This guide explains in very simple terms, and exception WordPress Search Engine Optimization strategy. Here’s how a new website can push itself to the top of the search engine results in 10 simple steps that anyone can follow.
1. Your Page Layout
A lot of how you score depends on the sites that link to you, but as a new site, you’re probably not ready for that. You can score a ton of points with the search engines by organizing your content in way that is easy for them to understand. Here are a few bullet points on how to set things up properly (don’t worry if you are already setup, most of these recommendations will just be small modifications to your existing site.)
-Have only one h1 header on each page. This is the largest standard title size in html. A web page should have just one of these – more than one and the words in the headers become less valuable to a search engine. The words in your header should match the words that you think someone will type in on a search engine. For example, this site is just a bunch of how-to guides – there are a million sites just like it. But if you’ll look at our post titles they’re all trying to mimic what someone might type into a google search. the better your title the better the SEO.
-Meaningful Meta Data. Search engines don’t value this information nearly as much as they used to, but it’s still important to give this area some attention. Make sure you have a description meta tag that gives a good description of your site that includes relevant words or phrases that one might search – more often than not, this is the text that will end up below your link in a page of search engine results. Use the keywords meta tag to list a few short (comma separated) words/phrases about your site.
-Page and Post URLS that make sense.
If you have a page about search engine optimization, its address shouldn’t be http://firstsearchblue.com/page0664, for better display on search engines and to make it easier for a reader to return to that article it should be more like http://firstsearchblue.com/guide-to-wordpress-search-engine-optimization.
If you are using WordPress, check out this guide to automatically have your post titles become the URL names: <a href = “http://firstsearchblue.com/better-wordpress-urls”>Better WordPress URLs</a>
If you are using another content management system like joomla, mamboor drupal, they’ll have ways to automatically setup this feature.
If you are not using a content management system, just make sure to name your html and php files appropriately.
-Content. If you are trying to target a specific set of words/keywords that you think users will be typing into the search engine, make these words appropriately frequent and prominent on your site. Don’t over-do it, just make sure to include these words or phrases a couple of times in each paragraph, and bold them occasionally where it is fitting. (Maybe we can include something about how to find out how many hits each keyword gets?)
-Stay consistent. Keep the keywords (that you think a user will be searching) top of mind while you put the site together. Make sure they appear in your meta data, headings and content. Do not over do it! If your site seems like a trap and not a place to find meaningful information, no search engine is going to list you.
2. Head over to websitegrader.com
Type in your URL and see what your score is – this site has a ton of tricks for improving the quality of your site. Check your score now and then check it again at the end of this guide, it will go up. When you’ve finished making your way through this guide, you should go through all of the items on this list and make sure you’ve adhered to as many as possible.
3. Submit to the Search Engines
Now, there is some debate as to weather you should submit your URL or you should let the search engines pick it up automatically. The majority of recent research (cit needed), though, suggests search engines do not assume you have less credibility if you submit your URL to them manually. If this was such a “no-no” to them, they probably wouldn’t offer the service. Additionally, when you’re first putting together a site, it is quite difficult to have any well established site link to you (assuming you are still in the process of adding content.) Without anybody linking to you, google will never find you. Once you have been picked up by google, it will be much easier for your “First Round” visitors to find you – these visitors will likely be your friends and family, and if they don’t remember your exact URL, you can bet they’ll turn to google to look it up. Once a search engine has indexed you, you can typically expect to be in the top 10 results when somebody searches for your near-exact URL title. For example, our URL is http://firstsearchblue.com but when we started and had no incoming links, if you searched some variation of the words ‘first’, ‘search’ and ‘blue’ (in that order, but mixing up the spaces) you could find us in the top 3 search results.
Here are the links to submit your URL to the search engines:
Ask.com: send them an email with your url and a site description to email@example.com
For a little more info, you can check out our guide on this: <a href=”http://firstsearchblue.com/submitting-your-site-to-the-search-engines”>Submitting your Site to the Search Engines</a>
Or, if you have a WordPress site, you can set it up to automatically send updates to the search engines as you add posts/content – you can check out that guide here: <a href=”http://firstsearchblue.com/submit-your-wordpress-site-to-the-search-engines”>Submit your WordPress site the the Search Engines</a>
4. Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools
It’s free and it’s incredibly helpful for figuring out how to rank higher in the Google results. Often times your site is being dismissed by Google for reasons that are easy to fix (i.e. your sitemap file, your robots.txt file or the fact that by default, WordPress blocks the search engines from crawling the interior pages of your site)
Note: To make sure that Google can crawl your WordPress site, go to Settings -> Privacy and make sure the first option is checked (then hit save changes)
Once you have signed up, you will be asked to verify your site. There are two ways to do this, either by adding a Meta Tag or by Uploading a file to the root directory of your site. If you are using WordPress or some other content management system, you will find it easier to upload a file that to add a meta tag – so pick that option.
Once your site has been verified, you will be able to see whether or not google has crawled it yet. If they have, check out the Site Configuration -> Crawler Access section and make sure that you don’t have any errors. If you have errors, feel free to post in the comments section of this page to get help.
One of the best features of Webmaster tools is the “Your Site on the Web” -> “Links to Your Site” This section shows you all sites that are linking to all of the pages within your site. Once you have some Page Rank you should examine who is linking to your highest page ranked sites and do whatever you can to get more links from them.
Another useful feature of Webmaster tools is being able to see how you rank in search results for given key words. If you notice that you are ranking high, but not getting much traffic, you should examine the “Title” of that web page and compare it to the titles of other search results on those keywords. If your site title isn’t appealing, people are not going to click it, they’ll opt for the yahoo answer or some forum result instead of seeing what your site has to say.
There are lots of other interesting areas within Google Webmaster tools that you should check out as well.
5. Get a Twitter Account for Your Site
The day after we signed up for our twitter account (http://twitter.com/firstsearchblue) it was the top hit for “firstsearchblue” in Google. It actually outranked our home page…
When you sign up for twitter, go into settings and set the More Info URL to your webpage – Your Twitter page will have a Google Page Rank (more about this later) of 8 right off the bat, so this incoming link should help you a little. (Your Twitter page will be a high value site in the eyes of a search engine’s algorithm, this incoming link should help you get listed and better your site’s search result placement.)
If you are using WordPress, you should go get the Tweetly Updater plugin and set it up so that every time you add a new post to your site, a link to the post will be published on your Twitter page. This plugin requires that you create an account with http://bit.ly – this allows Tweetly to create a shorter URL link to your post so that you don’t use up your 140 character limit with a link.
6. Submit to dmoz and Technorati
dmoz is the open directory – it lists just about every worthwhile site on the web. Once you have a little content on your site, you should submit your URL to dmoz at www.dmoz.org – just navigate to the category/section that best describes your site, and click the suggest URL link in at the top of the page.
Make sure that you give your site a good description, this text often ends up as the text below your link in a page of search engine results.
Submit your blog to Technorati ASAP! This gets you a solid and legitimate incoming link to your homepage. Technorati also links to all of your posts, so make sure to get the sign up process started! It takes a few hours and a bit of back and fourth before you are finished the submission process, but it’s well worth it
7. Understand Google Page Rank and Inbound Links
Google Page Rank is a score out of 10 that Google applies to websites – it basically translates to how likely that site is to appear at the top of a list of Google search results – the higher the better.
Inbound links refers to links that point to your site (usually/ideally on other peoples’ sites)
For this step you should start by installing the google toolbar in your browser – it seems to work best in Firefox (just do a quick search of “install google toolbar” We all hate tool bars.. but this one is good.
When it asks you if you want the additional/advanced/extra features, say yes.
Now whenever you load a page, you can see it’s Google Page Rank in that little green and white bar within the Google tool bar.
The higher this number (out of 10) the more Google likes the site, and the higher it is going to rank in the search engine results.
When considering what sites you would like to link to your site, you should go after ones that have a medium to high page rank. Obviously in the beginning this isn’t going to be very easy – a site with a rank of 10 is not going to want to link to your site which probably has a rank of 0. So start small (maybe get someone with a rank of 2 or 3 to link to you) and work your way up.
One thing to consider with inbound links, is that they decrease in value with the number of total outgoing links that the site has. For example – You decide to post your link in a forum on a site that has a page rank of 6. Not bad! You have an inbound link from a well-ranked site. BUT on a site like a forum, there could be thousands of users doing the same thing as you, so this forum website might have 5000 outgoing links. Because there are so many, it makes the one link to your site less significant. Keep in mind that it is better to have someone link to you if they are not linking to a million other sites.
8. Get Some Inbound Links
There are many strategies to this. We recommend going about inbound links in this way:
1.Your own sites
Utilize the site you already have – This includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Del.ico.us and any other profile-type sites that you are a member of. This also includes other sites that you may have built in the past. Maybe your school/employer has a website where you can post profile-type information.
2. Forums and Comments
If you think the content on your site might be helpful or valuable to a certain group of people, join a forum where these people discuss things and post your link to let them know where they can find some info. You can also comment on blogs where similar topics are being discussed.
3.Your Friend’s Sites
Talk to people you know that have websites. See if you can put some content on your site that would give them a reason to link to you. You could write an article about their site, or a product/service they offer.
4. Bigger Players
Once you have established some web-presence, use the “contact us” forms on other sites to see if they would be interested in linking to you. Perhaps you have some content that would be useful to people on their site. You can also offer to place a link to their site on yours in exchange.
If you want, you can pay to advertise your link on other sites or search engines. Google Adwords is probably the most popular way of doing this.
Analytics tell you who is coming to your site, how long they stay, where they come from, what they looked at and much more. If you are using a hosting service, it almost definitely has some Analytics software built in. Check out your control panel and look for a Statistics section.
WordPress has Google Analytics built in, if you click the Dashboard link from your WordPress back end, scroll down a bit and you will see a summary of your Analytics.
Whether you use a hosting service, have a WordPress site, or manage your hosting on your own server, it’s a good idea to sign up for a Google Analytics account. It’s free and the information will tell you a lot about how to optimize your site.
If you are using WordPress, you get a Google Analytics account and then install and connect the Google Analyticator plugin. You can also link your Google Analytics account to your Adsense account if you have one.
Get as much relevant content up onto your site as you can. This one applies for a few reasons.
1. First of all, when a search engine crawls and indexes your pages, it ads all of the text to its searchable database. That means every additional phrase/sentence (or even word) that you have on your site, is one more phrase that someone might type into their favorite search engine before getting directed to your site. By this logic, the more content you have, the more likely people will be driven to your site by a search engine.
2. Credible sites (especially WordPress or article/post based sites) have a substantial amount of content. Little scam or get-rich-quick type sites don’t typically have 1 or 2 pages. The search engines know that the web is a sea of scams, be more like the credible sites and you will rank higher.
3. Bad at writing? There are companies and individuals that offer inexpensive editing services and cheap, high-quality article writing. We have a few good contacts/relationships with writers and editors, send us a quick message if you need some help with your editing or content generation <a mailto=”firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>
Need Some Help?
Shoot us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org – We’ll give your site a once-over and send you a few tips for free. If you are interested in a full-scale SEO makeover we can help with that as well!