- 1. Beginner’s Guide to SEO for WordPress: Intro, Prep & Jargon
- 2. WordPress Keyword Research and Usage for SEO
- 3. Currently Reading: Improve SEO with Backlinks, Site Speed and More
In this chapter we deal with backlinks, how to get them, how to improve page loading speed, guest posting, and how to optimize for social shares. So without further adieu, let’s dig into even more about WordPress SEO.
Get More Organic Backlinks
Backlinks are a bit of a controversial issue. Not whether or not they are improve your rankings, but how you should go about getting them. I will mainly deal with organic backlinks here, meaning, when people link to your content out of their own free will. A surefire way to get more organic links back to your site, is to cultivate an audience. This is by no means a short-term solution. When people comment or send you questions by mail, make sure that you take the time to leave thoughtful responses. (And try not to only do it for backlinks/sharing.)
Something that might be surprising to some, though it shouldn’t be, is that giving genuine shout-outs and linking to articles that you found particularly useful or interesting, can actually be a way to get backlinks. “Give an you shall receive.” Typically, this works better with influencer who do not have such a big audience that they are always swamped by requests for favors, and shout-outs, and invitations to get interviewed, and the like.
Lastly, cultivating relationships with people who also write about a similar topic, (but typically are not your direct competitors), can be a great way to not only get backlinks. By cultivating relationships, I don’t mean pick anyone that has a website with enough pageviews to satisfy your criteria and spam them with emails and tweets. I mean find someone who’s riding that you actually dig, whose views you enjoy learning more about, and find a unique way you can actually help them out. Send them a book recommendation if you see them mention a particular book. (Or you could even send them the book.)
Write Longer Content
Another thing that can help when it comes to get higher rankings, is creating longer content. Not only does Google have a new function that features long-form content for some searches, long-form content just tends to rank better in general. (The average content length for the top 10 results in Google is over 2000 words.)
While the internet is becoming notorious for it’s short attention span, and it’s infatuation with cat gifs, it turns out that longer posts get significantly more backlinks. But don’t think that this is a free pass to write 2500 words of filler. What it does mean is that perhaps you should experiment with combining ideas to create longer pieces of content. Or tackle a subject you’re afraid you can’t dumb down into a quickie article. Basically, don’t be afraid to go deep on a subject.
Improve Your Site Speed
Not only will a faster loading speed positively impact your rankings, it will decrease your bounce rate, helping you retain more visitors, which can lead to more user engagement, shares and even backlinks over time.
If you want a free way to quickly and easily increase your page loading speed, install a cache plugin and configure it the right way. You also want to optimize your images. You might want to get an image optimization plugin. But the most important step here, is that you compress your image files manually before you upload them, and make them the appropriate size for your website.
In the case of screenshots, the default is often a quite data-heavy PNG file, that you can easily compress to a much more manageable JPEG file using any image editor. Even MS Paint. While the recommended size for your images depends on the speed of your host, and whether or not you use a content delivery network, trying to keep image files at a few hundred kilobytes or less is usually a good idea. And try to only use plugins that actually improve your bottom line.
Guest Posting: Quality Over Quantity
Guest posting simply means having your article or post published on someone else’s blog or website. While Matt Cutts went so far as to declare guest posting for backlinks as dead earlier this year, there are plenty of examples of blogs that guest post frequently, that have not been penalized in the slightest. Websites that keep ranking highly for many a competitive keyword. Buffer is one example.
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that guest posting to increase the quantity of backlinks to your website, is what has been, and is being penalized. While writing a few quality guest posts for related websites or blogs will probably have no adverse effects on your website. Although, if you want to play it safe, you could always ask that any links to your site be made no-follow.
Or if you want to play it completely, 10000% you could opt for not guest posting at all, but this will likely be at your own expense. Guest posting can be a very fast way to build an audience, and having an active audience is a really good way to get more shares, backlinks and of course, better rankings. You would also probably want to stay away from the many guest blogging communities online, as some members have reported being penalized in the search rankings by association. If you’re completely new to the concept, read this guide on guest blogging.
Use Google Authorship
Not only will this makes your face and name show up next to your search results in Google, your results will also get prioritized if the person searching is part of your G+ network. The process is fairly simple. You name yourself as a contributor at a certain site on your G+ page, and then you add a link to your G+ page from the content to complete the circle. Read more about how to set up Google authorship in WordPress.
Optimize For Social Shares
Social shares are playing a bigger and bigger role when it comes to search rankings, so you want to make sure you are getting as many as you can. If you don’t already have one, get a plugin. But don’t overdo it. You don’t need three sets of social buttons on one single page. That just makes sharing seem less appealing, because the visitor will feel like you’re trying to force the issue. Like you’re trying a little too hard.
Again, longer content just seems to get shared more. Maybe it’s that there’s a sense of extra effort, or maybe it’s that longer content is simply, on average, more worthy of sharing than shorter content. Simply because people who write worthwhile content tend to write longer posts, on average. Who knows.
But that’s not to say that longer is always better. It all depends on your the topic, and your audience. Seth Godin, for example, gets massive shares on his nugget-sized posts of wisdom and inspiration. But if you’re tackling a technical topics, lengthy guides might be much more fitting.
If upworthy has taught us anything (other than that the ‘curiosity gap’ gets tons of clicks), it’s that we should be testing our headlines to see what works better. Thankfully you can easily split-test headlines with the Title Experiments free plugin. And again, cultivating connections with influencers is a surefire way to increase your social reach. After all, one tweet could expose you to hundreds, if not thousands of potential readers who in turn might share your content as well.
While many people are content with encouraging people to share at the end of their posts in a straight forward manner, some, more experienced bloggers, advise that you make use of powerful emotions to motivate people to take action towards the end of your posts. By motivating people to take action on the information you’ve given them, you can indirectly influence them to take the action you most want them to take, sharing your piece of content.
If you’ve made it this far, I would like to congratulate you for making it to the very end of one mammoth of a post series (4100 words and counting). But reading this guide is not enough. You have to actually follow through. Step by step, line by line, word by word. The world of SEO was too complicated for many of us to even dream of meddling with before WordPress came along. And it can still be a long journey before you feel like you know exactly what to do. But with this guide, you should have enough of a grapple on things to be able to decipher and implement the advice of real SEO experts, as well as learn for yourself as you go along.
If you have a willingness to learn, and the patience and persistence to remain consistent, you can master the beast that is SEO, and reap the rewards that come along with that achievement.