WordPress SEO Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Getting More Traffic

WordPress SEO Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Getting More Traffic

If your website is one of the 70,000,000+ that use WordPress, then you are doing it the right way.

But that’s just the platform and when it comes to promoting your website on the web you need to think seriously at SEO among others.

That is why in this article you will learn what WordPress SEO means and how you can optimize your website for search engines.

Before getting started I would like to inform you that robots are getting smarter and you cannot trick them anymore.

That is why, I would encourage you to write and optimize with your audience in mind and not Google or other search engines.

If you do this, you will see that results will come. But, they will come easier if you apply the following hacks to your WordPress SEO.

Get it Right from Start

I know that you’ve heard this a lot while building your website, getting started with SEO, diving into Google Analytics and even when you started your business, but it’s true:

You need to get it right from start!

By this I am referring at the fact that you need to understand the SEO process, prepare the tools that will make your job 1 million times easier and setup goals for what you want to achieve.

Additionally you need to have a clean design with nice fonts that makes articles easy to read, uses a smart theme (if you are on WordPress) with good coding that Google loves.

Setup Goals

Always, always setup goals when starting a new project. In this case you can have as a goal a specific ranking for your keywords, a targeted number of links to your site or visitors that come to your site from search engines.

Personally, I set as a goal for my articles to rank fast and then get on the first page of Google.

Sometimes they do get there and sometimes they don’t, depending on how competitive the keyword is.

If they are on the first page I already have a boost in traffic and all I have to do to get them higher on the page is just increase my site authority.

Do your Research (Keyword Research)

Before starting to get traffic from search engines you need to target the keywords that you would like to rank for.

But in order to target keywords, you need to research them and see if they are the best fit for your business.

To do that you need to use the Keyword Tool from Google to brainstorm some keyword ideas that you can use to decide which one is most suitable for your articles.

Keyword Research

In order to do that just think at some words related with the topic you want to write about.

Once you have those clear in mind, just head over to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and start researching those words.

They will help you find really god keywords that will offer you a great start on your search engine optimization efforts.

While doing this research you need to look for the keywords that are balanced in terms of Global Monthly Searches, Competition and CPC.

  • Global Monthly Searches – this will help you see how popular a keyword is and how many people are looking for that keyword with approximation every month. The higher the number, the more chances you have to get a large amount of traffic for your website if you rank high in search engines.
  • CPC – this will tell you what is the average cost per click for that keyword in AdWords. Why is this important? Because high converting keywords are really expensive and those keywords with a high CPC will most likely give you visitors that relate with your business and convert better.
  • Competition – this metric will tell you how hard is it to rank for a specific keyword. With a high competition you will have a really hard time trying to rank higher in search engines, so look for medium and low competition.

Now that you know what each metric means, you need to find keywords that are balanced with a decent Global Monthly Searches number, a high CPC and a low competition.

Another thing to consider is the match type that you are analyzing. By default Google will return Broad Global Monthly Searches, which means that it will include searches that contain your keyword and other words.

On the other hand the [Exact] match will count only those searches that match exactly your keyword.

For example, an [Exact] match will count only the “seo software” queries for the “seo software” keyword, while a Broad match will also count “seo software reviews”, “seo software comparison”, “seo software free” for the same keyword.

You can select your match type from the left sidebar.

When you optimize a webpage or when you write an article think about what you want to achieve with that page/article and choose 1 main keyword for which you want that to rank.

For my articles I prefer to do keyword research before writing them, because I want to write the article with those keywords in mind and naturally spread them across the article. Sometimes I am so inspired and I just start to write, so I leave this process for the time when I finish writing, but most of the times, I do this prior to writing the article.

Others prefer to do keyword research for articles after they write them. I am fine with that and in my opinion everyone should have it’s own process, so really, create your own process and follow that.

Advanced users will also test the keywords before implementing them into their website using an AdWords campaign. You can setup an AdWords campaign using exact match keywords and measure the traffic that you get after a couple of hundred clicks.

Track clicks, impressions and conversions. See how many converted and work out how much traffic and revenue you will get using the leaked AOL data mining.

As a final note to keyword research, consider following these best practices:

  • Do not target keywords that have a high competition
  • Do not target keywords that have a high search volume
  • Look for exact match instead of broad match
  • Target keywords that are relevant to your business
  • Target the singular form of keywords and not plural
  • Pay close attention to CPC (Cost Per Click). Higher CPC give you higher conversions.

URL Structure

One of the first WordPress SEO hacks you need to apply is related with your URL structure.

By default WordPress will use for your URLs question marks and lots of numbers, which don’t really have a value for your search engines and can’t improve your SEO.

However, you can change this by setting WordPress to generate SEO friendly URLs.

To do this you need to go to [Settings] > [Permalink Settings] and change the Common Settings to [Post name].

WordPress Permalink Settings

If you post multiple times a day and plan to publish a large number of articles over time, then you might consider using dates in the URLs.

But the downside of this is the fact that some visitors might consider some articles too old if they see the date and they will leave your website.

Plus it’s a best practice to keep the URLs shorter, so [Post name] is the best way to go about this.

Remember that you can change your URL to whichever you want while editing an article or page to keep it short and relevant

Title Tags

Title tags are really important because they are shown in the browser title and used by Google in the search engine results pages.

The first thing that visitors will see when browsing the results will be the title tags.

That is why title tags are also a really good call to action which should make the users click your link.

To improve this make sure that your title is compelling.

Also, remember to always use the keywords you are targeting towards the beginning of the title tag and make sure that each title tag is unique.

Meta Description

It’s what users see in search engines along with the title tag and you should carefully write it because the meta description can increase or decrease your click-through rate.

Additionally, place your target keywords towards the beginning of it and make each of them unique.

Body Copy

When talking about WordPress SEO the copy of your articles/pages is really important.

This is probably one of the most important factors for getting a good ranking in search engines.

TThe are a couple of important things that you need to focus on when writing the copy of your article/pages.

First you need to make sure that you write for people, not for search engines, because you will get the attention of your audience. They will know that you are genuine.

Again, the search engines are smart enough to see when you over optimize your copy.

Second, use the keywords that you researched and place them naturally in your article. Just by knowing them from your research your brain will automatically place them where they are appropriate.

Additionally, if you are looking to read more about the perfectly optimized page, check Perfecting Keyword Targeting & On-Page Optimization, written by Rand Fishkin, the CEO of SEOmoz.

Perfectly Optimized Page

Blog Privacy

If you have installed your WordPress blog using an automatic script provided by your hosting company, I would recommend you to check the privacy settings of your WordPress blog.

To do that you need to go to [Settings] > [Privacy Settings] and make sure that [Site visibility] is set to [Allow search engines to index this site].

WordPress Privacy Settings

This way search engines like Google will be able to come, crawl and index your website.

In case the other option is selected, then they will come, read the message and leave without indexing your WordPress blog, thus your blog will not exist for them.

Internal Linking

Interlinking between articles and pages on a WordPress blog is not only a common SEO practice, but also a good way to keep your visitors engaged with your content, thus keep them longer on your website.

To do this, just add a link to related articles while writing, just as I did above.

I’ve seen some WordPress plugins that do this automatically, but I would recommend you to keep the links at a decent level and place them manually.

These automatic plugins will place 5 links in a phrase and this will look spammy for both visitors and search engines.

Link out

Linking out might not be a proper SEO technique, but it has a couple of advantages.

One of them is that you will provide to your readers additional resources that they might find interesting and helpful.

This way you will add even more value, which will make visitors to come back or subscribe to your blog.

Another advantage is the fact that when you will link out to other people and send traffic there, they might notice it and return the favor.

If they will appreciate it they will come to comment on your articles, share them with their audience and even link back on a different occasion.

Use ALT Attributes for Images

Using ALT attributes for your images is mainly an accessibility factor for your visitors with disabilities.

But because search engines encourage making websites more accessible is also considered a ranking factor.

That is why it’s strongly recommended that you should use ALT attributes for your images.

To do this, you need to make sure that you when uploading images to WordPress you also add text for description and ALT fields.

WWW vs non-WWW

By default you can access your website by typing WWW before your address on not.

Example: http://www.eugenoprea.com and http://eugenoprea.com

However, if you keep it this way, you will loose a lot of link juice because some people will link to you using the WWW version and others using the non-WWW version.

This way, you will have 2 versions of the same page splitting Page Rank and link value.

But you can solve this problem by 301 redirecting all your traffic from the non-WWW version to the WWW version or the WWW version to the non-WWW version.

To do this you will need to add a couple of rows of code in your .htaccess file.

The .htaccess file is located in the root directory of your website and you can access it via FTP or your hosting Control Panel.

Once you edit your .htaccess file it should look like in the example below to redirect traffic from WWW to non-WWW.

# Redirect Non-WWW to WWW
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourwebsite\.com
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourwebsite.com/$1 [R=301,L]
# END Redirect Non-WWW to WWW
# BEGIN WordPress

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

# END WordPress

Remember to replace yourwebsite with your website URL.

Additionally, you will need to add WWW to the [WordPress Address (URL)] and [Site Address (URL)] in the [General Settings] section of your WordPress blog.

Change WordPress and Site Address

Note: Once you press the save button, you will be logged out and you will need to enter your login credentials again.

XML sitemaps

It’s recommended to have a XML sitemap, update it regularly and submit it to search engines, so you can get your articles indexed faster.

If you are not doing this already, I would recommend you to create a Google Webmaster Tools account and submit your XML Sitemap.

To create an XML sitemap in WordPress, use Google XML Sitemaps.

The Google XML Sitemaps plugin will allow you to automatically build and submit your sitemap to search engines. It also let you configure how the sitemap is created, where it’s stored plus other options you can check out.

Use WordPress Update services

One of the default options of WordPress is to notify popular update services by sending a XML-RPC ping when you publish a new post or update one.

Everyone uses Ping-o-Matic, which is sending one “ping” from you and lets many other services know that you have updated the content of your blog.

The Ping-O-Matic’s server (rpc.pingomatic.com) is listed by default in the WordPress [Update Services] list. All you need to do is sit back and let it work for you!

But if you would like, you can also add other update services that can be pinged when publishing posts.

Personally I have added these services to my blog and I noticed that my articles are indexed and ranked within 1 hour from when I publish them.

If you would like to also add there services to your blog, just copy the list and paste it into the [Update Services] section from the [Settings] panel > [Writing].

XML-RPC Ping Services

http://rpc.pingomatic.com

http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping

http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2

http://rpc.twingly.com

http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2

http://api.feedster.com/ping

http://api.moreover.com/ping

http://api.moreover.com/RPC2

http://api.my.yahoo.com/RPC2

http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping

http://blo.gs/ping.php

http://bulkfeeds.net/rpc

http://geourl.org/ping

http://ipings.com

http://ping.blo.gs/

http://ping.feedburner.com

http://ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php

http://ping.weblogalot.com/rpc.php

http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/

http://www.blogdigger.com/RPC2

http://www.blogdigger.com/RPC2

http://www.blogshares.com/rpc.php

http://www.blogsnow.com/ping

http://www.blogstreet.com/xrbin/xmlrpc.cgi

http://www.feedsubmitter.com

http://www.newsisfree.com/xmlrpctest.php

http://www.pingerati.net

http://www.pingmyblog.com

http://www.weblogalot.com/ping

Getting Links

Authority is something that Google likes and it will give you good SEO rankings if it sees you as an authority.

You can start building this authority by asking your friends to link to your site. Now almost everyone has a site and every link counts even if it’s from a site with low authority.

Next, in order to get links and traffic, make sure that you optimize your social media profiles.

Sites like Google+ and About.me allows you to have backlinks to your site that send link juice and improve your rankings.

Once you do this basic link building, you can move at the next level and start commenting on other people’s articles.

This can send back link juice from blogs who have a dofollow policy and traffic if your comments are compelling enough.

Then you will need to move into guest posting, which is the best way of building links from authoritative websites.

With guest posting you will not only get backlinks to your website, but it will also help you build traffic and trust among the readers of your host blogs.

You can get links back to your articles and landing pages of your website.

Additionally, add your website to major directories (Yahoo Directory, DMOZ, BOTW or JoeAnt), which still offer link juice for your website. Yahoo and BOTW have paid listings and your DMOZ submission might take a while to be approved, but JoeAnt is definitely a winner.

Finally, here they are, your easy to get backlinks in the order of their SEO value. If you don’t have links from these websites already, get them right now:

Setup Google Webmaster Tools

One of the tools that will help you in your efforts to optimize for SEO your WordPress website is Google Webmaster Tools.

You can signup for this with your Google account and then you need to verify your website.

Once you do that Google will provide you access to a wide range of metrics about your website such as who is linking to you, which of your keywords have a good ranking in Google or +1 reports.

Additionally you get access to a variety of tools that will help you submit a sitemap, configure your website for Google and much more.

Google Webmaster Tools also provides status reports about your website crawlability and if Google finds any malware.

Tools: Scribe SEO

Scribe SEO gives you a chance to see how your article scores before you even publish it.

And this is important. Really important.

This way you will be sure that when Google will come to index your articles, they will get a good score from start.

Next, all you have to do is just build some authority and your article will improve it’s SEO rankings and it will be boosted on the first page of Google.

To start using Scribe SEO just get a license, install the plugin on your site or use the web tool to analyze other pages and start analyzing your articles before you publish them.

Using the best practices I was talking about above, Scribe SEO will tell you what you did right and what you did wrong, so next time you will not make the same mistake again.

All you have to do is analyze your article and follow it’s guidelines to score 100%.

ScribeSEO Content Analysis

Then, once you start to use it regularly you will see that your articles will score 100% from the first analysis because your subconscious will learn the rules and it will not let you do the same mistakes over and over again.

Tools: WordPress SEO Plugin

The WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast helps you optimize your WordPress website if you don’t use a premium theme with SEO options.

The WordPress SEO plugin will allow you set custom meta title and meta description tags, give you control offer what you should index and what not, create XML sitemaps and much more.

One interesting thing that I like about the WordPress SEO plugin is the fact that you can strip the /category/

Tools: SEOmoz

I talked before about SEOmoz, which is an online service that will help you manage your SEO campaigns, do keyword research, track your rankings and do competitive backlink analysis.

I would recommend you get a trial and see how it can help you increase your keywords rankings.

Tools: Advanced Web Ranking

Advanced Web Ranking helps you track your keyword rankings in search engines, see who is linking to you, displays traffic data from your Google Analytics account and provides you insights about your social media activity.

Read more about Advanced Web Ranking in my SEO 101: Keywords, Ranking, Links and Analytics article

DO NOT Overly Optimize your Blog

If you have worked a lot to optimize your website for search engines, but you’ve overly optimized it, then you are in danger.

Google is rolling out updates that will address this and you need to make some changes so you can avoid getting penalized:

Takeaways:

  1. Use authentic, non-spammy titles for your articles
  2. Avoid manipulative internal linking
  3. Take out links from your footer if it’s too crowded
  4. Avoid text content blocks built especially for search engines
  5. Don’t get links from penalty-likely sources
  6. don’t create different pages which target similar keyword with slight variations.

You can check the video transcription here.

Analyze your Results

Making sure that what you do works is really important because you know if it’s worth continuing to do it.

That is why I would recommend you to dive more into learning Google Analytics.

If you are eager to do it, signup for my free Google Analytics course or take it at the next level and get my Web Analytics Blueprint paid course.

Your input

Now that you’ve learned more about the WordPress SEO process, please let me know what action you are going to take right now to improve your rankings and the traffic you get from search engines.

Use the comments section below to do that or lave questions if you have any.

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About Eugen Oprea

I am passionate about technology and I love to help people confused by technology build a remarkable presence online. To find out more about me check my profiles on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Comments

  1. I really enjoyed your article and I think it is a good starting point for anyone who wants to optimize his or her webpage! Thanks for sharing

  2. Sjaak Hamer says:

    Dude, this is a great great post. Thank you so much!

  3. Hi Eugen, great information. I added the ping services and hope to have some success with that. I also use the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast, its awesome. I am trying to add SEO to my skill-set and have done some keyword research. I look forward to your next email, so I can learn some more great tips! Thanks.

    • Thanks Brett! Let me know how ping services work for you.

      As for more content I will be adding that soon on how you can build a great website and drive more traffic to it.

  4. Eugen, your explanation about how to find and use good keywords is the best I’ve read. Most people don’t go into the nitty gritty about what to do after you’ve searched for keywords and how to determine which ones to chose from that long list that Google Adwords Keyword tool gives you.

  5. Hi Eugene,

    This is SUPER helpful for me. I’m launching a tightly focused niche site in 10 days and SEO is my weak point.

    On a side note, in your 4th sentence you have a typo “robots are getting smarter” not “starter”.

    Thank you again,
    Kerry

  6. Hey Eugen,

    Fantastic information.

    WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast is one of the best WordPress plugins, out there. I’ve been using it for 18 months now and never had any issues.

    Thanks for writing this informative post, Eugen. Have a great weekend.

    -Dev

  7. Thanks for a great article, I have one question about the Keyword Tool from Google and the “competition” that they mention. Is this their own Google Adwords competition or is it the Organic natural SERPs competition?

    • Haroun, the competition metric is pulled from AdWords data, but because there is no organic data available, AdWords data is a really good starting point.

      SEOmoz provides more insights about the competitiveness of organic results in the Keyword Difficulty tool and I would recommend you to try it: http://www.eugenoprea.com/seomoz/

  8. Thanks for this article, it’s been really helpful as I am just about to do my first e-commerce site on wordpress. :-)

  9. I have been trying to do keyword research for my blogs
    Its a great help
    thanks

  10. Very good and informative article. You described a whole SEO strategy in simple and short way. I like it very much. Thank you for sharing :)

  11. Eugen, Great article. Thanks! One issue though is the 301 redirect is no completely clear due to the font used – cannot determine where there are spaces in the lines. I didn’t get it right, and the whole website does not show if you don’t. In addition, does the redirect need to appear within . Your notes do not mention that.
    Thanks, Chris

    • Hey Chis, just copy and paste the code from this article in your preferred text editor, add your website address and then copy it to your .htaccess file.

      This way you can avoid misunderstandings.

  12. This is a master piece Eugen!

    Congrats for the effort and sharing it with us.

    Thank You!

  13. Eugen – another masterclass of a post.
    I’m pretty good with SEO – followed Rand Fishkin for years on his site over at SEOMoz – but there was plenty here for me to learn something new.

    It really must take you an age to put these posts together.
    Don’t stop though.

  14. Congrats for the effort and sharing it with us.

  15. Man, I really love your post and your site design. This is the most up-to-date article about SEO-ing your site I read recently (in the light of new Google policy about indexing and ranking sites).
    Can I ask you a question? How do you make the opt-in form to stick at the top of the screen when you scroll down?

  16. I think this is a great summary of a lot of things people should be doing. A well rounded overview that tackles a lot of things that people typically miss. :P On the keyword tool you list competition as, “this metric will tell you how hard is it to rank for a specific keyword. With a high competition you will have a really hard time trying to rank higher in search engines, so look for medium and low competition.” This is actually incorrect and a common misconception of Google’s keyword tool. The keyword tool is built for PPC marketers and it has nothing to do with the competition of that keyword, what it does have to do is with the amount of advertisers paying for that keyword and the ability to rank on the 1st page of Google in the PPC ads. Competition for keywords in Google organic are best found with the allintitle:”keyword” search in Google. You can further refine competition by also extending this into allinurl:”keyword” as well. This is a true competition of a keyword.

    Other than that I enjoyed the post, thank you for all the insights!

  17. Thanks for the info! It is much needed as our company is now creating a new website and blog. We are enjoying all of your articles.

    With Gratitude,
    Sherry

  18. Woww… very very interesting article. Thanks!
    I just started with your Google Analytics Course! =)

  19. the best article on seo i have ever read thannxx a lot for sharing, it was really usefull for me

  20. Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with SEO?
    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good results.

    If you know of any please share. Cheers!

  21. best and the complete all in one seo article i ever found on net thanks

  22. this is the complete and the best seo article i have seen till now… thanx a lot admin

  23. Thanks for complete info.. :)

  24. Thank you for the article. It really helped me to understand how SEO works.

  25. I am new blogger and this article help me lot. Thanx

  26. Eugen not much I can add to this post – as I scrolled down I saw just about every topic you would ever want to cover in the SEO field.

    From meta tags to redirects and you even included a video by by all time SEO favorite Rand Fishkin.

    Congrats on a fabulous in-depth look at SEO.

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