will try to judge your site based on more “human” factors and less on just the num­ber of incom­ing links. The import­ant new rank­ing factors include: The aver­age amount of time spent your read­ers spend on your site, the bounce rate of your site, the num­ber of web pages viewed per vis­it, your page response times and your con­ver­sion rates. You can view this sort of data with Google Ana­lyt­ics (see sec­tion 1.3.1). If you engage and retain your read­ers you’ll be doubly rewar­ded thanks to the new rank­ing sys­tem. The rank­ing of page response times makes per­form­ance doubly import­ant (see sec­tion 3.1). To deal with high bounce rates or low con­ver­sion rates, I recom­mend you start by read­ing the art­icle address­ing exactly that by Avinash Kaushik.

Got some thoughts of your own? Indulge yourself below by commenting! If you would like to subscribe please use the subscribe link on the menu at the top right. You can also share this with your friends by using the social links below. Cheers.

You might also like...

Leave a Reply