Turn Your WordPress Website into a Traffic Driving Machine
Presented at WordCamp Grand Rapids in August of 2014
Did you build it and no one came? If your website isn't bringing in visitors like it should, browse through the slides of my educational session full of action items. In this presentation I walk through the ten top changes you can make to your WordPress website to begin driving traffic and converting visitors.
Turn Your WordPress Website into a Traffic Driving Machine
! I have high hopes on you being the savior of my web dreams.
! I need your complete honesty on how old this website appears.
We will hopefully have a new site designed.
! I don’t know what I need for e-commerce functionality, but I was
hoping you could tell me.
! My budget is $300 and I hope to have something with
functionality similar to Twitter or Facebook.
! I want to build an online store and Facebook type of website
with membership/registration, add to cart, and chat/video chat
features. My budget is $400.
ü Professional Logo – If possible, hire a
professional designer to create a logo for
you. It will be the basis of many other
ü Color – Make sure your website’s color
scheme matches and accentuates your
logo’s color palette. If you purchase a stock
website template, spend the time or money
to create a custom color scheme.
ü Typography – Make sure your website matches the particular style and size of the fonts
(or typography) within your logo. Create branding standards to keep you focused.
ü Images and Videos – Select the right images and videos and not just any stock image you
can locate. Use images that best represent your brand, product or service, and your
ü Favicons - A favicon is a 16 x 16 pixel image that is also known as a shortcut icon.
Favicons help provide branding for the website and support ease of use while reviewing
bookmarks for a particular website or link.
ü Tone of Voice – Each company or individual
has a unique tone of voice. Make sure this is
adequately represented in the website
verbiage and information presented to
ü About Us Page – This page should tell
website visitors who you are and what you
do, while also aligning with the overall style of
the website or blog. It can include a basic
overview, as well as historical information,
testimonials, or success stories.
ü Consistent Website Formatting – Use a
consistent template format for navigation,
headers, text, typography and hyperlinks.
This makes it easy for visitors to navigate
through your website or blog and digest
ü Focused Layout - Use the layout of your site
to highlight the most important content.
Place critical content above the fold and
allow less important content to follow.
ü Organize Content - Make sure content ﬂows
from one block to another without
overwhelming the visitor. Give users a clear
and consistent structure they can follow.
ü Use White Space – Make sure you provide
enough white space throughout the design.
White space not only helps reduce the
cognitive load of visitors, it makes it much
easier for users to segment and digest the
ü Control the Bling – Many website owners
want their website to “pop” or “sparkle” at the
cost of the user experience. Unless your
name is Candy and you are a dancer, limit
ü Bigger is Not Always Better – Don’t ask your web designer to make your logo bigger even if
you desperately want it to leap off the page at visitors. Your focus should be your content
and your message, not a logo that is so large it could leap off the page and eat me.
ü Stay Away From Family – Your uncle’s brother-in-law’s son
is not going to deliver solid coding. I promise! He’ll be
cheap, but having a high school student code your site will
present endless issues.
ü Use a Solid WordPress Theme – Purchase a theme from a
reputable source. Avoid ﬂy night theme shops or stolen
ü Skip Themes With Tons of Options - Avoid bloated themes
with oodles and oodles of options. It’s rough on
performance and makes customizations painful.
ü Use HTML5 and Schema – HTML5 is the new coding
standard for websites, while schema helps search engines
better understand your website. Ensure your website
supports and uses both of these and it will enhance your
website’s overall all SEO value.
ü Use Headers and Subheaders Properly – Make sure
your website properly uses H1 headers and H2-H6
subheaders. Limit H1 headers to one per page.
ü Avoid Frames - Frames present a variety of problems
including support for older browsers, user navigation,
and the search engines ability to crawl the page
ü Optimize for Performance – Speed matters to users and
search engines. Make sure your code is light, images
minimized, and cache is used where feasible.
ü Use a Sitemap.xml File – XML sitemaps make it easier
for search engines to discover new or updated pages
and posts on your website. Keep your XML sitemap
ü Layout Meets Best Practices - Every website should include
sections dedicated to a header, content, and footer. Include
sidebars, or sections to the right or left of content, when
ü Keep Sidebars Simple – Don’t overload sidebars with so much
“stuff” that they distract from the actual page content.
ü Navigation Used Appropriately - Every website should include
navigation in the header and should list the important pages.
Navigation options should be no more than three levels deep.
ü Content is Free of Spelling and Grammatical Errors – Make sure
website content is free of spelling errors, properly edited and
written in the author’s native language.
ü Easy to Read and Digest Content - Longer articles or large
blocks of text should be broken out by the appropriate use of
sections or subheaders. It is also advisable to use a mix of
paragraphs and bullets.
ü Watch Your Readability Level - Content should not require a
masters degree to read. Make it simple enough so the majority
of your target audience can understand it. If a user cannot
digest the content, they will not stay on the website.
ü Check Browser Rendering – Does your browser perform well
across all major browsers and operating systems? A cross
browser check is worth the time, as many browsers do render
website differently. There is a reason so many developers hate
IE. Even if you don’t use it, someone somewhere still does.
ü Create a Clear Path for Visitors – Think through your desired visitor path and present clear
call to actions to guide uses through the website.
ü Align the CTA’s to Your Sitemap – Try and deﬁne call to actions early in the development
process so they can closely align with visitor personas and your content.
ü Professional Design is Important – CTA plugins are
easy to use, but it doesn’t mean bright neon buttons
work well for your visitor. Make sure the CTA
adheres to your overall branding and it is designed
in a non-obstructive manner.
ü Offer a Clear Value Proposition - People will only
click on a CTA if they know what they will receive
once they click. Make sure your CTA clearly tells
users what they’re getting in exchange for their
much valued click.
ü Keep Forms Simple – Don’t require visitors to provide unnecessary information. Ask for
key information only and know the more data you require a user to provide, the less
submissions you’ll receive.
ü Give Social Proof – Offer testimonials or reviews so that visitors can validate your offer. Be
honest with visitors and don’t oversell with empty promises.
ü Focus on One Task – Don’t confuse visitors by
having multiple tasks on one landing page. Focus
on one and one only.
ü Have a Snappy Headline – Make your headline
unique, directly related to the offer, and creative
enough interest to grab someone’s attention.
ü Keep Text Limited – Include only text that is
relevant to the offer. Make it easy to read and
easy to scan.
ü Use Appropriately Targeted Keywords - Consider the
words that a real user might search for to locate a web
page or post on your website. Validate this list of possible
keywords to actual search volumes.
ü Mix in the Long Tail - A mix of regular keywords (one or
two word phrases) and long tail keywords (longer phrases)
will provide the best mix of search trafﬁc and results.
ü Use No More Than One or Two Keywords Per Page or
Post - With the increasingly competitive nature of organic
SEO and website optimization, best practices for keyword
selection and implementation is to focus on one keyword
per web page. In cases where the keywords are long-tail
keywords or keywords are of lesser competitive nature, it
is possible to target two similar keywords or phrases on
one page if they are similar in nature.
ü Spend Time Mapping Keywords to Individual
Pages and Posts – Plan your website pages and
posts by mapping your preferred keywords and
phrases to actual content. Use a WordPress plugin
like WordPress SEO from Yoast to help track the
keywords and keep you focused.
ü Pick and Chose Your Keyword Battles – I pick and
chose battles with my children and I do this with
keywords as well. I don’t try and focus on every
possible combination of a keyword phrase,
because I know it is difﬁcult to rank and maintain
overtime. Pick a solid set of keywords and focus on
ü Quality – Make sure your content is of high quality with
substantial depth to make it worth reading.
ü Become an Expert - Do research and use facts to support
your words. Showcase your knowledge and position
yourself as an expert.
ü Teach and Educate – The soft sell approach of education
will win over visitors. A sales pitch never converts.
ü Relevant – Cover topics that are relevant to your website,
your industry or niche, and your target market. Remember
to write for humans and not the search engines.
ü Engaging – Use a light tone that will bring in readers,
captivate them, and encourage them to discuss and share
content in social media.
ü Fresh – Freshness matters to search engines and users.
Websites that add new pages and posts earn a higher
freshness score than sites that add content less frequently.
ü Consistent - Online marketing requires regular
publishing of content that is consistent in nature. If you
allow readers to expect new content, they will return
frequently. The best way to do this is to set publishing
goals and execute them.
ü Keep a List of Ideas – Don’t expect yourself to generate
amazing content ideas exactly when needed. When you
think of a good topic, write it down.
ü Make it Personal – If you want people to truly connect
with you, then you have to give a little of yourself in your
ü Avoid the “Bait” – Avoid anything that is designed to
attract huge volumes of trafﬁc. It just doesn’t work.
Write good content and you won’t need bait.
ü Closely Match Page Titles to Content - Each
website page should have a clear and concise title
that communicates the topic of the page's content.
ü Use H1 Headers - Titles should be represented
with an H1 header that is keyword rich.
ü Keyword in Page URL - URLs with keywords that
are relevant to your page content make the pages
rank higher. Shorter URLs will also make it easier
for real users to remember them.
ü Use Keywords in the Content - Focus on creating
useful, information-rich content that uses keywords
appropriately and in context. In doing so, skip the
urge to stuff content with massive amounts of
ü Use Solid Meta Descriptions - A good meta
description will begin with the page's target
keyword while also providing compelling text. They
should be unique to each page/post and be less
than 155 characters.
ü Create Strong Meta Titles - Meta titles should be
keyword rich, but without keyword stufﬁng. They
should be less than 55 characters and have the
main keyword word or keyword phrase at the
beginning of the title (far left).
ü Use WordPress SEO by Yoast – This is worth
repeating again. This plugin does the best job of
helping our clients stay on track with SEO. I install it
on every client build and we use it internally.
ü Mobile Responsive for Smaller Websites - Responsive web design keeps your desktop and mobile
content on a single URL. This makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your
content. It is also recommended by search engines.
ü Dedicated Mobile Sites for Larger Websites – Larger and more complex websites can struggle with the
responsive approach. In these scenarios it is best to have a segregated website or app that is
speciﬁcally designed for mobile devices.
ü Check Device Rendering – Does your website look
good across tablets and smartphones? Spend time
to test prior to launch.
ü Consider Image Usage Carefully –If you plan to use
text within your graphics, consider a vertical
approach over large horizontal layouts.
ü Avoid Flash - Flash is difﬁcult for search engines to
digest and index. It is also rarely supported on
mobile devices such as the iPhone or iPad.
ü Integrate Social Media in Your Website – Make it very
easy for people to locate your social proﬁles. Your
website should have easily identiﬁable social icons that
link to your social accounts and these should be placed
above the fold if possible.
ü Use Sharing Icons on Posts - Use caution when
creating whimsical sharing icons as users might lose
sight of their purpose. Having easily identiﬁable sharing
buttons on posts is vital to building your social
presence and increasing your share volume.
ü Use the Proper Social Accounts – We have a lot of choices when it comes to social media platforms.
Make sure you are using the right type of proﬁle (business or personal) and the right network for your
audience. I like to use:
SEO -> Google+ and YouTube
Business to Business -> LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora
Business to Consumer -> Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram
ü Be Active and Engaged – Social media is about
interaction, which means you must actively connect
with others. Engagement is about sharing other
people’s content, and communicating via tweets,
likes, comments, and +1s.
ü Be Real - No one likes a social diva, so be genuine
ü Maintain a Solid Reputation - Manage your online
reputation and promptly address negative
interactions. The worst thing you can do is to ignore
a negative comment.
ü Social Shares – Social activity drives web trafﬁc and it inﬂuences organic search. Share your own
content regularly and encourage others to do so as well. Just don’t be cheesy about it.
What? Isn’t sharing your own content just basic? Yes, but you’d be surprised at how many people and
companies forget to share their own content when it goes live.
ü Duplicate Content - Search engines want to provide
unique content and they avoid presenting searchers with
multiple versions of the same content. As such, search
engines will ﬁlter out content they deem to be similar or
nearly duplicate of existing indexed content. Duplicate
content degrades your website in the eyes of the search
engines and the actual website user.
ü Thin Content – Thin content refers to websites who create
low quality pages with little or no unique content. It
degrades the user experience and opens websites up to a
manual penalty from Google.
ü Stolen or Scraped Content – Scraped content includes the
reuse of content from another source in an effort to
increase page volume and inﬂuence search results. It also
opens the website up to a penalty. It is similar to duplicate
content but on a much larger scale.
ü Cloaking – Cloaking refers to a website displaying different
content to search engines and searchers. Use of cloaking
may get a website banned from a search engine.
ü Link Farms – Link farms are groups of websites that
establish links with the purpose or distorting search engine
results. This is a direct violation of Google’s policies and
penalties will result.
ü Paid Links - Buying or selling links in an effort to distort
search results. This includes, but is not limited to,
exchanging money for links or posts that contain links.
ü Excessive Ads – Websites that have large amounts of ads
displayed before actual content are downgraded in search
because they create a poor user experience. It also makes
it very difﬁcult for a website visitor to focus on the content.
Ads can be great for blogs, but they need to be used
I love the Muppets, although I like Animal and
Beaker much more than the Swedish Chef.
I am a wife and mother of two children, one dog,
three cats, and an endless amount of ﬁsh.
I’m the founder of Web Savvy Marketing
and I am an accidental entrepreneur.
Learn more about me at:
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