4 Tools to Build a Solid SEO Foundation

The two takeaways:

  1. Write for quality human consumption and not for the Google bots indexing your site.
  2. Do NOT attempt to game the search engine system.

This evening I went to my first ever Meetup at the Ventura County WordPress (VCWP) interest group. Uncertain of what to expect, I came prepared with my laptop, business cards, and bottled water.

The VCWP is open to all ability levels. I met several entrepreneurial-minded folks, ranging from freelancers to business owners to developers, and even a road motorcycle racing enthusiast. After informal introductions over pizza and soda, we settled in and got to the topic of the evening: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your WordPress site - Introduction Level.

Our host presenter and CEO of Aumnia, Gregg Borodaty, reviewed the 4 fundamental SEO tools recommended for your WordPress website. The best part? All 4 fundamental SEO tools are FREE and Google-related.

Google is without a doubt, the 800-pound gorilla of search engines. Anyone wanting reach their target audience wants their website to be listed on page 1 Google search. Google writes the book on how websites are ranked and indexed. As a lone wolf, you are not going to beat Google at this game. In fact, beware of others who try to convince you that they have a secret work-around that does so, which of course they'll share with you if only you'll pay them $$$. Some tactics may work in the short term, like keyword stuffing had in the past. However, if tactics are not geared toward quality user content, then Google's ever-changing algorithm will eventually push your URL lower on its page ranking.

So, does SEO deserve your explicit attention?

You're a business owner with an unlimited number of things vying for your attention.
If you want your website to rank on search page 1, then you should pay attention for 2 main reasons: organic traffic and conversions.

Read Forbes' 7 Reasons Why Your Business Should Invest In SEO if you're not convinced.

SEO helps search engines figure out:

  1. What your page is about.
  2. How useful its content is for users.

How is this accomplished? By collecting site analytics and site structure.

Moz Beginner's Guide to SEO

Without SEO, a website can be invisible to search engines.

If you're a non-techy type, despair not

SEO is one of those concepts that often appears overcomplicated. Many times, newbies find themselves in the deep end of an advanced tactics conversation. In reality, your business is better served by building your SEO foundation first.

When using the following fundamental SEO tools, you'll have a powerful picture of how users and search engines "see" your WordPress site. Gregg shared how each SEO tool works and what the live data looks like using examples from his personal website, greggborodaty.com.

Google Analytics

tracks how visitors interact with your website

Google Search Console

tracks how search engines see with your website

Yoast SEO

plugin enables you to customize indexable information, such as webpage URLs and description, to better summarize the page content's relevance for users

Google Analytics by Yoast

plugin enables you to easily connect your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts to your WordPress website

Gregg also demonstrated key features of the two Google tools. Easy-to-follow videos on how to read your analytics data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console are shared in the implementation steps section below. For now, I will simply mention that you can see:

  1. what keywords visitors used to land on your website
  2. which pages and posts are most popular
  3. how visitors are tracked in a given funnel

Return on Investment

In short, the goal of SEO is to optimize your webpages by truly understanding how the search engines see it and how users are interacting with it. Although we did not specifically cover it at the Meetup, the opportunities cannot be understated. Integrating these SEO tools with your WordPress site enables optimization of your conversion rate and click-through rates.

So, how quickly can a non-techy type implement this?

I recently finished the basic website for my Federal Resume Writing done-for-your service www.federalcareerinsider.com.  (Update NOV 2016 - website under reconstruction to apply new marketing strategy.)  I had already installed the two plugins, Yoast SEO and Google Analytics by Yoast, which I automatically do with every WordPress site I create. I can install and configure both of those in 3 minutes or less. So, I timed myself in setting up accounts for Google Analytics and Google Search Console and adding those to the plugins. I didn't link them to each other at this time because I don't need the advanced reporting features yet.

  • Google Analytics: Took me 4 minutes 2 seconds to create and connect to WordPress via the Google Analytics by Yoast plugin. Most of the time was spent on the form, selecting the appropriate industry for my website.
  • Google Search Console: Took me 51 seconds to create the property and complete the steps for connecting to WordPress (also via the Google Analytics by Yoast plugin. However, since I also use Thrive Themes for building my webpages, it took me another 21 minutes and 10 seconds to troubleshoot the connection verification issue. Turns out, there is another simple step required for Thrive Themes users.

Not counting the time watching the video tutorials below, it took me 26 minutes and 10 seconds of button pushing to implement these 4 FREE fundamental SEO tools

Yoast SEO plugin at 5:50 mark, Google Analytics by Yoast plugin, Google Analytics, Google Search Console

The return on investment for my time is:

  1. I'll be able to tailor my content and design to improve the experience for my website visitors. Increased value leads to increased conversions.
  2. I'll be able to tweak the indexable information to improve the contents' relevance descriptors for search engine crawlers. Improved indexing and user engagement leads to improved search engine ranking.

Content remains King when it comes to effective SEO

Focus on your long game plan. Create content with "sustainable SEO." This is content written for human consumption that adds value to the reader. To determine if your webpage uses sustainable SEO, honestly ask yourself:

  1. Is the content straightforward? Using language you would say to a colleague? If not, then you should rethink your wording and trim any fluffy filler.
  2. Can the reader takeaway key ideas from the content? Even if there is not an explicit call-to-action, your content should meet the reader's need so that they'll spend time on your webpage reading the information.

By addressing these two questions your information content will more likely entice visitors to read your content. Because of this, you can lower bounce rates and increase page duration. In turn, this signals search engines to view your webpage as valuable to users. This is the long game for effective SEO.

Next steps for building the SEO foundation for your WordPress site

  1. Install and integrate these fundamental SEO tools with your WordPress website.
  2. Using the Yoast SEO plugin features, revise the indexable information to better reflect page content relevance for users.
  3. Evaluate your web page content for Sustainable SEO.
  4. Review your analytics dashboards using these helpful videos explaining the data in Google Analytics and in Google Search Console. Then, determine which data actually matters to you. Remember, the goal of SEO is to optimize your webpages based on the traffic data.

The installation steps 1 and 2 will take less time than steps 3 and 4. Actually, step 4 reading your data may suck you in for an hour or more, kinda like Facebook posts. Once you've completed all four steps, check out this bonus video on how to create a sitemap.

Of all the steps, #3 may be the most time-consuming and sometimes most difficult to complete because it's content creation and content revision.

The good news is that you can get help for this if you feel writing is not your strength or if you don't have the time to write/rewrite your content.

Melody Kimball Copywriter / Consultant

You can get more done by focusing on what you do best if you assign someone else to take care of creating your content. Before you consider outsourcing your copywriting and content needs, take advantage of our FREE consultation for instant clarity on how to maximize your marketing, including your SEO, with a sales-focused plan.

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