You may or may not know that Ellis Jones builds websites. We build these using one of the internet’s most accessible content management systems (CMS) WordPress. WordPress enables easy back-end management of your website and blogs. Of the top 100 blogs globally, 48% of these use WordPress. In fact, according to this website, at the end of 2012 over 634 million websites were in existence and 60 million of these were powered by WordPress.
That’s really a heck of a lot. With so many blogs and websites out there competing for valuable Google-search-space, it has never been more crucial to take your SEO seriously. Unless you are a mega online force like say, Mashable, without a good understanding and practice of SEO you may as well give up because nobody will even know you exist.
What is SEO?
In brief, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving your website’s position in ‘organic’ searches on whichever search engine you like to use (ie: Google or Bing etc).
I type the query “social media agency melbourne” into my Google search bar.
Google then indexes all sites that contain the keywords ‘social media agency melbourne’ within their website content (including the way images are saved). The sites that have the largest concentration of those specific keywords are the ones that appear in the top positions of search results.
In the past, people thought they could outsmart search engines by pumping their websites full of these kinds of keywords. Google quickly caught onto this sneaky behaviour and introduced algorithms (named Panda and Penguin) that identify and punish sites taking keyword steroids by pushing them further and further down the list of search results. These algorithms don’t mean SEO is dead, just that we have to be more creative and organic about how we include keywords into websites. Which is a good thing.
Armed with this knowledge, when you’re ready to write a blog post or create a new page on your WordPress site, you’ll want to make sure the site is optimised to be noticed by the search engines. In the past this exercise could take hours, days, even months to get right. But today there are awesome plugins that will quickly and easily guide you to a perfectly optimised page or article.
Here’s my top 3 SEO plugins for WordPress:
WordPress SEO is considered by many to be the best SEO plugin around. We include this plugin in all the sites we develop. It offers a wide range of features to help you cover the more technical aspects of optimisation and also helps you write better content. The way it works is by forcing you to select a focus keyword when writing an article. It then populates it throughout the content. There’s quite an impressive list of features that include: snippet previews, page analysis, automatic optimisation and meta tag insertion, link elements, XML sitemaps, RSS optimization, breadcrumbs, editing your .htaccess and robots.txt file, social integration, import & export functionality, Google News SEO module, a set of steak knives and more. Can’t recommend this highly enough.
The All-In-One SEO pack is another powerful WordPress plugin. It does the simple stuff like optimising titles for search engines and generating meta tags automatically. This plugin also supports Google Analytics in addition to custom post types, advanced canonical URLs, helps fine-tune page navigation links and includes it’s own built-in API. This plugin also alerts you to duplicate content found and is one of the only plugins to provide SEO integration for e-Commerce sites.
Correctly saving and uploading images to your website’s back in is really important too. Depending on how you set up your options, SEO Friendly Images automatically adds the right ALT and TITLE attributes to your images. Whilst the TITLE is somewhat less important (TITLE is the text that comes up when you hover over an image), the ALT attribute describes your images in a language that search engines understand. This is important.