The year 2016 was a year of transition for the SEO industry. Some felt that SEO is no more based on the Google’s algorithm updates. But the fact is that SEO has evolved to be much more than just the keyword phrases and backlinks. In the case of websites and blogs running on WordPress, they need a change of optimization strategy for the coming year. This is the reason why I came up with this post explaining the techniques of optimizing wordpress for 2017.

The recent trends in the industry showcases the transition of SEO. In this post, I will help you understand the changing factors and we will also look at the thinks you need to keep in mind for the coming year. We will also look at certain tips for optimizing wordpress for 2017.

Optimizing Wordpress For Future

Behind The Scenes

  • Keywords and content optimization are the past. While they still continue to play a major role, search results are also taking in to account of the engagement happening in your website. Thinks like time of site, bounce rate, comment etc talk about the user engagement.

  • Social Media is not just tool to get some eyeballs. The number of shares talk about the user experience on your site. If you are offering some value to your readers, then it is sure that you would be talked much in social media as well.

  • Mobile cannot be ignored anymore. As the biggest search engine in the world is readying its mobile-first index, it is mandatory to make your website mobile friendly. Websites that are not mobile friendly are sure to lose traffic in the beginning of next year.

Voice search and SEO

  • Voice search is going to be a thing soon. With devices like Alexa and Google Home, people are likely to make searches using voice and so your content should be voice friendly as well.

  • HTTPS is going to be a must for websites that include password fields. If your website isn’t secure, then search engines are not going to send you traffic anymore.

  • Loading speed influenced the search results. Most of your users are expecting to load your website in less than 2 seconds after which they are more likely to switch back to search results page and try another result. The search engines will record this entire activity to improve the search experience. This in turn will result in your page going down the search results.

  • There are many similar websites out there which provide almost the same information. It is important to be unique in your own way. With things like VR, it is important to expand your content across a variety of platforms.

  • There is a recent trend of pushing local search results as well. For a physical business, it is now important to optimize for local SEO (ORG markup) and mention their location so that users in the nearby locations are benefited.

With all these changes and transitions happening, it is important to focus on your wordpress website/blog. Optimizing WordPress for 2017

Disclosure: I am not affiliated to any of the below mentioned products. I personally use most of these in my blogs.

SEO Plugin

Wordpress blogging SEO optimization

It is important to optimize your post for seo and these plugins help you achieve it in a very basic level. Though there are a lot of plugins in the WordPress plugin marketplace, do not get fooled. I suggest you stick to the most popular plugin, Yoast SEO. It is recommended by thousands of wordpress users.

There will be a lot of settings in it. Don’t panic seeing it. You can use the configuration wizard of the plugin itself for easier setup.

Make sure your tags, categories and attachment pages are prevented from indexing.

Another advantage of SEO plugins is that they allow you to provide a focus keyword for your post. The keyword assists search bots of categorize your post easily.

Also provide the meta description in the Yoast snippet editor in the edit post page. Look at the possibility of including the focus keyword while building your meta description.

Yoast SEO optimization

Tip: Make sure the analysis part of yoast settings in edit post page is green and good to go before publishing. Yoast SEO can also help you to generate a sitemap consisting of all your posts and pages. You can add this sitemap in Google Search console. Avoid adding website categories to the sitemap.

Secure

Talking about HTTPS, it is something you should do right away in case you are handling with accounts on your blog. Getting an SSL certificate will not punch a hole in your wallet. But if you are looking for free options, you can use Cloudflare’s Flexible SSL to ensure it.

Permanent Link (Permalink)

Another things that helps bots in categorizing is the permalink. The permanent link or permalink is the URL where your post will appear.

Do not use dates or random numbers in permalink. It is highly advised to sue the post title in permalink as they convert well.

Web permanent links

Head over to Settings -> Permalinks and change it to Post name immediately. If you have a lot of posts, they you will have to set up 301 permanent redirects for all those posts. It is a bit tedious but is very beneficial on the long run.

Tip: Do not waste time in providing tags for your wordpress post. It is not going to help in terms of organic traffic while optimizing wordpress for 2017.

Writing your post

Always make sure that the headers are nested properly H1 -> H2 -> H3. Use H1 for the title (depends on your blog theme) and H2 for sub headings. H3 is used for sections inside H2.

Talking about the title, it is very important to have a descriptive as well as not-so-long title. You can use the Title Experiments plugin to A/B test various titles to understand which one performs better.

Coming to images, they are the one who capture reader’s attention. Use a very attractive as well as self descriptive images. Before inserting images in to the posts, also don’t forget to add the ALT text. You can also use the focus keyword for this purpose. Keep the size of the images also small as possible for optimizing wordpress for 2017 as smaller images load much faster on mobile devices.

Tip: Use content-related names for your images as well instead of names like “IMG-12-345”, “DCIM-6789” or “SCREENSHOT-48”.

Even with all this, content is the king, now and always. If you are looking for social media traffic, then short 500 word posts would be enough. But for organic search traffic, posts with word count greater than 2000 perform well. This is because, the search engines categorize longer content as authoritative, meaning it contains all possible information about the specific topic. And that is what a user is expecting when click on a search result.

Links

There are various types of links to talk about: Internal vs External, Do follow vs No follow.

External and Internal link building

Internal links are those that direct your reader to another page in your own website. Internal link building can benefit you in two major ways.

  1. It can hold your reader to your site content thus decreasing the bounce rate.
  2. Search bots travel from one link to another to index pages. In this process, use of internal links can make them visit another page if you site itself again.

These are the links that link to other websites. Now you may think that such links should be avoided. But the fact is that Google and other search engines actually look for a balance between them. Linking to a page that is already on top of search will not make much benefit to them than to you.

When you insert a link to a trusted site, your website’s trust factor also increases for providing beneficial content.

Similar to internal and external links, do follow and no follow links also need to be balanced in your website/blog.

Backlinks

You are more likely to hear this term in almost all SEO related content. Back links, basically, are those that link to your site from others. They are helpful because of the fact that bots can reach your site from one more source. One thing to note is that getting backlinks from spammy or low profile websites will do bad than good.

And in 2017, backlinks are going to be monitored aggressively. Google Search Console allows you to prevent indexing of spammy backlinks and its effects on your ranking. This is something you should keep in mind while optimizing wordpress for 2017.

Sharing

Social media is just for getting traffic to your website? Not anymore. Search engines have started taking in to account of social shares of content for ranking in SERP. This is the part of the engagement metrics that is influencing the search results.

And they would be wise enough to distinguish paid shares in such media as well.

So it is important to maintain a social profile and gather followers not just for traffic. Social media sites like Pinterest influence the results to a greater extent. Slideshare and LinkedIn are also some of the great places to share your content apart from optimizing wordpress for 2017.

Social sharing signals

You can utilize tools like HootSuite and Buffer to automate your content sharing to multiple social media websites.

Social markup available in Yoast can help you to link your website to your social profiles easily. Also you can use Share Buttons by AddThis or AddToAny Share Buttons plugins in wordpress for letting your readers to easily share your content.

Live Video

Wait, I missed to mention live video sharing. This is one thing that I could see as trending as it brings you closer to your audience much more than writing or vlogging. If you have a good following on facebook, live video is something that you can give a try. It can be something revolving around a question or your next blog post. The inputs that you get make your post even better as you would know what your viewers are looking for.

Mobile Friendliness

Responsive blog optimization

Another aspect that I mentioned earlier is the mobile friendliness. As the Google’s Mobile-first index is getting ready for launch, it is very important to make your site ready for mobile devices If you not sure if your website/blog is already ready, visit Mobile Friendly test page to verify it.

In case your blog is not yet mobile friendly, switch to a mobile friendly theme, free or paid. Or you can use plugins, WPtouch Mobile Plugin or Any Mobile Theme Switcher to achieve it.

Schema

Have you seen the answers to your questions directly in search page? Those are called the rich snippets. They are generated by Google from schema markups. Yoast itself generates schema for social links, author etc. If you want to sue full schema options, you can use this plugin All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets.

Specifying schema markup for Wordpress

Finally, it all nails down to your content. The content should be beneficial to all your visitors looking for resources relating to your topic. And from the usability front, make sure your page load time is less than 2 seconds. You con move to a better host and/or use a CDN to achieve it. Suggested:  MaxCDN / Cloudflare.

Tip: Give a try to Autoptimize plugin. It is one of the best and simple plugins I have come across.

Another small and quick optimization you can do is to enable GZip compression. It will compress all your files so that your page size reduces drastically. You can use this plugin to achieve the same.

If you are just starting out, the best advise that you can consider is to get an attractive brand name, not just the URL but also available as handles in social media sites.

SEO

  • Yoast SEO
  • All in one SEO
  • Title Experiments

Affiliate Management

  • Easy Affiliate Links
  • Pretty links

Social Signal

  • Share Buttons by AddThis
  • AddToAny Share Buttons

SEO Analysis

  • SEMrush (Premium)
  • KWFinder

Mobile Friendliness

  • Mobile friendly tool
  • WPtouch Mobile Plugin
  • Any Mobile Theme Switcher

Search Result Improvement

  • All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets
  • Testing Schema – Google
  • Google Search Console

Friendly mentions

  • Autoptimize
  • WP Optimize
  • Jetpack (for forms)
  • UberSuggest
  • IFTTT
  • GTmetrix (for Website analysis)
  • Hubspot title generator

Once the optimization are done, head over to SEO Site Checkup and run a test. There would be some issues that you would have missed. I suggest you take the analysis report in to consideration and fix the issues.

Optimizing wordpress for 2017 is not an easy task with lots of new technologies emerging. But it is worth doing the things that would make the most difference and forgetting about things that are not yet the standard. Hope I have cover almost all the things that was mentioned earlier in the post.

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