SEO basics

At Poweron, we’re not the experts of SEO but we understand the importance of appearing high on Google Search results. We have the following tips and steps that we take to help make this happen.

Understand keywords and phrases

Decide what keywords or phrases you want to rank high for your site. Think about what people will actually type and what would be realistic for you to compete on.

Vague keywords and phrases will not help you to be found. Be specific and you’ll achieve a higher position for those who search in detail.

You can target several keywords or phrases over different pages/posts. So you shouldn’t try to do it all in one page. Write more if you want to cover more.

Once you know what you want to be found for, you can do a number of technical things to help Google understand your content, once those basics are set up you shouldn’t need to tweak much.

Writing your site content

The most important thing is to have a website that makes sense: keywords and SEO shouldn’t drive content but they are important to keep in mind.

If you know which keywords/phrases you want to get found for on Google then you should try to write your website content around those keywords. We ask our clients to provide content before we build the site so it’s important to think about SEO early.

If you employ a copywriter, look for someone who understands SEO.

A stagnant website is bad for SEO. Have a plan to keep adding more content regularly so you can continually improve your rankings. If your site is built on WordPress you can add pages and news/blog posts any time.

Site URL

Usually you already have your site URL, or you pick a domain name that works for your business or organisation, rarely do you pick a domain name with the sole purpose of Google rankings.

If you’re still at the point of picking a domain name, do consider options with a main keyword included. This could make an enormous difference.

Page URLS

Also referred to as post slugs, can be keyword rich but they should also make sense. have a %postname% permalink structure in WordPress and don’t use page IDs. Don’t make URLs  too long or short, a few words is fine.

Page titles (browser titles)

Not to be confused with the page headings (<h1>), the page title is the meta title for your page which is what’s seen in the browser window and what’s shown in Google results. It should make sense and make you want to read more.

To modify page titles for each page/post you should use a plugin like WordPress SEO. The default will be the page heading (<h1>), but this can be different if you think it helps, just keep it short and to the point.

Meta descriptions

WordPress doesn’t allow you to edit the meta descriptions within the CMS but if you install WordPress SEO plugin you can add descriptions or let the plugin take an excerpt from the content.

The Meta description should read well and not just be a list of keywords. It should sum up the page or give a flavour of what the page contains. It will help the page appear in the Google Results if it includes keywords, but remember you want people to understand it and click it, so find a balance.

No meta keywords

Whilst you want to rank high for your keywords, adding keywords to the HTML meta tags may not actually help. Be aware of what your keywords are but don’t worry about adding as keyword meta tags in the website code.

The WordPress SEO plugin asks what the keywords are but this is for the purpose of analysing content.

Content markup structure

Adding structure content with heading tags <h2> and <h3> (h1 is your main page heading), helps google understand the hierarchy of what your saying. Adding well tagged images and video also helps.

Broken links

Anything that doesn’t work on your site can harm your ranking. Google Analytics and Webmaster tools show you if anything’s going wrong and gives you an idea of what’s working well.

XML sitemaps

Providing a XML sitemap on your site is useful for the search engines. The WordPress SEO plugin can set this up and notify the search engines of changes to your site and XML.

404’s template page

You should also make sure you have a useful 404 page should anyone get lost. Include a search field or sitemap or some useful links.

301 redirects

If you are changing your site or changing a lot of links, add this 301 redirect plugin to point to the correct content from old links.

Hosting and site speed

Your site hosting can make your site load slowly which is bad for users and for SEO. Find a decent host with servers in the location you focus on. You don’t have to spend a fortune on hosting to get something that is reasonable but don’t go with a slow cheap solution and end up paying for it in visitors. This isn’t just about SEO, it’s about having a site that works.

SSL

Google now boosts your SEO ranking if your site is HTTPS not HTTP. So if you don’t have an SSL setup it’s time to do it.

WordPress plugins we use to help SEO

As you can see from the list above we use WordPress SEO plugin for most of this and there’s a lot of scope to get more advanced. And as mentioned with this plugin, I also make the sitemap XML for the search robots.

If you want to learn more check out Yoast’s site: he makes the WP SEO plugin. the Google Analytics plugin  Google Analytics by Yoast.

Once you have  Analytics added to your site it’s easy to add Google Webmaster tools.

WordPress SEO analysis issues

If you’re using WordPress SEO and seeing a red dot for your SEO analysis, don’t panic – it doesn’t mean your site is broken, it might just be that it can’t work out how to score the content. The analysis is just a guide and you need to understand what it looks at because it might not be an accurate score for the page/post .

The plugin will not know what to do if you haven’t added the keywords, this doesn’t mean the page isn’t optimised for SEO it just means that the plugin doesn’t know how to analyse the page.

It can also be that the plugin isn’t scanning the complete page: it checks the title, content and meta, but it’s not looking at the theme markup or custom fields. So while it can be useful to look at this it’s not the full story of what the Google robot will see.

Links and social media

Social media accounts for 50% of visitors to some sites so using social media is clearly something you want to consider if you’re thinking about SEO. Social media links to your site can really boost your SEO rankings.

Think about the words used in the links and the reach of your network. Not all social media sites are equal and some will be more suited to your audience than others.

Do it because you would want to anyway and it’s meaningful, don’t do it just to skew the numbers. Done well, social media can be as important as organic SEO.

In summary

This really is the basics only. We would advise you not to obsess about your organic SEO if you don’t have the time or money don’t worry, just put a little effort in to writing content and push it out in other ways. Do the basics above and you have a good start. Build a site for people, by putting the content first, and it should all go well from there.

If paid or organic Google rankings are crucial to your business you should seek out an SEO expert to take you to the next level.

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