The fact that WordPress is so (comparatively) easy to use can often be its downfall for those using it. The reason being that there will always be those newbies that think they can’t really go wrong and therefore end up falling into a fair few bad habits. Sadly, the truth of the matter with WordPress is just like that of any other CMS or web design tool – you get out what you put in. And it’s not all about hacking away at it for hours on end either with a misguided approach, as all the best-efforts in the world will come to nothing if you aren’t following some of the simplest yet most important best-practice rules of all.
Sidebars – Don’t Use Them as Dumping Grounds
The problem with so many WordPress sidebars is the way in which folk assume that just because you can cram them full or all manner of bits and pieces, this means you should/must. However, the more cramped and cluttered your sidebar becomes, the less value it brings to your site. Chances are it’s loaded with all manner of links, adverts, icons for social media, photos and so on and so forth – all of which are all well and good. However, if there’s one particular element of value in there – say a crucial link or message – it’s going to be drowned out by the clutter.
As such, if you think you might be guilty of this habit, then pay a visit to your site’s Appearance & Widgets section to get rid of anything that’s not bringing you or your site any real value.
Organise Files in a Single Place
You can make life a heck of a lot easier for yourself by telling WordPress to stop organising your files into all manner of different folders. This is a bit like splitting your DVD collection into a bunch of boxes in different rooms of the house – technically logical but rubbish in a time-consumption front. Your WordPress Media Library works pretty much the same, which means that if you put everything in one folder and use simple search tools to find what you’re looking for, it all happens much quicker.
You can do this by going into Settings & Media and finding the bit that says Organize my uploads into month- and year-based folders. It’s ticked by default, so feel free to untick it to make life easier for yourself.
Use Permalinks More Effectively
One of the most important SEO elements when it comes to optimising your WordPress site for easy retrieval by the search engines is that of cutting unnecessary content and focusing only on words and phrases of value. This means gaining a good grasp of SEO on the whole in order to roll it out across your site, but there are a few ways and means by which an immediate and sizeable difference can be made for the better.
There’s a permalink field baked-into WordPress already, which can be used to make your links much nice to be read by people and search engines alike.
If using mysite.com/how-to-choose-the-best-lamps-for-your-home-office for example, this could be changed with easy to mysite.com/choosing-office-lamps. Basically, what you’re trying to do is get the message out as quickly and accurately as possible with the fewest words used.
Focus on Titles and Descriptions
The importance of page titles and descriptions cannot be overstated as these are the snippets your target audience members will see when making their decision as to whether or not to grace you with a click. They can therefore technically determine the fate of your site as a whole – titles in particular are important for SEO efforts.
However, don’t fall into the trap of tailoring your descriptions too much with SEO in mind as these are mostly for the benefit of readers, not bots. As such, concentrate on going a bit further into detail with regard to your title and maybe add a CTA to create a sense of urgency.
Remember, descriptions are mainly for readers. Don’t try to cater to Google robots with these — instead, make them enticing, elaborate on the promise made in your headline and use a strong call to action to encourage clicks.
Make Images Work Harder
And then of course come those trusty images, which can be put to much better work than making your pages look pretty alone. Handled appropriately they’ll do some serious good for your SEO efforts, which means giving due thought and attention to each respective image’s title and alternative text. Each of these should include your primary targeted keyword/s if at all possible to use without going OTT and making it read unnaturally.