25 Essential WordPress SEO Tips for Small Business Websites
Getting Noticed, the Right Way!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential part of any diversified Internet marketing strategy. Without an effective search strategy in place, your brand is less likely to show up in search results. These essential WordPress SEO tips will help you implement a successful SEO strategy on your business website.
The majority of all small business websites use the popular WordPress Content Management System (CMS). WordPress makes it much easier for small business owners to gain a better understanding and control of their SEO. Even novices can use our essential WordPress SEO tips right away.
Our essential WordPress SEO tips follow a step-by-step approach that is easy to understand. Based on actual WordPress sites we designed and built for our clients, these tips also work for other platforms. Some of our suggestions are good practices. For others, you may have to search for the appropriate functionality.
25 Essential WordPress SEO Tips
1 – Do Your Keyword Research
Before you do anything else, you should start with keyword research. Find out how people would search Google for what your business has to offer. Consider using long-tail keywords to give you an added advantage.
The best place to start is the Google Search Console. You can also use an online tool like Soovle to find relevant keywords. Use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to find out how many people search for specific terms.
2 – Plan Your Site Structure and Pages
After identifying the keywords that you want to rank for, you need to plan out the right structure for your site and how you’ll optimize it. That means putting together a plan for the pages that you need to create (or have in place) to rank for the terms that you want to rank for.
The general rule here is to be guided somewhat by your keyword research, but also by common sense. A simple way to look at this is that you need a dedicated page to target the main keywords that you’re targeting.
3 – Select A Keyword Rich Domain
Once you determine what people are looking for, try to get a similar or related web address, also known as your domain. A .Com domain is still the preferred domain extension. Ideally, you want your web address to look like this: www.mygreatbusinessidea.com.
4 – Use WordPress
Yes, you can build your small business website on other platforms. But if you are looking for something that both users and Google love, you should choose WordPress. The range of plugins, general ease of use, and search engine optimization options are clear advantages.
5 – Choose an Adequate WordPress Theme
While that may be tempting, I don’t recommend that you use a free theme for your business website. You will find that you will quickly run into limitations. This fact is especially true for SEO. Instead, it would help if you used a modular framework that will give you more options. Our team uses both Divi and GeneratePress to build websites and online stores for our clients. If you want to start using a premium WordPress theme we recommend ThemeForest as a theme and plugin repository.
6 – Stay Up-to-Date
There are many reasons to keep your WordPress website updated. Be sure that you have the latest WordPress install (5.8.2 as of 11/18/2021) and that all of your plugins are the latest available version. The same goes for your theme; make sure that you have properly downloaded and installed the latest available version.
7 – Install and Configure Caching Plugins
Page Speed is important when it comes to Google rankings and user experience. If you are using a service provider such as Cloudways or WPEngine to host your website, you are all set. Optimizing your site for speed is part of their services. Even better, both work extremely well with WP Rocket, one of the best caching plugins by far.
And it is effortless and straightforward to set up. But it is a premium plugin, at $49.00 for a single site. We also recommend W3 Total Cache or Auto Optimize. But be careful when you configure them to avoid any conflicts. Try one setting at a time!
8 – Install and Configure SEO Plugins
Once you confirm that your WordPress theme and plugins are up-to-date, you can install and configure your preferred SEO plugin. I recommend RankMath SEO. The free version is enough to handle the basic SEO functions for most websites. If you have multiple locations or need more advanced functionality the Pro Version starts at $ 59.00 a year.
But you can also use Yoast or All-in-One SEO Pack. Install and activate the plugin. You will be asked to connect it to your Google account if applicable.
9 – Install Google Analytics
Before you install Google Analytics on your website, you need to create a Google Analytics account for your website.
In October 2020, Google launched a new version of its popular analytics tool. Designed to ultimately replace Universal Analytics (UA), their legacy product, the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is now the default system when you create a new Google Analytics account.
For existing UA users, Google recommends that they keep using that product alongside GA4 until this new product is fully developed. Seeing that not all SEO plugins fully support GA4 yet you may want to start with a UA or legacy account. Here is how to create a Universal Analytics account. You can always upgrade to GA4 at a later time.
Once you have created your Google Analytics account you can add it to your website.
Most SEO plugins help you install Google Analytics tracking codes to your site with just a few clicks. Apart from the ease, they also provide you with a stats dashboard right inside your wp-admin dashboard with details like page views, searches, unique referrers to your website.
You can also use a number of WordPress analytics plugins that will help you install the tracking code and keep an eye on your search rankings and performance.
10 – Setup Google Search Console
Google search console (GSC) provides you monitor and maintain your site’s SEO health. It shows you how your site is performing on Google. You get information about:
- Site indexation issues (is your site visible to Google)
- Any penalties you might get from Google including tips on how to avoid it
- Sites are linking to your site
- Mobile usability, AMP and other site issues like schema markup etc.
Here is how to add your WordPress website to the Google Search Console.
11 – Create an XML Sitemap
Be sure to create an XML Sitemap of your business website and upload it to Webmaster Tools. RankMath and Yoast do this for you, but you may also want to install the Google XML Sitemap Plugin and run it as well. Make sure you check your sitemap for any errors or inconsistencies.
12 – Set Permalinks
Make sure to change your Permalinks in your WordPress settings. You always want to use the real post title in your permalinks. You can change your permalinks settings from your WordPress dashboard under the Settings – Permalinks tab.
13 – Find and Fix Basic SEO Issues
While you must find the right keywords for optimizing your site and to structure your site in a way that makes it easy for both search engines and users, you also need to pay attention to SEO issues that could prevent your site from ranking.
The first step to find and fix basic SEO issues is to conduct a comprehensive SEO audit. This will help you find and fix basic technical and on-page SEO issues such as:
- Pages that have been blocked from being indexed
- Broken links
- Slow site speed
- Sitemap errors
- Duplicate content
14 – Create Quality Content
While there are always short-term ways to trick Google, the only way to consistently rank on search engines is quality original content. Remember, you are creating content for your audience, not necessarily yourself. Make sure your content is something your readers will want to pass around.
15 – Keep a Blog
Search engines such as Google, and your target audience, require fresh and relevant content to keep them interested in your business or product brand. The most efficient way to satisfy this requirement is to keep an active blog. Write about topics of interest to your audience, and you will establish yourself as a trusted resource and expert in your field.
16 – Configure Post Excerpts
Long-form blog content is great. Long-form blog content on your blog landing page is not. Be sure to enable post excerpts in your blog. Want more control? Instead, write your custom excerpt and insert it yourself.
17 – Configure Robots.txt
Always disallow search bots and spiders from crawling category and tag pages on your site. You can easily do this by adding two lines of code to your robots.txt file:
18 – Install a Re-Direct Plugin
Sooner or later, it will become necessary to delete a page or post from your business website. But instead of your readers ending on the dreaded “Page Not Found” dump, they should be redirected to a better option. The paid versions of RankMath, Yoast, and Smart Crawl provide this functionality. A plugin such as Redirection is another great option.
19 – Use Images Correctly
For each page or post, you need to use an appropriate image. The image should clearly illustrate the page or post content. Images can include a product, service, location, client, or you can use a purchased stock image if you don’t have one of your own.
Make sure the image is high quality, and write proper Alt Tags and image descriptions. Doing those gives you extra points! Here are some additional tips for creating SEO-friendly images.
20 – Claim and Optimize Applicable Social Channels
Connect your business website to social media pages relevant to your industry or business. At the very least, you should be on Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn is essential for business marketers. Pinterest and Instagram are essential for visually oriented brands. And YouTube and Vimeo are a must for video content.
21 – Promote on Social Media
For every page or post, you create on your business website or blog, be sure to promote it on your social media channels. Social activity is considered to be a key ranking signal. It will not only improve your SEO; it can directly boost site traffic as well.
22 – Submit Your Site to Directories
Submit your business website to open directories in your industry or business, as well as any other directory site with a high Google Page Rank. Not sure where to check page rank? Why not use the Google Page Rank Checker?
Share your business website on quality social bookmarking sites to share your content with a like-minded audience. We are very fond of Reddit, Digg, Medium, and Slashdot. But there are lots of other article submission sites that you may want to check out.
24 – Build Quality Backlinks
All of the above should lead to some solid on-page and on-site results. Keep in mind that this is an ongoing effort, and you will have to keep up. Constantly changing algorithms and directives can be challenging for small business owners. The one thing that provides lasting value is high-quality backlinks. Whenever you have spare time, you should build backlinks to your quality content.
25 – Create Your Google Business Profile
As the final step to driving SEO success as a small business, go ahead and create your Google Business Profile, formerly Google My Business. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s the platform that powers Google’s map listings. And these are visible for almost all small business searches.
As a small business, you simply can’t ignore the visibility that can come from ranking on the map listings. Here is a guide to Google My Business to help you to set up and optimize your profile.
Implementing these Essential WordPress SEO tips
To use our essential WordPress SEO tips, you should have admin-level access to your WordPress business website. For this post, we are mainly evaluating free SEO and other plugins and extensions. In many cases, there are premium or upgrade versions available for a fee. I recommend you start with the free versions first.
If you don’t already have a WordPress business website, you really should get one. The majority of small business websites run on WordPress, and for a good reason. Especially for SEO, you have advantages right out of the box. And additional SEO enhancements can easily be added.
Getting Into the SEO Habit
Once you have your WordPress business website up and running, you can use our essential WordPress SEO tips as a guide. Check off each item on our list that is already part of your overall SEO strategy. Start working on implementing the rest. Much of it is merely getting into the habit of doing things a certain way.
Most of our essential WordPress SEO tips are pretty straightforward. If you already do some or all of your small business digital marketing, you should have no problem implementing them. If you get stuck, many of the extensions and plugins I mention have tutorials that provide additional details.
If you need some more help to get your small business WordPress site and SEO to the next level, check out these WordPress and SEO posts on our blog. We are here to help!
We Help Businesses with WordPress SEO
Here at PixoLabo, we offer a full range of WordPress website consulting and design services for businesses and product brands, including custom web design and development, e-commerce solutions, search engine optimization, and WordPress optimization.
If you are unsure how to improve your search rankings and visibility, or want to learn more about our business website design and redesign services, let’s talk. Our team can help you implement our essential WordPress SEO tips on your business website.
Did You Optimize Your WordPress Site for SEO?
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Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!
By Gregor Saita
Co-Founder / CXO