When it comes to creating a website for your brand, we need to consider:
- The web hosting provider and type of hosting solution. This could be a hosted website solution like Shopify, Neto, Weebly, Squarespace or Wix. Or it could be a self-hosted solution with either a coded site or CMS such as WordPress or Drupal. Self hosted solutions today also include cloud hosting options including Google Cloud Console, Linode, AWS, Digital Ocean and Azure.
- What kind of platform our website will be based on. Is it an online store? Then maybe WordPress with a WooCommerce extension, the Canadian Shopify platform, or the Australian developed and hosted NETO shop platform. For a business website without a store, we choose to primarily use WordPress for ease of use by the client, and also for the wide range of plugins and extensions.
In this article, we will be looking at using the WordPress content management system, and discussing the following after we go through the requirements of SEO.
Theme of Choice: Divi by Elegant Themes
SEO Plugin of Choice: Rankmath
Cache Plugin of Choice: WP-Rocket
Image Optimisation Plugin: Imagify
and how to test your website.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is the process of making your brand easy to find for users and search engines.
We do this by creating all the elements search indexing bots need to correctly index or rank a website. This can include correct metadata titles and descriptions, scheme markup, image alt text, longtail keyword placement, correct use of heading tags and off-site elements such as backlinking, social signals and directory listings.
How much does SEO cost?
The cost of SEO campaigns is in building the content, optimising your website and reaching out to directories, press and websites with good domain authority.
Unlike pay per click digital ad campaigns on search and social, the content created in an SEO campaign does not disappear when your budget is exhausted. What you create is more likely to keep working for you, even while you are saving up for your next campaign.
Of course, the more consistent you are with SEO, the better your results will be.
When we talk about on-site SEO, we are referring to the SEO elements on your website. Here are some essentials that you should target on your website if you are looking to get better results on SERP (Search Engine Results Pages).
Meta Titles and Descriptions – these are on each page and post of your site, and are primarily for search engines to know what your website is about, and how to present the results on search results.
Images – The photos and pictures you use on your site should be uploaded at the correct size for use, rather than having CSS resize the image. ALT text should be used on every image. As search engines cannot actually “see” an image on a website, they refer to the title and ALT text to decide on what the image is related to. Image file size must also be considered to ensure the site is not slowed down by the loading of pictures. It is also worth considering delivering your images as WEBP files rather than JPEG or PNG.
Responsiveness and Display – Google search indexes mobile and desktop results differently. You could rank really well on desktop web searches, but fail miserably on mobile searches as your site is not displaying efficiently on smaller devices. We need to ensure the navigation is easy to use on smaller devices, buttons and links need to be spaced and easy to press on touch screens, fonts need to be larger so they are easily read on smaller screens, and your site needs to cater for different screen ratios. With the amount of smart devices in use from televisions to watches, your website needs to run across all of them.
Keywords & Relevancy – Search engine results are trying to output the most relevant results to the user’s query. With searches increasing on smart devices like Alexa and Siri, search queries are including more sentence like structures and more of the who, what is, where is and why is. We can use longtail keywords in title tags, text copy and metadata to ensure Google matches our pages with relevant queries. Over saturation of keywords in websites can be bad, not only for the search index (possible blacklisting) but also for users who are reading your web page content.
Links, Links & more Links – Having links on your site is good for SEO as it means users aren’t sent to a dead end page. In short, if you are researching something, Google can send you to a site that it knows links to other pages that may give more information or benefit. To take advantage of this, ensure your navigation is set up correctly and you create single pages for each of your services or products. We can also include internal links through our content as well as buttons and image links. External links need to be used as well, but keep it under your internal link count.
Once you have your website optimised, it is time to show Google search that your site is both trusted, relevant and industry recognised. We do this with social signals, reviews and back links from better ranking sites.
For tradies and local services, one of the simplest ways to get started with this is by listing your business in as many online directories as possible. This could include Yellow Pages, Google Business and Maps, True Local, local search and more.
To increase your site’s authority, we can try to get websites, media platforms or blogs to link back to our site. Make sure they are industry related, or have a relevant interest in your businesses product or service. As mentioned previously, Google is looking for sites that contain great information, and relevant links to other resources. Make your site one of those relevant resources.
User generated content is the best content you can have to get your site ranking well. This includes content from users including social tagging, reviews on Google or Facebook, testimonials, map images and more. Like we tell our clients, it is all well and good that you love your brand and tell the world about it, but it means so much more when others do it for you.
The way that user generated content and back links use keywords relevant to your brand also helps.
How to Make your WordPress Website Search Engine Optimised (SEO)
Now that we know what we need to achieve, what is the best way to be search engine optimised with WordPress?
It starts with your choice of web hosting. We host our website on a cloud platform provided by Linode and Cloudways. Our reason for doing so is that cloud resources can be delivered seamlessly to different locations via the cloud network. In our case, we chose the Linode datacenters as they had a location in Sydney, Australia for our core files and services.
Cloud has many advantages today, including being responsive to your usage. Whilst regular website hosting requires you to select a server and resources such as processing power, memory and bandwidth, Cloud uses virtual resources that are spread over an array of assets managed by the cloud provider.
When your site maxes out a resource on your regular web hosting, you need to upgrade your services as this usually means a server change or migration. Or, you can wait till traffic dies down and for your server’s memory and processor to get back to reasonable limits.
Cloud hosting on the other hand, as it uses virtual servers, can be easily upscaled to increase resources with no changes to your content. Your services just get instant access to more computing power, bandwidth or memory. Better still, you can choose to have this autoscale as your services require them.
This is helpful for sales events on online stores, viral articles or content sharing, and DDoS attacks that would usually disable your server.
Another advantage of cloud hosting is you pay for what you need. Whilst your services are not chewing up much resource-wise, you can pay for the minimum requirement. As upscaling is made quite simple, you can pay less for now and then more as you actually need it. Then when it quietens back down, down scale back to your cheaper option.
Another advantage of the cloud is speed. With your WordPress site, traditional hosting may be a shared server, meaning your website is on a server alongside a whole lot of others. When one of the other sites over exhausts the server you are on, your site will suffer too. You could choose a private server, but this is costlier than shared hosting.
Cloud will use a virtual service for your database, file storage and content delivery. And as you pay for the resources you use, your server is basically a private server that you can manage and scale as needed.
Our site for example also uses a content delivery network to increase speed of loading. Together with the cloud resources, we can deliver a pretty efficient website, as seen in the speed test below.
Once you have chosen your web hosting, it is a quick task to install WordPress. Go to your file manager and upload the latest copy of WordPress.
Be wary of your one-click installs offered by hosting providers, as these can sometimes include a lot of bloatware, older copies and incorrect database setup.
Once installed, log into your admin panel and ensure you have the latest updates of the WordPress core files and included themes.
WordPress has a great inbuild page editor that has improved a lot over the years. You may choose to use this, especially if you are hosting a blog, and it is mainly articles you are creating. The editor keeps things simple.
But we said we are making a business website, and you will need to create an enticing homepage, contact forms, landing pages and more. Go ahead and install Divi by Elegant Themes.
The package itself is quite large to install, and with most hosting, you will need to upload the theme files via file manager rather than your WordPress themes page.
Once installed, go through the theme options page and the customizer to set your essentials up.
The Divi theme uses its own page builder and custom layouts. The visual design of the editor is easy to use, and can help you create amazing pages using full sections, rows, colums, blockquotes, blurbs, and more. The editor or page builder uses the actual page you are working on so that you can visually see in real time your changes and additions. It is a true drag and drop site builder, and is a lot simpler to use than others we think.
Go to pages and create your base pages. If you decided to use Divi, be sure to make use of the documentation for each Divi module to maximise your use of it. You can find that documentation at: https://www.elegantthemes.com/documentation/divi/
At this point, install our fave SEO plugin, Rankmath. Whilst many of our sites used the popular Yoast SEO plugin, we have been having a lot of success with Rankmath including their support, news and simplicity of the plugin. Of course, this is our opinion and you can check out both to see what you think.
Once you have your SEO plugin of choice installed, you should see options on each of your pages to set the search engine snippet or meta title and description. This will allow you to tell search engines and users what your website is about, and what it can help with. Be sure to use sell words, emotional hooks and your primary keywords.
Rankmath will also handle your sitemap submissions to Google and Bing search, and a heap of options including your Opengraph and Twitter card data (for how you show on social media), schema markup (especially important for local services like cafes, tradies and shops), and page content analysis to improve your copy and headings.
With Divi and Rankmath, you can create some amazing search engine friendly content. Next we need to make sure we are delivering it efficiently. This will affect the loading times and the user’s experience on your website.
For majority of our sites, we choose to use WP-Rocket. It also includes options to include Imagify and RocketCDN. You may also like to look at W3 Cache, WP Super Cache or Hyper Cache. WP-Rocket is a subscription-based plugin with services starting from just $49 per year including support. Check out their website for the latest offers.
You do not need to use their CDN, and it can be limited. We choose to use a CDN that goes better with our cloud hosting platform.
For our WordPress website builds, we try to reduce the number of plugins used on a site. We prefer to use what we know works best for SEO and usability, and code the rest into WordPress child themes and custom CSS and JS.
Divi, together with Rankmath, WP-Rocket, Imagify and a CDN of your choice is a great way to start with your business WordPress website. Once you have the site content created, your files and SEO data optimised, and your site live of course, it is time to see where you can improve.
For this, check out GTMetrix. Just choose your server location and browser choice, enter your website URL and hit the analyse button!
The web application will then check key benchmarks and deliver a report showing what slowed you down and how you can improve. The waterfall tab is interesting to look at as you can see what elements held your site up the most.
We’ll warn you know, this can be quite addictive. We’ve spent many hours with our client sites to get the best GTMetrix result.
Another option to check your site performance is Page Speed. This picks up on a lot of different requirements. Don’t be too stressed about a lower than expected score. Some of the best sites on the web perform badly on Pagespeed. Just make you use the data it found to improve your mobile and desktop site performance.
SEO & Sharing of your Brand
We like to think of websites as a place to share what your brand has to offer, to highlight its points of difference, and to highlight your core brand attributes.
Keep this in mind when setting up your pages, setting your meta titles and descriptions, and creating your homepage.
Make your site informational and easily accessible, but also keep it simple in terms of what you offer and content that is helpful to a user’s query. This is the content that will be actioned in terms of enquiries made or content shared with others.
The way your brand engages with your users, and the popularity via links and sharing, will help Google search see your website as an authority in your industry, promoting it higher in SERP.
There are content and copy writers available for hire who can take what you have written, and create something special in terms of search engine friendly and user engaging.
Social signals play a part in the search algorithm, as social is how people interact with your brand. So make sure that you have your social media profiles linked to your site via Rankmath and on-page links, and share links or articles on socials that click back to your website. It all helps.
When sharing on social media, remember that majority of users will be on smartphones and smaller devices. The page they land on when they click your link needs to be both appealing and responsive to different screen sizes.
The Next Step
Of course, if you are a business owner that knows nothing about website creation and management, or how to improve SEO and search ranking, why do it yourself?
We are here to help. Our team are ready to create and update websites, online stores, and social media pages, as well as launch local and national SEO campaigns.