You’ve started your blog and started your business, and you’re ready to go! But where’s the traffic?
When you’re just getting started, it can often feel like an insurmountable task to attract attention to your new WordPress website. And often, it can take some time before your audience, and the search engines, notice that you’re up and running.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization is the art and science of optimizing your WordPress website and every blog post so that search engines notice and start to send traffic to your new creation. Whether you’re developing a site for your business or a site that is a business, ensuring that your site answers the questions that your audience has is the first step in ensuring that your site is ready to connect with your audience and begin growing a following.
Google is of course the primary search engine used by searchers worldwide, with over 92% dominance in market share in the search engine space.
There are a number of key elements of a successful WordPress site when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). Some of these elements are baked into WordPress, which is part of the reason WordPress is so loved as a content management system. But there are decisions every site owner needs to make whenever they’re setting up their site and writing content for their site. In this post, we’re looking at some of those factors and how WordPress and Kadence can help you create a better, more optimized experience not only for your users, but for the search engines as well.
Setting up your blog for search
When you’re just getting started, there are a few key things to consider. You should definitely choose a search engine optimization plugin to ensure that you’ve got the basics established. These plugins, like Rank Math, Yoast, or another great SEO plugin are simple but powerful tools for guiding search engine optimization decision making.
Setting up SSL
A secure certificate ensures that your site is serving pages securely. Even if you’re not taking credit card information in an eCommerce application like WooCommerce, you still want to have a secure certificate. This is a ranking factor for Google, and has been for a quite a while. Even though your site is still visible to your users, there are various trust elements that only come with a secure certificate on your site. The great thing is that most hosting providers give you the option of selecting a free SSL certificate for your site. Just confirm that yours is using a secure certificate to ensure your site can rank.
Setting up Permalinks
One of the first thing any blog should consider is permalinks. There are a number of ways that WordPress shows the URL of a page, from adding a question mark after the domain name to a Page ID number to a variation of your post or page title. For greatest search engine optimization, we recommend that you choose a permalink that will show the title of your page within your URL. This adds signals to the search engines about what your page is about. Of course, ensuring that your page is adequately named for your page or post’s goals is important, too.
Setting up Sitemaps
Sitemaps tell the search engines how your site is structured and where to find the content you’re developing. It gives the search engines a basic understanding of how your site is structured, which pages and files you think are important in your site, and also provides insightful information about this content, such as when the page was last updated and any alternate language versions of the page. A SEO plugin will automatically generate sitemaps for your site, so that you can easily communicate this important information to the search engines.
Setting up Google Search Console
Google Search Console is an invaluable and free service provided by Google that helps site owners monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results. You don’t have to sign up for Search Console to be included in Google search results, but Google Search Console helps you understand and improve how Google sees your site. It will also be your first line of awareness if there is a significant problem with your site, for example if malicious content has been detected by Google on your WordPress site.
Ensuring that you enter the location of your sitemap is important; this tells Google where to look for your site’s structured sitemap. This is simple when you’re using a SEO plugin. Each will be different, but once you’ve got that XML file identified, head to Google Search Console and add your sitemap file name to the sitemap section of your search console.
Why does search matter?
To build your audience beyond your immediate circle of social media connections, you have to connect with an audience that is looking for the solution to their problem, the solution you provide either through your content or your products and services. And where is this audience asking questions?
They’re searching for answers using search engines, primarily Google. And there, they find answers. The problem is that your competition is also answering those questions, and there may be hundreds of websites similar to yours providing answers.
Search results matter because it expands your reach into audiences you might not otherwise ever connect with.
Great Content Rises to the Top
The great thing is that if you provide better answers, your blog posts and pages start to trend higher in the search engine result pages (SERPs) as more users click through to your site and spend time on your pages. Google sees those who spend a great deal of time perusing your content as those who are finding answers.
A visitor who pops over to your page and pops back to another page in the SERPs is a sign that they didn’t find what they were looking for. These signals tell Google which pages have high value content, or content that answers users’ questions, and those start to trend higher in the search engine results pages.
Above all, our content should attempt to answer these questions our audience has so that Google can detect the high quality answers you have on your site and reflect that in your search ranking.
Site Speed and Experience Matters
Of course, great content can only go so far. If your site’s content is obscured with too many ads, if your images are unwieldy and your pages load too slowly, that creates a negative experience for site visitors. Google has methods of detecting the best user experiences, and they use these metrics of site speed, site layout stability and other factors to rank your site as well. Grouped into a family of metrics known as Core Web Vitals, Google’s search engine algorithm may judge your entire site’s experience on these metrics alone, even before a searching customer ever visits your website. As such, a fast loading and excellent user experience matters a lot to site owners.
Here’s the most important point: any user that a search engine is sending to your site is that search engine’s user. Someone searching for an answer on Google is Google’s customer and audience first, and Google is going to do whatever they can to create a good experience for that user in all aspects of search. If your content is stored on a slow server and slow website, Google will, for their user’s experience, not send them to your site. The last thing they want is a search user who said, “Every site that I got in my results was slow and didn’t have the right answer, but I found my answer on a different search engine.”
If you want your site to rank, you have to give Google’s users a good experience in order for them to rank you well.
How To Search Engine Optimize Your Blog Content
There are a number of ways that your content can be optimized for site visitors, but we’re covering the most important ones. Of course, the thing to take into consideration most is that you must have a great user experience that answers searchers’ questions, and there are a few ways you can clue the algorithm in to ensure you do this.
- Answer questions that don’t have answers yet
- Structure your pages and posts to make getting answers easier
- Design an amazing website UX
- Optimize for keywords
1. Answer questions that don’t have answers yet
It might be overwhelming if you’re just getting started to see that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of sites competing in your niche. You know what keywords are most searched, and there are tons of sites answering the questions associated with those keywords. Rising to the top of highly competitive niches can seem to be impossible. However, there are still ways to gain a foothold in the search engine result pages by answering questions that don’t have answers yet.
For example, you may have products you’re selling for car owners, and you notice that people who own Toyotas are your primary customers. Start finding out what questions about Toyotas are being asked on car forums and see if other sites are answering those questions. Not a lot of answers, but it gets asked often enough? It might be a good question to answer on your site.
Remember, not all of the answers you provide need to be related specifically to your product or service. You can quite easily answer questions that your target market has and begin to build trust and brand recognition with that audience so that when they do need or want your product/service, they come to you first because you’ve established that trust.
The great thing is, once the algorithm starts seeing you answering questions that your audience has, you can also add content specific to some of the larger keywords and you’ll start seeing better performance on those more competitive keywords because Google has recognized that you are a trustworthy source on related content. Your mileage may vary, of course, and it depends on your market and niche, but generally speaking, answering questions will trend towards giving you connections with customers.
2. Structure your site to make getting answers easier
The title of your blog post should strategically tell your reader the answer that they’re getting, and it should be written in the same language as your audience. For example, if you are selling office furniture and you write about office partitions but your audience is searching for cubicles, you will miss each other like ships in the night.
Use headings (H2, H3, etc.) throughout your copy and use your keywords associated with the questions your audience is asking within those headings. Headings generally are given greater weight than just paragraph tags, so highlighting your search questions and answer keywords in your blog post H2 or H3 tags can clue the search engines that you’re focused on providing relevant answers.
Consider adding complementary media to your text to make getting answers easier. If a video walkthrough is going to help your audience get an answer quickly, a video embedded on your site could help signal relevance to the search engines.
Add images that are complementary, and make sure you resize your images so that they fit appropriately on your pages. Images that are too large lessen your site’s performance and tell Google and the other search engines that your site might not have a good experience for their search users.
Make sure your images are named in a way that uses keywords and describes the content of the image, and use ALT tags to communicate what the image is about. Following accessibility guidelines also tends towards making search engines happy, too.
Add links to other content on your WordPress website that are relevant to your topic. Internlinking relevant content on a site tells the search engines that your site is dedicated to the topic at hand, and it is not just a one-off blog post on a random topic. This not only increases the time readers spend on your pages, but it also creates an authority feel for your blog.
Meta Descriptions and URLs
This acts as a summary of your title and appears right under your title header when your post is shared on social media and on the search engine result pages. Just as your title is a potential reader’s first contact with your site, your meta description is like an open doorway inviting them to step into your site from SERPs.
So make your meta description summary promising, succinct, and precise.
3. Design an amazing website UX
Make sure your site is designed to connect with your audience, no matter how they access your site. If they’re finding themselves on your site via a web browser on desktop or on a mobile device, your site should accommodate giving them a positive experience.
Research on consumers behavior shows these trends:
- A majority of the users access the web through their mobile devices, and so are inclined towards sites that are built to make navigation seamless.
- The loading speed of pages combined with compressed images viewable on every type of screen also contributes to the amount of time a visitor spends on your site.
- These users are also more likely to buy from sites that create an amazing customer journey using interesting plugins, CTA buttons, widgets, and more.
The final piece of the SEO puzzle has to do with the design of your site. Design with the success of your customer in mind, and search traffic finds what they need and want. When this happens, your site inevitably gets recognized as quality content.
Kadence Starter Templates are the perfect way to get started. These starter templates are designed with performance, ease of use, and screen responsiveness in mind. When you use Kadence Starter Templates, you’ll have the basics covered so all you need to do is focus on creating amazing content. Even the photos used in Kadence Starter Templates are royalty free so you can reuse them safely on your site in any way.
4. Optimize for key words
Those keywords are your key words. They’re the words that potential site visitors are using to ask their questions, and your key words should indicate that you’re answering that question. If a user is searching for pain relief, they may be asking questions about headaches, back aches or the like. They might not necessarily be searching for pain relief or analgesics or inflammation relief. Your content should speak to customers where they are, and if it means that you need to write more specific content to meet them where they are, then you’ll need to do that.
Using tools like Keywords Everywhere to see what searches are most common can be helpful. And be aware that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Some people just want to see or listen to the solution to their problems, and Keywords Everywhere can help you with search relevance research on YouTube as well as on Google search.
Be wary of “keyword stuffing” your content; make sure that your content is focused on answering customers questions rather than writing to meet an algorithm. Google has many ways of measuring the effectiveness of your content and more focus is placed on user experiences than just the use of keywords.
Search optimization is just another way to connect with customers
For your site’s success, take a wholistic approach, focused on great user experiences and giving your customers what they need. When your focus is on meeting the needs of your target market, everything else will fall into place.
Our focus at Kadence is to help you create effective sites, and that means that they’re effective in meeting the needs of your audience. That means making your site blazingly fast, too, so that both humans and Google are happy when they pay you a visit. If you’re interested in site development a notch further, then check out the Kadence Blocks and Kadence Conversions plugins designed to help you give users get what they came to your site for. Both are included in the Kadence Full Bundle.