This is a subject that has caused great confusion, argument and late night debate amongst SEOs, bloggers and internet marketers. Having witnessed at first hand how a big SEO agency rips off clients by insisting on pointless on-site changes, here is my take on SEO best practices with WordPress.
SEO, like football, is quite a beautifully simple game.
- Create quality content
- Engage in communication and relationships with others in your niche both directly and through social media
- Reach out to other sites with guest posts and ideas of collaborations with a view tosecuring incoming links
- Promote your site and articles with social media, and maybe a tiny bit of web 2.0 and directories, etc., (don’t spend too much time on this)
- Go back to creating quality content
It really is as simple as that. Read this quote from Google’s Matt Cutts
I get a lot of calls from attorneys who understand the importance of a search engine optimization campaign for their law firms, but have been burned many times in the past by SEO companies who overcharged and under-delivered. By the time these lawyers contact me, they are understandably skeptical of the whole industry and of anyone’s ability to get them placed high in the search returns. These attorneys have come to view SEO as risky and are looking for ways to minimize the chance of making another fruitless online marketing investment. Usually, an attorney’s gut instinct is to spend less on shorter SEO programs in order to “test” a new company. But that’s just another risky investment. Below are 5 ways I believe attorneys can mitigate the financial risk involved with investing in an SEO program.
Sorry. Real SEO is not cheap, fast, or easy. If anyone tells you different, they are lying or just don’t know what they are talking about. It is a tedious and time consuming process that requires patience and consistency. Avoid programs that let you buy anything in bulk for “cheap”, like content and back links. And be suspicious of anything that is automated. Ask your potential account executive what’s going to be done, when, and who is going to do it (heck, even ask for employee names). This will help ensure that you’re not doing business with someone who is just going to buy their own cheap links and bulk content on your behalf. Your SEO company should know you – and you should know your SEO company. Make sure there is a customer service number and call a few times before you buy to make sure someone is always there to answer. Getting mixed up in anonymous link farms and other cheap SEO programs can get your law firm’s website penalized by the search engines and force you to start from scratch. THAT is never a good investment. รับทำ seo ราคาถูก
You would not hire a personal injury attorney to handle your divorce. You would not let an ear, nose and throat doctor perform your ankle surgery. This is because you recognize that most professions have sub specialties. SEO is no different. “Niche” SEO companies are more likely to be constantly monitoring your market, your keywords, and your potential clients. They are also more likely to already have in place rich, content specific networks of websites from which you can draw higher page rank. They should also already have the appropriate media you need to perform well in universal search. A niche SEO company is going to know exactly what to do and exactly where to do it far faster than a company that handles a wide swath of professions. And my experience has been that the lawyers who generally find themselves burned 2-3 times are the ones that have hired general SEO firms rather than looking for legal specific search engine optimization companies.
If you are about to get off the phone with a potential legal SEO company, and you find yourself asking for a written proposal, you’re probably not talking to the right company. I know this sounds totally contrary to everything you believe is right and good about business and the law, but it’s not. So why shouldn’t you ask for a written proposal? Because if you’ve just spent an hour or two of your time (which I know is pretty valuable) on the phone, you should not have to spend another hour or two down the road deciphering a proposal. A truly knowledgeable SEO consultant should leave you with no unanswered questions. Everything he or she discusses with you should be explained in a way that makes perfect sense. You should hang up the phone feeling far more educated than when you started the call. In fact, I don’t even provide written proposals anymore. If I am asked for one, I know I’ve missed something important in that attorney’s mind or failed to cover a topic in a way that was informative. If I am asked for a proposal, my response is always to ask what the attorney believes is still confusing – what would they like to see in a proposal that we have not covered or that is still not understood? I do this because I don’t want to waste any of your time – and if you remain confused, then I probably have. You should view this item in the same way you would within your own law firm. If you have set time aside to meet with a client and talk to them about their case, you would probably feel disappointed if they stood up and said, “Great. Now can you put all of that in writing?”Google is going to try to return the relevant content so that you don’t even have to think about SEO. Bare that in mind when talking to SEO companies.
Basic WordPress SEO best practices
Straight out of the box, here’s are a few “must do’s”
- Put keywords in your permalinks or enable “pretty permalinks” in Settings > Permalinks select Custom Structure and type: /%postname%
- Choose a quality theme. Or rather don’t choose an old, crap theme. The default Twenty Ten or Twenty Eleven are just fine. I use Genesis, generally speaking premium themes are slightly better but they are by no means essential.
- Create Categories to group your blog posts and write meaningful descriptions of them in Posts > Categories
- Choose whether your site’s address will have a www or non-www. Why can’t Google work this one out themselves? Matt Cutts still says this is necessary. It’s 99% not likely to matter but if both www and non-www work in the address bar of the browser you’ll need to force one on to the other with.htaccess.
- Use an SEO plugin or your theme’s SEO controls to sort out your titles. The best SEO plugin is Yoast’s WordPress SEO. Page titles can be %%title%% – %%sitename%% and post titles are usually %%title%%. Although it really doesn’t matter that much. You can also set titles and meta descriptions individually with this plugin – more on that later.
- Create a Google XML Sitemap. This won’t help with rankings but it might help with getting indexed quickly
- Create a robots.txt. It should say “User-agent: * Sitemap: your-site.com/sitemap.xml ” if you created your sitemap with the Google XML Sitemap plugin.
- Register your site with Google Webmaster Tools (register sitemap), Yahoo! Site Explorer and Bing Webmaster Tools (if you can’t be bothered, just do Google Webmaster Tools).
So, if you’re just setting up a self-hosted WordPress.org blog I strongly suggest you do the above.
On-page WordPress SEO best practices Going forward, while you’re regularly writing awesome content, you’re going to have to employ some on-page SEO best practices.
- Put keywords in your blog post titles. So, “Electric Guitar Playing Styles”: good; “Tra-la-la-la-la, look how I handle my axe!”: bad.
- Add subheadings. Words in between <h2> and <h3> tags carry more importance than <p> tags, so split your post up with subheadings. It also looks better and helps the reader scan the article. Make sure the subheads are natural!
- Add images. Makes sure images have good filenames (eg. banana.jpg) and descriptive alt text (eg. alt=”partially pealed banana on table”).
- Word count/Density/Stuffing. Write at least 600 words on each blog post and include your keywords in the text naturally – don’t stuff them in. Write for humans, not for search engines.
- Link internally to your own pages when relevant.
- Don’t forget to link out to authority sites as well.
If you do the above, regularly write great content and engage in social media, link and relationship building, that is all you need to know about WordPress SEO.
The bad and the ugly OK, back to my experiences this week with the “SEO professionals” – you are not going to believe some of the things I heard them say. (Disclaimer: not all SEO professionals are bad but there are many that will waste your money with the following).
Here are some pieces of SEO advice that I have heard that are either complete rubbish or a waste of time. Remember, people get paid for trotting out this garbage…
- Adding meta keywords. This is a waste of time. They are not used as a ranking factor by Google.
- Avoid duplicate meta descriptions and titles. Certainly, don’t have the same meta descriptions on two different blog posts but for many blogs titles and descriptions are identical on category archive pages, and Google knows this. It’s OK.
- Google doesn’t like content below the fold. What?? I have heard it said, trust me. Google doesn’t like too many ads above the fold but long articles are fine. Sure it’s maybe better to split a 3,000-word article into three different 1,000-word articles, if that can be logically done.
- There should be an <h1> on every page. Wrong, I’ve tested this. I had my single blog posts as <h2>’s and changed them all to <h1>’s, re-indexed and zip, nothing, nada, no change!
- A site should be in validated HTML and CSS. Yes, but it’s not an SEO concern, it’s a usability one.
I could go on but you get the point. WordPress is the most ubiquitous CMS on the internet, it pays Google to understand its workings. Do the basic SEO best practices outlined above (the good, not the bad or the ugly) and you’ll be fine.