You’ve built a beautiful, custom site for your client leveraging WordPress’ unique capabilities. The client is ecstatic about their new site and the feedback they’re receiving from customers is positive. But what happens when your client looks to you to help boost their organic search rank? It’s important to be equipped with the top WordPress SEO skills and knowledge to build sustainable relationships with your clients. Out-of-the-box WordPress SEO functionality is definitely a debatable topic, so use these fundamental tips to help your clients rank higher in search engine results pages:
Optimize title tags
Title tags are extremely important SEO elements to consider when developing your client’s WordPress site. These help search engines understand what each document is about and index them based on relevant keywords and phrases.
As a rule of thumb, ensure each title tag is unique, includes appropriate keywords and a call-to-action, and is between 50 and 70 characters long. Still aren’t convinced that this tactic can help your client’s sites rank higher? According to SEO giant, Moz, title tags are the single most important element towards boosting rankings.
Write SEO-friendly meta descriptions
Similar to title tags, meta descriptions tell search engines and searchers what each page is about. While these can be longer (approximately 150 characters is what we recommend), a common misconception is that meta descriptions need to be complete sentences. They don’t! Meta descriptions should make sense to a reader but feel free to include a date or author if that’s what is important to the page’s content. The longer character limit also allows you to incorporate actionable verbs to help encourage readers to click through. Consider including words and terms like “book now”, “request” or “explore”.
Leverage alt image tag best practices
Images play a big role in the aesthetics of your client’s websites and can also help drastically improve search engine rankings. The alt attribute (or alt text/tag) tells search engines what the images are about. Saving images before uploading to WordPress with keyword-rich, descriptive file names will help your client’s get more traffic to their site. Like title tags and meta descriptions, be sure to include a call-to-action within your image alt tag such as “learn more about product X”.
Why are alt tags so important? It improves the site’s accessibility (how will visually impaired visitors know what your images are about?) and also increases the likelihood of appearing in Google image search results.
Optimize for speed
The difference between a site that loads in one second and one that loads in three seconds is monumental in terms of SEO and the user experience. A WordPress site that loads slowly will annoy visitors and is one of the key signals Google uses in its algorithm to rank pages. The search engine has an allocated “crawl budget” and if your client’s site takes longer to load, Google can’t crawl as many pages within their budget which can negatively affect their rank opportunity. Here are a few key ways to keep your sites running at top speed:
- Compress images. Save as a JPEG or PNG and ensure the dpi is 72.
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). This stores copies of your images and site files in locations all around the world so they can be downloaded to your visitor’s computer faster, speeding up the overall load time of your page.
- Simplify the code. If you’re developing massive sites for your clients, HTML, CSS and source code files can become monstrous and slow down your site immensely. Simplify files by removing unnecessary spaces and characters.
Not sure how fast your client’s WordPress site is loading? Use Google’s handy PageSpeed tools to run a quick test.
WordPress SEO hack: Choose a reliable host
If your client’s site receives a lot of traffic, or anticipates bursts of high traffic periods, it’s important to choose a reliable host. The host you choose can also improve site speed, too! Many WordPress developers opt for a shared host, which may save a few pennies but how will your agency feel if your client’s site crashes? Ensure you choose a host that provides server management as well as:
- Speed tuning
- Ongoing updates of plugins
Learn more about managed WordPress hosting for your agency.
Most site’s default page URLs look something like this:
But if you look at this page’s URL, you’ll see one that’s much more descriptive. Tweaking your site’s permalinks will tell readers what the page is about but also appear in search engine rankings to tell individuals what the page is about. We recommend using a simple permalink such as:
Yes, Pagely does not follow this advice.. fail.
Keep in mind that if you’re changing the permalinks to existing pages, you’ll need to redirect any old URLs.
Relevant internal links
Use header tags [correctly]
There are six levels of header tags: H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H5. H1 tags typically denote the title of the page whereas H2-6 tags signify sub-headings. Each tag should be related to one another and speak to the same overall theme of the entire page.
The H1 tag has long been a recommended SEO best practice to tell search engines what a particular page is about. Some may argue that header tags have recently become less important to rankings. In fact, Moz’s 2013 search engine ranking factors survey denoted H1 tags with a lower score than most factors. However, Google’s recent hummingbird algorithm focuses less on the specific keywords users are searching and more on their intent, header tags that reflect this approach can be extremely beneficial for rankings.
For example, try formatting H1 tags as a question that aligns with the page’s content. Answer the question within the page copy.
There you have it–a roundup of the most fundamental WordPress SEO best practices to implement while developing your client’s sites. SEO signals and elements change on the daily and take time to stay on top of, look for WordPress Plugins like WordPress SEO by Yoast as great tool to get started making improvements on your own WordPress site.