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Build a website on WordPress and the SEO is 90% done, right? All you have to do is install a couple of plugins, add keywords and your site is magically optimized. I wish it was that easy. Sadly, I hear it over and over, “My WordPress website is optimized, I added the WordPress SEO plugin, yet i’m not ranking.” Let me be the first to tell you, just because you added a WordPress SEO plugin does not mean your website is optimized. In many cases it will actually hurt your rankings. (Another topic for another day.)
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of optimizing a client’s website. His rankings, traffic and conversions went through the roof. As a direct result, he moved to a much bigger location, acquired clients such as the New York Yankees and top restaurants in NYC, and became the premier commercial knife sharpener in NYC. Go ahead and do a search for the term and you’ll find them ranking high in search findings. Yes, my client is Ambrosi Cutlery.
Always looking to grow and stay ahead of the competition, Robert Ambrosi, the company’s president, recently asked us for a cutting edge redesign of his website. His goal was to maintain his SEO rankings, but also to create a new modern look that would more accurately capture his company’s brand. The steps we took to properly optimize his site, can and should be taken for any company’s website. Below, you’ll see highlights of what we did for ambrosicutlery.com.
- We concentrated on making the site up to date with today’s technology. For example, any site today must be responsive to all devices. You can do all the SEO you want on your website, but if the site is outdated and doesn’t represent your brand or target market you may as well forget about it.
- Once again, we used WordPress. Clients love it, Google loves it, and we love it!!
- As with many of our custom designed websites, we used the Genesis Framework. It rocks.
- We implemented flawless navigation. The worst thing in the world is visiting a website and having to hit the back button.
- Made the website interactive. Take a look at the site and see if you notice what happens as you scroll. Images fade in and out of color and an important video begins to play automatically. Making it interactive, will keep visitors on your site longer and make them want to navigate throughout the site. It’s all about interaction with the client. Oh, and Google loves it!!
In addition to writing copy that flowed, captured Ambrosi’s style and voice, we also made sure we used keywords in the copy that was bringing him the most traffic and helping him to rank well on Google.
- The content had to speak to the intended target market while, at the same time, be search engine friendly.
- In order to ensure it all came together nicely, it was crucial we collaborated with our designers, copywriters, developers, and marketing team.
To further maximize the site, the following steps were taken:
- Changed certain default settings that come with “out of the box” WordPress sites.
- Changed the time zone settings from Pacific time to Eastern time. This is important because you want Google to index your site and blog post according to your time zone.
- Adjusted the robots.txt files. For security and SEO reasons, you need to add a few more disallows. We recommend installing the WP Robots.txt plugin. It saves a lot of time and works like a charm.
- Changed the default URL setting, which is normally http://yourwebsite.com/?p=123. This needs to change to post name or custom. It should read like this: http://yourwebsite.com/sample-post. The change should be SEO friendly.
- Considered other services for “updating services.” By default, WordPress uses Ping-o-Matic, a service to update different search engines that your blog has updated. The problem is you are missing some valuable services by using Ping-o-Matic alone.
We used the following plugins:
- Google XML Sitemaps plugin by Arne Brachhold. It will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your website. If you are using the sitemap built into the Yoast SEO plugin, I suggest you disable it and use this one. It’s much cleaner.
- WP Robots.txt plugin by Christopher Davis allowed us to edit the website’s robots.txt file right from the WordPress admin without having to go into his FTP files to make the changes.
- Google Analytics by Yoast made it easy to add his Google Analytics UA tracking code. Another option, would have been to manually add the code to his header.
- The redirection plugin was great for redirects. It saved us a lot of time when redirecting changed permalinks from the old site to the new one.
- Gravity Forms was used. While it happens to be a premium paid plugin, it pays for itself. It does so much that we may feature a blog post on this topic alone.
- W3 total cache dramatically improved the speed and user experience of the site.
- Backup Buddy is the most complete WordPress solution for Backup, Restoration, and Migration. We felt it was a must. Trust me you need it.
- All-in-One-SEO. I saved the best for last. The all-in-One-SEO tool allows true WordPress SEO experts to get it right the first time, without suggestions that simply don’t work. (Be careful with SEO tools that use a Focus Keyword field and then tell you that yes, the page is optimized. It can actually harm your SEO. This will be a topic for another blog post.)
Yes the site is ranking very well but, just like Robert, we want Ambrosi Cutlery to keep growing and stay ahead of the competition, too. There are many more keywords we want to go after. With this in mind we:
- Did in depth keyword research to find new keyword gems their intended market was using on search engines to find all of the services they offer. (This did not mean we went to the Google keyword planner tool; It’s great for keyword ideas, but you must ignore the search volume, since it’s based on paid clicks, not organic search. After all, it’s an AdWords tool for PPC campaigns. Try some of these tools: SEMRush, Uber Suggest, Keywordtool.io (This is an awesome tool)
- Used Google analytics and Webmaster tools, to see what search queries were bringing the most traffic to the site. This also allows you to look at what keywords are most popular based on impressions. You can even create custom reports to track search queries and what pages they are actually going to.
Title Tags & Meta Descriptions
- I made sure the keyword for each page was included in the title tag and meta description.
- We were careful to not duplicate title tags or meta descriptions on other pages. When using these, each one must be unique to the content on your page. Google will penalize you for duplicate content within your website.
- We kept the title tags at a maximum of 70 characters, including spaces.
- I also kept the meta description to a maximum of 165 characters, including spaces.
- Because we want people to read the description on the search engine results page and click on it, we made it engaging.
- I used 2 relevant keywords per page. For example, the home page title tag is: Expert & Professional Knife Sharpening Services NYC, NJ, CT. I used 2 keywords which can be used in a number of combinations. Based on those 2 keywords the site can now rank for over 21 keywords. Below are some examples, just using NYC.
- Expert Knife Sharpening NYC
- Professional Knife Sharpening NYC
- Knife Sharpening NYC
- Knife Sharpening Services NYC
- Expert knife Sharpening Services NYC
- Professional Knife Sharpening Services NYC
- Expert Knife Sharpening
Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools
- I added the UA Code on the website
- I verified the website with Google Webmaster tools. This is a must!
- I added the XML sitemap to Webmaster tools. This step is so often overlooked by website owners.
- I synced Google & Webmaster tools. This step allows you to see the (Not Provided) keywords when looking at your search queries on Google Analytics. By default, any search query by someone doing a search on Google, while signed into a Google services, will appear as (Not Provided). Sync them together and you will unlock this issue.
Google+ Business Page & Citations
- I created a verified Google+ page and followed the recommended guidelines by Google.
- I added the site to the top citation sites.
Remember, at the end of the day, there is no SEO plugin which will increase your rankings. Be careful of any SEO plugins that promise high rankings and increased web traffic by adding their plugin. Simply put, an SEO tool is meant for managing your SEO on your website. Das it!!
If you want to learn how to optimize your Google+ page and add citations the right way, then check out my popular presentation on Slideshare: “Google Local SEO – How To Rock Your Local SEO.”
The new website was such a work of art that StudioPress featured it in their showcase
To date, Ambrosi Cutlery is ranking on the first page of Google for every service he provides. Taking the steps above will at least start you in the right direction toward high rankings for your website.
If you already have a site, we encourage you to check your SEO score.
Are you optimizing your website with more than just keywords? If so, tell me about your successful efforts.