WordPress SEO 101

By | August 16, 2019


[SLURP]
Hello and welcome to Southwest Cyberport’s WP Coffee Break, WordPress
answers in the time it takes to have a cup of coffee. Today I’m going to show you how to do basic
SEO for your WordPress site. I’m not an SEO expert but I’ve learned
a couple of things about it over the years. In this video I’ll
give you a basic understanding of SEO and show you how to use
one particular WordPress plugin to help your site rise above the noise
in search results, without having to become an SEO expert yourself. First, what is SEO? It stands for Search Engine
Optimization, and it’s a way to get better placement in search
results at Google and other search engines. The Internet is a huge place. Unless your
product or concern is extremely unique, when you search for it there
might be millions of pages in Google’s database that match the
search. To illustrate, I’ll search Google for “Children’s
Hats”. That’s a fairly specific query, but you can see that
Google found 173 *million* possible answer! And at the top are these
“Sponsored” results. A sponsored result means someone paid Google
to be shown when people search for these keywords. Below that we see the other answers for this
search. And down here we see some which are flagged as ADs. There
were only about 10 results here on the first page. You can click
through to other pages, but the accepted wisdom is that if
your site doesn’t come up in the first few pages, nobody will find
it through Google. So how does Google decide which links go on
the first few pages of the results? That is a closely guarded secret
at Google. When you hear people in SEO refer to “the Algorithm”,
they are talking about the process Google uses to display search
answers. Our job is to set up our site in such a way that Google
likes it more than others, and will prefer it. This is not an easy task
in general, but there are WordPress plugins that will do a lot of
the work for us. We’re just going to use one plugin in this
video, called All In One SEO. There are many others, and every web
designer has their own favorite, but we’ve had good experiences with
this one. In particular, this one works pretty well even if you mostly
just accept the defaults out of the box. Our goal here is
to get some decent SEO results without having to learn all the ins
and outs of SEO. We’ll go to the dashboard, plugins, add new,
then search for All In One SEO Pack, click install, then activate,
and we are ready to go! This plugin adds an item to the dashboard
sidebar, All in One SEO. We’ll go there to set it up. The first thing
you’ll notice when you install an SEO plugin is there is a whole
bunch of new terminology being thrown at you. For example at the top
here we have a “Cononical URLs” checkbox. Thankfully, All in One SEO
has these little question marks sprinkled throughout so you can get
a quick definition of any of these new terms. So we get this definition, which helps a little
but frankly I still don’t feel like I understand the issue. But
notice there is a “click here” link which promises more detailed
info. Now we have a slightly more involved explanation
about the issue. It basically says, “this setting is the default,
trust us, it is going to help your site.” But if you *really*
want to know what’s going on, they’ve provided a link to a Google
Webmaster post which describes the issue. The world of SEO is an arms race between unethical
scammers on one side, trying to game Google’s algorithm to
drive traffic to their sites, and Google on the other side, trying
to provide relevant search results to users and not send them
to spam sites. Google is constantly tweaking the algorithm, and
the scammers are forever trying to dream up new ways to beat it. And
you are stuck in the middle, trying to make your site attractive
to Google, while the rules change around you every 6 months. The Google Webmaster Blog is our primary view
into Google’s thinking. They post updates here when the algorithm
changes, giving advice for how to make your site rank higher, without
giving away too many details for the scammers to use. All in One has helpfully provided links from
their settings, through the help links, all the way back to the Google
Webmaster Blog post with detailed information about the issue
that setting affects. In this case, the problem was scammers posting
the same info on a ton of pages with different URLs, to make it seem
like they had a large site full of information. The Google response
was to notice when they did that and penalize sites which had
the same info under a lot of different names. That accidentally hurt some legitimate sites,
like the Swedish Fish seller in this example, which has multiple
URLs that lead to the same item in their shop. The solution, which
Google outlines in this post, is for the site owner to add a
tag to the URLs on the site which indicates which ones contain the
same content, thus signaling to Google that you are not trying
to game the system. So, it sounds like All in One SEO is right,
and we do want that setting to be turned on. I drilled down all the way on this item just
to show that it can be done. You can spend as much time as you
want learning about Google’s algorithm and how you can interact
with it. Or, you can just trust that the plugin has figured it
out for you and stop after reading the first description of the setting. This is a pretty good example of an issue
that a smart person might never think of, but could really hurt an e-commerce
site. This shows the power of a WordPress plugin to encapsulate
that expertise and make it available for your site without
a huge cost or learning curve. I’m going to leave all of these General Settings
at their default values. The next thing we want to look at
is the Home Page settings. This site is set up as a blog. If it were
an informational site with a static home page, we would check that
button here. If you’re not sure about your site, you can check it
under Settings, Reading, Home Page Displays. Now back to the All in One Settings. I will
enter the title of our web site, and a description. I’m using the
tagline of our site here, but you can type whatever description
makes sense for you. If there are unique words to describe your
site, which someone looking for you might search for, use them
here. I’m going to leave all these other title settings
alone. It’s interesting to see what it’s doing though.
For example, this item sets the page title to be the title of the
post followed by the title of your blog. That’s going to provide
a few extra keywords for each of your pages to be found under,
something it would not have occurred to me to do on my own. Under Content Type Settings, this controls
what types of items will have SEO tags added to them. It defaults to
Posts and Pages, which is fine for most sites. If you have a lot
of media on your site, for example a photo blog or video collection,
then adding tags to your photos or videos might make sense. I’m going to skip a few of these sections,
down to the NOINDEX settings. These are interesting because they
are a way for you to ask the search engines NOT to index certain
content. For example if you hold an annual conference, you might
want to have the pages for past years stop being indexed. That way
when someone searches for your conference they are less likely to
land on an old page with outdated information. NOINDEX tells Google not to put the page in
its database. NOFOLLOW says it’s OK to grab this page, but don’t
follow the links it contains to other pages. The settings here are global, so we won’t
change them here. We’ll see in a moment how to apply these to individual
posts and pages. And finally there are some advanced settings,
all of which I’m going to leave at their defaults for now. You can
read through these and decide if any of them will be helpful for
you. But for now I’m going to look at what new SEO settings we
have available on our content pages. From the list of posts, I select one to edit.
If we scroll down below the content editor, we see that there
is a new All In One SEO section. Here we can set many of the same
things we saw in the All In One settings, but these will apply to only
THIS post. For example, this is where we would turn on NOINDEX
for specific things that we don’t want to be indexed. Note that the Title is set automatically,
but not the description. We can add a description here to give searchers
a better chance of finding us when looking for this topic. Take note of the Preview Snippet, where All
in One shows you what this search result will look like in Google.
See that when we type in the description field it automatically
updates the Preview. When we are done, we click the Update button, just
like we would when editing the content of the post. Our changes here won’t have any affect on
what the post looks like on the site. It only change the invisible
tags that humans don’t see, but search engines know to look for. Let’s look at a Page real quick. You can see
that it has the same options as a Post. So your main task when
you first install an SEO plugin is to visit all of your pages and
posts and add descriptions to them. When you add new content to the site,
you’ll fill in that description field as you go. If your site has a lot of Posts, you might
want to generate the descriptions automatically. To do that, go
back to the All in One Settings, scroll down to Advanced, and turn
on Autogenerate Descriptions. Now if we go back to look at
a different post from the one we added our own description to before,
we see that it has filled in the description field with the first
few words from the Post itself. In a lot of cases, that is going
to be adequate. If it’s not, you can type in your own description
here, and it will override the auto generated one. Here’s a little tip. Once you start typing
in this field, all the text is replaced by what you type. I just
want to change a couple words from what it generated. So I’m going
to copy it from the post, paste it in the Description field, then
make my changes. I hope this has helped you understand the
basics of SEO, and how to quickly get WordPress to handle it for
you. There are a lot of SEO plugins out there. I use All in One because
the defaults are sensible, so I can install it, tweak 2 or
3 things, and then leave it alone. My goal is to get some SEO benefit
with as little work as possible, and this plugin does that for
me. If it doesn’t do what you want, just remember there are many
other plugins out there. Pick one with a good star rating, and give
it a try. On a final note, I’ve been asked whether an
SEO plugin is “good enough” or If you should hire an SEO professional.
The answer depends on what your goals are and how deeply
you want to personally wade into SEO details. If you are spending
to advertise to drive traffic to your site, it makes sense to hire
a professional to make sure you’re taking full advantage of the search
engines. Just make sure it’s a reputable company and they should
be able to demonstrate specific traffic increases after their changes.
It’s kind of like car maintenance: I can change my battery and
maybe the oil, but if it needs brakes or a transmission service,
I’m gonna take it to a pro. This has been a WP Coffee Break from Southwest
Cyberport, a cutting-edge WordPress hosting provider in
the heart of the American Southwest. If you need fast, secure and friendly WordPress
hosting, head over to swcp.com/coffee to check us out. If you have any questions or suggestions for
future video topics, leave a message in the comments. Thanks
for watching, and don’t forget to like and subscribe!

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