Search Engine Optimization (SEO) covers a vast spectrum and starts long before popping some keywords into a WP plugin. So I decided to write a 4-piece blog series to shake you up from your keyword tunnel vision. My goal is to show you many more aspects that will either directly or indirectly improve your WP website’s user-friendliness and rankings.
One tip to begin with; replace the word SEO with “being user-friendly.” For most of us, SEO is an abstract word and somehow makes it sound more complicated than it has to be. Also, always keep your experience in mind when improving your website.
- What are the things that get on your nerves when you’re browsing another site?
- What do you expect from another business’s website – be it a multi-national corporation or your favorite blogger?
- Which websites do you keep going back to, and why?
So let’s get to the “ingredients.”
First things first: your domain name does not have to state what you’re doing. It will certainly not have an impact on your rankings in Google & Co. It’s a lot more important to have valuable content that solves your visitor’s problems or questions.
So here a few pointers:
- A shorter domain name is better. It merely makes it easier to remember you.
- If you can, get the .com extension. Because that’s what we all automatically type in without even thinking.
- Domain seniority is favorable for rankings. A domain that’s been around for some time provides a certain kind of confidence and security.
- Don’t worry, though, if your business and, therefore, your domain is new. It also helps to register the domain for more extended periods. Instead of renewing your domain every year, try every 2, 3, 4, or 5 years if you can afford it.
I register all my domains with Namecheap. Find out why!
2. Hosting Provider
Choosing the right hosting provider will set the foundation for your website’s user-friendliness (on-page SEO) with better security and speed. Make sure:
- It’s a reputable company that’s been around for some time.
- The location of their servers is close to your target audience. If not, they should include a free CDN integration to make sure your website’s load time is optimal no matter where your audience is.
- They should provide a Free SSL Certificate (e.g., Let’s Encrypt). Google shows your site as non-secure if you miss an SSL Certificate. It doesn’t look professional or trustworthy, and you may lose a lot of potential visitors, which in turn will impact your rankings.
- They include daily backups.
- A plus is a Power Cacher for an additional speed booster.
GreenGeeks covers all the points I mentioned above and is my go-to hosting provider. I also recommend them to all my clients. You can read my entire list of reasons in my blog post here.
Once you’ve installed WordPress, one of the first choices you’ll have to make is which Theme you want to use. The WP Theme – for lack of better words – provides the framework for your website. It lets you customize the header and footer and the main layout.
There are thousands of themes out there that make it hard to decide. So here my input: Make sure to pick a WP theme that’s not bloated. Keeping it simple: a bloated theme will add many additional tabs to the left-hand side menu of your WordPress dashboard.
If you’ve just installed WordPress, you’ll see (backend dashboard menu): Dashboard, Posts, Media, Pages, Comments, Appearance, Plugins, Users, Tools, and Settings. A bloated Theme would add things like: e.g., Portfolio, Team Members, Clients, Testimonials, Projects, or others.
I ended up choosing Astra after trying a few others because of its simplicity. It also gives you the possibility to turn off the modules you don’t need to make it even lighter. I’m using the pro version, but they also have a free version. Another free theme you can check out is Ocean WP. Both Astra and Ocean WP work very well with Page Builders like Elementor or WordPress’s built-in Gutenberg.
What’s the difference between a Theme and a Page Builder? A theme consists of the header, footer, and outer page frame. In contrast, the page builder is responsible for everything between (the header and footer) or within (the page frame).
4. Legal jibber-jabber (and no, this is not legal advice)
I can almost see the question mark on your forehead. Scroll back to the beginning of this post, and you’ll know that I asked you to exchange the word SEO with user-friendliness. That right there is why I’ve included this part.
I think it’s necessary to have all the requested legal documents available on your website. It is not only a sign of being professional but also showing that you care about your visitors. Because it makes it easier for them to see who’s behind the website, what the site’s owner is doing with their data, the rights they have as a user etc.
In the past, I’ve decided not to purchase products or services of some of the big corporations because they made it so hard to find their legal information. In post-GDPR times that’s a deal-breaker.
As a solopreneur, I understand that most of us can’t afford a lawyer. But that’s where a nifty little WP plugin called Complianz comes into play. It’s one of my favorite plugins because it takes care of so many tedious things for you. It creates:
- Website Disclaimer;
- Dataleak reports, and much more.
5. Bonus Ingredient: WordPress
Google & Co.’s favorite Content Management System (CMS) is WordPress. So by choosing WordPress over the other CMS contenders, you’re off to a slightly better SEO-headstart.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope this has given you some insights and guidance on where to start.
Next, we’ll be working through the security aspects and why it’s a must for your on-page SEO strategy.