Using WordPress Basics to Get Your Best SEO

Editors note: This is a guest post by the wonderfully talented Tina Eaton from Integrity. If you’d like to be a guest writer here on STL WP, let us know.

Tina_Eaton

Originally a traditionally trained journalist, I naturally gravitated toward content strategy when I started working in the digital world. And where I work, content strategy includes learning about a wide variety of topics, including search engine optimization (SEO).

After writing countless WordPress user guides for clients, I became pretty familiar with the content management system and learned a lot about implementing SEO in a WordPress setting.

SEO is the practice of using keywords and/or phrases to increase the amount of traffic that a website receives from search engines. Search engines “crawl” a website and read the URLs, headlines, body copy, picture titles, author and social media links to determine what information this site is intending to share. From this crawl they gather popular and common keywords and recall these whenever a web search is performed.

The majority of traffic to a website comes from search engines, so the order in which search engines rank websites is very important. Google, the leading search engine, uses hundreds of algorithms to determine the order of websites on the search engine results page (SERP).

Here are a few basic guidelines for optimizing your content for SERPs using just the standard WordPress content fields.

Title and Body

Your title and main content area offer the most opportunity to use the keywords and keyword phrases that you have determined will produce the best SEO results. The title will appear on your website and should make sense in the context of the page or post. It should appeal to a human reader, not just to search engines crawling your site.

The content area should be human friendly while implementing strong keywords and keyword phrases. Organizing your content with headers and including outbound (send the user elsewhere) and inbound (keep the user within your site) links will aid your SEO.

Permalink

Edit your Permalink to be both SEO and human friendly. It should utilize keywords and be short and descriptive of the post or page. Click on the Permalink to write in what you’d like to change it to, when you click OK it will automatically format it.

Imagery

Search engines cannot read images, but they can read the text that is attached to them. When saving an image that you’re going to use on your website, use a common file type (JPEG, PNG, SVG, GIF, etc.) and a human-friendly name. Place the image within the text near the section that it is most relevant to. Use images and keywords that are relevant to the content.

When you upload your photo, choose to edit it. You can also visit the Media Library to edit pictures after they have been uploaded. Use a short, keyword-focused title. Enter a Caption if you would like to display a caption with your image. The Alternative Text, often referred to as “Alt Text,” should be straight forward and keyword heavy while avoiding “keyword stuffing.” The title and Alt Text are what search engines will use to read and identify your images, so if nothing else you should at least pay attention to the SEO value of these.

Enter a description if the person uploading the image might need to differentiate between similar images in the Media Library. Make sure to remove the Link URL so the image doesn’t open in its own page when clicked on, which can slow down your site and diminish SEO.

Categories and Tags

While Categories and Tags themselves aren’t especially powerful SEO tools, they aid in SEO in other ways. Think of categories as your website’s table of contents and tags as the index. When a search engine reads these, it helps it understand – and more effectively crawl – your website and indicates what topics your website is focused on. Categories and Tags also increase navigation and readability for users.

It’s important to remember there is no shortcut for creating quality SEO. Follow these guidelines and regularly post interesting, sharable content and you’ll be well on your way to increasing your SERP rank.

Tina Eaton, Project Lead and Content Strategist
Integrity
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Get the Word Out – A Call for Writers

We’re looking for folks in the St. Louis community to be guest writers here on  The St. Louis WordPress Community site.

Why would you want to write? It’s a great opportunity to get feedback, share ideas, toot your own horn about a project you just finished, talk about your company or services, or other wise geek out with a group of like-minded WordPressers.

Feel free to talk about your workflow, best practices, favorite plugin, tips and tricks, integration magic – you name it.

If you, or someone you know, would like to have an opportunity to share their thoughts fill out the form and we’ll get you setup.

There are (only) three rules.

  • It’s has to be about WordPress in some relatable way (talking about CSS tips, or good color theory are OK)
  • It’s positive in nature (no “Drupal Sucks” or “Clients are Goobers” type posts)
  • It’s honest (no crazy pyramid schemes)

Photo by David – licensed under Creative Commons

Community Features

You might be asking yourself, “What’s so great about this new community site, stlwp.org?”. Well, let me tell you about the things we have to offer.

Forums

Get your questions answered in the forums by one of your very own knowledgeable community members.

Groups

Got a particular topic you like about WordPress? Find a group with that same interest, or create your own!

Blog

Got something to write about? Submit an idea and we’ll set you up as an author on the site and you can help build the community!

Suggestions

We are very open to suggestions on how to make the community better. Feel free to contact us (or leave a comment below) with other ideas you have to improve the community!

Photo by Susanne Nilsson – licensed under Creative Commons

How to Find and Legally Use Photography for your WordPress Site

One of the more tricky aspects of using WordPress has nothing to do with the software itself, but trying to find a  good image to use as a visual anchor for your posts.

Adding an image to your posts is a great way to draw attention to an article and really make your writing stand out.

Not everyone has a large budget or the skills of photography to find a perfect photo for every post. Personally, even if I had both, I wouldn’t have the time to go out and shoot the specific image I needed.

The biggest boon to finding suitable photography is Creative Commons. Simply put, Creative Commons is a way for artists to preemptively declare licensing for their work. You can license your work under various versions of Creative Commons licenses and folks can use them accordingly without having to pre-negotiate terms.

Most of the time (remember, I am not a lawyer) you can use photos with a Creative Commons license for your work without having to contact the original artist. The catch, which isn’t insane to expect, is that you have to provide proper attribution to the author for their work. Basically, you have to give credit to the original artist.

My favorite solution to find Creative Common licensed photography is Flickr.

Why Flickr? The library is rich, hundreds of thousands of photos, and incredibly diverse, with Flickr users coming from all walks of life from around the world.

They were also one of the first photo sharing services to enable folks to license their photos under Creative Commons. You can search across all of Flickr, and using the Advanced Search Feature, filter to just show photos with a Creative Common license. Here’s an example search for “puppy dogs“.

Flickr Advanced Search

You can easily see the license for any photo on Flickr in the photo sidebar.

flickr-cc-license

Then, when using the photo, you can add something like this in your post (under the photo, in the post meta tags, or at the bottom):

Photo by Steve Wall –  licensed under Creative Commons

I hope this is a helpful introduction to Creative Commons and finding strong photos for your posts. If you have more ideas, suggestions, or feedback, please leave a note below.

P. S. There are  many more collections and options that have been talked about else ware on the web. Two other useful articles are this one from demosthenes.info and another from Dustin Senos on Medium.

Photo by Steve Wall –  licensed under Creative Commons

Don’t Hide Your WordPress Love

I was reading this thread on reddit the other day which asked the question, “Why do people hide the fact that they use WordPress as their sites backend/framework?”

There’s some prettying interesting conversation there, but one comment stood out. It was from a design firm in Kingston, NY called Catskill Design. They put together a blog post answering the age old question, “If WordPress is so easy, why don’t I just buy a theme and do it myself?”.

I’ll let you read it yourself, but the conversation around hiring someone vs. doing it yourself seems to pop up in the community from time to time. A a business owner or writer just starting out WordPress can seem quite daunting.

I think hiring vs. doing-it-yourself depends on how much time you want to spend learning the ecosystem around WordPress and web technology in general. If you’d rather focus on your business, then hire someone. If you have the time and attention, then dig in. The important thing is to use what you learn to better yourself and your business.

Like my dad use to say, “If it costs $100 for someone to fix your car, you’re paying $1 to turn the bolt and $99 to know which is the right bolt to turn.” Of course my dad also said, “It’s important to know how to take care of your own car.”

Parents are confusing.

Photo by Adriano Gasparri – licensed under Creative Commons

Facebook ≠ a Website

I’ve worked with a few clients that have a well established social media presence with Facebook who would ask, “Why do I need my own website? We already communicate and engage with our audience with Facebook.”

My counter, more often than not, is that you don’t control Facebook and are beholden to their whims when it comes to the experience of interacting with your business. If they want to change the way your page looks or works, they will do so for their benefit, not yours. Now, most times these changes are aligned as Facebook wants people to use their service, but recently there’s been some concern over how Facebook is handling the reach of pages.

From an article on PetaPixel regarding the decline in reach with Facebook pages:

“Back in December, the company acknowledged that the reach per post — in other words, how many of your followers see your post in their News Feeds — has declined. Various studies have confirmed this, one showing a drop in reach from 12% of all followers to 6% over the course of 4 months. And, another blog is reporting that reach will decline to just 1% of your total followers eventually.”

While you might have an active and growing population of ‘likes’, it doesn’t mean that you are actually reaching all of those fans. Do you know what you could do to ensure all of your content is reaching your audience?

Start your own website. 🙂

(via PetaPixel)

Upcoming WordCamps near St. Louis

We just had our annual WordCamp here in St. Louis in March, but wanted to share with you a few upcoming WordCamps in nearby cities. These are great opportunities to learn more about WordPress, meet new people, and become more engaged in a great community (yeah, we’re a little biased).

This is just a short list, to see all upcoming WordCamps from around the county – and the world – visit WordCamp.org. Are you going to an upcoming WordCamp? Please let us know and we’d love to have you write about your experiences here on stlwp.org!

Three quick WordPress Tips

Everyone loves a good list of tips. These are a few of my favorite, but feel free to sound off in the comments with your own.

1. Access the Admin with /admin – You don’t have to navigate to yoursite.com/wp-admin to login. You can just point to your site.com/admin or my favorite and especially easy to remember your site.com/login

2. Command + K – What sounds like a funky European DJ is actually a recent update to the Visual Editor. When you want to add a link while writing, highlight your text and hit command + K to bring up the insert/edit link dialog box. Windows folks can use ctrl +K.

3. Turn off Comments for Pages – Nothing looks weirder than having a relatively static page (like the About or Contact pages) with random and ancient comments. Turn off comments for these sort of pages and funnel that dialog to posts, email, contact forms, or social media.

WordPress Multisite Infinite Redirect Loop After Updating to 3.9

If you use WordPress Multisite and have it setup to use subdomains, you may want to want to have a look at this article before updating to WordPress 3.9: http://www.webhostinghero.com/wp-multisite-stuck-in-redirect-loop/

It talks about how to fix the infinite redirect loop some users experienced after updating their instance of WordPress to 3.9.

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