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SEO Checklist For Any WordPress Website
Hamilton WordPress Meetup - May 13, 2021
Natasha Burtenshaw-deVries
@natasha_bd
natashabd.ca
Hello!
Natasha Burtenshaw-deVries
@natasha_bd
• Live in Hamilton, ON
• SEO Strategist at Flywheel Digital
in Vancouver, BC
• First started with WordPress a
decade ago, “active” user for
about 5 years
Does SEO Make You Feel Like This?
...Or This?
How the SEO “Experts” Want You to Feel
How I Want You to Feel
Who is This For?
• Created with novice/intermediate WordPress users in mind
• People who are paying someone to do their SEO and want
to understand it better
But really, this is for everyone running a website or doing SEO,
because you’d be amazed at how many sites SUCK at the
fundamentals of SEO and what a difference implementing
some basics can make.
SEO In a Nutshell
Usability
● Can be easily
crawled by
Googlebot
● Can be easily used
by humans on a
mobile device
SEO
Relevancy
● Does it talk about
things people are
searching for
● Does it provide
useful, valuable
content
Trust
● Is there proof the
site is legitimate
● Does the site have
links from
trustworthy sites
pointing to it
Your First Assignments
1. Install an SEO plugin
a. RankMath or Yoast SEO
1. Track Your Progress
a. Google Search Console
b. Google Analytics
Usability #1: Can Your Site Be Crawled
and Indexed?
Everything else is useless otherwise.
Usability #1: Can Your Site Be Crawled
and Indexed?
Is My Site Indexed? How to Double Check*:
• Search for site:yourdomain.com
• Check Google Search Console
*90+% of the time the answer is yes, even if you’re not getting
much organic traffic. But, exceptions and mistakes do happen.
Usability #1: Can Your Site Be Crawled
and Indexed?
What to do if your site ISN’T indexed (or very few pages
are):
1. Check your WordPress settings
2. Check your SEO plugin settings
3. Check your robots.txt file
4. Create a sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console
With the exception of setting a site to noindex/preventing it
from being crawled while it’s still in development, if you don’t
know what you’re doing here, DON’T PLAY AROUND WITH
THIS STUFF.
Usability #2: Is Your Site Mobile-
Friendly?
• Not just responsive but truly usable on screens
of all sizes
• Google has used mobile-first indexing for a
while now, and is moving to mobile-only
Is My Site Mobile-Friendly?
1. GET OUT YOUR PHONE AND ACTUALLY
CHECK
a. Can also use Chrome Developer Tools
2. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test
Ultimately need to use both methods to check as
what’s mobile-friendly to a human isn’t always
mobile-friendly to Google.
Usability #3: Is Your Site Fast?
• Site speed = important, but ultimately a tie breaker ranking
factor
• Core Web Vitals = not just the time your site loads in but
how it loads and how fast it becomes interactive
• Regardless, better site speed = lower bounce rates and
higher conversion rates
Usability #3: Is Your Site Fast?
How To Make Your Site Faster:
1. Properly size and compress your images
a. Manually with a site like tinypng.com
b. Image optimization plugins like Smush.it
or ShortPixel
c. Use JPEGs — please stop uploading
PNGs to the internet
2. Remove unnecessary plugins
3. Install a speed optimization plugin like WP
Fastest Cache, W3 Total Cache,
Autoptimize, WP Rocket (Paid), NitroPack
(Freemium)
4. Get a faster host
February 2021 WP HamOnt Meetup:
https://wphamont.ca/february-2021-need-for-
speed/
Usability #4: Is Your Site Easy to Understand?
• Use HTML for text as much as possible
• Translation: Don’t do fancy stuff unless it’s necessary
• Use headings
• 1 H1 tag per page
• Stick to an ascending header structure when you can
• Actually use headings not just bolded text or other in-line
styling
• Use ordered and unordered lists where appropriate
• Add alt text to images
DO THIS TEST: If you strip all of the images, branding and
other visual elements from your site, would a stranger still
know what it’s about?
Usability #4: Is Your Site Easy to Understand?
Relevancy #1: Are You Talking About Things That
People Are Actually Searching For?
• Use the terms people are actually searching for: doesn’t always
match up with how you label and talk about things
• Not all content is a good fit for organic search — may be best to
reach people through social media, online communities etc.
Free Keyword Research Tools:
• Google Ads Keyword Planner
• Google Trends
• Auto-complete and search suggestions
• Keyword Surfer Chrome Extension
• Answer The Public
• Keyword Sheeter
• Your competitors
• Free trials of paid tools🙃
Relevancy #2: Do You Have a Blog?
• Helps you reach new audiences
through informational and non-
branded search queries
• Ranking for products and services
is nice but what about the people
who don’t know you exist? Or who
don’t even know what the solution
to their problem is?
• Establishes topical relevance
• What is your site about, what are
your areas of expertise
• Help your site get natural, inbound
links to boost your authority
Relevancy #2: Do You Have a Blog?
• Write about questions that readers are asking
• Choose topics that address different stages of the
marketing funnel
• Write about relevant or trending topics related to your
website or what your audience cares about
• Consider the topic cluster approach
https://blog.hubspot.com/news-trends/topic-clusters-seo
• It depends!
• Quality and comprehensiveness > quantity
• The average blog post length is 1,050 words (Source: Orbit
Media)
• Moz Whiteboard Friday – Content Comprehensiveness
https://moz.com/blog/content-comprehensiveness
• My personal opinion? Never less than 500, aim for 750-1500
What’s the Best Length for a
Blog?
Trust #1: Do You Look Legit?
• About Page
• Author bios for blog posts
• Links to social media
profiles, media coverage
• Phone number? Address?
• Embed a Google Map of
your location if you have one
• Badges from industry or
rating websites
• Testimonials
Trust #2: Have You Filled Out the Knowledge
Graph Info
• Google’s understanding of the internet
is increasingly build around entities,
which are represented in the knowledge
graph
• Even if you don’t have one (probably all
of you here tonight?) you still want to
provide that info to Google to help them
understand your site
• In your SEO plugin, note whether you
are a person or organization, provide a
photo/logo, and provide all of your
social media profile URLs
Trust #3: Are There Links Pointing to Your Site?
• Links = a vote for popularity for your site
• Pretend you’re in high school again — you want to be seen
as popular
How to Get Links:
• Social media
• Media coverage
• Business directories
• Partner websites
• Speaking or sponsorship opportunities
• People using your site as a resource and linking to it
Ahrefs Free Website Checker: https://ahrefs.com/website-checker
Remember — Don’t Over Complicate It
Usability
● Can be easily
crawled by
Googlebot
● Can be easily used
by humans on a
mobile device
SEO
Relevancy
● Does it talk about
things people are
searching for
● Does it provide
useful, valuable
content
Trust
● Is there proof the
site is legitimate
● Does the site have
links from
trustworthy sites
pointing to it
Questions?

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SEO Checklist For Any WordPress Website

  • 1. SEO Checklist For Any WordPress Website Hamilton WordPress Meetup - May 13, 2021 Natasha Burtenshaw-deVries @natasha_bd natashabd.ca
  • 2. Hello! Natasha Burtenshaw-deVries @natasha_bd • Live in Hamilton, ON • SEO Strategist at Flywheel Digital in Vancouver, BC • First started with WordPress a decade ago, “active” user for about 5 years
  • 3. Does SEO Make You Feel Like This?
  • 5. How the SEO “Experts” Want You to Feel
  • 6. How I Want You to Feel
  • 7. Who is This For? • Created with novice/intermediate WordPress users in mind • People who are paying someone to do their SEO and want to understand it better But really, this is for everyone running a website or doing SEO, because you’d be amazed at how many sites SUCK at the fundamentals of SEO and what a difference implementing some basics can make.
  • 8. SEO In a Nutshell Usability ● Can be easily crawled by Googlebot ● Can be easily used by humans on a mobile device SEO Relevancy ● Does it talk about things people are searching for ● Does it provide useful, valuable content Trust ● Is there proof the site is legitimate ● Does the site have links from trustworthy sites pointing to it
  • 9. Your First Assignments 1. Install an SEO plugin a. RankMath or Yoast SEO 1. Track Your Progress a. Google Search Console b. Google Analytics
  • 10. Usability #1: Can Your Site Be Crawled and Indexed? Everything else is useless otherwise.
  • 11. Usability #1: Can Your Site Be Crawled and Indexed? Is My Site Indexed? How to Double Check*: • Search for site:yourdomain.com • Check Google Search Console *90+% of the time the answer is yes, even if you’re not getting much organic traffic. But, exceptions and mistakes do happen.
  • 12. Usability #1: Can Your Site Be Crawled and Indexed? What to do if your site ISN’T indexed (or very few pages are): 1. Check your WordPress settings 2. Check your SEO plugin settings 3. Check your robots.txt file 4. Create a sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console With the exception of setting a site to noindex/preventing it from being crawled while it’s still in development, if you don’t know what you’re doing here, DON’T PLAY AROUND WITH THIS STUFF.
  • 13. Usability #2: Is Your Site Mobile- Friendly? • Not just responsive but truly usable on screens of all sizes • Google has used mobile-first indexing for a while now, and is moving to mobile-only Is My Site Mobile-Friendly? 1. GET OUT YOUR PHONE AND ACTUALLY CHECK a. Can also use Chrome Developer Tools 2. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Ultimately need to use both methods to check as what’s mobile-friendly to a human isn’t always mobile-friendly to Google.
  • 14. Usability #3: Is Your Site Fast? • Site speed = important, but ultimately a tie breaker ranking factor • Core Web Vitals = not just the time your site loads in but how it loads and how fast it becomes interactive • Regardless, better site speed = lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates
  • 15. Usability #3: Is Your Site Fast? How To Make Your Site Faster: 1. Properly size and compress your images a. Manually with a site like tinypng.com b. Image optimization plugins like Smush.it or ShortPixel c. Use JPEGs — please stop uploading PNGs to the internet 2. Remove unnecessary plugins 3. Install a speed optimization plugin like WP Fastest Cache, W3 Total Cache, Autoptimize, WP Rocket (Paid), NitroPack (Freemium) 4. Get a faster host February 2021 WP HamOnt Meetup: https://wphamont.ca/february-2021-need-for- speed/
  • 16. Usability #4: Is Your Site Easy to Understand? • Use HTML for text as much as possible • Translation: Don’t do fancy stuff unless it’s necessary • Use headings • 1 H1 tag per page • Stick to an ascending header structure when you can • Actually use headings not just bolded text or other in-line styling • Use ordered and unordered lists where appropriate • Add alt text to images DO THIS TEST: If you strip all of the images, branding and other visual elements from your site, would a stranger still know what it’s about?
  • 17. Usability #4: Is Your Site Easy to Understand?
  • 18. Relevancy #1: Are You Talking About Things That People Are Actually Searching For? • Use the terms people are actually searching for: doesn’t always match up with how you label and talk about things • Not all content is a good fit for organic search — may be best to reach people through social media, online communities etc. Free Keyword Research Tools: • Google Ads Keyword Planner • Google Trends • Auto-complete and search suggestions • Keyword Surfer Chrome Extension • Answer The Public • Keyword Sheeter • Your competitors • Free trials of paid tools🙃
  • 19. Relevancy #2: Do You Have a Blog? • Helps you reach new audiences through informational and non- branded search queries • Ranking for products and services is nice but what about the people who don’t know you exist? Or who don’t even know what the solution to their problem is? • Establishes topical relevance • What is your site about, what are your areas of expertise • Help your site get natural, inbound links to boost your authority
  • 20. Relevancy #2: Do You Have a Blog? • Write about questions that readers are asking • Choose topics that address different stages of the marketing funnel • Write about relevant or trending topics related to your website or what your audience cares about • Consider the topic cluster approach https://blog.hubspot.com/news-trends/topic-clusters-seo
  • 21. • It depends! • Quality and comprehensiveness > quantity • The average blog post length is 1,050 words (Source: Orbit Media) • Moz Whiteboard Friday – Content Comprehensiveness https://moz.com/blog/content-comprehensiveness • My personal opinion? Never less than 500, aim for 750-1500 What’s the Best Length for a Blog?
  • 22. Trust #1: Do You Look Legit? • About Page • Author bios for blog posts • Links to social media profiles, media coverage • Phone number? Address? • Embed a Google Map of your location if you have one • Badges from industry or rating websites • Testimonials
  • 23. Trust #2: Have You Filled Out the Knowledge Graph Info • Google’s understanding of the internet is increasingly build around entities, which are represented in the knowledge graph • Even if you don’t have one (probably all of you here tonight?) you still want to provide that info to Google to help them understand your site • In your SEO plugin, note whether you are a person or organization, provide a photo/logo, and provide all of your social media profile URLs
  • 24. Trust #3: Are There Links Pointing to Your Site? • Links = a vote for popularity for your site • Pretend you’re in high school again — you want to be seen as popular How to Get Links: • Social media • Media coverage • Business directories • Partner websites • Speaking or sponsorship opportunities • People using your site as a resource and linking to it Ahrefs Free Website Checker: https://ahrefs.com/website-checker
  • 25. Remember — Don’t Over Complicate It Usability ● Can be easily crawled by Googlebot ● Can be easily used by humans on a mobile device SEO Relevancy ● Does it talk about things people are searching for ● Does it provide useful, valuable content Trust ● Is there proof the site is legitimate ● Does the site have links from trustworthy sites pointing to it