POP SEO Tip #3: 7 Free Steps to Improve Your Website and Ranking

WordPress may be the most popular platform for making SEO-friendly websites, but any technical errors with your site's code may penalize your site's ranking.

Go through the following 7 steps to help you identify and correct any problems with your current site. If any show up, forward them on to your developer so she can correct them as quickly as possible.

#1: Search Engine Visibility

Go to Settings > Reading and verify that Search Engine Visibility is unchecked. This should only be changed if you do not wish for the website to be found by search engines. Since you are working to improve your ranking, you want to be sure that search engines see it. This is an easy fix to make and will have a huge impact on whether people find your website.

#2: Validate Your Website’s Markup

You can use the free validation tools offered by the W3C to check your website. Start with the Unicorn test. If you get a lot of errors, forward the error list to your developer. Sometimes, these may be causing issues with your ranking. Other times, they might be causing other issues that should be rectified. A small amount of errors is less problematic than dozens of them.

#3: Utilize Google Search Central

Use Google Search Central. While the results are less immediate, Google will scan your site for 404 errors (page missing), duplicate content, and mobile friendliness. This scan can give insight into how a site appears during searches, including the way the description and title look.

In addition, you can visit the Search Console to get analysis reports. These reports will show you how many clicks you’re getting, how you’re ranking, and more. It also provides suggestions and alerts for you to incorporate to get a better ranking.

#4: Optimize the Robots.txt File

Essentially, this file tells search engines where and where not to look for content on your website. By optimizing this document, you can improve your website’s page rank. Check here for a detailed explanation of how to do this. A typical robots.txt file should look something like this:

Sitemap: http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml
User-agent: NerdyBot
Disallow: /
User-agent: *
Disallow: /ajax/
Disallow: /apps/

The purpose of the robots.txt file is to avoid overloading a site with too many requests. It isn’t a method that will keep your website off of search engines. However, if you want to rank your site, that isn’t something you likely want to turn on in the first place.

#5: Consider the People Making Searches

When you’re producing content, think of terms and phrases a user might search to locate your content. Then try to incorporate these terms and phrases into your site's content, although don't overdo it. The point is to be informative and helpful not to force in tons of keywords that may or may not fit.

Keywords and phrases are very useful to rank your site and bring in an audience who will be interested in your products and services. I've written more about this here.

#6: Match the Titles, Meta Descriptions, and Introductory Paragraph

When crawling your site, search engines will try to match your post’s titles with the actual content on the page. If there is no match, then search engines might demote your page because there doesn't seem to be a logical fit.

In general, I recommend trying to match up the title, meta description, and first paragraph of every page. Start small with the title, then progress larger with the meta description, and then larger still with the first paragraph. The rest of the page's content should buttress the argument.

#7: Remember Your Link and Image Tags

Search engines only look at code; they can’t ‘see’ your website, but they are very good at inferring from certain clues. Make sure you’re making use of the alt and title tags with your images and links because are the clues that help search engines make a logical inference about your site.

In addition, these tags are used by people with disabilities and restrictions so it makes good sense to use them as much as possible.

Final Thoughts

In order to be searchable, you need to be accessible to search engines. So, make sure that you’re doing the above, and also stay abreast of WordPress SEO best practices, as they are always evolving. Check out the newest tips as they come out and look back here for updates as things change.