WP + SEO: Tips, Tricks & How To’s Alex Wolk President INSITE ADVICE
Introduction• I founded INSITE ADVICE 10 years ago on the principles of helping clients manage their own web sites and market to their customers over the internet. Over the years we have solved problems for hundreds of clients, including Word Wide Technology, Cardinal Glennon and Mary Engelbreit, to name a few.• Our company initially used its own custom developed CMS called Sprout to handle those needs. As WordPress evolved, especially after the extended CMS capabilities in WP 3, it became the ideal solution to migrate to. INSITE ADVICE services ﬁt perfectly in the WP ecosystem, including custom theming, plugin development, SEO and social media.• My growing passion is internet marketing, and Ill show you why WordPress is hands down the most robust SEO-friendly platform available. You can follow me at @insiteadvice and http:// www.insiteadvice.com.
I also practice what I preach for SEO :) In fact I spend so much of my time doing SEO I haven’t spent much time recently presenting it, so please bear with me :)
Overview• Wordpress is far and away the best platform for SEO. Just out of the box, its well designed structure, advanced blogging and pinging capabilities and permalinks option make it a winner.• But with the help of some free plugins, it can help take your campaign to the next level.• Well talk in detail about how to master your on-page optimization with Wordpress using these tools, but ﬁrst, we need to take a step back and review the ﬁrst and often overlooked step of SEO, keyword research.
• GOOD KEYWORD RESEARCH is ESSENTIAL to a successful SEO campaign. Otherwise, Youre wasting your time and money optimizing for the wrong keywords.• Ive seen countless examples of people going-with-their-gut arbitrarily picking keywords instead of doing the research. They work and work for months to get terms to the ﬁrst page in Google, and then are disappointed with both the amount and quality of trafﬁc that comes from it.
• THE 3 BIGGEST MISTAKES I SEE• 1. Picking a term you think people search on but really dont ‘st. louis lawyers’ gets just over 100 searches a month, but st. louis personal injury lawyer gets almost 500.• 2. Optimizing for a term that gets searches but not qualiﬁed trafﬁc free legal advice is highly competitive and gets over 18,000 searches a month, but are these visitors you even want?• 3. Using broad match" search results when estimating trafﬁc. We’ll talk about this in more detail now..
• Broad, Phrase and Exact Match in Search Stats In the screenshot below, I have asked Google AdWords Keyword Tool for stats on “unusual christmas gifts” using all 3 match types: Broad, “Phrase”, and [Exact].
• But it’s giving 3 different numbers. Which is right? It depends what you’re asking for.• unusual christmas gifts (without punctuation) is showing the Broad match results, i.e. “how many people search for all of these words, but not necessarily in that order, and possibly among other words too”• “unusual christmas gifts” (inside quotes) is showing the Phrase match results, i.e. “how many people search for those words in that exact order, but with possibly other words/phrases before and after”• [unusual christmas gifts] (inside square brackets) gives Exact match results, i.e. “how many search for those words exactly in that order, and no other words around it”
How to Understand the Differences You’ll always get more results for Broad match over Phrase and Exact, and you’ll always get more results for Phrase than you do for Exact. (Of course, if you type in a single-word query, the numbers for Broad and Phrase will be the same.)• So what’s most useful when it comes to predicting trafﬁc? For phrases of at least 2 words, I generally use Exact match type, which I ﬁnd gives the best conservation indication. • Estimating conservatively also means I’ll often be pleasantly surprised from trafﬁc results. That’s because we’ll often rank and get bonus trafﬁc from related phrase and broad matches to those terms. If I always used broad match I would set unreasonable expectations and be disappointed with the results.
Picking good keywords and avoiding the bad keywords What makes a good keyword good, and what makes a bad keyword bad? There are a few criteria that we can use to ﬁnd good keywords, these include:• Low competition. What deﬁnes too much competition? There are no hard and fast rules. But using the Competition checker in Trafﬁc Travis (download at trafﬁctravis.com) will give you a good idea of whether a keyword has too much competition or not. Trafﬁc Travis uses multiple factors to calculate competition. And provides a difﬁculty rating on a scale from very easy to very difﬁcult. In this example (found using the Trafﬁc Travis Competition checker - SEO , Competition) you can see that dog training is going to be very difﬁcult to rank for, while problems with training dog will be much easier.• High search volume. There is no point ranking highly for a keyword if nobody is searching for it. Generally the higher the search volume the better. However, this needs to be balanced with the level of competition. A good minimum to aim for is 200 global exact searches per month • Relevant to the website topic. Most websites are based around a theme or niche. You want the keywords you are building your site around to be relevant to the topic. For example, if your website is about dog training, then keywords about training your hamster are going to be of little use.• Likely to convert. There is a big difference between browsers and buyers. You want keywords that attract buyers (for higher conversion rates) rather than those who are simply browsing for free information - even though the search volume for buyer keywords is usually much lower. An example of a browsing keyword would be free dog training tips compared to the buyer keyword best dog training book.• Competitive costs per click (CPC) - If using PPC model. If you are going to be marketing your website using pay-per-click advertising like Google Adwords then you want keywords that wont cost you a fortune to build an ad campaign around. If your site sells a $30 product, then its going to be hard to make money if you are paying $5 a click.
SHORTCUT TO FINDING THE BEST KEYWORDS You may have heard what we just covered before, but here is where we change directions. Most of the other keyword presentations continue like this:• They will tell you to the Google Trafﬁc Estimator we just showed and/or WordStream (a similar tool) to put in some starter keywords and have them discover the best variations. There is always a place for these tools and we do use them, but they miss an essential point; they are only going to show you the estimated search volume for keywords, not insight into which keywords will get results in your industry.• Next, SEO experts often recommend buying Adwords ads around some of those broad search terms, like website design and measuring the exact keywords trafﬁc coming to your site over a couple months time. While this can have some success, it can be very time consuming and EXPENSIVE because you are paying to test.
SHORTCUT TO FINDING THE BEST KEYWORDS ENTER SEMRUSH.comSEMRUSH is a freemium tool that estimates not only search volumes for keywordsand their related siblings (similar to Google Keyword Tool), but gives you the actualkeywords your COMPETITORS are currently getting trafﬁc from.This is a HUGE time saver because for most of us, it can be assumed there is at leastone competitor that is running a successful SEO campaign. You can often ﬁnd themby entering a general search term in your niche and grabbing the top organic result.
SHORTCUT TO FINDING THE BEST KEYWORDSFor the purposes of the presentation moving forward, we are getting into thepinball business :) Here is our machine at work!So let’s grab that ﬁrst organic google result, www.bmigaming.com, and plug thatinto SEMRUSH
SHORTCUT TO FINDING THE BEST KEYWORDSThis is a great candidate because as you see here they are getting trafﬁc from (and likely ranking for) 4,711keywords and getting over 23,000 visits a month from just their top 20 keywords!This tells me they know what they are doing and their model gives great insight into this entire industry.Why try to reinvent the wheel when youll never even get close to getting real data like this anyway :)
SHORTCUT TO FINDING THE BEST KEYWORDS Now I did say SEMRUSH is freemium because they will give you the top 10 search terms only for free. This is a good start but if we want the 4k plus results, youll have to upgrade at $69.95 a month. If you are serious about SEO, this is a small price to pay. If you are interested, they have a 7 day trial and I would appreciate it if you signed up through our afﬁliate link at http://insiteadvice.com/ semrush.However, to all the attendees that signup on our site at http://insiteadvice.com/wordcamp I will provide you a full csv export of any competitor url they provide :)Note we are just using one site in this example for the purposes of time, but its agood idea to run a few competitors and look for keyword trends across your entireindustry.
SHORTCUT TO FINDING THE BEST KEYWORDS Here is a snapshot of the csv export for bmigaming.com. Youll see that the default sort is by the estimated percentage of trafﬁc that keyword is bringing to their site. Ill often sort by search volume as well to undercover interesting trends.
SHORTCUT TO FINDING THE BEST KEYWORDSFor instance, pinball machines brings the lions share of their trafﬁc (over 16% ofsearch trafﬁc), and its no surprise they are ranked #1 for that term.However, youll notice arcade games gets signiﬁcantly more search volume, butsince they are only ranked 18th they are getting a very small part of the pie.Even though we are only selling pinball machines, If I were bmis SEO company thiswould be a great keyword to target because its currently the 9th biggest word interms of getting trafﬁc to their site and they are ranked at the bottom of the 2nd page,where almost no one goes.Even jumping them up to the bottom of the ﬁrst page (position 10) would see aHUGE increase in potential trafﬁc.
SHORTCUT TO FINDING THE BEST KEYWORDSFrom this generalized pie chart youll see that the entirely of 2nd page results only gets about 10% of total trafﬁcon average, and position 18 (which they rank for ‘arcade machines’) would likely be lower than 0.3% of totaltrafﬁc for that keyword. Bumping them to just position 10 could increase their trafﬁc on that keyword by1000%!I will typically go through this type of evaluation and narrow down until I can get to say 20-30 keywords thatare in my target market, have good trafﬁc results and are terms my competitors are capitalizing on.
SHORTCUT TO FINDING THE BEST KEYWORDS That takes us to the next step of keyword evaluation, which is determining if your site can actually rank for these keywords within your budget and time restraints. There are a couple tools to do this. The best FREE tool out there is at trafﬁctravis.com, which we showed earlier. However, the BEST tool to ﬁnd relative keyword difﬁculty is the Keyword Tool fromSEOMOZ.org. Its just more precise and in depth, and is part of the best collection of SEOtools out there, including great educational resources. They have a free 30 day trial and ifyou contact me I think I can get you an extended trial. I would encourage everyone to takeit for a spin for a month and cancel as you have nothing to lose. Ill be using SEOMOZ forthe next example.
SHORTCUT TO FINDING THE BEST KEYWORDS What I generally do ﬁrst is run the difﬁculty tool for one of the crown-jewel keywords (like ‘pinball machines’) just to see the competition level at the top of the heap in the industry.This gives me a difﬁculty score of 47% (from 1 to 100) and calls it moderately competitive. These percentagestake on almost an exponential feel as anything generally above 50% is considered highly competitive.
SHORTCUT TO FINDING THE BEST KEYWORDSThis is a pleasant surprise to me (at least as an SEO professional) because I have a trackrecord of getting high placements for myself and clients on keywords far more difﬁcult.Heck, even just the local based search of St. Louis Web Design which we rank well for isat a 56% difﬁculty. And our keyword pinball machines is likely one of the hardest termsin that niche to rank for.Now while that score gives a nice overview, we need to go further into the competitivenumbers the keyword tool will also show.
SHORTCUT TO FINDING THE BEST KEYWORDSLets walk through these numbers highlighting the differences between Page and Domain metrics. These metrics are primarilylooking at link-building, which is an important part of SEO we aren’t covering today. But it’s still important to understand thesenumbers to see the competition level.So while ranking for this term isnt a walk in the park, I think its doable (over time of course) within my time/budget. I’ll repeatthis process with the rest of the keywords, ranking each using a formula involving the highest searched terms that bring themost qualiﬁed trafﬁc and have the least competition.
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSHere is our site Alexs Pinball Shack at pinballshack.insiteadvice.net. It’s just a default wordpress installation with aproducts landing page containing content I grabbed from wikipedia.
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESS Pinball is a type of arcade game, usually coin-operated, in which points are scored by a player manipulating one or more steel balls on a play ﬁeld inside a glass-covered cabinet called a pinball machine. The primary objective of the game is to score as many points as possible. Points are earned when the ball strikes different targets on the play ﬁeld. A drain is situated at the bottom of the play ﬁeld protected by player-controlled plastic bats, called ﬂippers. A game ends after all the balls fall into the drain. Secondary objectives are to maximize the time spent playing (by earning "extra balls" and keeping the ball in play as long as possible) and to earn free games (known as "replays").History of pinballPre-modern: Development of outdoor and tabletop ball gamesThe origins of pinball are intertwined with the history of many other games. Games played outdoors by rolling balls or stones on a grass course, such as bocce or bowls, eventually evolved intovarious local ground billiards games played by hitting the balls with sticks and propelling them at targets, often around obstacles. Croquet, golf and paille-maille eventually derived fromground billiards variants.The evolving and specializing outdoor games ﬁnally led to indoor versions that could be played on a table, such as billiards, or on the ﬂoor of a pub, like bowling and shufﬂeboard. The tabletopversions of these games became the ancestors of modern pinball.Late 1700s: Spring launcher inventedBillard Japonais, Southern Germany/Alsace ca. 1750–70. It already has a spring mechanism to propel the ball, 100 years prior to Montague Redgraves patent.In France, during the long 1643–1715 reign of Louis XIV, billiard tables were narrowed, with wooden pins or skittles at one end of the table, and players would shoot balls with a stick or cuefrom the other end, in a game inspired as much by bowling as billiards. Pins took too long to reset when knocked down, so they were eventually ﬁxed to the table, and holes in the bed of thetable became the targets. Players could ricochet balls off the pins to achieve the harder scorable holes. A standardized version of the game eventually became known as bagatelle.Somewhere between the 1750s and 1770s, the bagatelle variant billard Japonais Japanese billiards was invented (in Western Europe, despite the name), which used thin metal pins andreplaced the cue at the players end of the table with a coiled spring and a plunger. The player shot balls up the inclined playﬁeld toward the scoring targets using this plunger, a device thatremains in use in pinball to this day, and the game was also directly ancestral to pachinko.1869: Spring launchers become mainstreamIn 1869, British inventor Montague Redgrave settled in the US and manufactured bagatelle tables in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1871 Redgrave was granted US Patent #115,357 for his"Improvements in Bagatelle",, another name for the spring launcher that was ﬁrst introduced in in billard Japonais. The game also shrank in size to ﬁt atop a bar or counter. The balls becamemarbles and the wickets became small metal pins. Redgraves popularization of the spring launcher and innovations in game design are acknowledged as the birth of pinball in its modern form.1931: Coin-operation introduced...
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSNow that we have our ﬁrst keyword, pinball machines, the next step is to see how well my on-page content is currentlygraded for it. Again, there are some free tools out there, but the best in my opinion is the On-Page report card from
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSA C isnt actually too bad for literally copying and pasting content. That just shows the SEO friendliness and power of wordpress right out of the box!
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSEnter YOAST Wordpress SEO PluginThe Yoast SEO Plugin is the easiest-to-use and most comprehensive SEO plugin available for Wordpress. It simpliﬁesonce difﬁcult on page SEO tasks like creating XML site maps, optimizing page titles and urls for the proper keywords,and much more...
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESS First let’s install and activate the Yoast SEO Plugin
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSHere is the initial screen youll see after activating and clicking off a popup offer banner Wow, look at that! Right out of the gate its telling you to update your permalink structure and gives you a button to Fix it right there.
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESS Youll see the permalink structure reﬂected in our edit page screen as well
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSMost of the default settings are ﬁne to just leave alone and let them do their magic! But there are a few quick tweaks wecan make.You need to think about what you want your site to show up as, www.example.com or simply example.com. Make surethat in your general settings, under Settings → General, the version you want to show up is properly reﬂected: You will also want to set this correctly in Google Webmaster Tools. Make sure to set up your site with Google Webmaster Tools and set the preferred domain, you can ﬁnd this setting under Settings → Preferred domain:
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSYou will probably want to check this in the general settings to avoid any incompatibilities with existing WP plugins
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESS XML Sitemaps The Sitemaps protocol allows a webmaster to inform search engines about URLs on a website that are available forcrawling. A Sitemap is an XML ﬁle that lists the URLs for a site. It allows webmasters to include additionalinformation about each URL: when it was last updated, how often it changes, and how important it is in relation toother URLs in the site. This allows search engines to crawl the site more intelligently.Yoast takes care of all this automatically! If you are regularly updating your site content (which you should forgood SEO), this is an invaluable tool to alert search engines to your new content
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSNow just a couple last checks on the permalink settings page and we are good to go. Its nice to strip /category/ out as this has no seo beneﬁt and pushes your url keywords further down the url string.
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSThere are general title templates that you can set for different types of content types across your site. For our example, we can leave the defaults here as well, but it just shows you the level of control Yoast offers.
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSNow lets use Yoast to further optimize our Product landing page. Youll immediately notice a settings bar in everypage and post. The plugin allows you to write meta titles and descriptions for all your category, tag and customtaxonomy archives, giving you the option to further optimize individual pages.
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSYou can even set a focus keyword in the page settings in yoast and it gives you a similar on-page analysis toseomoz! It checks, for instance, if you have images in your post and whether they have an alt tag containing the focuskeyword for that post. It also checks whether your posts are long enough, if youve written a meta description and ifthat meta description contains your focus keyword, if youve used any subheadings within your post, etc. etc.
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESS Lets try to knock out the red and orange ﬂags ﬁrst as these are critical.
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESS Meta Description
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSPage title and URL, this also will update the SEO title preview in the Yoast ﬁeld, but that ﬁeld also allows you to overwrite it in Yoast if needed.
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESS Article Heading and first paragraph reference
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESS ATL Tags for our Images
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSMaximizing keyword density of page content to around 1-2% (This involves either adding more pinball machines or removing othercontent to get that ratio). I will just add machines to some of the references to pinball for this exercise Now, DRUM ROLL please, let’s take a look at our results
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSMUCH BETTER! And while not completely necessary, lets get a second validation with SEOMOZ.
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESS WELL DONE! We got an A!
OPTIMIZING KEYWORDS WITH WORDPRESSWe have covered the main Yoast SEO Plugin, but they also now have complementary modules to help optimize otherimportant seo aspects, such as:News SEO - The free News SEO module for the WordPress SEO plugin creates XML News Sitemaps for your WordPressblog, including images. It’s based on the latest standards for XML News sitemaps and should allow your WordPress site toshow up in Google NewsVideo SEO (one time $89 fee)- If you use video’s on your site, in your posts or pages, you don’t want the search results forthose pages to look bland like any other result, do you? No, you want them to be video results, so they catch the attention ofthe searcher more, rank better and thus get you more visitors! This is exactly what the Video SEO for WordPress plugin doesfor your embedded video’s.Local SEO Module coming soon!The point is the Yoast plugin is an already great and growing platform to hitch your WP SEO trailer to, so to speak :)
CONCLUSIONWeve found the right keyword(s) for our campaign and used the power of WordPress and the Yoast SEO Plugin to quicklymaximize our on page grade for our site and landing page. Assuming you repeat this process for multiple keywords andcreate optimized landing pages for each of them, you can see nice ranking beneﬁts for lower competition terms with thesemethods alone.As an added bonus, these methods can be used help improve your Adwords quality score, resulting in lower CPC and higherpaid placements.However, for a competitive term like pinball machines the SEO process is not complete until we develop an extensive linkbuilding strategy and implement it over time. Social Media is also a rapidly growing factor in the ranking algorithm. Linkbuilding especially requires considerable expertise (it would be hard to cover in a format such as this) and is often bestimplemented with a professional seo agency.
CONCLUSIONWe would love you to visit our website, especially our learning center at http://www.insiteadvice.com/learning-center. Youllﬁnd extensive guides covering everything from SEO fundamentals to copywriting for the web to maximizing social mediatools.And remember, go to http://www.insiteadvice.com/wordcamp to get your free semrush export!
Q&AWe would love you to visit our website, especially our learning center at http://www.insiteadvice.com/learning-center. Youllﬁnd extensive guides covering everything from SEO fundamentals to copywriting for the web to maximizing social mediatools.And remember, go to http://www.insiteadvice.com/wordcamp to get your free semrush export!