DIY SEO for your Small Business WordPress Site

screenhunter 10 oct 15 1832.thumbnail DIY SEO for your Small Business Wordpress SiteNever before has web publishing become so accessible to the population at large, thanks to the invention of WordPress. WordPress is an open source software program that powers millions of blogs and websites, and growing. With WordPress, not only is it possible to publish content without having to write a single line of html, what’s even better is that WordPress was built to be search engine friendly. The truth is, Google love WordPress, which is a very compelling reason to use WordPress to power your website. Here’s why:

1) If you consider that 94% of shoppers conduct research online before buying anything, and 61% of shoppers always or frequently use search engines to do product research, that is a very strong reason to make sure your website shows up in search engines, and, in particular, ranks well for your relevant keywords. The practice of ensuring your website is highly visible in search engines is called search engine optimization (SEO).

2) How your website is coded strongly impacts your search engine visibility. This rule will apply to you, whether you decide to have a static, hand-coded HTML site, or decide to go with a particular content management system (CMS).

3) According to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, WordPress solves 80-90% of the mechanics of SEO. WordPress sites perform well in search engines due to several factors. These include a search engine friendly code structure, automatic interlinking of categories and tags accross the site, built in Ping-o-matic feature that automatically notifies multiple services and search engines about updates to weblog content, RSS feed capability, trackbacks, and commenting, which enables user generated content.

However, WordPress is not completely search engine friendly out of the box. There are additional, important SEO tweaks you should do to make your WordPress site even more optimized for search engines.

Here are 7 straightforward DIY SEO tips for your WordPress site:

1) Do your keyword research in advance. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the industry relevant keywords you want your site to rank for, and write your blog posts with your keywords in mind. Make sure your keywords appear in all the most important places in your blog post or page – such as your page title, headers, bulleted and numbered lists, in bold or italics, and in your meta description.

2) Make your permalinks keyword rich. The default permalink structure is ?p= , however, by changing it to /post-name/ or /category/post-name/ you can make sure you get your keywords into your post URLs as well.

3) Make your categories are well aligned with industry related keywords.  By creating an information architecture that organizes posts into keyword rich categories related to your specific niche, you create a hierarchy of meaning within your site that enables search engine spiders to better index and assign relevancy to your content. WordPress 3.0 also has a new user interface that helps you manage your navigation menus. Now you can easily create category based navigation in your wordpress site, which makes it easier for users and search engine spiders to browse your content.

If you use tags, makes sure your tags and categories do not overlap ie. do not use the same tag name as a category name as this will create duplicate pages.

4) Get the All In One SEO plugin, which allows you to optimize your page title tags and have them be distinct from your blog post title (WordPress by default makes your blog post title the default page title); optimize your meta descriptions, and more. One important feature of All In One SEO is that it allows you to change your page title structure to place the blog name at the end of the title, rather than at the beginning, which is the default. This is important because you want each title to be unique, with the target keyword as far over to the left as possible, where it will be more visible.

5) Get SEO Friendly Images, which can automatically add the title of the post and or the image name to the any image’s alt and title tag, if you don’t feel like create keyword-rich titles and alt tags for each and every one. Do make sure you are in the habit of creating keyword-rich image file names, so you can get some extra traffic from image search engines.

6) Get the Google XML Sitemaps plugin, which generates a special XML sitemap that helps search engines better index your blog, as it makes it easier for crawlers to see the complete structure of your blog and retrieve it more efficiently. It also notifies all major search engines every time you update your content.

7) Use an SEO friendly WordPress theme. Many WordPress themes, both free and premium, are coded poorly. Make sure the theme that you choose is not only attractive to your audience, but also well coded for search engines. What makes an SEO friendly WordPress theme? Clean semantic markup, and minimal code bloat. Good content ordering, so that your content appears before the side bar, no matter what layout. Some themes I like include the Thesis theme, as well as the Business Turnkey and Green Stimulus small business themes.

The art of WordPress SEO can get a lot more technical than this, however, these 7 tips are steps you can take today to make your WordPress site more search engine friendly.

This is a guest post by Lorna Li, a marketing expert for a global CRM company by day, and green business enthusiast by night. Visit her green marketing blog for tips on social enterprise and green business marketing.