An open source platform, WordPress is considered one of the more flexible Content Management Systems. Its low entry barrier, impressive functionality, and amazing price tag (I mean, it’s free!) have led to its rise to the internet’s most popular Content Management System. With that being said, it should come as no surprise that it has been downloaded over 47 million times and that it currently powers nearly 30 percent of all of today’s websites.
WordPress is SEO-friendly, which is imperative in today’s day and age. What’s even better is that it can be used by anyone – even if you don’t have an ounce of technical knowledge under your belt. This is great for local businesses, especially small ones and start-ups, who are low on budget and can’t afford expensive SEO improvements, yet they want to get a leg up in local search.
Below, you will read about seven easy SEO improvements that you can implement on your WordPress site that will help improve its local search ranking.
Improvement #1: Optimize the Content
The content on your site is probably the most important asset. Sure, you can have great security measures, lighting-fast page load times, and a great site structure, but none of that is going to matter if your content isn’t of quality.
Prior to optimizing your content, though, you need to ensure that it is valuable – and it needs to be valuable in the eyes of your audience. In order to do this, you need to figure out the pain points of your audience and determine how your products can solve their issues. Once you have this down, you can take your solutions and turn them into compelling content, including blog posts, videos, infographics, etc. – all of which will have your visitors coming back to your site for more.
Once you have developed valuable content, you need to move on to on-page optimization, which is a bit more daunting. However, it isn’t too bad when you use the Yoast SEO plug-in. In any other case, you would need to take into consideration a dozen or two various SEO factors, this plug-in makes this simple by color-coding each page to help you track the on-page optimization and showing you areas that can be improved. It can also show you other on-page optimization factors, such as keyword occurrences and word count.
Improvement #2: Review Your Link Profile
For local organic rankings, research shows that links are the main ranking signal that you should focus on. Your local ranking is impacted by the number of domains that link to your site, the quality of the backlinks as well as the optimization of the anchor link text. Now, it is important to understand that it can take some time to get organic link building that is worthy going, but here are a few tips to get started:
- Quality Over Quantity – While it is true that the numbers of domains matter, it is better that you have a single high-quality backlink from an authoritative industry leader than several dozens low-quality, irrelevant backlinks. Make sure you are utilizing a link tracking software that will weed out low-quality links.
- Locate and Repair Broken Links – You don’t want to leave broken links out there, as they will affect your ranking. You can use a plug-in like Broken Link Checker to find and repair them for you. This particular plug-in checks pages, posts, as well as comments.
- Anchor Text Optimization – Make sure that some of your anchor text is optimized specifically for local search by adding your city’s name. Just make certain that you aren’t over-optimizing (too many exact matches or changing ALL of the anchor text). There isn’t a certain percentage for local anchor text, so you should do some research to see what is typically accepted within your niche.
- Look for Link Building Opportunities – In order to find opportunities for link building, you should consider using a competitive analysis tool. Focus on finding relevant industry sites that are linking to your competitors but are not currently linking to you.
Improvement #3: Improve Site Speed
You always hear that the tortoise beats the hare, but this is definitely true when it comes to SEO. With Google, site speed is imperative. So, if you want to have a leg up on your competitors in local search, then your website needs to be quick. Here are a few techniques to try:
- Compress Large Image Files – More often than not, if you have images on your site and the pages are loading slowly, it is because of large image files. WP Smush is a great plug-in that can assist in compressing and optimizing your images.
- Use a Caching Plug-in to Reduce Server Load – Caching plug-ins can be very beneficial with WP sites because they help to create HTML versions of dynamic pages, which can significantly reduce overall server load times. There are free options, include W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. There is also a paid option known as WP Rocket.
- Don’t Get Plug-in Happy – You can literally find a WP plug-in for anything, but it is important that you only use plug-ins that offer value to your website. If you use install too many, they will slow down your website.
Improvement #4: Mobile Optimization
Most people use their mobile device to look for local businesses. Plus, Google will be indexing mobile sites before desktop sites soon. Therefore, mobile optimization is now more important than ever before. In order to optimize your site for mobile, you need to focus on image compression and page speed. However, here are a few other things:
- Opt for a Responsive Theme – If nothing else, you need to make certain that you have a responsive WordPress theme and that it fits your content to various mobile devices.
- Design for Mobile Consumers – You need to make sure that your site can detect different devices at the server level so that it can create a custom user experience for each visitor. To do this, you will want to use the built-in function: wp_is_mobile().
- Consider a Mobile App – According to one study, nearly 90 percent of media time on mobile devices is spent on apps.
- Create Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – AMPs are super fast pages that are specifically designed for mobile devices. WP has a default AMP plug-in that can be used to create these pages, which are listed at the very top of the search engine results pages when consumers search from their mobile devices.
Improvement #5: Integrate Google My Business
When it comes to your local rankings, Google My Business is very important. There are certain signals, including user reviews, physical proximity, business descriptions and business categories that can impact your SERP position.
So, the moment that you have claimed your page, it is imperative that you add your WP site to your Google My Business profile, as well as any other important information, including a description of your business and hours of operation. Then, take the time to look for widgets and plug-ins that will allow you to transfer primary ranking signals, such as a business map, photos, and customer reviews from your Google My Business page directly to your WP website.
It is also a good idea to install a plug-in that will allow you to add your Google My Business review to your WP site like the Google Places Reviews plug-in, as this will help improve consumer trust. Google Maps Builder is another plug-in to consider, as this is an intractable business map that can be placed on your website that will assist customers in finding your business.
Improvement #6: Add Structured Data to WordPress Pages
Have you ever noticed how some business listings are so rich with robust descriptions, star ratings, and reviews, while others are so bland? Well, the difference between the two is structured data.
By making use of plug-ins, such as Schema, you can send Google various information about your business. This provides customers additional data when they locate you in SERPs, which include physical location, price range and hours of operation.
Keep in mind that descriptions do not necessarily improve your ranking; however, the more information that you have, the more likely a customer is going to click on your site – and click-through-rates definitely do impact your ranking in search engines.
Improvement #7: Include Location Keywords in URLs
While it is true that URL structure doesn’t play a significant role in rankings, location keywords in your URL can assist in a positive user experience. This is particularly true if you have several different landing pages that focus on different locations and you want/need to ensure that your customers are on the right page.
Prior WP versions did not provide a significant amount of flexibility regarding URLs. They were simply permalinks that did not allow you to create your own structure. Luckily, today’s versions show the date and name of posts. You can adjust the URL settings in the WP Admin by first going to Settings, then Permalinks, then Custom Structure.
If you are looking to take SEO even further, there are plenty of improvements that you can make beyond what has been mentioned above. You can generate XML sitemaps, create robots.txt files, optimize the site structure, and lots more.
If you have any questions about what has been discussed in this article or regarding local SEO in general, reach out to us at WebDetail.