Ah, Google... What can I really say about my love/hate relationship with her?
She is the Carmen to my Don Jose. The River Song to my Doctor. The Bella to my Jacob. (Yes, I just made that reference. Don't judge me.)
Essentially, if Google were a woman she would be that girl that everyone wanted but nobody had. Just when you think you had a shot, she'd go and change her ways only to throw you for a loop and send you off in a slump.
Why the drawn out analogy? Because, for the most part, I think many of us feel this way about Google. We want her, we love her, we hate her, but above all, we need her. It's a digital reality and often times a rather frustrating one.
When building a website, we tend to have all these hopes and dreams and excitement that just sort of comes with the idea of creating something online. But if you want Google to love your blog, you're going to have to step things up and learn the way this digital vixen plays her game. We all know that you need great content, but that really only scratches the surface. You've got to do better than that.
If you learn what keeps her happy, you'll soon have her attention. So just how do we tame the shrew? It's easy.
You just have to speak her language.
Picking Out Your WordPress Theme and Then Tailoring It
OK guys, I want to explain this in terms just about everyone can understand. Imagine, if you will, that your WordPress theme were a suit that you bought. Would you buy a shabby looking suit with tears and buttons missing, or would you get one that looked like the seamstress knew what she was doing?
You'd pick the last option right? Picking a theme is very similar. You should pick a theme with great and lightweight code so that you're not bogging down your page load speed right out of the gate.
Here are some great themes shops to find this perfect digital "suit":
Now, back on topic. Let me ask you, what looks better? Buying a suit and simply wearing it off the rack, or getting it custom fitted?
Well, James Bond and Barney Stinson never wore it off the rack and from a technical standpoint, neither should you. Going along with our illustration of Google being a woman, I don't know many women who don't respond well to a man in a nicely tailored suit.
Want to get Lady Google's attention? Then it's time to tailor that blog baby. Here is how.
Replace The Tagline
There are different lines of thought on this, but I've found using a Tagline is better than none at all. Think of this tagline as your non-corny pick-up line to get Google to look at you. Keep it on topic for your what your site will be about.
For example, The New York Times uses WordPress for their blogs.
Their first section is their Site Title (The New York Times) and the second part is their Tagline(Breaking News, Ect.). What would this look like if they left the default Tagline?
The New York Time - Just Another WordPress Blog
Uhh... That would make them look stupid–to both the world, and Google. Don't be that person. Fix your tagline.
To edit the default tagline, go to Settings--> General in your WP dashboard. If you're using a Logo to cover the Header area of your post, that's fine. But change this anyway.
Fix Your Permalinks
Permalinks are the structure to your URLs. To find your Permalink area in your WordPress Dashboard, simply go to Settings-->Permalinks. By default, WordPress–for some reason that I do not yet understand–sets the structure this.
Never ever pick this option. Instead, choose the Post Name option.
The easier it is for you to read, the easier it will be for Google to understand what you're saying. A good permalink structure is your first step to a better blog. Need proof? Take a look at this post's URL in your browser. It's easy to read and to understand what the article is about, right? Right.
Point made. (Ba-Bam!)
Optimize Your Images
This is a little hidden SEO hack that many often forget. Most people, when adding written content to their WordPress blog also tend to add pictures. However, Google is a bit "picture blind". By that I mean, she can't see your photos like we do. She can only see your description of them.
Google wants to know what these pictures are about and how to categorize them, so tell her. Always, always, always add a descriptions to your Alternative Text Area in your photos. And make sure to use a relevant keyword that relates to the article at hand.
No one likes a slow poke, and Google really seems to hate them. 'Slow and steady wins the race', is a lesson to not be used on your blog page load speed. After the latest algorithm update, page speed plays a large factor in Search Engine rankings and pictures can slow things down a lot.
Here's another pointer for optimizing your images.
To help your page load quickly, use a plugin to squish the data of the picture. For example, the WP Smush.it plugin is great for this and will often run automatically after you upload your photos.
Optimizing your photos can take a bit of time, but it's well worth it. A few extra minutes in your post editing will can pay off in the long run, and if it will help with SEO, why not do it?
Your Content: The Big Google Turn Off
Google is the Queen of Search Engine Land, and you don't want to make her angry. Like most women, Google has a major turn off that is met by bringin' down her hammer. Just what is that?
And no, I don't mean the food. Google is a picky woman, but she has one thing about her that will probably never change.
If Google is Queen, Content is King. Good, lengthy, rich and fully UNIQUE content. Gone are the days of article spinning, and spammy link building to try and schmooze your way into her good graces. She's not going to reward anyone for that, so don't do it. Unless of course, you like being blacklisted...
Content, Keywords and Link building is still a must for any SEO strategy, but don't get over your head. Need help with that? Just follow these simple steps:
- Put your Keyword in your Title and only where it would flow naturally in a sentence if you were speaking to a person. (If you'd sound annoy to a real person, you'll sound annoying to google.)
- Change up the keyword to a long tail keyword to keep things on topic but non-spammy
- Link out ONLY to sources that are relevant to your article
- Link to other pages and posts on your own blog
This is good Google etiquette and something she doesn't seem be irritated by– at least for the time being.
Go For Google Plus And Google Plus Pages
I really don't like Google Plus. Loathe... would probably be an apt description for my feelings about it, but I digress. Not even I can argue with the ranking results that come from getting activity on Google + for your website.
Though there has been a debate about whether or not Social Media actually helps with PageRank, being active on Google+ has shown to get you rewarded in the Search Engine.
What can I say? Google loves the attention. (see why I call her a woman?)
If you don't already have a Google Profile set up, get one. Create a page for your blog and verify that it's your page so that Google knows the connection. If you need help with that, here are some nice articles to get you started:
- How To Create A Google Plus Page
- Verifying Your Google Plus Page
Google knows what she wants and if you want her digital love and respect, you gotta play by her rules. Setting up your WordPress blog correctly and following good content etiquette will prove fruitful for you.