Matt Cutts, the lead of Google’s web spam team, spoke about why WordPress is the best optimized blogging platform for search engines and gave some tips for all bloggers on how to start getting search traffic. It is a classic WordCamp talk that has stood the test of time and is a great introduction to SEO for any blogger. In short the advice is to produce a lot of quality content and follow a few simple tips in order to optimize your site and get better in Google’s results.
WordPress is “a fantastic choice”
Matt Cutts praised WordPress for being SEO-friendly platform. WordPress automatically solves a ton of issues bloggers might have. It is a fantastic piece of software, makes your site easily crawlable by search engines, solves some 80-90% of mechanics of SEO and is the first big step anyone can take towards creating a popular online business. Watch the full presentation and see the full list of tips below:
What bloggers need to know about Google
Google cares about relevancy and reputation when choosing which sites to rank in their listings. You want your site to be a very reputable place with a lot of relevant quality content about your topic. Reputation is external, it is what people say about you in social media and how people link to you from their websites. It is about the number of links and the importance of sites that link to you. Relevancy is internal, it is the stuff that you write and create content about. This is what you need to do:
- Create quality content. For gaining a good reputation and good links, high quality, linkable and sharable content makes a difference. More on how to do this is further down in this article.
- Post new content often. By producing more content you have more material that search engines can find. It also helps get people to come and visit you more often.
- Be natural. To be relevant you need to think about what your target group would type into Google to find the topic you write about. Create content in regular English, in language that people in your target group speak.
- Research keywords. Use Google Keyword Planner to find the demand for the different keywords. When you know in-demand keywords that you want to target, include those keywords naturally when writing your articles.
- Use Analytics for ideas. Look into your Google Analytics data to see where people are going on your page in order to get ideas for new topics to create content about.
- Revisit older content. Some of your content might have been published a year ago but still gets traffic and ranks in search engines. Revisit your older content, update it, make sure it is still relevant and correct.
- Quality not quantity. It is not all about the number of links pointing to you though, it is about the quality and importance of places that point to you. The higher the quality of a site that links to you the more importance that link gets.
- Get free links. In Webmaster Tools go into “Crawl Errors” to find links to non-existent pages on your site. See “Linked From” to identify sites that linked to these pages and either fix the page or contact the author of the link to get them to update it.
- Avoid shortcuts and scams. There are no easy ways and tricks to the top of search engines like some people will promise you. Follow the principles in this post instead.
How to create quality content
As seen above the great content is key to your search rankings. Without great content you will not have any visitors, loyal followers and any traffic from search engines. Here is how you can create quality content that gets visitors, social media shares and links:
- Be interesting. Nobody wants to spend time on or share boring content.
- Provide a useful service. Help people. Sort their issues.
- Do original research and reporting. Don’t just repeat what everyone else is saying, create some value on top.
- Give great information, tutorial and guides. Teach and educate your audience on how to do something.
- Make lists. People love lists.
- Publish videos. Videos are very sharable and linkable, people enjoy watching them, they spread fast and tend to rank very well in search engine results.
- Find a creative niche. If you are good with image editing you could create interesting infographics.
- Create controversy. Make people respond and take action. Make them either agree or disagree with what you’re saying.
For more information check out my complete guide on creating compelling and sharable content.
How to optimize WordPress
As seen above Matt Cutts’ advice is not to worry about small things, but to spend time on producing great and targeted content that your audience would share and link to. There are though few things he recommends you do in your WordPress admin to optimize it:
- www vs non-www. Create a permanent redirect of your domain name. In Settings – General choose either www version or non-www version and stick with it. Also set your preferred domain in Google Webmaster Tools.
- Pretty permalinks. Create a custom permalink structure of your posts and pages. Having keywords from your post titles in your URL is a very important step in ranking well in search engines. Go into Settings – Permalinks and choose “Post Name” or “Custom Structure”: /%category%/%postname%/
- Descriptive categories. If you use categories when publishing your posts, make sure that categories have keywords in them as well.
- Change the URL. Have a post title be different than the URL itself to help cover few more keyword alternations that you couldn’t cover if they were both identical. Use the “Edit” button on the side of your permalink when writing a new post to change the URL.
- Show related posts at the end of your articles to reduce bounce rate and increase page views and time spent. Several plugins are available for this including YARPP.
- Use a clean and mobile-responsive design. Google is expanding the use of mobile-friendliness as an important ranking signal. Find a quality theme with a clean code, clean CSS and mobile responsive design. Help on finding the right design theme is here.
- Upgrade your software to keep your site secure. Older versions of WordPress are easier to hack and that will negatively affect your site. More tips on making your site secure.
- Speed up the loading time. Make sure your site is fast to load. See here how to do that.
- Use HTTPS instead of HTTP. Google prefers encrypted and secure sites as these protect the users better.
- Authorship in Google’s search results is no longer relevant as Google has dropped the authorship functionality on August 28th 2014.
That’s it. Straight from the horse’s mouth. Google is the biggest search engine and a very important referral of traffic for most online publishers. These SEO tips are very valuable in order for your site to get ranked and get traffic from search.